9 January 2023

Saasha gives young Riverina 'oddballs' a chance to discover the joy of performing

| Chris Roe
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Saasha McMillan loves inspiring kids through the Oddball Theatre. Photo: Chris Roe.

Despite her mother’s concerns, Saasha McMillan never doubted that she would find her way into a career in the performing arts.

“I think when I was a teenager, I was figuring it out based on the drama teachers I’d met in school and I knew that that was a road I wanted to go down,” she shrugs.

The founder of Wagga’s Oddball Theatre is gearing up for a busy summer holiday program and says it’s a joy to share her love of drama and theatre with creative kids.

“I think students learn resilience and confidence because they do get more confident in classes and then they’re able to speak up in school and stick up for themselves,” she explains.

“They say people who read a lot of books learn communication skills because they see things played out in so many different ways without having to do it themselves.

“I find that drama is like that too, where you can step into a character who’s experienced bullying or heartbreak, learn how they worked through it, and then apply that yourself in a safe space.”

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Saasha moved to Wagga a decade ago to study the now-defunct acting course at CSU and soon saw an opportunity for something different in the Riverina arts scene.

“I was working for Speaking Out (Speech and Drama training) and I thought, ‘this is what I want to do, but not how I want to do it’,” she explains.

“I knew there were people that wanted what I wanted to offer, which is focusing on the performance side of drama and theatre, and so I began Oddball Theatre for all the oddballs in town, really.”

Stage performance

Saasha (left) performing at the Civic Theatre during the Curious Rabbit takeover in 2022. Photo: Oddball Theatre.

Saasha describes the Oddball Theatre as a ‘Performance Art Theatre’ where students get a chance to develop a variety of skills.

“It’s everything to do with theatre. It’s the acting, the directing, the playwriting and then it’s also building the costumes, designing the sets and becoming a jack-of-all-trades artist,” she says, explaining that the program also includes regular Dungeons and Dragons games on Saturdays.

“I think that the teenagers who come wouldn’t necessarily come to drama classes, but coming up with all these ideas, they get all this confidence and they’re in a safe space where they are allowed to just say, ‘this is an idea I have’ without being shut down.”

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Looking ahead, Saasha hopes to expand her workshops to the smaller villages around the Riverina where kids have fewer opportunities to perform.

“I grew up in Deniliquin and Outback Theatre used to have people travel out and do drama workshops in Deni and Finley and Hay,” she says.

“I want to go out and do it in the villages because I was that kid. Once we found drama, mum just kept dropping me off and that was it!”

In the meantime, Saasha has a busy year ahead with a slate of holiday workshops, a playwriting competition and a string of classes and performance opportunities for students.

“The future is to just get Oddball out there, travelling around doing workshops and connecting artists and young people with each other.”

To learn more about the Oddball Theatre, head to the website or Facebook.

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