2024 National Teacher Conference Speakers

Read about our 2024 National Teacher Conference speakers

KATE MULVANY OAM

Kate Mulvany OAM is an award-winning actor, playwright, screenwriter, librettist and dramaturg. In 2020, Kate was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her contribution to the Australian arts.

Kate is a lead actor on the Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated series Hunters for Amazon Prime, produced by Jordan Peele and created by David Weil, in which she plays Sister Harriet opposite Al Pacino. She also starred in the recent acclaimed Foxtel series The Twelve for which she was nominated for a Best Actress AACTA and a Logie Award. Kate also recently starred in the Disney Plus series The Clearing as the terrifying Aunty Tamsin. She has also appeared in Fighting Season, Lambs Of God and The Katering Show.

Kate’s rich character work caught the eye of Baz Luhrmann who cast her as Lucille McKee in The Great Gatsby and more recently as Marion Keisker in Elvis. Other feature films include The Final Winter, Griff The Invisible, The Turning, The Little Death (for which she was nominated for an AACTA) and The Merger. She will soon appear in the new feature film Better Man, by acclaimed writer and director Michael Gracey, and in How to Make Gravy for Warner Bros, directed by Nick Waterman.

Onstage, Kate’s extensive roles include, for Bell Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth, Cassius (in Julius Caesar), Dorine (in Tartuffe), and her highly acclaimed turn as Richard of Gloucester (Richard III), for which she won the 2017 Helpmann Award for Best Female Actor In A Play, which she won again the following year for her performance in the one woman show, Every Brilliant Thing for Belvoir. Kate has also performed as Dr Stockman in An Enemy of the People (Belvoir), Regan in King Lear, (Sydney Theatre Company), Mary Warren in The Crucible (STC), and recently as Sarah Bernhardt in the Melbourne Theatre Company Production of Bernhardt/Hamlet.

Kate is also an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. As a screenwriter, Kate has written several episodes of the Emmy-winning animated series Beat Bugs for Netflix, was co-developer and writer on Upright for Lingo Pictures, and recently wrote on the new ABC television show Summer Love. She currently has two new series in development.

As a playwright, Kate’s adaptation of the Greek myth, Medea, co-written with Anne-Louise Sarks, has been produced around the world. Her stage adaptations of Craig Silvey’s novel, Jasper Jones, Kit Williams’ Masquerade and Ruth Park’s The Harp In The South trilogy had sellout seasons across Australia, with her Harp trilogy of plays being awarded the David Williamson Prize at the Australian Writers Guild Awards. In 2019, Kate became the first female playwright to adapt Mary Stuart for the stage for Sydney Theatre Company. In 2021, her adaptation of Ruth Park’s, Playing Beatie Bow opened the historical refurbished Wharf Theatre for Sydney Theatre Company.

Kate’s life story has been covered onscreen in the documentaries, Australian Story and One Plus One and on Australia’s current affairs show, The 7.30 Report.

ANDY GRIFFITHS

Andy Griffiths is one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors. He and illustrator Terry Denton have collaborated on more than 33 bestselling books since their first title, Just Tricking!, was published in 1997.

In Australia, Andy and Terry’s books have sold over 10 million copies, won 80 children’s choice awards and 10 Australian Book Industry Awards—including Book of the Year for The 52-Storey Treehouse in 2015. Their much-loved Treehouse Series has been embraced by children around the world and is now published in more than 35 countries. Five of the books in the series have been adapted for the stage and have all had sell-out seasons at the Sydney Opera house, as well as highly successful seasons in the Netherlands, New Zealand and America.

Andy is a passionate advocate for literacy and in 2015 was awarded the Dromkeen Medal to honour his outstanding contribution to Australian children’s literature. He is also an ambassador for both The Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the Pyjama Foundation.

JANE CARO AM

Jane Caro is an author, columnist, broadcaster, advertising writer, documentary maker and social commentator. She has published ten books, including a memoir, Plain-Speaking Jane, as well as Just a Girl and Just a Queen, the first two novels in the Elizabeth Tudor trilogy. Just Flesh & Blood is the third and final book in the series. Jane appears frequently on Q&A, The Drum, Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise. She has created and presented three documentary series for the ABC’s Compass, with another in production. A frequent ad hoc columnist, she writes regular columns for Sunday Life and Leadership Matters. Jane divides her time between Sydney and a cattle property in the Upper Hunter. In 2018, Jane won the Walkley Award – Walkley Foundation’s Women’s Leadership in Media Award for a Non-Fiction Book Editing for her bestseller, Unbreakable: Women Share Stories of Resilience and Hope. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2019 Queen's Birthday Honours in recognition of her "significant service to the broadcast media as a journalist, social commentator and author". In 2023 she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the B & T Women in Media Awards. Jane has served on the boards of Bell Shakespeare and the NSW Public Education Foundation.

PROF LIAM E. SEMLER

Liam E. Semler is Professor of Early Modern Literature at the University of Sydney. His main research interests are: Shakespeare, literary studies and modern pedagogical systems; early modern literature and the visual arts; the classical inheritance in the Renaissance; and women’s writing from 1500-1700. He leads the Better Strangers educational research project which hosts the Shakespeare Reloaded website (shakespearereloaded.edu.au) and he is series editor (with Gillian Woods) of the Cambridge Elements ‘Shakespeare and Pedagogy’ series. His recent publications include: The Early Modern Grotesque: English Sources and Documents 1500–1700 (Routledge, 2019); Coriolanus: A Critical Reader (Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2021); and, co-edited with Claire Hansen and Jacqueline Manuel, Reimagining Shakespeare Education: Teaching and Learning through Collaboration (CUP, 2023).

KYLE MORRISON

For more than 30 years Kyle has worked in the performing arts as an actor, director, dramaturge, stage manager, educator, mentor and cultural consultant. During his time as the Artistic Director of Yirra Yaakin theatre company he directed 12 new works and was instrumental in the creation and development of the Noongar Sonnets program and Hecate, the first full adaption of a Shakespeare work into an Australian first nations language. The Noongar Sonnets project broke ground on the cultural collaboration between Noongar language and Shakespeare’s texts by creating six Sonnets (18, 44, 45, 46, 71 and 127) fully adapted into Noongar worldview and philosophical paradigm through Noongar language which were performed at Shakespeare’s Globe in London in 2012. The Junior Sonneteers Program in 2019, engaged 30 students (15 students of Noongar heritage and 15 of mixed and diverse heritage) from Perth to learn and perform the sonnets to select audiences. Kyle has also performed in three productions for Bell Shakespeare; A Midsummer Nights Dream (2021), Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet (2023).

SEAMUS CURTAIN-MAGEE

Seamus Curtain-Magee is an experienced inclusive educator working with students with additional needs for almost a decade. A bona fide Shakespeare nerd, he has used exploration of Shakespearean texts to extend and engage his students and introduce them to the world of Shakespeare. He is passionate about giving all students, regardless of their background, the opportunity to experience and enjoy Shakespeare’s worlds. An alumni of Bell Shakespeare’s Regional Teacher Mentorship (2020), he has supported Bell Shakespeare to run Artist in Residence programs at Kalianna School in Bendigo VIC, supporting students to stage a devised production of Macbeth in 2022 at the Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo. Seamus teaches at Bendigo Senior Secondary College.

JAMES EVANS

James Evans is Associate Director at Bell Shakespeare. He is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Acting) and holds a Master of Arts (English) from the University of Sydney. For Bell Shakespeare James directed the national touring productions of Much Ado About Nothing and Julius Caesar, as well as Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Bell Shakespeare's education program at Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne. As an actor he has appeared in Hamlet, Richard 3, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Henry IV and Actors At Work. He is the host of Bell Shakespeare’s podcast Speak The Speech.

James co-wrote and presented the acclaimed iPad App Starting Shakespeare (named Best New App by Apple in 17 countries) and co-directed the ABC Splash online series Shakespeare Unbound. He has been a visiting artist at the University of San Diego, as well as presenting a series of Shakespeare seminars in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Mumbai and Singapore. James’ work with Bell Shakespeare in juvenile detention centres is the subject of the feature film Kings of Baxter, winner of Best Australian Documentary at the 2017 Antenna Documentary Film Festival and the Supreme Jury Prize at the 2018 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival.

EMILY EDWARDS

Emily Edwards (she/her) is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (Acting) and is the Resident Artist in Education at Bell Shakespeare. Some of her stage credits include a National Tour with The Players (Bell Shakespeare), Feste in Twelfth Night (Dir Tom Wright), The Young Wife in Hello Again (Dir Tyran Parke), Abigail in The Crucible (Dir Terri Brabon, Theatre iNQ), Fiona Carter in The Removalists (Dir Elsie Edgerton-Till, Sydney Theatre Company), and Kapowi in Kapowi Go-Go (Dir Rachel Kerry, Kings Cross Theatre). Her screen credits include Alive with Curiosity with Tourism Queensland, and Home and Away. In addition to performing, Emily has been a teaching artist for over ten years, having worked with Bell Shakespeare, The Australian Shakespeare Company, Theatre iNQ, Poetry in Action, and running an independent singing studio.

JOANNA ERSKINE

Joanna Erskine is an award-winning playwright, teacher, producer and arts education specialist. She is Head of Education at Bell Shakespeare, working with the company for sixteen years, overseeing artistic direction and delivery of its renowned national education program reaching on average 80,000+ students and teachers in 90% of federal electorates face-to-face each year.

For Bell Shakespeare Joanna is the writer of The Players’ in-school performances, established the primary Shakespeare program, co-wrote the award-winning app Starting Shakespeare, expanded digital activity and increased the Company's commitment to teachers through the Regional and National Teacher Mentorship programs. Under her direction, Bell Shakespeare’s acclaimed Youth Justice program has expanded into multiple states and regional centres. She has pioneered many Shakespeare programs for marginalised Australians, including the Women in Shakespeare program for Western Sydney girls' schools.