The Life of an Amateur-Producer

Kyle Stephens (above) dreams of being on stage one day
Photo courtesy of Kyle Stephens

The raised-eyebrow and the “That’s a bit ambitious” comments have only pushed Kyle Stephens closer to fulfilling his dreams in theatre.

The 19-year-old amateur-producer and performer’s love for theatre and the stage began when he saw the Moscow Circus at 8-years-old.

“Once I was older, I started investigating and looking into how it all happened,” he said. “I said then, ‘I want to be able to do this’.”

Since then, Stephens has worked to build his experience as a performer and producer for his shows.

“I’m part of the technical staff at Kings Street Theatre,” he said, adding that he has helped orchestrate numerous high school musicals.

While Stephens sees himself on stage in the future, it is his forte for lighting design that plants him behind the scenes as producer.

A 2011 graduate of Newtown Performing Arts High School, he admits that was where his passion for lighting and sound was invoked.

“I was taught […] nothing just happens,” he said.

“There’s always a process that creates the magic.”

Stephens broke into the business earlier this year with his own theatre company, Kore Productions.

Stephens knew creating his own company was the only choice.

“The only way I was going to be able to put on the productions I wanted to see done was by making my own theatre company,” he said.

Stephens sees himself splitting his time between producing and acting in future Kore Productions shows.

“I definitely want to play a part, but I wouldn’t be the main role,” he said, joking that, as the company owner, it would be biased.

“My real passion is to be on stage.”
Photo courtesy of Kyle Stephens

When not working on a show, Stephens studies classical music at the Australian Institute of Music.

“I am a singer. And I study [opera] singing.”

Kore Productions recently finished its first show, Keating! The Musical, this year.

Stephens called the first production “a big success”.

While Stephens felt very much the amateur, he realised first-hand experience is always the best approach.

“The most important way to learn is on the job,” he said.

“You have to make mistakes in order to learn something.”

Kore Productions is managed by Stephens with the help of two co-directors, Samara Kinney and Alvin Mak.

“Those two are like the glue that holds me together!” Stephens laughed.

Samara Kinney, co-director of Kore Productions, believes Stephens has the attitude and drive to succeed in his dreams.

“Young people with ambitions should be encouraged,” she said.

“Someone who has a dream of what they want to do should never be shot down.”

However Ms Kinney says Stephens must maintain a support system if the company is to survive.

“A company can’t function if the person at the top isn’t rational enough to make the right decisions.”

Regardless, Ms Kinney is sure there is a place for Kore Productions in the theatre world.

“Amateur theatre is a seriously underestimated situation.”

Keating! is only the beginning for Kyle Stephens as he tries to make a name for himself.
Photo courtesy of Kyle Stephens

“[But] eventually Kore Productions will be a company that springboards from amateur into professional.”

Stephens would love to extend his success to other theatre-enthusiasts who join Kore Productions.

“I’d love to have a group of regulars who audition,” he said.

“We could turn them into ‘Kore’ famous.”

Stephens hasn’t let negativity keep him from achieving his goals.

A number of people were unsure the teenager could pull Keating! The Musical off successfully.

“I went out to prove them wrong,” he said.

“And I have.”

While Stephens has a long journey before him, no-one can doubt the young man will continue to make his way up in the theatre business.

Theatre Enthusiasts to be Kore Famous


(Above) The cast of Keating! The Musical
Photo courtesy of Kyle Stephens.

Theatre-fanatic Kyle Stephens went on a steep learning curve running his theatre company, Kore Productions, following the success of its first musical.

The 19-year-old from Eagle-Vale started Kore Productions this year from his love of theatre and a vision of where it will take him.

“The only way I was going to be able to put on the productions I wanted to see done was by making my own theatre company,” he said.

A bumpy road for Kore Productions’ first show, Keating! The Musical, has been a great learning experience for the amateur-producer.

“I learnt all the things I shouldn’t do with producing,” he joked, adding that the best way to learn is on the job.

“Especially in theatre […] you have to make mistakes in order to learn something.”

The 2011 graduate of Newtown Performing Arts High School splits his time between studying at the Australian Institute of Music and working at Kings Street Theatre.

“I’m really into the productions side of things,” he said.

“But my real passion is to actually be on stage for the productions I put on.”

If Stephens takes anything from his first experience producing, he says it will be his management of money.

“Budgeting is the most important thing,” he said. “You have to know how much everything is going to cost before you go into

“Keating was the musical that Kore Productions had to have.”
Photo courtesy of Kyle Stephens

production-mode.”

Stephens plans to release a Kore Productions magazine three times a year to not only build publicity for the company, but raise money.

Julian Kelijian, audio director for Kore Productions, believes Stephens has what it takes to keep the company alive and growing.

“He has the ambition and the support of a lot of helpful people,” said Julian.

“He wants to establish a name for the company. He wants to be known in the industry.”

Stephens would love to see a flow of regulars for Kore Productions auditions to turn them into stars.

“They can become ‘Kore’ famous,” he said.

Stephens envisions it will take up to two years to build a steady fan base of the company.

Kore Productions will put on its second show, Zombie Prom, in March 2013.

The New Face of Youth Culture


Taskforce Coordinator Beth Laurenson and Youth Governor Geethe Geeganage represent the Youth Parliament at a local Youth Forum.
Photo courtesy of Youth Parliament

The image of youth is changing and YMCA Youth Parliament is proud to lend a hand to the new face of youth culture.

The NSW Youth Parliament is helping transform a generation with their political ambitions.

The Youth Parliament encourages youths to develop leadership and decision-making skills.

The program puts teenagers in a seat of power to debate their ideas and help ‘pass’ legislation.

Reaching its 12th year, the Parliament finally is gaining more and more publicity.

“It’s taken this long to get the attention of policy-makers, MPs, and media groups to show them what we’ve been doing,” said Beth Laurenson, 21, Task Coordinator for the Youth Parliament.

Laurenson believes the Parliament is a stepping stone for changing the stereotype of youth.

“It’s getting it out there that young people are interested and want to be involved,” she said.

The Youth Parliament is looking to increase its opportunities of showcasing young people.


Beth Laurenson and Geethe Geeganage encourage high school students to try their hand at democracy.
Photo courtesy of Youth Parliament

In the 2011 Youth Parliament sitting, a group of ten youths succeeded in helping reform the Emergency Services legislation.

The Youth Parliament is helping produce new leaders with the skills they need to succeed.

“We’ve had quite a lot of past participants go on and are now staffed in different MPs offices,” she said.

“I think it brings fresh ideas to what’s going on in those offices.”

Laurenson is certain there definitely some future Prime Ministers in the Youth Parliament.

“They probably need a little more life experience before they can get the top job though,” she joked.

Along with the Parliament, Laurenson says student representatives are great for leadership skills.

“Leadership starts small,” said Kieran O’Connor, 20, of the University of Wollongong’s student council.

O’Connor believes there is too much of a stereotype about the younger generation.

“People tend to trivialize the concerns of youth and […] if you paid enough attention, you’ll realise some of them are quite well-read, educated arguments,” he said.

The elected UOW General Representative is realistic about youth involvement.

“It’s a two way street,” he said.

“The youth have to get involved. But someone has to be listening.”

Beth Laurenson recently addressed local teenagers at the Campbelltown Youth Forum, hoping to engage new interest in youth democracy.

Teenagers aged 15 to 18 interested in becoming part of the Youth Parliament can apply for events in 2013.

The Youth Parliament runs two annual Training and Residential camps.

The Training camp will run from April 19th to 21st while the Residential camp will run from June 30th until July 6th.

Listen to Member of the Legislative Council, the Honorary Sophie Cotsis, speak about her thoughts on the Youth Parliament and its participants.

Mixed Opinions Over Plain Packaging Laws


Australia will soon implement its new Tobacco Plain Packaging laws at the end of the year.
Photo courtesy of The Australian website

Smokers may not be ready to farewell their addictions when plain packet packaging laws are introduced in Australia this year.

The newest method to deter smokers was approved by the High Court on August 15 and will come into effect by December.

Mr Stafford Sanders of Action on Smoking and Health believes plain packet packaging is a stepping stone to reducing smoking rates.

“The tobacco industries have used words and colours to create the false impression for smokers that certain brands are safer,” he said.

“This will stop deceptive packaging and remove the positive associations.”

The newest legislation will ban commercial logos, forcing cigarettes to be sold in pain green packets.

While brand names will be printed in a standard font and size, large health warnings will dominate the packaging.

“Previously health warnings would blend into the packets,” said Sanders.

“Plain packaging will focus more on what is inside the packet than what is on it.”

While Mr Sanders is certain the new packaging will “deglamourize cigarettes in the eyes of young smokers”, youths dealing with addictions aren’t as confident.

Adara Enthaler, 18, believes the new packaging will only aid young smokers in concealing cigarettes.

“It might not stop kids,” she said.

“If it’s just a plain packet, it won’t be as noticeable.”

The university student says smoking should be a personal choice, regardless of deterrence methods.

Health warnings will dominate the new Australian packaging (above)
Photo courtesy of Mother Nature Network website

“I don’t think you can tell someone to stop smoking,” she said.

“It’s not always a great idea, but I don’t think anyone should be judged for smoking.”

Studies from Action on Smoking and Health Australia indicates tobacco kills approximately 15 000 Australians per year.

The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey exposed 15 per cent of Australians were current daily smokers.

Enthaler admits in the past, health warnings have had an effect.

“I’m more aware [of health issues],” she said, adding that she smokes less.

However Ally Poultney, 18, says her smoking is an addiction.

“To truly understand how difficult it is living with an addiction, you have to be in the position of having an addiction,” she said.

Although aware of health risks, Poultney says her smoking a form of stress relief.

“It’s a kind of therapy,” she said, adding that it helps calm her down.

“I’ll definitely smoke more and feel more satisfied if I’m upset of stressed.”

Australia will see the full effects plain packet packaging have on smoking habits once they are nationally available.

The Australian Health Survey will continue to address the risk of smoking to people’s health.

The survey will run until 2013, providing a better understanding of current health in Australia.

It will address those at risk from smoking aims to estimate the prevalence of active and passive smoking.

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