Joanne Kee on Parramatta and the National Theatre

Parramatta is just a great place because it’s got everything in the area. It’s got this really fantastic community vibe – there’s a sense you can just go out and find so many exciting things to do. It really has a nature of its own.

I think there’s such a great variety of people on the street, and it’s so much more full of life than even the centre of Sydney. Parramatta at night is buzzing with colour, and people of all ages are just out having dinner and ice cream.

'It’s just really got this unique mixture. The fact you can actually walk all around Parramatta makes it really attractive. Even along the river bank, when it’s a hot night, there are so many people around. It reminds me of Europe – it actually comes alive at night.

I think it’s a little bit different to other parts of Sydney. We are really wanting to put Australia on stage. The people on the streets are the people you see on the stage. People really want to see work we’re putting on because we’re telling stories they can relate to.

It’s just so easy to get to and the media is also coming out because the work we’re doing is really fresh, genuine, and authentic. What we’re creating is a real buzz around local artists. In four years we’ve doubled our audience and that to me says we’re doing something right.

We get people who see the one show two or three times because they connect with the story. People come up to me and say, I haven’t seen that before – that’s my story. That touches my heart – I went to school with someone like that. The theatre we make really validates people lives because they get to see themselves. We always set out to do that – to create work that resonates with people. I think we’ve got a real heartbeat to what we do.

Joanne Kee

Joanne Kee
Executive Producer National Theatre of Australia