Standing ovation for the outgoing president of the Shepparton Theater Arts Group
It was during her first Shepparton Theater Arts Group production in 1996, portraying a clumsy tap dancer, that Fiona Kennan began to form lasting friendships with the comedians who would become her extended family. Twenty-five years later, Fiona is retiring as President of STAG after more than a decade in this role.
Outgoing STAG President Fiona Kennan moved to Shepparton in 1992 with her husband, New journalist John Lewis, and their young son Luke, who became a brother when their daughter Sian was born in 1995.
âIt was a great time to get involved (with STAG),â Ms. Kennan said of her early years with the company in the late 1990s.
âI hadn’t worked here, so I didn’t have much contact with the community.
“When I could I joined STAG and it was really a different kind of family in a way, a great community group.”
Since assuming the role of President in 2010, Ms. Kennan has worked hard to ensure that STAG provides newcomers with the same warm welcome and space for growth that she has received.
âI would like to think that STAG is a safe atmosphere, that people can come from different backgrounds, all different. . . and share the experience of how exciting live theater can be, âshe says.
STAG secretary Nicky Pummeroy, who volunteered on the committee alongside Ms Kennan for 10 years, said the outgoing president was known for her calm professionalism through thick and thin.
âShe just has a wonderful rapport with people of all ages among STAG and she is very well respected,â she said.
âWe all love her… I’m sure she will be part of the progress to come.
Ms Pummeroy said STAG wouldn’t have its lovely Bakehouse Black Box theater without Ms Kennan.
The organization and opening of the specially designed performance space in 2012 is one of the five-time Georgy Prize winner’s most proud accomplishments as committee leader.
It took six months for volunteers to transform what was once STAG’s rehearsal space into the Bakehouse Black Box Theater.
The new theater gave STAG more control over its production schedule and saved expenses related to the rental of lighting and other venues.
Ms Kennan said it allowed the company to stage more experimental works and different types of performances.
But for the past 18 months, Shepparton has been deprived of the thrill of live performance as COVID-19 restrictions make it impractical and often impossible to rehearse and stage a show.
Ms Kennan said it was an unfortunate moment to end her presidency during what had been a dark time for the arts community, however, she knew it was the right move.
âI felt it was time to take a different point of view, a different kind of leadership,â she said.
Ms. Kennan is confident that STAG will continue to thrive under the leadership of Wendy Platt, who will assume this role.
As a life member, Ms. Kennan’s participation in the activities of the theater company is far from over.
She led, performed, organized, encouraged and inspired the STAG family, and she will always be a character in the cast who made this town her home.
âIt made life in Shepparton a lot more enjoyable,â Ms. Kennan said.
âI often wonder if we would still be here if we hadn’t been part of STAG – meeting all of these wonderful people and gaining their support. “