Creative Convergence

How will the arts recover from COVID -19?

Working with the limitations and opportunities of online interfaces, artists whose careers survive the pandemic will emerge with an altered sense of what they do, and of their place in society.

By Associate Professor Paul Rae, University of Melbourne
Chief Investigator- Creative Convergence ARC Linkage Project

To read the full article click on the link below:


Geelong Arts Centre

Deep Within The Heart of Virtual Hearts

Students play with the human heart at Melbourne University’s VR Learning Studio in the Department of Physiology & Anatomy
(Image courtesy VRLS)


Give me that man
That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him
In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.

Act 3, scene 2, 71–74

As a theatrical object, literary metaphor and essential body part, the heart has long been used to convey complex human emotion and ideas. So what of a virtual heart? How can it be used to give theatre goers an inside perspective of the ways in which the heart can be manipulated both literally and figuratively? This is the challenge that Christian Leavesley and Jolyon James, of project partner theatre company Arena, have set themselves.

Working with the Virtual Reality Learning Studio (VRLS) in the School of Biomedical Sciences here at The University of Melbourne, they are testing the theatrical possibilities of a virtual heart. Originally conceived of as a teaching and learning tool for students of anatomy and physiology, this VR object allows users to immerse themselves in the space of the human heart, opening it up, testing ventricles and arteries – and now theatre.


Christian and Joylon already have a number of ideas for the project, and below is an audio excerpt of the first impressions of young participants exploring the possibilities of VR and theatre taken from our day in Bendigo with Arena Theatre Company.


Christian Leavesley (l) and Jolyon James (r) explore the theatricality of the human heart at the VRLS
(Photo: Lynne Kent)

CONVERGE: National Symposium on Theatre and Young People


Wed 16 Oct 2019
9.00am – 6.30pm
Abbotsford Convent, Collingwood (VIC)

TNA’s national symposium builds on a University of Melbourne research project, Creative Convergence, involving a partnership with Melbourne Theatre Company, Arena Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare, Geelong Performing Arts Centre, HotHouse Theatre, Regional Arts Victoria and Creative Victoria.

Framed by research findings from across the sector, this national gathering will focus on the intersection between practice, technology and engaging young people.

Full program and speakers announced in September.


Interstate Independents    FREE*
Independents                    $55
Small to Medium               $143
Large / Uni / Gov               $275

Ticket price includes full catering.

*A number of complimentary tickets are reserved for interstate and regional independents. Places are for unwaged, professional practitioners primarily making work by, with and for young people.

TNA is not able to provide travel bursaries for Converge, but will happily write letters of support for those applying for funding assistance. If cost is a barrier, please contact TNA so we can work with you to ensure your voice is part of the conversation.

Converge will be Auslan interpreted. All spaces are wheelchair accessible. Gender-neutral, accessible bathrooms on site. Babes in arms welcome. Please outline any other requirements during registration or contact Bethany.


9:00am – 9.30am: REGISTRATION & TEA/COFFEE

9:30am – 11:20am: SESSION ONE
Welcomes and mini keynotes

Morning Tea

11:40am – 1:05pm: SESSION TWO
Sector updates, project firecrackers, breakout discussions and workshop I


2:00pm – 3:20pm: SESSION THREE

Project firecrackers, breakout discussions, deep dive, circuit mapping presentation, workshop II

3:20pm – 4:10pm: SESSION FOUR
Panel discussions, deep dive, site and company visit, workshop III

Afternoon Tea

4:25pm – 5:15pm: SESSION FIVE
Responses and Debrief

Networking Drinks at Convent


‘The End of Eddy’ – Melbourne Festival Delegate Discount
7.30pm, Wed 16 or Thur 17 Oct
Malthouse Theatre

Unicorn Theatre and Untitled Projects (UK)
Booking link provided upon registration.

Artist Learning Session with Jessica Wilson
‘International touring for self-producing artists’
2.00pm – 5.30pm, Thur 17 Oct
Signal, Flinders Walk, Melbourne
This hands-on artist learning session looks at current international touring opportunities and explores how to adapt work for different markets in ways that enrich rather than diminish the original product. Presented by ArtPlay Signal.
Free workshop, bookings open in September.

Extending Connections with Audiences Post-Show


Following on from research into audience responses to Melbourne Talam (2017) and hungry ghosts (2018), Paul Rae has been working with the MTC team on online Q+As. Using Finegan Kruckemeyer’s The Violent Outburst That Drew Me to You as a case study, they have been exploring how to extend the connection with audiences post-show. Paul took this picture of Karin Farrell, Harry Tseng and Josh Price during the Q+A at Launceston College in Tasmania. Afterwards, he conducted a workshop with the students to find out more about their responses to the work, and what they would be interested in from an online Q+A. Nick Tranter back at MTC HQ trialled a Q+A using Instagram Stories, and a week later, MTC’s Jeremy Rice hosted one on Facebook (see photos below). The next step will be to evaluate the responses, and work out the best way to implement such initiatives in future.

A week on the job: Insight from our new research assistant

Starting a new role is always an adventure. Our new research assistant Lynne introduces herself and takes you through her first week on the Creative Convergence team.

Ticket to MTC production of The Violent Outburst that Drew Me To You
Who doesn’t love to keep their ticket stubs as souvenirs?

As a Researcher/Artist/Educator, I’m looking forward to bringing my experience in the theatre industry and research into Australian puppet theatre into the project in my capacity as research assistant. So, I was pleased that my time in the project began with a trip to visit to Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC), one of our partner organisations. While there I met the energetic education team, including Project Chief Investigator Jeremy Rice, and settled in for matinee of current touring production, award-winning playwright Finnegan Kruckemeyer’s  “The Violent Outburst That Drew Me To You”.

Over the past week it’s been inspiring to learn how the MTC and our other partner organisations, including Theatre Network Australia (TNA), Arena Theatre Company in Bendigo, Geelong Performing Arts Centre and Hothouse Theatre in Albury/Wodonga are using new technologies to engage youth audiences and measure the impact of theatre in regional areas.

I’m particularly looking forward to the upcoming October symposium with TNA as it will be a fantastic opportunity to hear and see more from our partners. At the moment I’m working to help organise the event and am excited to be part of what I am sure will be an inspiring event.

Dr Lynne Kent
Research Assistant-Creative Convergence Project University of Melbourne

Creative Convergence 2019

Entering year three of this ARC project, we are moving into the outreach phase of the research, by developing opportunities to share the findings of the Creative Convergence research thus far, and to experiment more fully with how we embed understandings of young people in regional Victoria in the work of theatre and theatre companies.

We will be continuing some of our fieldwork, particularly in reaching out to new areas of the state such as central Gippsland, as well as thinking more carefully about what we have learnt about the growing regionalisation, or decentralisation, of Australian culture. We are also planning a VR experiment in partnership with Arena, MTC and one of our other regional hubs, and will be hosting a one-day conference in October 2019 curated in association with Theatre Network Australia and the Abbotsford Convent.

Sadly, Nat Cutter, our very able research assistant who made such a difference to the content management of Circuit, our mapping tool, will be moving on to finalise work on his PhD. So thank you Nat! We are in the process of recruiting a replacement Researcher, and will update the blog when this can be announced.

Paul, Jen, Christian, and Jeremy (CIs for the CC project)

iNARPA Symposium Melbourne

Workshop participants creating an image Melbourne Talam two months after seeing the performance. Image from Melbourne Talam by Jeff Busby of Rohan Mirchandaney, Sahil Saluja and Sonia Soares.

In March, Paul Rae, Jeremy Rice and Abbie Trott presented at the iNARPA (International Network of Audience Research in Performing Arts) Melbourne Symposium. iNARPA is a new international network led by Ben Walmsly from University of Leeds in the UK and Katya Johanson at Deakin University in Melbourne. Their second event was a day long symposium in Melbourne. The keynote speakers were Dr Caroline Heim from Queensland University of Technology and Lisa Walsh Research Manager at Australia Council) on the performing and participating audience respectively. The day’s presentations traversed forms including participatory theatre, visual arts and dance, with perspectives from policy makers, scholars, practitioners, consultants and artists, and speakers from Australia, the UK and Europe. We were the last panel of the day, and after an introduction about how the education program, Melbourne Talam, and regional touring fits within MTC’s program from Jeremy, Paul spoke about the observational and interview process in the early stages of research as a way of introducing our research. Abbie then talked about some of the methodological considerations we faced speaking with young audiences, including some preliminary findings, and Paul drew this together with the experiences of the actors while on a regional Victorian tour. Jeremy finished up by introducing this year’s education show, Hungry Ghosts.

Welcome to 2018!

2018 will be a big year for the Creative Convergence Project, as we look to visit a number of schools around regional Victoria, and present our preliminary findings at major conferences in Australia, New Zealand and Serbia. We also welcome Nat Cutter to the team as our new research assistant/project manager while Meg Upton takes some well-deserved leave until late 2018. He is a PhD Candidate with experience in research administration and the digital humanities, and will be your major point of contact for the project. Stay tuned for more news!

Creative Convergence: Enhancing Impact in Regional Theatre for Young People