CuriousWorks Annual Showcase

2016, Ongoing

Our 2023 Urban Stories event is in the works!  Check back soon for more updates.

Urban Stories is CuriousWorks Annual Showcase. Originally conceived in 2016 as an opportunity for CuriousWorks artists to share works in development,  since 2019 it has been expanded to include works from all across CuriousWorks programs and artwork-based projects.

The Urban Stories ‘writers group’ that came from the original 2016 Urban Stories, originally led by S. Shakthidharan and then helmed by Miranda Aguilar, has since developed into the program Testing Grounds.

Highlights from previous Urban Stories showcases can be seen below.

On November 17th, CuriousWorks held Urban Stories: En Route, our annual end of year showcase at the Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre.  It was a chance to celebrate artistic journeys, as well as recognise our anthology work, meet me at the next stop, which also had its gallery opening that same night. The evening included a highlight reel of the works and programs from throughout the year, including the 2022 FUNPARK and Generate Festivals from the first half of the year. We then held a panel with some of the creative leads behind many of the projects where they talked about why arts access is important, and what ‘community’ means to them, and why community arts matters. You can read more about the event on our blog here.


On November 20th, CuriousWorks Urban Stories took a different, digital turn. In light of COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions, CuriousWorks launched Urban Stories: WFH, an online, live-streamed experienced broadcast across Zoom and Facebook. 

It included: special guests J.K Anicoche from Sipat Lawin/Komunidad X and  seasoned theatre-maker and emerging director Valerie Berry; a glimpse at future Mt. Druitt Conference conversations in a live conversation between FUNPARK curator Daisy Montalvo and PLAYLIST performer Neda Taha; and the introduction of the CuriousWorks Artistic Directorate, a pilot program launching next year that brings together socially engaged young artists with experienced mentors in paired leadership positions.


The Livestream


In November 2019, CuriousWorks’ Urban Stories was held at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre for a night of storytelling and sneak peeks into new works in development. The night opened with a celebration of Shawn Spina’s achievements on Prone to the Drone. There was a staged conversation from the young people lead by Daisy Montalvo who is artist-in residence and co-ordinator for our FUNPARK program; a prototype film chapter from director Sivani Yaddanapudi about migrant mothers’ sacrifice and strength; and a variety of screenings, games and talks developed by artists in the CuriousWomen, ReFILL, Maker Space and Beyond Refuge programs. 


    Phography by Elham BehinAein


    After  the collaborative writing process on Las Rosas, Miranda brought back the writers group in 2018, leading to the second iteration of Urban Stories at Riverside theatre on November 1st, 2018. Urban Stories 2018 not only included works in progress from the writers’ group, but also included the works in development from beyond refuge: dialogues. The work shared with our audience that night was varied and thoughtful, tackling themes of loneliness, connection and isolation. You can read more of the feedback the artists received for their work-in-progress here.

    2018 Urban Stories included:

    • A little kid losing his drone in his grumpy neighbour’s backyard.
    • A couple and their disintegrating relationship leaching the colour from their home over the years.
    • A young woman whose daydreams run havoc as she tries to stay focussed on her school work.

    Photography by Payam Gouya


    Set in the suburbs and homes of Western Sydney, the first Urban Stories  a suite of film and theatre scripts in development, written by local emerging writers, through CuriousWorks’ peer led writers group. The Curious Creators ‘writers group’ are a tightknit team of storytellers who meet weekly and grow original stories with the intention of moving them to readiness for production. The group was first formed in 2015. In April 2016, they undertook their first team residency as part of the Bundanon Artists Residency Program in order to move their projects forward with intense dramaturgy from S. Shakthidharan and feedback from their peers.  The group has since been at the helm of its lead facilitator, Miranda Aguilar.

    Urban Stories gives room for emerging artists to share their progress and give each other support and feedback on their works in development. Through this development platform based on gradual development and supportive, constructive feedback, the seeds of ideas developed have led to completed production of projects such as Las Rosas and Prone to the Drone.


    In September 2016, the work the writers group had started in 2015 led to the first Urban Stories, a moved reading, staging two scenes from each of their works for a full house at Riverside Theatres. PYT Fairfield Youth Ensemble partnered on the project as actors/ readers.

    The themes cover family love, teen isolation, resilience, grief, racism, disability and desire, all through the eyes of young writers who examine their own lives and that of their families and communities, with great warmth, respect, humour and insight. You can read the reactions we gathered from the show here.

    2016 Urban Stories included:

    • ‘Shane’ – an isolated teenager on an escape route from his lonely rat’s wheel world of school and video games. By Shawn Spina.
    • ‘Val’ − a young Australian-Filipina exploring religion, family expectations and her queer identity. By Miranda Aguilar . Val is the lead character in the play Let Me Know When You Came Home, (still in development).
    • ‘Dominic’ – a HSC student whose life is complicated by the continuing presence of his dead brother. By Thomas Barrell.
    • ‘Mia’ – a Muslim girl discovering some unique talents with daily therapy and family love to overcome her disability. By Samia Halabi. Mia was the lead character in the Screenability short film, Tip of My Tongue, which Samia hopes to further develop into a feature. 
    • ‘Valerie’ – a young woman who questions authority and the conventional wisdom of her walled community in 22nd century Sydney. By Andrea Beeten. Valerie and her story is a part of When the Tide Comes In, and on-going theatre project.

    Miranda Aguilar has been the lead facilitator of the Urban Stories Writer’s Group since 2016.

    Miranda’s development as an artist and community leader has been supported by Curious Women, a program funded through the Australia Council of the Arts.

    The writers come from CuriousWorks’ successful Curious Creators program that is aiming to develop a new generation of Western Sydney storytellers from diverse cultural backgrounds.