Meet Lisa Osborn, Head of Production at the University of Melbourne

Lisa Osborn by Giulia McGauran.
Lisa Osborn by Giulia McGauran.

Lisa Osborn has worked as a stage manager throughout Australia and internationally and has been at the VCA since 2018. She has worked on productions for many leading companies, including Malthouse Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company, Chunky Move, and Australian Dance Theatre, as well as presentations at major arts festivals including Edinburgh International Festival, Sydney Festival, Perth Festival, Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Brisbane Festival, and MONA FOMA. Lisa took some time to tell us a little bit about the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Production) at the University of Melbourne.

Hi Lisa, can you tell us a bit about what the BFA (Production) course involves?
The course gives students the opportunity to gain practical experience in the creation of live performance in all areas of performance design and technical production. From the very beginning, our students gain foundation skills across all the production departments before specialising in their chosen areas as they progress through the course.  As a result, our students are multi-skilled and have the capacity to work collaboratively with great success because they understand the production process from all angles.

Across a typical week our students could be building sets in the workshop, rigging lights in the theatre, constructing costumes in the workroom, recording sound effects in the computer lab, model building in the design studio or stage managing in the rehearsal room.

Throughout the course, students are introduced to industry leaders and current practitioners who enrich the VCA experience by ensuring that what is being taught is current. These key connections link students directly to the industry and pave the way for their future careers.

What sort of careers/pathways can students expect to go into and have gotten into?
VCA Production graduates are working all throughout Australia’s arts industry. The passions of our students lead them to careers with commercial theatre companies, state theatre companies, independent theatre companies, live performance venues, arts festivals and cultural events. Many of our graduates have found themselves creating or touring with shows regionally, interstate and overseas.

The skills our students gain in collaboration, leadership, problem-solving and project management give them the versatility to be successful across any number of industries.

In a few sentences, can you tell us about who you are and what you stand for?
I started stage managing when I was in high school and eventually that lead me to working with some of the finest companies and theatre practitioners in Australia. I have toured extensively with productions throughout Australia, North America, Asia and Europe, which offered me amazing career and life experience.

One thing I particularly love about creating theatre is that it is not something you can achieve successfully on your own. You are constantly collaborating with others, balancing your abilities, expertise and ideas with theirs. Making it to opening night and presenting the work you have created together to an audience is thrilling, especially when a collaboration has been a triumph.

Is there a philosophy or piece of advice that has held you in good stead throughout your career?
I think with many things in life, what you put in is what you get out. There is no doubt that the Production course is a busy one for our students but the time they invest in their own development while at the VCA stands them in good stead for life. This relates to learnt skills and a strong work ethic but also to the personal connections and professional relationships that are built over their time in the course.

In your opinion, what’s the best thing about working or studying at the VCA?
The connections you make! Our industry is so often about who you know and the VCA sets you up with the beginnings of your own professional network. Whether this be with your peers in Production, the industry professionals who you meet along the way or the collaborators you create work with in the Dance, Theatre and Music Theatre disciplines – you will continue to cross paths with all these people well after you leave the VCA.