Principal Academy of Dance and Theatre Arts

Shirley Van Sanden

Guest Tutors / Shirley Van Sanden

Professional Experience

Shirley is an actor, writer, producer and director. Her commissioned work has been in Theatre for Young People with Barking Gecko Theatre Company (1001 Nights, Ghost Train, Hidden Dragons, Trains of Thought), Spare Parts Puppet Theatre (Grendel and the Gladiator) and Wildflowers in Focus for The Adorable Florables at Kings Park.  She has also written for independent company Class Act Theatre (Reality Bites aka Image Busters).  Her adult plays produced by independent theatre companies include Two Loud Slopey Chicks that toured to Canberra and Sydney and The Hand and other creeping tales that had a successful season at The Blue Room Theatre; both Directed by Monica Main. In 2004, her play written for the Perth International Arts Festival, Hidden Dragons was nominated for Best New Play and won Best Production at the WA Equity Guild Awards.  For her role in Hidden Dragons Shirley also won the WA Equity Guild Award for Best Actor, Female. Hidden Dragons attracted a 2005 AWGIE Award nomination in the Children’s Theatre category and the play toured nationally and internationally including the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne Arts Centre (2005), four Canadian Festivals including the Vancouver International Children’s Festival and the Darwin Festival in 2006.  Trains of Thought was nominated for a 2007 AWGIE Award in the Theatre for Young Audiences category.  In 2011 Shirley wrote, co-directed, produced and performed in Heartworm that was part of the Blue Room Personal season. Then in 2012, she wrote, produced, designed and made puppets for the premiere season of The Warrior and The Princess at the Blue Room.  The Warrior and The Princess was nominated for a 2013 AWGIE Award in the Theatre for Young Audiences category and also had a season at The Fremantle Festival that year. Shirley has been a regular contributor at Barefaced Storytelling at the Blue Room and at The Bird.

Shirley wrote for the Children’s TV series The Sleepover Club series 2.  Her concept for Children’s TV, BOOM News was one of 2 winners at the 2005 Small Screen Big Picture Big Pitch contest securing development funding for a series bible. She was also involved in the development of a TV series for the 18 months – 3 years old age group, Hello Gracie Lou. Shirley was the WA Contributing Editor for the national youth arts publication Lowdown Magazine from 1999 – 2009.

Recent acting: Elektra (WA Opera, Opera Australia, PIAF) Heartworm (Blue Moose) Merchant of Venice (Class Act/Bare Naked), In the Garden (Hook in Eye/Deckchair) Titus Andronicus (HIVE), The Deep (Spare Parts Puppet Theatre), Noises Off (KNUTS), Cat Balloon (Spare Parts Puppet Theatre), The Warrior and The Princess (Blue Moose), The Canterbury Tales Parts 1 & 2 (KNUTS/Fringe World), Macbeth (Class Act), Gertrude Stein and a Companion (HIVE).

Shirley has just finished performing in the 2014 season of The Deep for Spare Parts Puppet Theatre and will be going on tour to the eastern states with the show in March this year.