Hello!
Nice to meet you.

Meet the team behind the magic!

Christian Leavesley // Artistic Director

Christian Leavesley // Artistic Director

Christian Leavesley is the Artistic Director of Arena Theatre Company. He studied theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts, Monash University and the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Before joining Arena Christian co-founded multi-award winning company Uncle Semolina (& friends), whose works such as GilgameshTicky Tacky and OT were known for their innovative use of playing space and theatrical form. Leavesley’s work has appeared in festivals and venues across Australia, and internationally in Asia, North America and Europe. Leavesley’s works for Arena include Starchaser, Marlin, Marlin Expedition, Point of View, The Sleepover, Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon, Trapper and Air Race.

Sharon Custers // Executive Director

Sharon Custers // Executive Director

Sharon has more than 20 years’ experience in the performing arts industry, including roles with Sydney Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre Company, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre and Cirque du Soleil.

She recently headed up Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre (BREC) as their Executive Director, leading them to success in receiving the Drover award for Australian Performing Arts Centre of the Year 2017. At BREC, Sharon developed and implemented a new strategic vision for the organisation with a focus on youth and education and capacity building for local artists. This included the development of a Youth Performance Company in partnership with Artistic Director, Kathryn Osbourne of The Last Great Hunt.

Jolyon James // Artistic Associate

Jolyon James // Artistic Associate

As the Artistic Associate of Arena Theatre Company since 2014, Jolyon has been involved in the creation of all productions throughout this time. Highlights include Cautionary Tales for Children starring Virginia Gay, MarlinMarlin Expedition, Trapper and Robot Song. 

As a graduate of the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Jolyon has appeared in theatre, television and film roles both in Australia and overseas, including Offspring, Time of our LivesRush, City Homicide and The Secret Life of Us and the Universal film The Wedding Date.

Professional theatre credits include Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Mamma Mia, Shane Warne the Musical, Into the Woods (MTC)A Little Night Music (MTC)All About My Mother (MTC) and The Grenade (MTC).

Gayle McClure // Admin Coordinator

Gayle McClure // Admin Coordinator

Gayle graduated from Queens University Belfast with BA’s in Theatre and Music. She is a founding member and former Director of Accidental Theatre in Belfast.

Since making to the move to Australia, she has become involved in local Castlemaine theatre company Three’s A Crowd as Chair and Committee member, working on productions of Assassins and Sweeney Todd.

Most recently Gayle was Events Manager at the Old Castlemaine Gaol, running live music and theatre, and writing and producing specialty ghost tours.

Gayle is currently on maternity leave.

Hermione Merry // Associate Producer

Hermione Merry // Associate Producer

Hermione holds Bachelor of Visual and Performing Arts and a Postgraduate Diploma of Narrative Filmmaking from the VCA and a Dip. Sec. Ed. (Theatre & Media) from Latrobe University. As well as working in the film and television industries, Hermione has held a variety of education and public programming roles at ACMI, and worked as independent creative collaborator in the community arts sector. Hermione is a practising video installation artist and her work has been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally. Her works Song for the Stage, the Captives and the Line of Production were shortlisted for FACT London and Channels prestigious video art award in 2015.

Currently living with her three children in Castlemaine, Hermione is passionate about supporting the creation of rigorous and dynamic art for young people living in regional Victoria.

Wendy Buchan // Accountant

Wendy Buchan // Accountant

Wendy is the accountant at Arena and has a Bachelor of Business degree from La Trobe University, Bendigo.

She has worked for a number of different businesses including a large book publishing company, a buddhist retreat centre, numerous businesses in the hospitality industry, as well as a number of different “tradies”.

The highlight of her career to date was working with Park Avenue Productions in the UK who were responsible for the opening exhibits and content of the Millennium Dome in 2000.

David Gagliardi // Development Manager

David Gagliardi // Development Manager

Originally from Melbourne, 2 years ago David moved to Hamilton to work as Manager of Performing Arts for Southern Grampians Shire Council.

Prior to his role at SGSC David established and managed the marketing and publicity company, A New Entity, delivering marketing, communications and digital strategies nationally across all forms of media for artists and arts organisations.

David’s professional life has revolved around business development, marketing and communications.

As a recording artist and composer David has had much success including releases and tours both here and abroad.

Eliza Hull // Artistic Associate, Access and Inclusion

Eliza Hull // Artistic Associate, Access and Inclusion

Eliza is a musician based in Castlemaine. Her music has received airplay on Australian radio as well as American television. She has composed for contemporary arts company CreateAbility for over five years and is writing the film score for feature film.

Eliza is currently writing a kids’ TV show, about the experience of having a disability as a child. It will be shown on ABCME. Eliza is a proud disabled woman, with a physical disability known as ‘Charcot Marie Tooth’.

Kristen Beever // Administration and Communications Coordinator

Kristen Beever // Administration and Communications Coordinator

Kristen comes to Arena following 4 ½ years as Events Manager at Girton Grammar School. Prior to that she held a number of events and promotions roles in commercial radio in both Australia and the UK.

Kristen is a founding member of Bendigo Theatre Company’s youth arm, Tribe Youth Theatre, which aims to create platforms for local secondary school children to participate in theatre on- and off-stage, outside of school.

Having worked as a graphic designer for over a decade, Kristen is fulfilling a lifetime ambition by studying for a Bachelor of Design degree, majoring in communications design, with Swinburne University.

Our Board

Jon Anstey (Chair)

Sharon Custers
Executive Director, Arena Theatre Company

Anne Henshall
Freelance Marketing & Event Management

Christian Leavesley
Artistic Director, Arena Theatre Company

Janice Muller
Independent Theatre Director

Liahn Nortje
Chief Finance Office, Film Victoria

Dr Richard Sallis
Lecturer, Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

Sandra Willis
Executive Director, Opera Queensland

Tom Wolff
Lawyer, O’Farrell Robertson McMahon