Heat 1 Films | Semi-Finals: Short+Sweet Illawarra Film Festival 2021 (Wollongong & Nowra)

NOWRA | 28 – 31 October
WOLLONGONG | 4 – 7 Nov

Our Film Festival is set for an explosive start, with some of the festivals highest rated films kickstarting the Semi-finals.

Audience will be sending one film from each of our Heat 1 categories, one International Film, one Australian film and one home-grown Illawarra film to our GALA FINALS.

Our judges will vote one film as the overall Best Film for Heat 1 which will also advance to the galas.

HEAT 1 | Semi-Finals
Nowra Screenings: Thu 28/10 (7:30pm) & Sun 31/10 (3:00pm)
at the ROXY Cinema, Nowra
All tickets $15
Bookings: bookings@blackboxtheatre.org

Wollongong Screenings: Thu 4/11 (7:30pm) & Sun 7/11 (3:00pm)
at the Bridge Street Theatre Coniston (Phoenix Theatre)
Tickets: $22 Adult, $17 Concession
Bookings: bookings@blackboxtheatre.org

Agnès Varda

International Films | Islamic Republic of Iran

Written and directed by Mohammad Mohammadian

A brief overview of the life and cinema of French film director, screenwriter, photographer and installation artist Agnès Varda. Her work was pioneering for, and central to, the development of the widely influential French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Historically, Agnès Varda is seen as the New Wave’s mother.

Strange Hearts

International Films (Santiago, Chile)

Written and directed by Fran Olmedo Longeri

A lonely young man dies because of destiny’s mistake. When he comes back to life but without a beating heart, destiny must correct its wrong by giving him another chance at love.

Key Cast: Vince Doud

The Slide

Australian Films (Melbourne, VIC)

Written and directed by Matt Williams

A brief overview of the life and cinema of French film director, screenwriter, photographer and installation artist Agnès Varda. Her A brother and sister, reunited amidst the upheaval of 2020, bond over a monument to their childhood.

Key Cast: Abigail King, Jesse Bouma

Writing Time

Australian Films (Sydney)

Written and directed by Lachlan Salvestro

Discovering that he is trapped in an endless science exam, a hopelessly unprepared student struggles against his loop. Your time starts now.

Key Cast: Saksham Sharma, Dominic Polito

Run With Me

Australian Films (Gold Coast, QLD)

Written by Jo-Anne Brechin
Directed by Bonnie Cee

A boy is on a pursuit to live life to the fullest and convince his love that the restraints of their beautiful town are closing them both in, but can he sway her to leave before it’s too late?

Key Cast: Arielle Cartwright, Nick Slater

Prey School (Wildcard Peoples Choice)

Australian Films (Sydney)

Written and directed Angus Middleton

Join Adam and Lucy as they learn to count, that it’s okay to be scared and how to live through a global pandemic.

Key Cast: Thomas “Wombat” Goth-Towney, Tiffany Wong, Ranjeet Manjrekar

If I Quit Now

Australian Films (Adelaide SA)

Written and directed by Luke Wissell

Near the end of his twelve month rehab stay, Andrew gives a vulnerable testimony to churchgoers. When the congregation seem to judge him harshly, a shattered Andrew makes plans to slip away from the residential rehab and back to drugs. But Rob, the teenager Andrew’s spent the past two months mentoring, uncovers his best friend’s ruinous plan and stages a frightening coup to save Andrew.


Illawarra Films (Woonona)

Written by Gaele Sobott
Directed by Linda Luke and Martin Fox

A bird brings together a dancer, a poet, a film-maker, a composer – to touch the fragility of life.

Key Cast: Linda Luke, Clare Grant

Mr Organic

Illawarra Films (Thirroul)

Written and directed Gabriel McCarthy and Jonathan Adams

Mr. Organic and a stranger get into a “competition” in the park.

Key Cast: Gabriel McCarthy and Jonathan Adams

Don’t Waste It (Newhaven)

Illawarra Films (Dapto)

Directed by Jordan Turner

Don’t Waste It (Newhaven)
Illawarra Films (Dapto)
Set in an abandoned research facility, the music video follows ‘Six’, a test subject who is goaded into making his escape by a mysterious woman from his past.  The film clip combines miniature sets with 3D and 2D animated characters into a menagerie of styles that are diverse, but still created a sense of cohesion in that disparity.

HEAT 1 | Semi-Finals
Nowra Screenings: Thu 28/10 (7:30pm) & Sun 31/10 (3:00pm)
at the ROXY Cinema, Nowra
All tickets $15
Bookings: bookings@blackboxtheatre.org

Wollongong Screenings: Thu 4/11 (7:30pm) & Sun 7/11 (3:00pm)
at the Bridge Street Theatre Coniston (Phoenix Theatre)
Tickets: $22 Adult, $17 Concession
Bookings: bookings@blackboxtheatre.org

International Films | Wildcard Quarter Finals

A quick sneak peak at our International Wildcard Finalists for the SHORT+SWEET ILLAWARRA FILM FESTIVAL 2021

A more creative world: ten-minutes at a time.

Sat 23 Oct | 7:30 PM
at the Bridge Street Theatre Coniston (Phoenix Theatre)
All tickets $15

Vote for your top three films, the winners advancing to our Wollongong and Nowra Heat Season.

Road to Ruin | New York, USA

Written and directed by Jesse Smolan

A Skateboard Murder Mystery.
Key Cast: Rick Smolan, Jesse Smolan, Ellen Erwitt

The Break Fast Truck | USA

Written and Directed by Alex Gust

It might be too late for a man tasked with an impossible mission, but he has to try!
Key Cast: Alex Gust

Love Blood Pain | Porto Alegre, BRAZIL

Written and Directed by Magnum Borini

A mysterious photographer wanders through the São Paulo nightlife, in search for another subject for her work. An unusual encounter will lead to a mix of feelings and sensations.

Key Cast: Aline Szpakowski and Rute Nascimento

The Young Hen Eats Grains of Wheat | Les Lilas, FRANCE

Written and directed by Ann Barbier

This evening Odile receives her brother and her sister-in-law who will participate in a game show without their knowledge. Filmed by three hidden cameras, Odile will have 2 minutes to make them say an imposed sentence and earn 200,000 euros!
Key Cast: Valmer Karine, Godart Elodie, Abraham Fabrice, Maillard Arnaud

Australian Films | Wildcard Quarter Finals

A quick sneak peak at our Australian Wildcard Finalists for the SHORT+SWEET ILLAWARRA FILM FESTIVAL 2021

A more creative world: ten-minutes at a time.

Sat 23 Oct | 7:30 PM
at the Bridge Street Theatre Coniston (Phoenix Theatre)
All tickets $15

Vote for your top three films, the winners advancing to our Wollongong and Nowra Heat Season.


Jack’s Rollback | Canberra, ACT

Written and directed by Rohin John

Journalist – Jack, is an opportunist who thrives on publishing news out of people’s miseries. Jack suffers a series of black outs for which he does not have an answer to. Jack begins to investigate the cause of his black outs.
Key Cast: Dale Thain, Aaron Sims, John Rogers, Adele Lewin, Ashish George, Jasmin Shojai, Craig Cooper, Alyssa Thain

Posthumous Forgiveness | Sydney, NSW

Written and Directed by Melody Chen

Having failed to reconcile with his unsupportive late father, a troubled young comedian questions his career when he comes home to visit his ill-tempered uncle.
Key Cast: Richie Wu, Leonard Sun

Roadside | Sydney, NSW

Written by  Joel Oliver
Directed by Tarni Sneddon

When Riley’s car breaks down so does he.
Key Cast: Ross Perkins, Aaron Pirini

Prey School | Sydney, NSW

Written and directed by Angus Middleton

Join Adam and Lucy as they learn to count, that it’s okay to be scared and how to live through a global pandemic.  
Key Cast: Thomas “Wombat” Goth-Towney, Tiffany Wong, Ranjeet Manjrekar


Illawarra Films | Wildcard Quarter Finals

A quick sneak peak at our Illawarra Wildcard Finalists for the SHORT+SWEET ILLAWARRA FILM FESTIVAL 2021

A more creative world: ten-minutes at a time.

Sat 23 Oct | 7:30 PM
at the Bridge Street Theatre Coniston (Phoenix Theatre)
All tickets $15

Vote for your top three films, the winners advancing to our Wollongong and Nowra Heat Season.

It all Started with the Fires | Thirroul

Written and directed by Gabriel McCarthy

2020. From 3 billion creatures dying, the global pandemic, to the Trump Impeachment, Beirut travesty, Floyd’s death, American riots, to wearing mask and isolating at home, to the Biden and Harris victory… it all started with the Australian fires.

Key Cast: Gabriel McCarthy, Larry G Jones

Starlight (Popasaurus) | Oak Flats

Written and Directed by Chad Steele

In the music video for Popasaurus’ ‘Starlight,’ a lone space farer floats through the abyss of space as she in enveloped by the cosmos.

Helsreach | Wollongong

Written and directed by Richard Bolland

A gripping fan movie trailer inspired by Warhammer.

Get Off the Grass | Wollongong/Sutherland

Written and directed by Kristina Cetinski

An Australian woman deals with some unwanted house guests.

Performing in Limbo

With TWISTED and SHORT+SWEET ILLAWARRA in COVID’s firing line, local independent theatre companies Rising Arts, Short+Sweet Illawarra and the Phoenix Theatre band together to try and save their shows.

Phil Harris, Associate Producer Short+Sweet Illawarra

Actor: Tim Love as Jafar in Rising Arts production of TWISTED.
Photo: splitfocusmedia.com.au

It’s no secret that Covid 19 has devastated the world. There has not been an industry that has escaped its scourge. That’s just as true for the performing arts world and all those that dabble in the greasepaint or bring your entertainment under the stage lights. To have a nod of agreement that ticket sales are down is one thing but to truly delve into the organisational and personal cost of the pandemic is something completely different. Herein is that impact on 3 different levels. Actor, Producer and Venue Provider.

A producer’s nightmare is known as “no bums on seats!” We pull out hair worrying the budget will be shot, tickets will not be sold and the show will lose money thereby jeopardising future shows. After months of pulling all the pieces together, recruiting the illusive production team, promoting hard and scraping together every cent, we prime ourselves for the oncoming opening night. Then someone tells you it’s over before it begins!

The tears fall, the fury bursts, the financial panic sets in and everybody has been hit. The much anticipated Short+Sweet festival and the Rising Arts production of TWISTED have collided head on in their attempts to get their events on the stage. Only by working together have they managed to pull it off, but they are not out of the woods yet.

TWISTED the musical parodies the 1992 Walt Disney Animation Studios’ film Aladdin, and the Walt Disney Company in general, telling the story from the point of view of Ja’far, the Royal Vizier (Pictured). It has several nods and homages to the musical Wicked, which similarly retells a popular story from the villain’s point of view. It’s fun, looney and toe tapping. Just what we need since Covid devastated the arts industry.



Director, TWISTED – Rising Arts Productions

When the current COVID lockdown was announced, it risked taking local production TWISTED with it – their two-week season coinciding with the recent closure of live theatre. But where there are stage-lights, there is hope.

Jarrod: We were preparing and finalising last minute bits and pieces for the production week of Twisted when the news broke. Naturally, it was a crushing blow for us as a creative team, cast and crew who have spent the last year working on the show which had already experienced significant delays due to the 2020 lockdowns but an eventuality we were expecting given the circumstances. We at Rising Arts did what a lot of community theatre groups did when the news broke, we quickly pivoted to plan B and worked in with one another to secure new dates and contingency plans for our shows while also sharing commiserations with one another knowing how devastating it is to have a show affected by COVID-19. It has honestly been touching the amount of love that has been shown to us and everyone else going through a similar experience and has really brought us closer together as a community; a silver lining from a terrible time for all members of the creative arts community.

We’ve been very fortunate to have had the support of so many. Thanks to the flexibility of Short+Sweet Illawarra and Steen at the Phoenix Theatre, we at least have the opportunity to hit the stage when this is all over. At the end of the day we are all one big extended community, so to have people willing to move heaven and earth to try and get you on stage after repeated delays to your show and the offerings of help and support from other companies in the area really emphasises the positives that can come out of working as a collective unit. It’s often easy for companies to isolate themselves and run their own race, but when push comes to shove its moments like these that really epitomise the kind of energy we should all be bringing to the stage and the way we operate at all times.

At this point we’ve spent over 12 months trying to get Twisted to the stage and so many people have spent countless hours to build this piece of theatre; whether it be cast, crew, orchestra or creatives. It’s always hard on a person when something you’ve dedicated so much time to doesn’t come to fruition. That said, artists are nothing but resilient and we’re lucky to have a really resilient and adaptable team who has been willing to go on this wild journey with us, which I think is a testament to the kind of people involved in theatre in the Illawarra. We’re a tough and talented breed, and together we’ll come out the other side of lockdown stronger and better for the experience.



Festival Director, Short+Sweet Illawarra

With local theatre In the firing line of COVID, Short+Sweet Illawarra producer Luke Berman throws a lifeline to Rising Arts Productions, moving his festival to give TWISTED a chance to shine.

Luke: Not only is this is anxious time for our artists with the uncertainty how long the current lockdown might last, but any closure of live performance is a loss to our community. It’s the audiences that miss out too. People have showed they want to go out. Short+Sweet fans know we put on an excellent festival every year. They look forward to it. Our Sydney festival was seeing record audience attendance before lockdown. People are definitely sick of Netflix.

We’re doing something really special here in the Illawarra.

We have a vision to be the only region in the world to offer an annual season with six separate Short+Sweet performance strands. Theatre, Film, Dance, Youth, Cabaret and Stand-up Comedy. This festival could engage with almost anyone in the region and give them a stage in which to tell their stories and to show their talents.

But we too rely completely on ticket sales to ensure the festivals success, so there is definitely the risk of the festival losing money with audience restrictions or extension to lock-downs. If we can get the bums on seats, we could make enough to expand as early as next year. Ourfuture  success financially and creatively relies entirely on how we nurture, engage with, and support our actors, directors, writers, technicians, filmmakers, venue owners and our audience.

We have a lot of experience in creating sustainable festivals that are adaptable to market volatility, so we’re well placed to weather the current uncertainty. But as an independent hirer to the theatre, there is only so much we do. Any change to our dates we risk losing plays, directors, actors and crew. It’s tricky to keep changing when you’re working with 23 separate productions and over a hundred artists. But such is the risk of producing theatre during the age of COVID.

What is remarkable though, is the effort that each group is going to for the others. With the cooperation of multiple groups, Short+Sweet Illawarra we were able to move our opening week of plays to free up the stage, and give TWISTED a chance to survive.

This is how we work in the Illawarra. We look out for each-other. I’m sure Rising Arts would do the same for us. We’re not out of the woods yet, and even if we can return to the stage as scheduled, we need the community to support us. Buy a ticket and let us entertain you.



Venue Manager, Bridge Street Theatre (Phoenix Theatre Company)

Venue owner Steen from the Phoenix Theatre has moved mountains to ensure that there is a stage ready for local independent producers Rising Arts Productions and Short+Sweet Illawarra. But his generosity comes at great cost.

Steen:  When the first lockdown happened we were already in debt for three shows about to open, fortunately we have recouped those shows since but it was a very difficult time. We fortunately have very low running costs because we don’t often do rights based modern shows. We are also not profit-driven so we did not have as tough a time as others may have, but we did come close to closing the doors, a possibility that still hangs as a shadow over us in these uncertain times.

Bouncing back will be hard. The key is diversity but it is also the problem. Theatres need to keep diverse audiences want a diverse medium. We hear it all the time that people are sick of seeing the same sort of thing over and over again, but people often fear trying something new.

The Phoenix Theatre is dedicated to emerging theatre makers and providing alternative performance opportunities to the community, this essentially means we do not do standard popular work and do not have the financial resources available to companies that do more audience-friendly theatre such as well-known musicals or comedies.

This does not mean we are any less in quality, we strive for improvement and high-quality performance, it just means resources are sparser due to numbers.

We keep our door prices very low, so people can try something new, if they like it they will come back. I feel smaller more diverse shows that are well done at a lower price will eventually gather more audience who want to see something new along with the big entertainment events, this model is slowly taking on around the theatre centres of the world.

There is absolutely room for both, at the core is telling stories and the shared experience of being in the same room with the performer, feeling the resonance of the voice, the air move with the gesture of the actor and the shared emotional experience with the fellow audience members, the theatre will survive but it may look a little different when it comes back, and that is not always a bad thing. Adaptation is what people do best.

The Phoenix will always be here for the odd the quirky and the alternative, we are deeply connected to our community, and we will adjust to fill in the gaps as best we can and support the emerging theatre makers and audience.



Actor, Short+Sweet Illawarra

Short+Sweet Illawarra actor Zac Chadwick, who lost his role in Short+Sweet Illawarra due to the changed dates reflects on the importance and innovation of our Illawarra theatremakers.

Zac: This most recent COVID outbreak has been tough on individuals, families and business in NSW and let’s be honest, all of Australia. Local business struggle to survive, people from all sorts of situations struggling with demands they’ve never faced before. One such industry that has been hit hard, and strikes a special note with many, including myself is theatre. 

Theatre isn’t just superficial for people who do it, consume it and interact with it, it’s much more. In the same way exercise can help the body and mind, theatre does this for the hearts and souls of people. For myself in particular, there’s been changes in casts, and I haven’t been able to perform in pieces I’ve wanted to, work with friends and colleagues who I learn from and respect, there’s been pieces moved years in advance to accommodate for the uncertainty and most of all it’s stopped a lot of the face-to-face interaction we all need. 

That being said; theatre has been positively affected: seeing communities grow, reach out, there’s been so many accommodations and creative solutions like Facebook live theatre, recordings and rehearsals over zoom, there’s been poets and musicians arise in people who didn’t know they had it in them and it’s given theatre a surge in voices and presence in the online community. 

Whilst it’s been difficult through the financial impact of not only actors but hirers, behind the scene artists, crew, lighting, etc. it has been amazing to see that being physically apart doesn’t have to mean distant. The mood is sombre but hopeful in many cases and hopefully with support, the theatre will thrive again in the way it’s meant to be consumed, in person, in full. 

Cast Announcement – Playmates 2020 Super Team


Saturday 12th December at 8:00pm
at the Bridge Street Theatre Coniston (Phoenix Theatre)
Limited Seating to ensure a COVID-Safe production

For the first time in Playmates’ fifteen-year history, only one actor from each group has been put forward to form a Playmates SUPER TEAM, in our annual improvised comedy showcasing unifying the Illawarra’s theatre and performance groups Roo Theatre Company, Wollongong Workshop Theatre, Stanwell Park Arts Theatre, University, Wollongong Comedy and Black Box Productions.

Our six brave performers will play together for love, not for the trophy in a ultimate statement of friendship and cooperation.

Last year’s champions University will retain the trophy they reclaimed in the controversial 2019 Grand Final triumph over Wollongong Comedy. While keeping the trophy another year was music to the ears of University captain Alexander Cuff, not everyone is as happy to not get a change for Playmates redemption.

“It is a travesty, an absolute travesty! The trophy should be parked in the Black Box Vault until the 2021 Playmates. This sort of bullshit could tear the Playmates community apart! Maybe don’t call it the Black Box vault though, that sounds creepy.” – Feargus, WWT.

While Jordan from Roo Theatre is already eyeing off returning Roo Theatre to their former Playmates glory days. “It’s ok, they know they are going to lose it next time. Give them a little longer with the trophy because they probably won’t win it again.”

When asked if he thought it was fair that University retain the trophy, Alex responded “Uni keeping the trophy for another year was always gonna happen; you think we weren’t gonna win this year anyway?”

Lisa from Black Box Productions is especially looking forward to performing alongside the other groups. “I don’t do playmates for the competition, it’s just fun, so I really couldn’t care less about the trophy. That being said, Wollongong Comedy 100% should’ve won last year. Don’t tell Alex I said that though.”



Alex was born the day before the original Pokémon games were released, which is nice that such a positive thing came after a major tragedy. He spent the next 24 years disappointing most people he encountered. Here’s to 24 more, because God knows he doesn’t have much longer than that.


Adam Armitt is the longest serving participant in playmates, and arguably the most attractive, he is a regular with in the local comedy and improv scene, helping run teach classes to new improvisors as a part of Rising Arts Productions. Will he prove that those who can’t do, teach? Probably.


Lisa likes to collect stamps from Japan. She believes they give her samurai powers. Lisa has been involved in lots of improv with Rising Arts Productions and has been a part of Playmates since 2013.


Feargus finds a perverse sense of enjoyment in the sheer terror that comes each time he steps into the improv space. He doesn’t like to think too hard about what that says about him but it probably has something to do with the way in which you need to lean on/plug in to your fellow performers. That dynamic is the central thing he loves about all theatre – holding up your fellow performers/storytellers while they hold you up at exactly the same time.

“Improv gets you to dial this energy up to 11. It makes for a truly wild ride that always carries the risk of a serious crash resulting in mashed egos and dismembered reputations.”


Bryson has been good looking for about twenty four years now, with very little else going on. He is a fan of comic books, occasional substance abuse and frequent self abuse (I like to rehearse in the mirror). He loves his girlfriend and walks on the beach.


Jordan is just your typical writer who ends up on stage more than he would like. If he could say “no” more often he probably would be somewhere very different. He enjoys writing and is very good at babbling on when he doesn’t know what to say as that’s how he has made it through his university degree. His humor comes out when he is extremely nervous so this show is going to be natural to him. Jordan aspires to have a sass off with Gordon Ramsay one day.

Saturday 12th December at 8:00pm
at the Bridge Street Theatre Coniston (Phoenix Theatre)
Limited Seating to ensure a COVID-Safe production

Black Box Theatre | 2020 Season

Season Banner 2020

Black Box Theatre’s 2020 season kicks off in March with the Pulitzer-Prize winning stage-play PROOF by David Auburn, and will be directed by Luke Berman. On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Catherine, a troubled young woman, has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father, a famous mathematician. Now, following his death, she must deal with her own brilliance as well as the doubt of her sanity.

“A touching study in filial devotion, as brilliant people struggle against their fears of madness.” Michael Sommers, New York Times.

Cast: Lisa Omodie (Catherine), Gordon Streek (Robert), Zac Chadwick (Hal), Mel Ringer (Claire)

Our 24 HOUR THEATRE challenge returns again in 2020, and will feature ten short plays that are written overnight, rehearsed and performed the next day – scripts down. Following our sell-out season in 2019, we are expecting another strong showcase.

Our SHORT+SWEET ILLAWARRA festival returns for its third year in the Illawarra, while its big-brother Sydney festival celebrates its nineteenth season. Returning this year will be our Theatre Top-20 season of ten-minute theatre productions, as well as the return of our Film Festival and Cabaret+Comedy showcase following their successful debut in 2019.

If this little festival wasn’t already big enough, we are adding two more programs into the mix, with Short+Sweet Illawarra Dance and Youth-Theatre being launched for the first time in the region.  We will also be adding our own Gala Final Showcase – featuring the best acts from the festival, which is expected to exceed 100 original pieces of theatre, film, comedy and dance.

And as always, to finish the year, will be PLAYMATES ILLAWARRAIllawarrra’s mate-against-mate improvisation showcase featuring six local theatre and entertainment companies. This is the 15th consecutive year Playmates has been staged, with University looking to retain their trophy they won in 2019 in a photo-finish grand final triumph against Wollongong Comedy.


Proof Teaser Banner


Written by David Auburn

Directed by Luke Berman

Starring Lisa Omodei (Catherine), Gordon Streak (Robert),
Zac Chadwick (Hal) and Mel Ringer (Claire)

20 - 28 March 
at the Bridge St Theatre Coniston



24 Hr Theatre Banner_nodate


From blank page to the stage – all in 24 hours

30th May
at the Bridge St Theatre Coniston



SS Illawarra LogoALPHA



The Biggest Little Festival in the World

4th September - 10th October
at the Bridge St Theatre Coniston






Illawarra’s mate-against-mate improvisation showcase

City Diggers Club Wollongong




Meet the Wollongong Comedy Team | Playmates Illawarra 2019


7:30pm  Friday 6th December
City Diggers Club, Burelli Street Wollongong

TicketsFacebook Event | Follow on FB

Meet the Wollongong Comedy Team

No team has been hungrier for the trophy than Wollongong Comedy, not since SPATs inaugural Grand Final victory on our ten-year anniversary. This year, the pressure is on – Wollongong Comedy head honcho Stu MacPherson has gone with a lethal line-up featuring Adam Armitt, Jen Guerrieri-Cortesi, Lisa Omodei and Jarrod Riesinger.


But no matter how strong the team is, Wollongong Comedy has had a love-hate relationship with our Playmates judging panel.

Luke: Which of the other teams do you think are your biggest threat?

Adam: Just like every year, it’s the judges.

Jen: Yep. “Team Judges”. Too much history there.

Jarrod: Yeah, our team is cursed with both devilishly good looks and the inability to win Playmates.

Luke: What’s your favourite thing about improv?

Jarrod: Crushing the University team.

Jen: I love performing with people I know and love and trust, and meeting new people and seeing their skills develop. Also hearing the audience react instantaneously.

Jarrod: Yeah, and as cheesy as it sounds, it’s the camaraderie. Most of my favourite memories and stories are from improv or with people I perform improv with often. It’s very hard to find something that will bring people closer together than creating something together. Add an element of spontaneity and you have fantastic failures, hilarious embarrassing moments and some really empowering accomplishments; sometimes all in the one scene. I think that’s something only improv can achieve. Speaking of, crushing the Uni team is something only Wollongong Comedy can achieve.

Adam: My Team is hilarious.

Luke: You just won the lotto. What do you do with the cash?

Adam: How much are we talking? Scratchy probably a party, 20-mil definitely a party.

Jen: Pay off my week old mortgage, lots of travel. Buy puppies. Buy a zoo.

Jarrod: Buy a theatre and do a shitload of improv. Also, Disney World. Maybe buy Disney World and turn it into an improv theatre.

Luke: You have a chance to perform in front of a famous person, living or dead. Who, and why?

Adam: President Trump.

Luke: President Trump?

Adam: Yeah, but he’d be dead.

Jarrod: It’s a tie between Wollongong’s resident hunky and hilarious comedian Adam Armitt or Del Close at the peak of his ‘Del Close-ness’. Both seem like they’d be a party to perform in front of!

Jen: Can’t go past Improv Royalty in the form of Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles but I would need a strong glass of liquid courage beforehand.

Luke: Why should people come to Playmates?

Jen: It’s celebrating local theatre and comedians and actors in this friendly, not crazy intimidating way. We have no idea what’s going to happen, neither do you. But we need your suggestions to get there. It’s a fun night of laughs and just something different from plonking on the couch.

Jarrod: To watch Alex Cuff cry when he doesn’t win two years in a row. It’s also a great testament of the talent the Illawarra performing arts scene has. Most companies, whether directly or indirectly, are represented in some way and that is something that should be celebrated.

Adam: Because we are creating a unique experience for the audience and performers. There’s nothing quite like Playmates.

Meet the Roo Theatre Team


Meet the Roo Theatre Team

We are proud to introduce the team from Playmates founding members Roo Theatre. The team from Shellharbour are fired up ready for their 14th consecutive Playmates and are chasing their third Playmates victory.



Dylan Horvat (Captain)
Alex Groombridge
James Turnbull
Kelly Nicholson


Playmates Executive Producer Luke Berman interviewed the team, check out what they had to say!

Luke: How much do you love Playmates?

Dylan:   Enough for it to be my 5th Playmates that I’ve participated in, captaining the Roo Theatre team every time.

James: How many grains of sand are there on the beach?

Alex: With all my heart, which I’ll admit is tiny, but still, it’s all of it.

Kelly: A whole lot. Super fun and the bestest of all the times.


Why should people come and watch Playmates?

Alex: I’ve checked with the boys in the lab and their research has found that improv comedians are the second sexiest people on earth (the first are whoever the judges are this year). That and I know full well there’s nothing an audience loves more than being part of a show, and there’s no shortage of that in Playmates.

Kelly: Because it’s the kind of show that makes you want to jump up on stage and just play with all the fun people.

Dylan: Audiences always love Playmates, and why wouldn’t they? It’s showcasing 24 hilarious local performers, all getting a turn to make the audience laugh and give them someone to root for.

James: To see the Roo team win.


What’s your favourite part of improvisation?

James: There’s a moment in every Playmates where someone really takes a leap of faith with the content of a joke, or the direction of a scene goes somewhere you don’t plan it to go. There’s that one moment where they break character, just for a second, and look at the audience to see if they’re about to laugh, or if this is going to be the most painful five minutes of their life. That fear in their eyes when they look out, that pure, unreserved fear is the best part of improv. Also, Italian accents are hilarious and I love it when people use them in a scene.

Kelly: I agree with James, there’s really something hilarious and amazing about what comes out of a moment of fear and exhilaration.

Alex: I just love making people laugh. It sounds cliché but life can be so stressful, if I can cheer someone up, I’m satisfied.

Dylan: My favourite part is being able to say what I want on stage without the fear of a director reprimanding me for ad libs!


Which team poses the biggest threat to your team winning Playmates this year?

Dylan: Probably the Uni team because they said they’re going to win. Or Workshop because they said they’ll keep it

Kelly: Workshop Theatre, because it’s my previous team and without me they might win again.

Alex: Hey, there is no team more threatening than Roo! We have the greatest power of all: friendship.

James: Look, our only weakness is we might be too good and the judges will have to give the trophy to another team out of pity. We’re just that good.



If you won the lottery, what would you do with the cash?

Dylan: Receive it in notably small instalments so I don’t go crazy with power. I mean, those small instalments will still be more than most people make in a year so I still have the most power.

Alex: Fund my rock opera. There’s no joke here, I’d literally just do that.

Kelly: Make a super huge budget feature film and buy my family houses and a big TV to watch said movie.

James: Eat it.

Luke: Eat it? Eat your lotto winnings?

James: Yes.


What is your spirit animal and why?

Alex: Wild Turkey. Geddit, cuz its a spirit with an animal as a mascot?

James: Three children stacked together in a trench coat.

Luke: Listen, James –

James: Don’t judge me Berman.

Luke: Kelly, help me out here –

Kelly: Definitely a Cat.

James: I hate cats.

Kelly: Hey, they have wonderful relaxing lives and are awesome in every way!

Dylan: Are there any animals that are good at improv? Because having that as my spirit animal would really help me out.

Luke: Yeah mate, I don’t know if there are animals that do improv…

Dylan: Screw you Berman.


Final Words?

Dylan: People should seriously come see it, because it’s a great thing to watch every year. Hell, I watched it every year from 2011 – 2014 and have been acting in it ever since.

Kelly: I’m just so excited, fun times ahead!

James: I will have trained gunmen aimed at the building for anyone who dares give us “zimbabwe” as a prompt. This is your final warning.

Alex: It’s gonna be a bloodbath!

Cast Announcement | Playmates Illawarra 2019


Playmates Illawarra 2019
Cast Announcement

7:30pm  Friday 6th December
City Diggers Club, Burelli Street Wollongong
Tickets| Facebook Event | Follow on FB


The teams have been locked in, and they are ready to play your favourite Playmates improvised comedy games as well as five new games that will be played using suggestions from our live audience.

Wollongong Workshop Theatre returns as defending champions and will face off against a University team hungry to take back the trophy.

“Uni team will avenge what was taken from us.” – Alex Cuff, Uni Captain

But can the team of comedians finally lift the trophy? Stu Macpherson’s Wollongong Comedy are fielding arguably their strongest team ever, but can they win over the judges? Adam Armitt, team captain, is confident of success this year.

“It’s like a failing marriage, I’m just here for the kids.” Adam, Wollongong Comedy

Playmates foundation companies Roo Theatre and Stanwell Park Arts Theatre (SPAT) return for their 14th year, with Black Box rounding out the six teams on stage Friday night.


Playmates Illawarra 2019 Teams:

Feargus Manning (captain), Dayle Raftery, Bryson Grenfell, Caz Prescott

Dylan Horvat (captain), Alex Groombridge, James Turnbull, Kelly Nicholson

Alexander Cuff (captain), Sam Sweeting, Freya Jarrett, Nathan Steel

Shayan Murray (captain), Jordan Cunningham, Abbey McDonald, Maddie Huisman

Adam Armitt (captain), Jen Guerrieri-Cortesi, Lisa Omodei, Jarrod Riesinger

Emily Cassar (captain), Brandon Fairley, Julian Barry