26 May 2022 — 28 May 2022


Thu 26 May & Fri 27 May – Participants in  The Big Reach can book an Awkward Conversation when purchasing a ticket
Sat 28 May – Awkward Conversations bookings HERE for the The Big Anxiety Open Day are free.

Access information:

The Big Anxiety Access

QUT Gardens Theatre Access 

VENUE: QUT Gardens Theatre, 2 George Street, Brisbane QLD

Awkward Conversations offers one-on-one conversations in experimental formats, tackling anxieties, habits and hard-to-talk about subjects like mental health.


Sometimes the best conversations are awkward. What if you say the wrong thing? What if you make too much eye contact? Or not enough? What if nothing is spoken at all? Or your conversational partner is unlike anyone you have ever met before?

Awkward Conversations is a program of one-to-one conversations that extends what constitutes a conversation.

To participate in this event you must be 18+

Curated by QLD artist and art therapist Daniele Constance and Nathan Stoneham, performer & cultural development artist.

Attendees of The Big Reach on Thu 26 May and Fri 27 May can only book their free Awkward Conversations when purchasing tickets, a booking link will be sent to your email with your tickets.

Saturday free Open Day for Public BOOK HERE

Who’s on when

Thursday 26th May, M’ck McKeague, Mark du Potiers, Karen Lee Roberts, Ruby Donohoe, Rebecca Dostal, Naavikaran, Ally Nicolopoulos

Friday 27th May, M’ck McKeague, Mark du Potiers, Karen Lee Roberts, MJ O’Neill, Rebecca Dostal, Tammy Law

Saturday 28th May – On during The Big Anxiety Open Day

MJ O’Neill, Ruby Donohoe, Lauren Watson, Anisa Nandaula, Tammy Law, Naavikaran, Ally Nicolopoulos

The Conversationalists –
M’ck McKeague

Unapologetically working at the intersection of transness and mental health, M’ck (it/they) is a nonbinary set and costume designer, theatre maker and installation artist living with Bipolar II and PTSD.

What to expect: Join M’ck for ruminations on what meaningful engagement with trans and nonbinary people might look like in the arts if we move past surface level inclusion towards collaborative practices that treat us as whole human beings. M’ck is particularly interested in the role trauma-informed practice should play within this, including the radical possibilities of reimagining the cis-centric spatial mechanics of the theatre.

Thursday 26th, Friday 27th May

Mark du Potiers

Mark du Potiers is a visual artist and (allegedly) a weirdo. He uses sculpture and installation to negotiate his cultural identity, queerness, mental health challenges, and ideas of shifting perspectives. Through his work, Mark navigates the complexity of his Australian, Hongkonger, and Chinese heritage – alongside competing desires of resistance and conformity, and reckonings with physical and psychological suffering.

What to expect: Mark really just wants to talk about FOOD and pets (except spiders), okay? And once that important stuff is expressed, we can talk about anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive-disorder, self-doubt, self-destruction, racism, homophobia, yada-yada-yada… but only if you want to 🙂

Thursday 26th, Friday 27th May

Karen Lee Roberts 

Karen Lee Roberts is a performer/ writer/ singer living with and surviving bi polar disorder. Her art work aims to convey social and emotional messages to her audience on prevalent topics, and trying to educate whilst entertaining.

What to expect: Come and have a cup of tea and a chat with Karen, performer, writer and singer, about her experiences of rising above adversity in the face of living with mental health issues. She has bi-polar disorder and has employed wellness strategies to manage her illness and lead a balanced lifestyle. Find out about her journey and join her in a relaxed conversation about this important topic.

Thursday 26th, Friday 27th May

MJ O’Neill 

MJ often describes herself as a toddler with superpowers. However, she’d also settle for being characterised as a big friendly labrador. If you look at her list of accomplishments (e.g. leading home loan expert in the country, interviewed Lady Gaga), she can seem Very Grown-Up. But, she mostly likes pink lemonade, ice cream, and pulling silly faces to make people laugh.

What to expect: Anything. Everything. MJ has led a very colourful life and loves learning new facts and perspectives. She’ll happily talk about Batman, Metallica, and Fast & Furious or agricultural technology, automotive sustainability, and international diplomacy. Or, she’ll just ask lots of questions about what you do. Like most labradors and toddlers, she’s just happy to hang out.

Friday 27th, Saturday 28th May

Ruby Donohoe

Ruby Donohoe, she/her, is a performer and interdisciplinary performance-maker whose practice is rooted in the politics of encounter and in offering defiant acts of sensitisation. As an epileptic dancer who wrestles with her body, the embodied experience is central to her work. Using text, choreography, and audio, Ruby makes experiential spaces as external installation and internal choreographies.

What to expect: Join Ruby in conversations about her new body of work ‘The Ethics Of Telling You Who I Am’ and the complexities of disclosure in new relationships, particularly in relation to intimate and romantic spaces. 

Thursday 26th, Saturday 28th May

Rebecca Dostal 

Rebecca uses creativity to overcome chronic pain, anxiety and depression through a variety of multidisciplinary expressions. Her overactive imagination keeps her moving forward, not spiralling down the chronic pain depression hole. 

What to expect: Join Rebecca in a safe tactile environment where she will help you find your comfort zone of creativity. You can choose from a variety of artforms to soothe your pain and trauma or discover how chronic pain can impact our lives and those around us. With Rebecca’s guidance you could make your own ‘YouDoo’ puppet to communicate your pain to others, write a poem to get that story outta ya head, or create a safe soft place to hide away. 

Thursday 26th, Friday 27th May

Lauren Watson 

Lauren found her courage in contemporary movement practices and circus. Lauren is a performing aerial artist living with a disability who’s work examines concepts that surround (dis)ableism, identity, personal experiences and creates space for others to explore who they are through her holistic practice, active listening, and celebration of diversity. 

What to expect: Join Lauren in a mindful practice of weaving and storytelling, sharing experiences that are part of the fabric of who we are as humans and gaining acceptance as we arm crochet a giant rug. Share your thoughts and feelings or learn something new! 

Saturday 28th May

Anisa Nandaula 

Anisa is a nationally recognised spoken word poet, play writer, educator and published author. She believes poetry is the conversation you would have with the world when you start telling the truth. In poetry your honesty is a form of currency and Anisa is interested in how we spend this. 

What to expect:  Anisa will talk about how we use our voice, our breath, our silence and our body to express who we are. To tell the world that we were here. This conversation will be an exchange of stories.

Saturday 28th May

Tammy Law 

Tammy documents stories that are reflective of her experiences growing up Chinese in a predominantly monoculture Sunshine Coast. Photography helps her understand and negotiate the world around her. 

What to expect: Share stories of identity and belonging through photographs of Tammy’s family history and your own. 

Friday 27th, Saturday 28th May


Naavikaran (she/they) is a writer, theatre producer, chai maker and choreographer from India, based in Meanjin. Their works spans from spiritual healing to performance and creates spaces for various identities of marginalised folk to thrive.

What To Expect: Join Naavikaran for a gentle Tarot-card read session as she guides and holds space for the most needed conversation with you. This is an opportunity to explore grounding and a deeper relationship with yourself.

Thursday 26th May, Saturday 28th May

Ally Nicolopoulos 

Ally knows the impacts of suicide. She has lost loved ones to suicide, has worked as a suicide researcher for 6 years, has seen clients with their own experiences with suicide (in her previous work as a psychologist) – and has her own personal experience with suicide. Ally has lived with thoughts of suicide since she was a young teenager, and she lived alone with these thoughts for many years – as many of us do. Ally is also an elite boxer who flutters around the country competing in a number of tournaments, which accidentally sparks conversations about mental health/suicide.

What to expect: Ally would love to sit and chat with you. Bring along anything that may help elicit the conversation you want to have. For Ally, song lyrics always help. When she can’t figure a way to put words to her feelings, she lets someone/something else do it for her. Objects, photos, memes, quotes…can help start an ‘awkward conversation’ when we otherwise may not know how.

Thursday 26th, Saturday 28th May

Due to limited spots to book, please send a cancellation request via Humanitix if you are unable to make it so we can give the opportunity to someone else.

Artist Biography

M’ck McKeague (it/they)

M’ck McKeague (it/they) is a set and costume designer and theatre maker currently living on unceded Wurundjeri land. Having graduated from QUT’s BFA (Drama) and VCA’s Master of Design for Performance, M’ck’s work explores the capacity of design to transform relationships with audiences, often in non-traditional spaces. Dissatisfied with master narratives and the systems and spaces that uphold them, M’ck seeks out collaborative scenographic practices that embrace difference and disrupt privilege in process, form and content.

Mark du Potiers

Mark du Potiers is a visual artist and (allegedly) a weirdo. He uses sculpture and installation to negotiate his cultural identity, queerness, mental health challenges, and ideas of shifting perspectives. Through his work, Mark navigates the complexity of his Australian, Hongkonger, and Chinese heritage – alongside competing desires of resistance and conformity, and reckonings with physical and psychological suffering. 


Karen Lee Roberts

Karen Lee Roberts is a performer/ writer/ singer living with and surviving bi polar disorder. Her art work aims to convey social and emotional messages to her audience on prevalent topics, and trying to educate whilst entertaining. She has performed extensively in Australia and overseas including acting and singing at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in “Sherwoodstock”, performing in the West End musical “Hair” at the Old Vic Theatre in London, and singing her original works in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. She has also been part of various festivals in Australia including the Brisbane Festival, Fete de la Musique and the Festival of Sydney. Karen wrote the script and performed in the disability children’s show Wilbur the Optical Whale, which recently won the Best Independent Production Awards at the Matildas.

MJ O’Neill (she/her)

MJ O’Neill is a woman who has been kicking around Brisbane for quite a number of years. She makes really cool beats, very emotional noise, and she loves to talk and make people laugh. There’s a bunch of super-impressive stuff she’s done (interviewed Lady Gaga, performed naked at ABC studios, become the fourth fastest rapper in the world, looked real hot) but the general commodified nature of art has been bumming her out and she’d just like to hang out and do stuff with pals without thinking about it too much. Unbeknownst to many, she has an alter-ego as a multinational corporate strategist and is one of the best trends analysts in the Asia Pacific region.




Ruby Donohoe

Ruby Donohoe (she/her) is an interdisciplinary performance-maker whose work offers defiant acts of sensitisation and is rooted in the politics of encounter. With a background in contemporary performance and a body-based practice, her work investigates humankind’s simultaneous radical alienation from and radical intimacy with the personal body and the ways in which this paradox is an important hinge in unpacking our conceptions of ‘other’. Her performance work proposes reimaginings for this relational phenomenon and the ways in which the live act implicates both audience and performing bodies as mutual co-creations. Ruby works with text, choreography, sculpture, installation, and participatory practices to create work for theatre, gallery, and digital spaces. 



Rebecca Dostal

Rebecca Dostal is a multidisciplinary performing artist and storyteller with a penchant for puppetry. Her passion has led her to explore multiple forms of puppet making including the ancient art of the hand carved wooden puppet under the tutelage of two European master carvers.  Rebecca’s focus is on developing puppetry as a tool that can impact social and personal change. Letting puppets communicate for us can allow us to remove ourselves from difficult subject matter and remain in a safe environment. Puppets can tell stories in ways that enable both the performer and the audience to open their imagination and suspend belief. Puppets can be very thought provoking. “Something magic happens when the puppet comes alive.”

Lauren Watson

Lauren Watson is a Gold Coast-based adaptive performing artist and aerial instructor specialising in aerial, circus, physical theatre and improvised movement. As an artist with a disability, her body of work examines concepts that surround (dis)ableism, identity, personal experiences and pushing the limits to what the physical body can do. She has worked with Supercell Contemporary Dance Festival, Bleach*, Undercover Artist Festival, Brisbane Festival and Anywhere Theatre Festival.

Through her holistic practice, active listening, and celebration of diversity, she is inspired by how all bodies in space weave their own life’s tapestry and how this act or state of vulnerability dictates our communal environments and growth. Storytelling is intrinsic to growth, from our saddest experiences to optimum rejoicing, we have always changed the world with our storytelling.

Anisa Nandaula

Anisa is a nationally recognised spoken word poet, play writer, educator and published author. She is the 2016 Queensland Poetry slam champion and runner up for the Australian poetry slam championships. She won the XYZ Innovation in Spoken Word Prize and performed poetry at the Sydney Opera house. She shared her work on channel 10, ABC tv and had a viral video with 200 thousand views around the world. She has published a book and toured the country. Now setting her sights on stand up comedy, within her first 6 months of stand up she became the Sunshine Coast laughable comedy champion 2020, won the giggle room comedy competition and won the audience favourite at the good chat Bratt pack finals.

Tammy Law

The work of Brisbane based photographer Tammy Law explores stories that stem from lived experiences. Reflective and evocative, her work expresses a fragile kind of belonging in how she addresses themes of migration and home. Law’s images have been showcased in national and international publications such as The Saturday Paper, Monocle, Frankie and The Big Issue. Law produced the FotoVisura Spotlight Grant exhibition at the Brisbane Powerhouse in 2015. Since 2007, Law’s work has been regularly exhibited across Australia and internationally. Her artist book Permission To Belong won the 2018 ANZ Photobook People’s Choice Award and in 2017 she was awarded an Australia Council for the Arts grant to establish Fragile Constellations, an online network between photographers from Myanmar and Australia. In 2018, she pursued further research and completed her PhD in Media and Communication at RMIT.


Naavikaran is an all-round goddess, musician, community facilitator, writer, theatre producer and choreographer from India, based in Meanjin (Brisbane). Their work creates platforms for accessible and safe storytelling for identities of various intersections and communities.

 Their first sold-out theatre production, People Of Colours, premiered at Brisbane Powerhouse in May, 2021! Naavikaran is also the founder of ruhmantic, a royal chai brand and experience that is aimed to support artists and storytellers of colour. They were named one of the 30 Under 30 LGBTIQ+ Leaders in Australia by Out For Australia in 2019 for their contributions to the community. Their latest work, Brown Church, premiered at Queensland Theatre on the 18th of September as a part of The Undercover Arts Festival and Brisbane Festival.

Naavikaran’s pronouns are she/they. They can be found on all social media platforms including Spotify, @naavikaran

Ally Nicolopoulos

Dr. Ally Nicolopoulos is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Black Dog Institute, currently working in the male suicide space. Prior to her current role – leading the qualitative arm of the Under the Radar project (https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/research-projects/under-the-radar/) – Ally spent many years working as a youth suicide researcher, as well as a registered psychologist. Ally is incredibly passionate about suicide prevention, and a strong advocate for representing the voice of lived experience within suicide research.

Curator - Daniele Constance

Daniele Constance is a participatory artist with a focus on social, civic and inclusive arts practices, currently working on the lands of the Yugambeh Language Group of the Gold Coast. She creates artistic works that draw from direct experience and social arts practices; often using verbatim, documentary, community engaged, site-specific and contemporary arts practices.

Daniele has presented independent performance and contemporary art works with: Footscray Community Arts Centre, Festival of Live Art, Melbourne Fringe Festival, Testing Grounds, La Boite Theatre, Metro Arts, Supercell Festival of Contemporary Dance, Queensland Poetry Festival, Castlemaine State Festival, HOTA and Undercover Arts Festival.


Nathan Stoneham

Nathan Stoneham is a community and cultural development artist and producer who has been creating contemporary, socially engaged arts processes and performances with groups across Australia and the Asia Pacific region for fifteen years. He is a recipient of the Australia Council for the Art’s Kirk Robson Award, the Brisbane City Council Lord Mayors Artist Fellowship, and was an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development. He holds a Bachelor of Creative Industries (drama/music), a Bachelor or Education, and a Social Work Masters. Nathan’s practice explores transcultural and queer approaches to making art and friends, and connects people to collaborate on new ways of being together.