Michele Williams

Michele Williams

BA (Melb) Grad Dip Dramatic Arts (various)

Michele is the Director of Drama with a Difference. She studied intensively at some of the UK and USA’s premier drama schools and is a classically trained actor. She has taught at many wonderful drama schools in Melbourne and Sydney and spent a year teaching at a theatre company in the USA. She has also taught and participated in role play for the corporate sector.

In the 1990s she helped establish a young actors’ section with one of Melbourne’s leading agents and casting directors continue to contact her on a regular basis. She has worked as a theatre actor both here and overseas – from Florida to Colac and a lot of places in between. Her TV work includes many guest roles for the ABC and commercial networks. Michele is the recipient of several government and philanthropic grants and of reviews from most Australian newspapers.

See Michele Williams’s website for more details.

Gemma Flannery

Gemma Flannery

Gemma is originally from Blackburn, Lancashire in England. She studied Contemporary Theatre and Performance at Manchester Metropolitan University. This involved studying with many different practitioners of theatre as well as reading a variety of approaches and plays. The practical aspect of the training involved the writing and devising of shows, through the creation of self-devised performance work. There was an emphasis on working as an ensemble, developing performance, and theatre making skills.

Along with her colleagues, Gemma devised and self funded a production, titled The Tango (How to do), which was entered into, and performed at, the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival (one of the largest and most highly regarded Fringe Festivals in the English speaking world). Gemma has studied Physical Theatre, looking at the work of Grotowski and Gardzienice.

After graduating, Gemma worked for an Italian Theatre company ACLE Theatrino and toured with them as an actress. She went on to contribute as a writer for the company, and ultimately became the company’s Artistic Director. In Manchester, Gemma performed with many renowned theatre companies on the Fringe circuit and in theatres in Manchester. She has performed across the North West, London and in the USA.

Gemma has always been a keen writer and loves working on scripts and devising and creating her own work – for herself and others. Her most recent project was with her writing group, Stages WA as part of the Fremantle Arts Festival. This was developing her latest writing ‘Why didn’t you call me Nicola?’. Gemma plans to premiere this piece in the near future. She is also continuing work on the writing of her first play, Digging Deep.

Digging Deep was Gemma’s first one act play and it premiered in Manchester in 2013 and in Australia at Fringe World in 2014. It was based on experiences from working in Role Play as victims for the police, and is an insight into what happens behind closed doors. Gemma loves creating, devising and writing theatre and sharing all these skills as a drama teacher. She currently works in Melbourne as an Actor, where part of her work is in Role Play – something she finds fascinating and beneficial for her ongoing development as a theatre practitioner. The nature of Role Play also assists in the development of new theatre work.

To view more about Gemma’s work, visit Gemma Flannery’s website.

Sian Johnson

Sian Johnson

Sian Johnson graduated from The Arts University Bournemouth, UK in 2011 with a BA Honours in Acting. Since graduating she has performed in the London 2012 Olympic Ceremony. She has worked with SPID Theatre Company in London, UK as an Actor and Mentor, working with inner city teenagers touring a professional show around London.

At just 15 years of age, Sian began assisting Forest Forge Theatre Company’s Youth Theatre, where she continued to teach as an adult. This included taking on the role of Assistant Director for many theatre shows. Sian has also worked as an actress in many theatre roles in Fringe theatre in the UK.

Kestie Morassi

Kestie Morassi

Kestie Morassi is a highly experienced film and television actress. She was a student at Drama with a Difference for several years in her teens and early twenties, when the school helped her to secure several television roles, as well as her first major film role in Dirty Deeds, opposite Brian Brown, Sam Neill and Toni Collette. Other film roles include Cate in Blame, Jacqui in The Wedding Party, Lily in Birthday, Stacey in Signs, Jennifer in The Illustrated Family Doctor, Sasha in Josh Jarman, Amy in Thunderstruck, Carla in Strange Bedfellows, Nurse Lauren in Darkness Falls, and Rhonda in Travelling Light.

Alongside Cassandra Magrath (another previous long term student and teacher with Drama With A Difference), Kestie played the lead role of Kristy Earl in the acclaimed Australian feature film Wolf Creek. Her major television credits include Ivy in Offspring, Kat in Wilfred, the lead roles of Zarah Garde Wilson in Underbelly 2008, and Natalie in the series Satisfaction from 2007–2010. She has also appeared in major guest roles for Stingers, Neighbours, The Secret Life of Us, Saddle Club, and The Twisted.

Kestie has maintained her study of acting, and alongside her actual experience, she has studied in advanced programs for professional actors, and brings a wealth of knowledge to her own teaching.

Chris Connolly

Chris Connolly

Teacher of Teenage Class on Thursdays (Kew) and Adult Class on Thursdays (Kew)

Chris Connelly’s versatility has lead to many diverse roles both in Australia and abroad. His experience in the profession includes being the co-founder of the Maya Shakti Drama School/Company and the Director of the Alternative Education Centre in Sri Lanka. He has worked with and devised productions for refugees, street kids, participants from third world countries, teachers and creative artists.

Chris’s film credits include John Doe, Face to Face, Queen of The Damned, Angel Baby, Death Of A Soldier and Strikebound. HIs TV credits include Prisoner, Neighbours, Deadline Gallipoli, Bed of Roses, Stingers, Blue Heelers, The Adventures of Lano and Woodley, Good Guys, Bad Guys, State Coroner, Mercury, Halifax, Janus, A Country Practice, The Flying Doctors, The Sullivans, Whose Baby, Sword of Honour, Sea Change, Backberner, I Can Jump Puddles, The Zoo Family Carson’s Law, Holiday Island, Six of the Best, The Young Doctors, The Restless Years, Emergency Line and many television campaigns and advertisements, too numerous to mention!

Chris is also an accomplished theatre actor. He recently played the title role (Ron Barrassi) in the stage play Barassi at the Victorian Arts Centre. He toured with the major Australian production of West Side Story in which he played Lieutenant Stark. His numerous credits with The MTC (Melbourne Theatre Company) include The Laramie Project – 10 years later (in conjunction with Red Stitch), Wait Until Dark, Aftershocks, Translations, The Three Sisters, Media, The Winter’s Tale, Pax Americana, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Caretaker, The Threepenny Opera, Never in My Lifetime, The Caretaker, Shadow of a Gunman, Servant of Two Masters, and more. For The Playbox Theatre Company at The Malthouse Theatre, Chris’s credits include Kitten, and Face to Face by David Williamson. Chris was nominated for a Green Room Award (the theatrical equivalent of the Oscars in Australia) as Best Ensemble Actor for the roles of Wayne and Howard in Aftershocks.

Paul O'Leary

Paul O’Leary

Paul is a fully qualified primary school teacher and actor. Having completed his teaching degrees in his native Ireland, Paul taught at primary schools in Europe and Australia. He attended ongoing advanced adult acting classes, performing in public performances that include seasons in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Paul has a passion for enriching creativity in young people through drama. He is one of our most popular teachers.

Catherine Hill

Catherine Hill

Teacher for Scene Study Workshop, August 2014

Catherine holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales and a Diploma in Acting from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

She worked as an actor in Theatre-in-Education before moving to Melbourne where she established Soup Kitchen Theatre and worked in an artistic and administrative capacity for this company for ten years, directing and acting in many of their shows.

As an actor she has also worked for the Hunter Valley Theatre Company, West Theatre, Hit Productions and numerous theatre cooperatives.

She has had guest roles on Neighbours, Blue Heelers, MDA, Flying Doctors and Embassy.

She also appeared in Witch Hunt, My Year Without Sex, the independent feature film Johnny Ghost and more recently Blinder.

Visit Catherine Hill's website.

Cassandra Magrath

Cassandra Magrath

Cassandra is best known for her role as Miranda in Sea Change, and as the lead in the highly successful Australian feature film Wolf Creek. Her recent theatre roles include Sandy in Winterfall Theatre’s production of Blue Surge, for which she received outstanding reviews from the Australian press. She also played the role of Deidre in Rona Munro’s play, Bold Girls which involved a Melbourne season and a major tour at theatres throughout regional Victoria. Cassandra began acting at the age of 11 in the children’s television series Ocean Girl, and has been a working actor ever since. For the ABC she played the child/teenage lead in several ongoing series, and was the presenter for the ABC’s digital youth channel. In Crash Zone – a major Disney children/teenage television series – she played the ongoing lead role of Pi. She has appeared in most Australian television series in major guest roles. Some of her many adult roles on Australian and American television include a lead role in the ongoing series Shockjok for Foxtel TV and another in Steven Spielberg’s The Pacific. She was recently seen in the Australian feature film Summer Coda and will shortly be seen in another feature film; Big Mama’s Boy. Cassandra began as a student at Drama With A Difference when she was ten years old and stayed until she was 18! Throughout her adult life, she has returned at various stages to teach. This has included running film and TV workshops with adults, teenagers and children, as well as directing plays that have gone into full productions. She has a current interest in furthering her career as a director in film, TV and theatre and has formed her own production company. She is therefore a perfect choice as director/teacher for the adult class.

Guest teachers

Guest teachers include:

Richard Lawton

Richard Lawton

Graduate of Warwick University (UK), Post Grad. Darlington Hall London, MA (Current, Monash University).

Richard’s career spans over several decades and continents. With credits too numerous to mention in full, he has taught at NIDA, The VCA and The Drama Studio (one of Sydney’s major acting schools in the 1980’s). He has worked as artist in residence at The University of Sydney, taught at The Actors’ Centre in Sydney and is currently teaching at Monash University’s Drama Department. Richard formed well known companies that toured throughout Europe with impressive success. In Australia, he has directed for many well known theatres including The Sydney Theatre Company and Belvoir Street Theatre. He runs his own singing workshops and has taught for this school for several years.

Cassandra Magrath

Cassandra Magrath

Guest teacher for all TV weekend workshops

Cassandra has worked in film and television since she was a child, and has had regular, ongoing work in this area throughout her life. She is best known for her role as Miranda in the ABC TV series Sea Change, and as the lead in the acclaimed Australian feature film Wolf Creek. She was a major character in Shockjok for Foxtel TV, and the presenter/interviewer for the ABC’s Digital Youth Channel. She has played the child/teenage lead in several ongoing television series, including Pi in Disney’s Crash Zone. She has played major guest roles in most Australian television series. Her recent work includes Steven Spielberg’s The Pacific and the recently released Australian feature film, Summer Coda. She will soon be seen in Big Mama’s Boy and other feature films, yet to be released. Cassandra attended Drama With A Difference from the age of 11 to 18, and throughout her adult life, she has returned to share her skills as a teacher on a regular basis. She has taught film and TV weekend and ongoing courses to all ages.

Sarah Hallam

Sarah Hallam

Sarah spent ten years at Drama with a Difference and has forged a successful career as a casting director. She has worked on a never-ending list of children’s television series, and on Blue Heelers. Sarah was involved in the casting of City Homicide, and as an actress, she recently appeared in several episodes of Rush. Sarah will shortly be directing episodes of a yet-to-be-released television series. She has a great deal of coaching experience in film and TV, where her experience enables her to teach in a practical and hands-on manner.

Alison Telford

Alison Telford is the leading casting director for ABC TV – both 1 and 2. She has been in this role for a period of many years, and is responsible for the bulk of casting in lead roles, major guest roles, as well as smaller speaking parts. She has been the major casting director for almost every ABC television series over the past 14 years. She has a depth of experience in training actors for camera, running auditions with actors, and assisting producers and directors to find the right person for the right role! Alison enjoys teaching, partly because it is a great way for her to find out about up-and-coming actors for possible upcoming roles.

Joanne Baker

The Artists Management Group

Joanne has many years’ experience as an agent. She stepped into ownership of an agency once known as Frog Management, Melbourne when she was in her twenties. This had been one of Australia’s leading agencies, having represented many of this country’s A Grade actors. She later re-named the business The Artists Management Group and it gradually became an agency that offered personal management.

Joanne has been responsible for introducing and representing many of Australia’s leading young stars, many of whom were also students at Drama with a Difference. They include Cassandra Magrath (Wolf Creek/Sea Change) and Jane Allsop (Jo Parrish in Blue Heeleers). She has represented actors throughout major Australian and international feature films, television series, musical theatre, mainstream theatre, commercials and voiceovers. She was the full-time manager of one of Australia’s biggest icons, Mr Charles (Bud) Tingwell.

Joanne will give feedback on students’ acting at our TV and Film course and there will also be a Question and Answer time at our weekend workshops and at the Industry Presentation Talk.

Juliette Robson

Juliette Robson is the owner of one of Melbourne’s boutique children’s agencies, representing a select number of actors aged 16 and under who are ready to undertake roles in film and television.

We are extremely fortunate to have Juliette Robson as part of our team. She is one of the UK’s most experienced and well-known casting directors, currently living in Melbourne. She has cast many films, TV series and commercials across Scotland and England where some of her credits include: BBC Scotland Flag’s River City, Emmerdale, Heartbeat, Touch of Frost, Big Smoke, The Adams Family, How We Used To Live. Juliette is also an experienced acting teacher. She is currently in the process of starting her own agency.