Eleni Cassimatis

I grew up in Orange NSW, and I was a Player for Bell Shakespeare in 2020 and 2021. It was a crazy two years, because of Covid and lockdowns. But it felt really special to be able to bring communities together for an hour to laugh.

We travelled down to the South Coast and performed in Mallacoota. Mallacoota had been really badly affected by the devasting bushfires. We had an entire community performance one evening, with students, parents, and grandparents. We performed Just Romeo and Juliet! which is one of our funniest plays. Everyone was laughing. It felt special to be able to give back to a community that had been through so much.

I think people across Australia have been starved of connection since Covid, and live performance allows us to come together and share an experience. For me, it was so rewarding reaching schools in regional communities, because I grew up in a country town. I even got to perform in my old school in Orange, and even smaller places like Cooma and Quaama. It meant so much to me because I was once one of those students. Getting to see the Players growing up unlocked a whole world of possibility for me, as someone who wanted to be an actor.

Something that is so wonderful about Bell Shakespeare’s education programs is that they create community and bring people together. They allow people to access live performance, who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. That’s what Bell Shakespeare is so wonderful at doing. It’s reaching students that otherwise wouldn’t get the opportunity to see Shakespeare live.

It's been such a surreal experience being cast in Hamlet. It is my first show at Sydney Opera House. Shakespeare’s stories are so exciting, and full of love and heartbreak, and pain and anger and revenge. I think we turn to the arts to find a deeper level of understanding of ourselves, and the world we live in. I’ve had so many people come up to me after a performance and be like “My cousin is Osric” or “My uncle is exactly the same as Polonius.” And I think that’s what it is at its core. These characters and these words are for everyone.

To support Bell Shakespeare, you can donate online or contact our Philanthropy Team via email or phone at 02 8298 9083.