Notre Dame Lecturer takes centre stage

Jane Bergeron (right) and fellow Escape Artists actor Carrie Ann Quinn
during a performance of Possessions.

23 May 2014

Jane Bergeron, Head of Theatre Studies at The University of Notre Dame Australia took centre stage starring as both actress and playwright in the recent Sydney production of Possessions, supported by some of her current students, alumni and colleagues.

The Senior Lecturer at the School of Arts and Sciences Sydney wrote and performed in the play with Carrie Ann Quinn, fellow artist at Escape Artists Theatre Company.

First performed at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre in Boston, USA, in June 2013, Possessions was recently performed at the King Street Theatre in Newtown and tells the story of the Mancini sisters, Marie and Hortense, who recorded their scandalous lives in ground-breaking memoirs.

“Marie and Hortense were the original Thelma and Louise – breaking free from their abusive upper-class marriages, dressing as men and travelling by horse-back across Europe,” Ms Bergeron said.

“Their courage and adventurous spirit made for a dynamic production which was a lot of fun to write and perform. However, we also had a responsibility to highlight the underlying issues of the time including domestic violence, power, and gender inequality.”

The duo was supported by Mr Luke Mullins, Sessional Lecturer and Tutor at the School of Arts and Sciences Sydney, who directed the play, while current Theatre Studies students Emily Corkhill, Timothy van Zuylen, Samantha Stewart and Morgan Davis joined the production as Assistant Producer, Scenic Designer, Actors and Stagehands.

“I learnt a lot from my experience working on Possessions including the ins and outs of theatre production, the rehearsal process and how to take direction from production staff,” Samantha Stewart, Bachelor of Arts (Journalism/Theatre Studies) student said.

“I’ve worked with Jane before and her passion and expertise is always refreshing and very encouraging. As a student, if you want a career in theatre you really need to get out and experience it as much as you can. I understand the industry and fell more prepared for the real world now.”

Notre Dame Alumni Samantha Camilieri, Shane Wadell and Penelope Lemon joined the production as Production Stage Manager, Actor and Documentary Filmmaker respectively. Penelope chronicled the research, development and staging of the production, recorded a live performance and conducted interviews with the artistic team. Mr Marco Ianniello, Head of Film Studies at the School of Arts and Sciences is now overseeing the final editing of the documentary.

With 20 years’ stage experience in the USA and London, Ms Bergeron is a professional actor, director and theatre educator who brings a wealth of experience to the classrooms of Notre Dame including lead roles in My Fair Lady and Twelfth Night. Ms Bergeron was also the recipient on the the 2012 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Initiatives that Enhance Student Learning.

"As an academic/practitioner, it is vital I stay abreast of current practice in the performing arts. The opportunity to collaborate with theatre professionals, including current students, alumni and colleagues, to create an original performance piece such as Possessions has been a very exciting and rewarding experience for me,” Ms Bergeron said.

The provision of an excellent standard of training for the professions is an Object of Notre Dame and lies at the heart of all courses, including those at the School of Arts and Sciences.

“Jane’s theatre program motivates the students to extend themselves beyond the limitations of the specific discipline of theatre,” Associate Professor Steven Lovell-Jones, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Sydney said.

“Of crucial import is how Jane has inspired students to learn through the experience of theatre production and performance and to extend this experience of learning into other realms of human endeavour. I am convinced Jane’s program educates our students for the changing modes of life they will encounter after graduation.”

Applications for the course for semester two are now open. Apply at

Hannah Guilfoyle: Tel (02) 8204 4141;