The Present Tense Ensemble, led by directors Bryce Ives and Nathan Gilkes, are a responsive and independent group of artists engaged in an ongoing investigation into new methods of theatre practice. Our practice is submerged at a place where music meets narrative, character, space and time in performance.
Music is the text we examine; the source material reimagined and the driving force for character, action and story in our work. Our practice interrogates music, of all kinds and styles, in order to build immersive performances. By immersive performance, we mean we consider the acoustic, dynamic and aural quality of the space we are working in; the architecture and history of the space; the unique role that scent can play in framing and activating a narrative in space; and the way that bodies can fundamentally change the nature and tone of a space.
Co-Artistic Director / Initiating Artist
NATHAN GILKES is a highly versatile artist working across many disciplines. A highly skilled theatre director, musician and performer, Nathan’s artistic practice sits in music-based theatre and draws on art and popular music, opera and contemporary performance practice.
His own training as a theatre and opera
His ongoing investigation asks:
How are the voice, sung text and music brought to bear through body and space? And How can an image be informed by music and vice versa?
This interest stemmed from his work as a young artist working with choirs, youth theatre and contemporary a cappella singing groups.
Nathan graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in directing in 2010, the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Music Theatre in 2002, and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Education and Voice in 2004. Nathan continues to advocate for strong training and often works as vocal coach and lecturer at the Federation University, The National Theatre Drama School, at his own studio and he continues his own training with Fragment 31.
As co-artistic director of the Present Tense Ensemble his work includes: Ricercar: Version 1.0 (as part of Spiritous at the Abbotsford Convent); Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert for Theatreworks Selected Works, Chants des Catacombes for seasons at the Castlemaine State Festival, Adelaide Fringe Festival and Donkey Wheel House; FOMO: the Fear of Missing Out for seasons at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Adelaide Fringe Festival (in conjunction with Radio Adelaide) and Melbourne Fringe Festival; The innovative music event The Major Bruce Sessions: Volume 1; and an initial development of The Book of Rachael.
He has previously held the position of Associate Director at Lyric Opera of Melbourne for whom he directed Iphigenie en Tauride, Elle (a new work bringing together the chamber instrumental works of Francis Poulenc and La Voix Humaine); Trouble in Tahiti and La Verbena de la Paloma. His work for other companies includes performing in the Helpmann Award winning production of Oedipus Rex/Symphony of Psalms (Sydney Philharmonia Choirs/ Sydney Festival: directed by Peter Sellars); Music Direction for Delectable Shelter (The Hayloft Project: directed by Benedict Hardie) for seasons at Theatreworks and Australian regional tour; Parade (Arts Academy, Federation University);Yijala Yala (Big hArt); Direction for Surfacing for the Alias Project and Checklist for an Armed Robber (VCA); and directing secondments with Opera Australia and Victorian Opera;
The influence of remarkable artists and teachers Christopher Shepard, Leisa Shelton, Susan Falk, Keith Bain and Jenny Kemp continue their influence in Nathan’s work.
Co-Artistic Director / Initiating Artist
Bryce Ives is a change agent, a collaborator and a provocateur; with a diverse body of work as a theatre maker, media maker, facilitator and a story-teller. Bryce’s passion for theatre-making has driven him to develop wide-ranging, sophisticated facilitating skills and to considerable depth - both within theatre and radically beyond.
Bryce first appeared on Australian television screens at the age of 14 on ABC TV programs Race around the Corner and Recovery and by the age of 17 was hosting a two-hour live-to-air variety program, Dawn’s Crack on Channel 31 Melbourne. Bryce was the youngest individual presenting live to television screens across Victoria. Not satisfied to simply ‘get his mug on telly’, Bryce engaged with television and other media, using its broad reach to empower himself and young people everywhere. Bryce didn’t like what he was seeing and hearing and decided to change that situation, himself. His example paved the way for young people in Australia to directly participate in the media, with a particular emphasis on ensuring diversity and gender equity within the media.
At the age of 19, Bryce was running SYN Media, the world’s largest youth media volunteer project with some 1,000 young media makers creating broadcast and online work each year, as well a twenty-four hour a day radio station, television shows and all ages event. He has since applied his rich and diverse skills to a range of media and storytelling environments, including programming 500 digital stories annually as part of ABC Radio’s rural and regional youth initiative Heywire. Over the past decade, Bryce has fostered and enabled thousands of young Australians to tell their stories on radio, television and online; and is recongised as thinking leader for how independent and community media engages with new media and new audiences. He is a director of the Community Broadcasting Foundation and works regularly as a consultant for the ABC and Express Media.
Bryce is also as an outstanding facilitator, conference convener and master of ceremonies, his mixture of experience as a media and theatre maker allows him to bring out the very best in everyone he works with. Bryce regularly facilitates events for organisations as diverse as the Royal Childrens Hospital Education Institute, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, the Raising Children’s Network and VicHealth. Annually Bryce presents a series of conferences focused on youth engagement: the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Heywire Summit with forty young leaders from across rural and remote Australia, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s Horizon Summit and Express Media’s 6x6x6 at the Wheeler Centre.
But it’s as a theatre maker that Bryce truly engages the full breadth of his creativity and artistic vision for an immersive theatre experience. As co-artistic director of the Present Tense ensemble Bryce has mapped out a field of theatrical endeavor which is unique, ambitious and engaging. . Recent theatre directing work includes: FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out, Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert and Chants Des Catacombes (Present Tense); the development of The Book of Rachael (Present Tense) and collaborations Parade (with graduating theatre students of Ballarat Arts Academy) and Forbidden Planet (Monash Academy of Performing Arts.) He has also directed The History Boys (Cromwell Road Theatre) and Call Girl the Musical (Chapel off Chapel).
During 2013 Bryce was the Associate Creative Producer of Theatre Works, is the co-Artistic Director of the Present Tense Ensemble with Nathan Gilkes, and has taught theatre making at the Ballarat Arts Academy and the Monash Academy of Performing Arts. Bryce holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Performance Creation (Directing) from the Victorian College of the Arts and has trained with the SITI Company and is a member of the Directors Lab Chicago. Bryce regularly trains with Fragment 31.
Key Actor/Theatre Maker
LAURA BURZACOTT is a theatre maker and core member of the Present Tense Ensemble. Laura has trained in New York as part of the Summer Intensive at the Lee Strasberg Institute and has completed a Certificate III in Performance and Practices at the National Theatre. Laura has performed in a range of new Australian musicals; recent roles include Courtney in Call Girl the Musical (written by Doug MacLeod and Tracy Harvey), Connie Menaro in PRICK (written by Tracy Harvey), Lottie Lyell in the workshop performance of Lottie (Magnormos) and Bea in Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert (Present Tense/ Theatre Works). Laura originated the role of the Surgeon in Chants Des Catacombes (Present Tense) and has collaborated in development workshops for The Book of Rachael and The Well Tempered Clavier. A member of the comedy cabaret trioLos Nachos Trios, Laura has a formidable reputation upon the cabaret stage having performed in sell out seasons of Tracy Harvey Smokin’ at the Paris Cat and I Heart Frankston at the Comedy Festival. Other credits include Sally Brown You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown (Melbourne Musicals) Last Drinks and The Three Sisters (Verve Studio); The Gun in History (National Theatre) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Ballarat Begonia Festival).
Key Actor/Theatre Maker/ Choreographer
ZOE McDONALD is a multi-disciplinary theatre maker and core member of the Present Tense ensemble. She graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts (Music Theatre) in 2008, her VCA credits including A Little Night Music (Mrs Segstrom), The Big Smoke, Cymbelline (Imogen) and Macbeth (Lady Macbeth) Shakespeare explorations. She was part of cabaret trio Wrongtown, which she co-wrote and choreographed at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival and Adelaide Fringe Festival. Zoe has performed in West Side Story (Anita) and Sweet Charity (Helene) with Footlight Geelong, working alongside Directors Martin Croft and Bryce Ives. Zoe created the role of the Showgirl in the immersive music theatre work Chants des Catacombes (Present Tense) for the Melbourne, Adelaide Fringe and Castlemaine State Festival seasons. In 2012 Zoe choreographed and performed the role of Prospero in a re-interpretation of Return to the Forbidden Planet for the Monash Performing Arts Academy. Other recent works include Isabella in Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert (Theatreworks/Present Tense) and a new development of Ricercar (Present Tense). Zoe premiered her solo work FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2013 and since then has played the Adelaide Fringe Festival (in conjunction with Radio Adelaide) and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (as part of Darebin Arts Speakeasy). In August FOMO will play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at Underbelly @Forth FM (presented with the Centre for Theatre and Performance Studies at Monash University).
Key Musicians/ Music Writers & Arrangers
THE TWOKS are Xani Kolac (electric violin/vocals) and Mark Leahy (drums). Sending the violin through effects such as distortion, delay, pitch shifters and a BOSS RC-300, Xani loops live, sings and plays violin all at the same time. Mark provides the driving tribal rhythm that takes this alternative art-pop music into a bright and edgy dance genre with a hint of chamber music-experimentica. The drum and violin duo (D&V) dedicate their lives to sharing The Twoks' music with as many people as possible by booking and organising their own regional, national and international tours to festivals and clubs such as Woodford Folk Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Adelaide Fringe, Brisbane Festival, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne International Jazz Festival, pubs and clubs in Melbourne and Sydney, outdoor New Year's Eve Festivals and with collaborative experimental theatre companies They also lend their music to documentaries, short film and animations and participate in collaborations with fashion designers and fashion artists. The Twoks have collaborated with Present Tense on Chants Des Catacombes and The Book of Rachael.
Key Actor/ Musician/ Theatre Maker
LUIGI LUCENTE recent theatre credits include Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, The Last Five Years, Wicked, Jersey Boys and Guys & Dolls. He was also named a finalist in the prestigious ANZ ROB GUEST ENDOWMENT AWARD for 2011, culminating in the gala performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne in October 2011. Other notable theatre credits include The History Boys directed by Bryce Ives, Opera Australia’s Brundibar, Bryant and Frank’s The Silver Donkey and Anthony Crowley’s The Wild Blue. Luigi was also a guest artist with EMMY award-winning songwriter Lance Horne in his Melbourne concerts. On screen Luigi played Carlo Basilone in the HBO drama series The Pacific and has also appeared in a number of other major television and short film productions and commercials. An enthusiastic musician and songwriter, 2010 saw the release of his first original CD with his band LEFT ON WELLINGTON and has subsequently performed in a range of corporate shows, bands and music projects.
AMY JONES is a recent graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts. In 2013, she has performed with MKA in GROUP SHOW (Dir. Luke Kerridge, Prue Clark) and most recently, in 5Pound Theatre’s Ubu Roi (Dir. Jason Cavanagh). Her roles at VCA included Jaques in As You Like It, Rosa in A Bright Room Called Day by Tony Kushner (Dir. Tom Healey), Mrs Smith in Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano and Sissy in Unity (1918) by Kevin Kerr (Dir. Robert Walton). She played Teiresias in Company 2012’s devised work Article 1 (Dir. Bagryana Popov). Other theatre credits include Anthony Crowley’s The Wild Blue (2005). Since 2011, she has contributed to multiple creative developments with companies such as Present Tense, She Said Productions, Quiet Little Fox and with director, Brienna Macnish on her most recent development of Colony. 2Amy has trained and performs professionally as a singer, and plays a variety of instruments.
Key Actor/Theatre Maker
CIUME LOCHNER is a recent graduate from the National Theatre Drama School. She also has a BA in communications and script writing from Curtin University. Earlier this year she worked with director Nadia Tass, in a director’s scene study at 16th Street. Whilst at school, she performed in shows such as Summer of the 17th Doll, as Olive, and the House of Bernada Alba as Matirio. In 2012 she was awarded a Cybec Foundation scholarship for acting. Ciume has made regular appearances in commercials over the years, and also performed in her own work, Short Play @ Long Play.
Key Musician/ Theatre Maker
Jess Keeffe is a multi-instrumentalist and emerging Melbourne composer, sound designer and theatre-maker. Jess has performed with groups such as The Jane Austen Argument, Beloved Elk, Bluevein and under the solo moniker Hallows. Recent theatrical highlights include Amadeus(CASUM) as MD/sound designer/composer where she rewrote Mozart into electronica, Orlando(VCA) as cellist/composer and Under the Rainbow Spectacular Spectacular (The Jane Austen Argument) as cellist/heart.