Undercover Artist exists to profile and promote outstanding work by performing artists with disability.
Collectively these artists and individuals expressed a need for more opportunities for professional performing artists with disability to present their work, and better representation in the industry, particularly by Australia’s major performing arts companies.
In 2015, Access Arts formed Undercover Artist Festival and was led by founding Festival Director Belinda Locke, a role which was then taken on by Harmonie Downes for the following festival in 2017. Both women are professional arts practitioners who identify as experiencing disability.
Artists from across Australia gathered on Turrbal and Jagera Country at Queensland Theatre in Brisbane to showcase their work at this disability-led festival. Accessible to all artists and audiences, the festival features theatre, dance, music and cabaret performances, works-in-progress, installation art, stand-up comedy, workshops, and forums.
In 2020, Access Arts curated Undercover Artist: Online, a showcase of works in development under consideration for the Festival in 2021.
Image: Andi Snelling performing “Happy Go Wrong” at 2021 Undercover Artist Festival.
Photography by Jade Ellis Photography
Recognising the potential of many artists and the sometimes inaccessible development options available, 2022 saw the introduction of Undercover Artist Career Workshops. These workshops aimed to provide performing artists with disability or who are d/Deaf an opportunity to grow their careers through grant writing techniques, Allyship, CV development skills and understanding expressions of interest opportunities.
The purpose of the workshops is to provide skills that may be inaccessible to artists through traditional training modes, in an effort to support more artists with disability to build their arts careers.
Looking forward to 2023, the Undercover Artist Development Program aims to support artists through grant funding, ongoing one on one mentoring and most importantly, getting new and upcoming artists stage ready. With one artist from the Development Program securing their spot on stage at Undercover Artist Festival 2023.
Image: Lauren Watson during her performance art piece Nerve, with a disassembled wheelchair hanging from the air using rope and aerial ribbon.
Madeleine Little (she/her) is a performer, theatre maker and access consultant for the performing arts based in Brisbane. Her acting credits include her recent work as Dr Emma Brookner in The Normal Heart (2022, Ad Astra Theatre) and as the lead in Hold (2019), which she also wrote, directed and produced for her Master of Arts (Creative Arts) research testing accessible theatre practice conventions in a new work.
As an actor, Madeleine has been recognised for her performance as Dr Emma Brookner in The Normal Heart (Ad Astra Theatre) with a Matilda Award for Best Supporting Actor in an Independent Production.
As a leader in the disability arts sector, Madeleine currently sits on the board of Arts Access Australia and has received multiple awards: Early Career Artist Award – Australia Council’s National Arts and Disability Awards (2022), National Leadership Award – Arts Access Australia (2019), Stella Young Award – Arts Access Victoria (2018). Madeleine holds Master of Arts (Creative Arts – UniSQ) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drama – QUT). For more, visit her website: madeleinelittle.com
Image: Madeleine Little’s headshot, photography by Nick Morrissey
Rebekkah Law (Bek) (they/she) is a white, queer, producer, director and performer who lives, works and plays on the lands of the Yuggera, Yugambeh and Turrbal peoples.
They have a strong curiosity for playful creative processes and a wealth of experience connecting with diverse and varied communities on creative arts projects and festivals.
Alongside producing for Undercover Artist Festival and Squirt Productions, Bek has an active practice as a theatre director and maker.
Recent credits include a sold out season of Betty Sweetlove’s new play, The Nestmakers at DesertFestival (2022); Director/ Performer/Producer in Squirt Production’s Starter Boyfriend (2021); Director/Performer in Bazil Grumble’s youth program of Active School Travel, Waste Smart Kindies and The Bazil Grumble Christmas Show (2022-23) and; Anywhere Award Winning show, Dream a House, facilitated by Sarah Winter.
Image: Rebekkah Law’s headshot, photography by Simon Woods
Kane Cross was born and bred in Brisbane. He is known to have a quick wit, a curious mind and a big heart. Kane is very excited to join the team at Undercover Artist Festival and using his skills to help bring the team’s vision to fruition.
With a background in Construction and Retail, Kane has just finished upskilling through the wonderful SQW program run by Vision Australia and is now ready to try something new. Kane has his sights set on comedy, as making people laugh has always been a full-time hobby, so now he is ready to make it a full-time career.
Image: Kane Cross headshot
Image: Mags Doherty headshot
Mags Doherty’s has been captivating audiences with her dynamic talent since the age of seven. A versatile dancer, Mags has explored a range of styles including hip hop, ballet, tap jazz and contemporary dance.
Currently Mags is honing her skills with both Screech Arts and the esteemed Zen Zen Zo physical theatre company. Her recent collaboration with Zen Zen Zo under Screech Arts has set the stage for an eagerly anticipated show in 2024. This collaboration introduced Mags to an exciting new style of physical theatre, leading her to continue her work with Zen Zen Zo.
Mags’s impressive repertoire includes numerous spellbinding performances in Screech Arts productions. She has also graced the stages of the acclaimed Anywhere Theatre Festival in 2019 and 2023 and in 2021 was centre stage at Undercover Artist Festival. Mags is now taking on the dual role of producer and performer in 2023.
In 2023, Mags embraced the roles of choreographer and assistant director, empowering and supporting fellow performers to shine both on and off the stage. Noteworthy highlights include captivating audiences at the Brisbane/Gold Coast Disability Expo in 2019 and 2022, participating in the heart-warming Dance for Sick Kids initiative in 2021, and engaging in the transformative Wired Differently collaboration from 2023 to 2024.
Image: Alexandra Ellen headshot, photography by Jade Ellis.
Alexandra Ellen is a Brisbane based theatre maker and visual artist. She takes a multidisciplinary approach to her artistic practice which crosses form. She aims to educate, challenge, expose, encourage and delight.
Alexandra Ellen is the Artistic Associate at indelabilityarts and has been a member of the professional ensemble since 2017. She was a contributing member of the Love Me; and is part of the creative team and cast of award winning show, Wilbur The Optical Whale. Alexandra is presenting her own disability led work, Betsy and I, at Undercover Artist Festival 2023 as the writer and creative lead.
Alexandra is also a visual artist and a member of Access Arts visual arts BOA and Earn From Your Arts programs. Her visual arts practice can be described as expressive and intuitive, leaning towards mixed media and experimenting with materials and technique. Over the last 3 years, she has contributed to many collaborative exhibitions and curated her first solo exhibition Outside Inside in 2019. Alexandra was part of La Boite’s 2020 ASSEMBLY cohort and was the 2020 Access Arts Achievement Award recipient.