Meet Creative Producer Sasha Zahra

February 10th, 2023

We spoke to our extraordinary Creative Producer Sasha Zahra about her role at Patch, career and dream dinner guests.

Tell us about your role at Patch.

A Creative Producer makes things happen; we sit between the creative process and the operational process in a project, we orchestrate ideas, resources, people and participants, to turn the seed of an idea into reality.

It’s a brilliantly diverse role that changes hugely from day to day depending on what is in front of us.

My day can be anything from sitting at a laptop all day smashing through a grant application, report or budget, being a part of the development of a new work, brainstorming an idea with our brilliant Artistic Director Geoff Cobham, visiting a school and watching an intimate performance in a classroom, to networking & selling our work at an arts market or meeting with local, national & international festival directors.

Rik Hinton & Sasha on the front page of the Vanuatu Daily Post

Tell us about your career highlights.

There are loads! I have been so blessed to work across South Australia, the country and the world producing so many amazing projects and work with such a diversity of artists. I’ll try and pick a few highlights…

Working with Wan Smolbag Theatre (in Vanuatu) across many years, and helping to program and produce three International Theatre Festivals (2009, 2014 and 2019) has definitely been a highlight. Touring artists from Australia, NZ, South Africa and the UK to the tiny Island nation for them to perform to local audiences and in turn for those artists to experience the unique brilliance of the work Wan Smolbag does across, theatre, film and community development has definitely been a career highlight.

Another would be my time at Adelaide Fringe as Creative Producer (2019–2014). This was a brilliant time when the festival was producing a huge number of large-scale free events for the artist and community. I worked my butt off but had an absolute blast of heading up a dream team of producing and production legends. I produced many large-scale projects, but a few favourites were the opening night Parade, Opening Night concert, the outdoor Fringe Club which became the much-loved artists playground home away from home, the Fringe in the Mall Caravan artist showcase stage, The Fringe Sirens, and a project that is very dear to my heart – Desert Fringe, that was produced annually in Port Augusta.

After my love of large-scale outdoor events was born across my years at Adelaide Fringe, it was a total gift to be able bring this together with my love for Vanuatu when I was appointed as the Executive Producer of the Opening and Closing Ceremony of the mini–Pacific Games held in Vanuatu in 2017. I had certainly done big events, but nothing of this scale and never for a live multi-channel TV broadcast! It was a brilliant learning experience and the ‘cast’ of 2,000 athletes and over 500 local performers, cultural dance groups and dignitaries and speakers for the Opening Ceremony, was certainly the largest I’ve ever had to wrangle.

Sasha at Fringe Club

Tessa Leon, Sasha & Greg Clarke

Opening of the Vanuatu mini–Pacific Games

 What do you love most about working in the arts?
  • The awesome people.

  • Seeing artistic genius come to life.

  • The wonder and awe of audiences.

  • Bringing people together for live shared experiences – both the intimate and mind-blowingly huge!

  • The power of storytelling.

  • The ability of art to amaze and astonish.

The Fringe Sirens

If you could invite three people to dinner (dead or alive) who would you choose and why?

Probably my Jiddo (Grandpa), on my Baba’s (Dad’s) side who passed away in his home in Lebanon before I was born, and I never met. From the stories I’ve heard he was and incredibly smart and interesting man with a love for poetry, music, and fine fabric – sounds like a damn fine gentleman to me. I would have loved to have met him, got to know him and had him in my life.

My partner Edgell’s Mua (Mum) Irene. She was caring and cheeky and full of love and laughter. She predicted Edgell and my relationship before we did, first time I met her actually. I didn’t get to know her well and sadly I spent very little time with her before she passed after a battle with cancer. Some more time to chat with over dinner and her and get to know her better would be fun.

Ok the third person… I reckon it would be pretty awesome to meet and have dinner with Morgan Freeman, apart from being an awesome actor and director and having the most mesmerising and soothing voice, he is an activist, philanthropist, knows how to fly a plane and has a bee sanctuary with 26 beehives. He would have loads of interesting tales and would be a great dinner guest I reckon. I also love his quote – “If you see it differently, function that way. Follow your own muse always!”

So much has happened during your first few months at Patch – what have been your favourite moments so far?

Oooh there have been lots of great moments already!

Being a part of the final preparations and delivery of Patch’s 50-year birthday celebrations in Nov 2023 was a favourite. The birthday party was such a great event that perfectly celebrated the amazing achievements of the company over its 50-year history while also looking to the future, plus it was a super fun day that children and children-at-heart could enjoy together. 

I also loved seeing Stephen Sheehan’s Spark: Once Upon a Jar performance at Parafield Gardens Primary School at the end of 2022. It is a wonderful performance, and awesome to see the show and in such a culturally diverse school. I was reminded of the power of simple storytelling (Stephen Sheehan really is a master of It!), the brilliance of children’s imaginations, and the importance of these intimate in-schools offerings for schools, children, and their teachers.

Sasha at Patch's 50th Birthday

Patch's 50th Birthday

Stephen Sheehan's Spark: Once Upon a Jar