Keira Lyons / Head of Drama & Performing Arts
To observe Keira working with her students is truly something special.
A graduate of the Monash University Arts School, multiple qualifications in education and an ongoing involvement in the performing arts industry, Keira joined Camberwell Girls in a part time capacity in 2007. Over the course of that year, the School discovered it had something special on its hands and Keira knew that she had found a professional and spiritual home. That part time teaching role quickly became a full time Head of Drama role and as they say, the rest is history.
For Keira, who puts her absolute heart and soul into teaching, it is highly important that she remains involved in the performing arts industry whilst working in education.
“I don’t have to sacrifice one for the other as they support each other. Education and theatre are important in the shaping of who we are as a society. I really believe that both are fundamental in the search for and creation of identity,” says Keira.
When it comes to her own experience in the performing arts world, there really isn’t anything that this all-rounder hasn’t done. With strengths in managing projects and people, she started out as a stage manager.
“I’ll never forget the time when I was managing a production of Fiddler on the Roof. It was opening night and our lead came down with laryngitis. I was the only one who knew her songs. Suddenly, I’m thrust on stage and become an actor.”
However, Keira believes there is an important message in this scenario. “People will want to ‘box’ you into a niche and they’re often uncomfortable if you don’t fit one box or if you suddenly swap boxes… ignore them.”
She went on to act with appearances in TV shows and short films. From here, she moved into directing and writing – mounting her own show at Gasworks and Theatre Works and later in the United Kingdom. She then became an artistic director and also worked with a children’s theatre company, where she was first introduced to her love of puppetry.
Teaching, marking, organising auditions, preparing for rehearsals, sourcing props, painting sets, sewing costumes, applying stage make-up, building sets, problem solving, rigging lights, testing sound and drawing the curtain back on opening night – when it comes to real-world educators, Keira ticks all of the boxes.
Next stop was overseas. “I wanted to pursue greater knowledge of myself and my limits. I trained in the UK, Spain and France and performed in an Improvisation Comedy Troupe in England and Ireland.”
Keira describes a successful audition with Polygot Theatre as a match made in heaven. She was lucky to perform and tour Singapore, Washington DC, New York, Orange County and Pittsburgh, as well as extensive national touring in the capacity of actor, puppeteer, stage manager, vision mixer, production manager and director.
“It’s a privilege to see and be a part of worlds being created. Collectively we imagine something and together we build it. Witnessing girls taking risks and supporting each other. There’s so much joy in my everyday,” says Keira.
As an educator, it is so important to Keira that her students understand and appreciate all of the skills that go into interpreting the text and presenting that interpretation to an audience.
“As theatre makers, there’s something very satisfying about building your own vision. I want the girls to take responsibility for the final product and understand that sometimes we have to go out and acquire new skills or make a new tool to get the job done,” she says.
A full time parent to Stuart, Sophia and Ollie, her three adopted cats, Keira still finds the time to keep herself actively involved in the performing arts.
She frequently works as a director for puppetry shows and she also toured with War Horse Australia as puppetry captain and performer. She is a freelance physical theatre trainer, employed by companies such as the National Theatre and The Women’s Circus to train their actors if particular skill sets are needed.