Happy Belated Birthday, WITS

Just over a year ago WITS burst onto the scene in Sydney. I delivered this speech at the first forum. I am so proud of that event, and everything that has come out of the energy we raised in that room. I am so proud of the incredible team that now drives WITS – Lizzie Schebesta, Maryann Wright, Ildiko Susany, Matilda Ridgway, Michela Carattini, and Suzanne Pereira. We fight the good fight for a better industry for all. I am SO proud of Lizzie Schebesta in particular and the incredible leadership she showed as Artistic Director of the inaugural WITS Festival Fatale.

WITS First Think Tank at The Seymour Centre in The York Theatre. 

I’m Erica Lovell, I’m one of your facilitators for this evening. Essentially, I’m your Tony Jones. So if it all goes to hell — it’s my head you’re after! Joining me are my co-organisers and facilitators of this meeting, Lizzie Schebesta, Clementine Mills, Maryann Wright, and Libby Munro.

I want to thank all of you for being here on what is, at least for theatre professionals, your weekend. I know a lot of you, and I know many of you will be thinking “well, don’t thank me! Of course I’m here! I’m a woman!” Well, yes, of course. But when you consider that we only got the vote in this country a hundred years ago, and we live in a society that still silences women with the stories it tells and the stories it doesn’t tell, it is astonishing that a group of 300 women can gather to talk about women’s rights without raising suspicion and conjuring images of witches around cauldrons, chanting “hubble, bubble, toil and trouble,” and messing things up for men. Well, mostly.

We have been asked many times why this meeting is for women only. For the most part, people understand and support the decision once we explain that we are not excluding men because we think they are all misogynists and woman-haters, nor because we are all misandrists and men haters, but because women are taught from a very young age to be silent, taught by the fictional stories we are told in books and television and theatre, and the cultural stories we watch playing out between the men and women in our lives, and because we are working in an industry fuelled by charm and amiability and friendship, because of these things, it is imperative that a forum about giving a voice to women actually gives a voice to WOMEN. Purely. Without interruption, without—as much as possible—that cultural pressure to be silent. Without the threat of professional retribution. And the threat is real – we have already had women contacting us with important and damning information but asking not to be named for fear of professional backlash.

There are media present today. Please know that they are all women, and all here to support you, and have all been asked to respect your anonymity if you choose to take the mic at any point tonight. If you are comfortable being named and quoted, please state that clearly before you speak.

We have a responsibility, as professional story-tellers, to tell stories that are complex, and beautiful, and helpful. The stories we tell men and women are the stories they well tell each other, and their children. If in 2015, we are still receiving casting briefs that say “She’s cute, but not hot. He doesn’t have to worry about his friends fantasising about her” — because a woman’s character is entirely defined by how much men want to have sex with her— then there is something wrong with the stories we are telling. If in 2015 we are seeing Sofy Be Fresh commercials telling us that a natural function of the female body, one which allows the production of life, is shameful, disgusting, and turns us into slovenly, unattractive, lunatics with poor personal hygiene, there is something drastically wrong with the stories we are telling.

As professional story-tellers, we are uniquely positioned to push for change. Because art doesn’t just mirror life, but life mirrors art.

We want you to know that if you’re feeling frustrated, angry, indignant—we honour that. Because it’s justified. There are less women on stage and screen than men: you are not imagining it. And if you’re struggling to find women writers and women directors in your season brochures and in the rolling credits, it’s because there’s not many there: you’re not imagining it. And YES – it is because sexism is systemic in our culture and in our industry. Do not allow the culture to gaslight you. Your perception on this one is CRYSTAL. CLEAR.

So if you want to rage, we understand.

Right now, however, we need to keep motivated, because ultimately, action is the only thing that breeds change. Also, we literally don’t have time — either tonight or culturally — to let ourselves be immobilised by our anger, however justified it is. And who here wants to prove our detractors who believed this would just be a bunch of witches and bitches having a whinge — or as I like to call it, a righteous vent—- but who wants to prove them right? I don’t. Let’s celebrate our vision for the future of women.

Truth Beauty And A Picture of You

Truth Beauty And A Picture of You – Tickets on sale now!

Next stop Newtown.

I’m so excited to be returning to this project. I workshopped the script two years ago, and nagged my agent and Neil Gooding for months when I heard whispers of a production. The nagging paid off, and I get to sing Tim Freedman’s beautiful music, say Alex Broun’s beautiful words, and inhabit that quirky creature Beatrice again. Can’t wait.

Be sure to check this out.



Erica’s next appearance will be with the Ensemble Theatre playing Zelda in David Williamson’s new play, “Happiness.”

Erica has always loved Williamson’s wit and intelligence, and the opportunity to work on a new play by Australia’s national playwright is an honour she never thought she’d have.

Tickets are already on sale, and with Williamson weilding the pen, are likely to sell quickly. Make sure you book early.

Rehearsals begin this Monday.

Great Falls @ The Ensemble

Erica has been sweating it out at The Ensemble Theatre for the last four weeks, rehearsing with Christopher Stollery for the upcoming production of Great Falls by Lee Blessing.

The production is directed by up-and-coming (and brilliant) young director Anna Crawford. 

Erica plays “Bitch”, a sharp witted, silver-tongued teenager on the cusp of adulthood, determined to make her step father, “Monkey Man” (Christopher Stollery) rue the day he decided to try and mend their relationship post-divorce. 

Set against the dramatic landscape of America’s mid and north west, the play explores parenthood, daughterhood, friendship, and duty. 

The short season is selling well, so drop a line to the Ensemble and book ASAP.


Next to Normal

As some of you will know, Next to Normal would have opened this weekend just gone.

I haven’t posted on the cancellation of the show yet because I wasn’t sure what I was allowed to say and, to be honest, was for some time too emotional to speak about it.

Please know we are still grieving the loss of this show, the loss of the opportunity to tell this beautiful and important story.

I want to thank our director, Tyran Park, for remaining so passionate about the show that never was, except in his own exceptional imagination, and supporting us through the last couple of months. His love of the show and his cast has not waned.

I also want to thank my on-stage mother, Michelle Doake, whose friendship has been invaluable as we dealt with the emotional and professional challenges that come with losing a show.

This must sound like we are speaking of the passing of a dearly loved friend or family member. Well, that’s what it feels like. We even had a wake. There was wine and cheese and a good deal of crying.

Much love to everyone who has kept and still keeps the faith in this little gem of musical theatre, Next to Normal. I honestly believe our production had the potential to change the face of musicals in Australia forever, to bring the genre the respect it deserves, both from the public and in the industry.

Erica. xxx

Footnotes Coaching

Erica is the director of Footnotes Coaching, providing tuition in English, drama and singing in Sydney, with a studio in the Inner West.

Please send enquiries via the contact form below.

Next to Normal

It is with great excitement and gratitude that I can finally announce I will be playing the incredible role of Natalie in Newline Productions’ upcoming production of Next to Normal, to open at The Capitol Theatre, Sydney, in September.

Next to Normal tells the story of a woman’s experience of Bi-Polar disorder, and the impact it has on her family and relationships.

When I first listened to the OCR, I was captivated. Getting to know this piece out of sheer love of the writing, then in preparation for the auditions, and now in preparation to perform, has been a truly paradigm-shifting experience for me over the last few years. I hope it has as profound an effect on our audiences.

The show, as many of you will already know, will be directed by Tyran Parke and musically directed by Peter Rutherford. The cast will feature Ian Stenlake as Dan, Michelle Doake as Diana, Bobby Fox as the doctors, Ross Hannaford as Gabe, and Dash Kruck as Henry.

I’m so looking forward to this journey.


Dry July Update

Someone incredibly generous made an anonymous donation of $100 to my Dry July campaign. Whoever you are…



Head over to my Dry July profile or just search my name on the site to make a donation to my campaign. Or start your own!