A Bunbury performer has returned home after spending a year studying an inaugural Masters degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Stephanie Fitz-Henry was one of only 17 individuals selected to study a Masters of Professional Practise (Performing Arts) beating out others from across Australia and the world.
After graduating in December she recently touched back down in WA and is the only one in the state to have completed the intensive course which saw her learn and collaborate with visual artists, circus performers and industry professionals.
“I’d been doing my university degree majoring in theatre, drama and writing,” she said.
“I found out about this inaugural program that was being run through the University of the Sunshine Coast, it was a rigorous process, there was a physical audition, a monologue and an interview.
“I was accepted and it made sense for me to go down that road because when I was younger I did a lot of dance – I’ve always loved telling stories through the body, so I was so fortunate to be part of this first Masters.
“This training supported us in finding and developing our strengths, create art no matter what the circumstances, and to thrive not just survive.”
Ms Fitz-Henry spent the year developing her performance skills and is excited to share what she learnt with the performing community in Bunbury.
“I’m someone who naturally challenges myself and I think that’s where the growth is,” she said.
“I got to develop in a short space of time, I was blown away with what I created and what the others created when we were put under pressure.
“We got to be performers, producers, directors and creative entrepreneurs – we learned how to be our best selves, to be successful and authentic as artists and as human beings.
“We had students from WAAPA and NIDA who found that this course offered a completely different experience and style of training that enhanced their skills even further.”
Ms Fitz-Henry is currently working on a new project – Monkey Bars and Mayhem, which will be performed later this year.
The work will explore complex issues within contemporary Australian family which contribute to the breakdown of the family unit.
“It does this through physical theatre and text, using themes of children's games and play to construct the story,” she said.
“It will be through my company that I started to create in Melbourne – Above Ground Theatre and I’m looking at having a training branch of that as well.
“Now that I’ve come back here I’ve put the foundations in and I’m ready to get it up and running.
“I really want to meet with and collaborate with a lot of different artists from the region and other people that are passionate about performance, theatre and the arts.”