Knowledge is power

From the moment Maree Freeman stepped into a drama class in high school, she knew she had found her purpose.  

Graduating from NIDA in 2010 from a discipline of playwriting, Maree has gone on to write several successful theatre productions and novels such as This House is Mine in 2015.

She was from 2010 to 2015 Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Sydney-based Milk Crate Theatre, where she created drama for and with the homeless and socially marginalised.

She then became schools program manager at NIDA where she was responsible for the delivery of educational activities for students and teachers.

Maree is passionate about supporting people from all walks of life to pursue their learning goals, believing knowledge is power. It is this passion that has inspired her to make a difference, not only through theatre, but more recently though education.

Now managing a learning hub with Kip McGrath in Kotara in Newcastle, Maree is combining her knowledge and training with her passion of enhancing literacy and numeracy skills to build a brighter future for children. And, more importantly, their confidence and happiness.

Which Catholic schools did you attend?

St Mary’s in Scone for primary school and then St Joseph’s High School in Aberdeen.

Why did your parents choose Catholic schools for you?

They had strong religious beliefs and my mother also worked as a teacher in the Catholic school system. 

What is your favourite memory from your schooling years?

Being a part of the drama classroom in high school. I feel so lucky to have met like-minded people at my high school - students who were creative, intelligent, inclusive and fun. From the moment I was able to take drama as a subject I felt like I had found my place. My teacher was also incredibly supportive - allowing me to explore new ideas and my own creativity as well as teaching all of us how to collaborate effectively. 

What has inspired you to make a difference to the lives of adults and children through training and education in the performing arts and literacy and numeracy?

I am passionate about supporting people along their educational pathways, whatever they may be. Education is truly one of the most incredible opportunities and something that should be available to everyone. I have been very fortunate throughout my career to have had the opportunity to support people from all walks of life pursue their learning goals. As someone for whom learning plays such a joyous and important part in my life, I wanted to work to support others to have a similar experience. Knowledge is power. I am currently managing a learning hub with Kip McGrath at Kotara in Newcastle. I feel fortunate to be able to support students in enhancing their literacy and numeracy skills. It’s such a thrill to see students gain new skills, expand their subject knowledge and, most importantly, grow in confidence and happiness. 

What do you love most about the performing arts and writing?

The opportunity to collaborate with others and to create something from nothing. As adults we so rarely get to “play”, but in the performing arts, the act of creation is just that. Play is an incredibly important part of positive mental health and social cohesion and as artists we get to work at the coal face of “play”. Aren’t we lucky!?

July 31 – August 3 celebrates ASPIRE’s 365 Questions, Issues and Good Deeds. What advice would you give to students wanting to pursue the theatre and arts as a profession?

  1. Be a positive member of a team always. Reputation is important, and people want to collaborate with kind, positive peers.
  2. Look for opportunities to extend your craft everywhere you can: participate in community activities, go and see theatre, take opportunities to mentor younger students if they arise. All of this will develop you further as an artist.
  3. Don’t be afraid of failure: some of the best things come from trying something new and it not working out. 
  4. Create and keep going: artists are people who simply continue to create art throughout their lives. If you want to be an artist, just keep making art. “Success” will occur in time. 

How do you feel students benefit from schools now offering more opportunities to take part in performing arts?

By participating in the performing arts as a student you gain so much more than just marks in the subject of drama. You learn how to be truly resilient, how to work with others and how to use creativity to problem solve. In 2019, these are incredibly employable skills. 

What is your favourite play? 

There are so many wonderful plays out there. Two of my favourites are Falling Petals by Ben Ellis, and Cloud 9 by Caryl Churchill.

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Brittany Gonzalez Image
Brittany Gonzalez

Brittany Gonzalez is Communications Co-ordinator in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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