The Judges

MICHELLE GOSPER joined the CONDA judging panel in 2009. She has been involved in theatre for more than three decades, since she worked in theatre restaurant alongside fellow drama student Stephen (The Sandman) Abbott to help pay her way through the University of Newcastle. She majored in drama for her Bachelor of Arts degree and has a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts, with her focus in that area of study being on directing.

Michelle was a drama teacher at Lambton High School. Her theatre-related posts during her teaching career have included 13 years as Star Struck drama co-ordinator, five years as co-ordinator of the Hunter Youth Drama Ensemble (HYDRA), and the post of drama director for the All Schools Annual Anzac Day ceremony at the Civic Theatre. She has been the drama representative on the Hunter-Central Coast Schools Creative Arts Committee and co-ordinator of the Hunter-Central Coast High Schools Drama Festivals. She has also been an examiner of the practical component of the Higher School Certificate drama course for 20 years.

Michelle was a member of the board of 2 Til 5 Youth Theatre (now Tantrum Theatre) and served respectively as secretary and chairperson in a six-year period. Her original script for a play about the AIDS epidemic was used as the basis of a Freewheels Theatre-in-Education Company group-devised text, Not Me, Mate!, that won the 1990 CONDA Award for best new play.

Michelle continued to perform until the late 2000s, including roles in productions by Newcastle’s Hands Free Theatre and in Wagga Wagga and at Sydney’s Bondi Pavilion.

 

CARL GREGORY joined the CONDA judging panel in 2015.

Carl has been an active participant in the Newcastle theatre community for more than two decades, making his stage debut at age 4. He has previously graduated from Helen O’ Grady’s Academy of Drama and Dance in 2000 and the Hunter School of the Performing Arts in 2007, where he was awarded the inaugural Samantha Booth Memorial Award for Drama. Since then, Carl has performed in over 25 theatrical productions across Newcastle’s theatre community, collaborating as part of companies including Tantrum Theatre, Newcastle Theatre Company, Theatre on Brunker, the University of Newcastle, and Club 71.

Carl graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Communications, (majoring in journalism) in 2010, and has previously worked with 1233 ABC Newcastle and 2NUR FM. From 2012 to 2017, he published long-form reviews for many of Newcastle’s major theatrical productions as part of his independent blog Curtain Call.

Through his ongoing work as a CONDA judge, Carl hopes to give back to the tremendously talented Newcastle theatre community which had helped foster his interest in the performing arts years ago.

 

ANNA LAMBERT  joined the CONDA judging team in 2018.

Anna grew up in the theatre, having started classes at Young People’s Theatre at the age of 9. Whilst initially hesitant to join, her parents encouraged her to “at least try it for one year” and she hasn’t looked back since. Anna is very active in the Newcastle theatre scene and has acted with a number of different companies. She has been lucky enough to play Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible (2017), Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2016), The Cat in the Hat in Seussical the musical (2015), Sir Toby in Twelfth night (2012) and many, many more. She is passionate about all areas of theatre and has tried her hand at directing, writing, stage management, lighting operation and stage crew. She most recently co-directed Opera Hunter’s production of ‘The Sound of Music’ (2018) and was the assistant director for The History Boys at Young People’s Theatre. She was also a part of the team that created ‘Tamagotchi… the musical?!’ for which Anna wrote the book.

Anna is absolutely thrilled to be joining the team of talented judges. She is most looking forward to seeing what the wonderful artists of Newcastle have to offer and meeting some of the wonderful people that make this community so fantastic.

 

KEN LONGWORTH has been a CONDA judge since the awards began and serves as chairman of the judging team.

A performer since his infants school years, he made his first major appearance at age seven in a play that was part of a schools concert staged at Newcastle City Hall to raise funds for the then planned Newcastle Cultural Centre. As a student at Newcastle University College, he was involved in its first four revues as actor, writer and director, and, in a year at Newcastle Teachers College, co-directed Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town. He was also assistant director of the university college newspaper, Opus, writing film reviews.

While serving as a teacher in the Riverina, he became a journalist at the Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser, and for most of his 2-1/2 years there was its theatre reviewer. Returning to Newcastle in 1966 to work at The Newcastle Herald, he wrote occasional reviews for the newspaper until becoming its sole theatre reviewer in 1976, at a time when Hunter Valley Theatre Company began operations as the city’s first professional theatre company and the new Newcastle University Drama Department was offering challenging works. He was one of four Newcastle theatre critics invited to be CONDA judges when Newcastle City Council established the City of Newcastle Drama Awards in 1979.

In 2001, he took a busman’s holiday while on long service leave to direct the play Love Letters at DAPA Theatre. He continues in his role as theatre reviewer and writer for The Newcastle Herald.

 

GUILHERME NORONHA  active and committed to his theatre communities of Newcastle, Maitland and Sydney for over 25 years in over 50 productions. Guil’s experience and training in a diverse range of theatrical and dramatic forms is expansive. From Opera, musical theatre, dramatic theatre, physical theatre/mime, circus, improvisation, commedia dell’ arte, street theatre and screen acting.

Guil acts, directs, sings, teaches, designs sets/lights/sound/costumes as well as set construction.  He studied at the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney for three years and is a classically trained tenor/baritone. Guil has a keen interest in technical production. Holding a Certificate III in Engineering (metal fabrication) and being a passionate woodworker, Guil’s technical skills mixed with his creative eye for detail allows him to realise and bring to life even the most imaginative of sets. Most recently Guil received a City of Newcastle Dramatic Award for his set design and co-direction of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ at Maitland Repertory Theatre in 2017.
Guil was artistic director of the Maitland Jr Repertory Theatre School for six years, alongside his wife Lesley. Together they grew and managed the theatre school of up to 100 children and young people, teaching weekly drama classes and directing the annual production.
Guil’s professional screen acting credits include the Prime Seven 2017 television mini- series ‘Blue Murder’ and three national commercials with Toyota, KFC and Maximus Sports Drink.
Most recently Guil has performed with Opera Australia at the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne Arts Centre in the 2017 production of ‘Cavelleria Rusticana /Pagliaaci’. In 2018 Guil will perform once again with Opera Australia in La Boheme on Sydney Harbour.