Darlinghurst Theatre Company has appointed Amylia Harris to the role of Co-Artistic Director, central to the theatre’s plans to resume operations in the face of the COVID-19 social distancing measures. Having previously held the role of Creative Producer, Harris joined the company in 2015 and, alongside CEO and AD Glen Terry, helped diversify the company’s output with the inclusion of festivals, cabarets, playwriting programs, and community partnerships. She also oversaw the programming of the 2019 and 2020 seasons, the most successful to date, and produced its acclaimed staging of Once. Underway since the beginning of 2020, Harris’ appointment is seen by the company as crucial to its emergence from shut down.

Amylia Harris and Glen Terry. Photo supplied

“It is my absolute honour and privilege to take a seat at the small but formidable table of female Artistic Directors in this country. I’m excited to throw open the doors to bold, challenging and representational programming. To champion the stories and careers of women on and off the stage and challenge the status quo,” said Harris.

“It has never been more apparent to me that at the very heart of theatre is our need to gather and commune,” Harris added. “Theatre is a powerful marriage of shared place, time and story that cannot be fully experienced via screen. The power of technology to connect is brilliant, but as theatre makers some of us are feeling pressure to engage with a medium we did not choose. So, I say it’s okay to not feel ‘inspired’ to create or produce right now. Let’s instead give ourselves permission to plan. To dream. To rebuild the foundations and replenish our souls so we may burst forth into a post-pandemic world with a renewed sense of courage, sensitivity and fortitude.”

“I’m delighted Amylia has accepted the role of Co-Artistic Director,” Terry said. “She is a wonderful collaborator and leader, and will steward our company through this complex and challenging time with her signature vibrancy and deep care for artists.”

Earlier this year, Harris oversaw Amy Campbell’s new staging of A Chorus Line, which was postponed on the date of its premiere. Breaking the company’s previous advance sale records and winning acclaim during previous, a remount is intended as soon as physical distancing restrictions and public health advice permits.

“While our beloved 2020 season is still postponed, know that we are listening, watching and making plans for a vibrant future. We are currently analysing our role in the social and theatre ecology and looking at how we can serve both as we gradually return to normal,” Harris said.

As a first step out of shut down, Harris will host free event Darlo Tea Time on May 21, an opportunity for 10 artists or arts works to gather in the theatre’s restaurant and “connect, commune and consume”.

Another initiative the company is pursuing is the presentation of cabaret-stye performances in accordance with the government’s guidelines for public gatherings. With an announcement to come, Harris says: “We’re currently working on a post-COVID reactivation of our foyer and restaurant space, restoring safe opportunities for connection and artistry. Stay tuned for details on our upcoming cabaret series as we program soulful winter evenings of food, story and song.”