14 – 24 MARCH at 107 Redfern

Shopfront’s flagship Emerging Artist Residency once again culminates in a two‑week long festival with works from eight emerging artists. Featuring an array of new works across theatre, puppetry, movement, film, visual arts and musical theatre.

The festival will feature an industry networking event open to all emerging artists!



Aiden Smith and Emily Whiting are an emerging duo, creating an original musical that explores the stories of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, infamous gay pirates.

Aiden Smith

Aiden Smith

Currently studying Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Aiden Smith’s musical background is built upon previous performance opportunities in high school and in local community theatre. Having previously performed onstage or in the orchestra in Beauty and the Beast (Barker College), The Little Mermaid (SYMT), American Idiot & Jersey Boys (HMS), and The Trail To Oregon (MacMS), Aiden is currently the Music Director for HMS’s production of Jekyll & Hyde. He is also an active member of the Old Barker Association Big Band and the North Shore Wind Symphony, and occasionally finds time to write music for his uni degree.

Emily Whiting

Emily Whiting (she/her)

Emily is currently studying Theatre and Performance at the University of Sydney in her Bachelor of Arts degree. She is an active member of the Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS) as a Stage Manager in Double O’ Bill: Inspector Hound & Bald Soprano, Play On and Eurydice. She also acted in Slot 3 How Will I Know?, Saphically Challenged staged reading. Outside of her studies she involves herself in volunteering at Belvoir Theatre and was a Griffin Theatre Ambassador in 2022. She is also a proud member of the ATYP Youth Advisory board (YABbies) for 2023. She looks forward to more opportunities in the future to work on her craft.

Fatima Naqvi, 20, she/her

Pakistani-Australian Shia Muslim visual artist living and working on Dharruk Land (Sydney, Australia. Studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts/Bachelor of Education from UNSW. Works in graphite pencil drawing and is seeking to decolonise the contemporary art space.

Gabriel Faatau'uu-Satiu
Writers & Research Society – Gabriel Faatau’uu Situ Pasifika Performance portraits

Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu

Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu is a proud Sāmoan storyteller from western Sydney who has graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Arts, a Masters in Creative Practice underpinned with film school. His writing is spread across multiple mediums including TV, stage, screen, print and digital. His unique and creative voice meets at the intersection of narrative storytelling and experimental art and expression. A few of his credits include Breaking Bread, an anthology series he wrote which weaves traditional Pasifika modes of storytelling with contemporary screen arts storytelling. He directed Untitled: A Life In The Day Of…, with an all Sāmoan cast/crew and wrote the scripts to an 8x part digital series, The Kokos, for the Pasifika Education Centre for children to learn the basics of Sāmoan language. He is a member of the Black Friars Theatre Company and is the founder/creative director of his own independent production company, Satiu Studios – one of few Pasifika-led organisations in Australia that is dedicated to amplifying Pasifika stories across all mediums.

In 2022, he completed an artist residency with the Parramatta Artist Studios and the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University where he wrote the first draft of a full length theatre play – using stories inspired by a core team of First Nations and Pasifika creatives/communities from western Sydney. In late 2022, Gabriel launched a children’s book that was published titled, Where I’m From, a love letter dedicated to his nephews and nieces (of mixed Pacific heritage) to remind them about where they come from.

In early 2023 Gabriel featured in the Provocations line-up at Sydney Writers Festival. Recently, he completed a maternity cover as the Program Coordinator in Cinema and Digital at Riverside Theatres through the City of Parramatta, but has stayed on part time within the team to focus on community engagement and audience development, the delivery of smaller events, all while offering admin support to his colleagues. A major project he is working on includes co-writing a feature film, part of Co-curious’s unique program, In The Room, an initiative following the very successful anthology film, Here Out West, and is being commissioned by Powerhouse Museum Parramatta. He is in post-production of Klub Village (behind the show), an extension of Sydney World Pride’s live show of Klub Village, curated by Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under runner-up, Kween Kong and Sela Vai – both of Pacific heritage as well as working through a few independent works in his slate.

Highly Strung Puppets - Tom Hetherington Welch and Oliver Durbidge

Highly Strung Puppets – Tom Hetherington Welch and Oliver Durbidge

Tom Hetherington-Welch (he/him) and Oliver Durbidge (he/him) are writers, directors and puppet artists based and working on Gadigal Land. Their theatrical practice is founded in puppetry, movement, and ensemble work to create unique and evocative work. Having experience across a number of production roles including directing, writing, acting, as well as designing sets, costumes, lighting, and handcrafted puppets fuels Tom and Ollies love of the collaborative process to achieve a holistic creative vision. In 2022, they co-wrote, directed and designed the acclaimed Sydney Uni Dramatic Society major production, Everynight – an original musical about childhood dreams and the processing of loss set in a dream inhabited by 25 handmade puppets. In 2023 Tom and Ollie started a puppet performance company called Highly Strung. At Edge Festival Sydenham 2023 they designed and staged ‘A Dance’ in collaboration with Tiny Big Top. One part workshop and one part performance, this children’s puppet show guided kids through making a spider puppet, and then watched a peacock spider leave its home in search of community. Tom also works in schools, running workshops and play building with students to create engaging ensemble work, which recently performed at the LightsUp Festival at Riverside Parramatta. Oliver graduated from NIDA in 2018 with a diploma of stage and screen performance, and has since directed a variety of theatre and film projects in Sydney.

Leah Herbert

Leah Herbert is a vibrant and proudly queer, fat theatremaker from Wollongong. Graduating from the University of Wollongong in 2021 marked the beginning of Leah’s journey in the theatre scene, where she found her artistic home within the multimedia arts group Crush Collective in 2019. Leah’s collaborative artistic contributions include productions like “girlblogging” (2022), “Feral Women” (2022), and “Gen Z Journals” (2023). Currently, Leah is immersed in the creative process of “Fat Girl,” a groundbreaking project for Artslab 2024 that delves into the complexities of body image and the path to body neutrality. Passionate about fostering conversations around fatness, Leah is dedicated to uncovering and sharing the transformative journey toward body acceptance and neutrality.

Mym Kwa

Mym Kwa (she/her) is an actor, dancer and theatre-maker of Chinese and Scottish heritage, living and working on Gadigal land. Mym’s theatre credits include Saturday Girls (25A Belvoir), Dumb Kids (KXT), Moon Rabbit Rising (Little Eggs Collective x 25A Belvoir) – nominated for ‘Best Ensemble’ in the recent Sydney Theatre Awards, Much Ado (Flight Path Theatre), Lady Precious Stream (Slanted Theatre x The Flying Nun Brand X) and The Park (New Theatre). Mym made her professional screen debut in 2022 as the lead in ‘Asexy’, a queer coming of age short film (dir. Kylie Aoibheann McDonnell). With a passion for movement and ensemble-work, Mym collaboratively devises and delivers workshops for young people. Most recently, leading HSC Theatre Devising workshops at the Seymour Centre and Regional Arts Workshops in Maitland with award-winning theatre company, Little Eggs Collective. Mym holds her Teacher’s Diploma in Dance and Speech and Drama. She works as a ballet teacher and social carer, supporting people with disabilities with dancing, script writing and art.

Single Tickets: Adult $25 / Concession $20 / Shopfront or Playwave Member $15
Festival Pass info coming soon!

Session times TBA


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2023/24 ArtsLab Artists: Emily Whiting and Aiden Smith. Leah Herbert, Tom Hetherington-Welch and Oliver Durbidge (Highly Strung Puppets), Gabe Faatau’Satiu, Fatima Naqvim, Mym Kwa

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