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Graham - Pursuing my passions on the recovery journey

Staying focused on my lifelong love of live theatre kept me grounded on my recovery journey and led to achieving academic excellence at the University of New England, authoring academic papers on Theatre, and forming close ties with people in the industry.

One-to-one support from Flourish Australia continued when I relocated from Penrith to Armidale to be closer to my brother and pursue a Bachelor of Arts at the University of New England. With their encouragement, I completed a degree majoring in English and Communications with an Honours in Theatre, as well as a Graduate Diploma in Local Family and Applied History. I got along to group activities and the team were there to cheer me on at my graduations.

Theatre has always been the core of my life. I started drama classes once I left school and was encouraged by my teachers to experience as much theatre as I could. My academic papers are based on performances I’ve seen. My first, “Theatre In The Community”, contained content from my Honours studies. Another was dedicated to Debra Oswald, a prolific Australian Playwright who can write scenes that are hilarious or take you to the darkest places. A third was on Bob Herbert’s play No Names…No Pack Drill” which I saw Noni Hazelhurst and Mel Gibson perform at Sydney Theatre Company. I’ve learned about the history of Armidale’s local theatre scene and written a paper on regional theatre companies around NSW.

When a Professor introduced me to the Australasian Association for Theatre Drama (AATD), I attended my first conference at the University of Sydney where many interesting papers were presented. My NDIS funding made it possible to travel with my support worker, Dan, to the 2022 conference in Auckland and present a paper. We visited Hobbiton from Lord of the Rings and WETA Studios in Wellington where I had my picture taken in Thunderbird 2 from Thunderbirds Are Go which was produced there.

Upon completing my Honours I mentioned to my Professor that I had hands-on research experience assisting Lorraine Stacker with her historical book “Penrith, Makings Of A City” and he offered me the role of Research Assistant on a project about Australian plays that focus on masculinity. My work which piled up to the height of a chair, contributed to two books; “Men at Play, Masculinities in Australia since the 1950’s” and “What A Man’s Gotta Do: Masculinities in Performance” written by Adrian Kiernander, Jonathon Bollen and Bruce Parr. It’s an achievement I thoroughly enjoyed!

Another memorable experience was serving on Flourish Australia’s Community Advisory Council while attending their day-to-day living centre at Penrith.

Being part of Flourish Australia is like belonging to one big family.

Flourish Australia’s Regional Manager at Armidale connected me with the Regional Manager in Adelaide when I used my NDIS funding to travel to a 2023 ADSA conference there with Dan. We discussed the value of staying grounded on the recovery journey and our shared passion for Flourish Australia’s vision.

With the backing of my support network, my next goal is to have an academic paper published to assist in gaining acceptance to a PhD in Theatre.

Wish me luck!

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