Joanne Kohnke.
Joanne Kohnke.

Adventurous performer returns to answer life questions

THERE seems to be a mini-volcano of adventurous spirit and natural vitality bubbling away in the creative soul of Joanne Kohnke.

After 35 years in Europe, the Brisbane-born, New Guinea bred 58-year-old trained anthropologist and life-long theatre performer has settled back into Australia, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. She leaves behind one daughter in Paris, but settles close to her eldest daughter who resides in Nambour and made her a joyful grandmother of two.

Joanne's multi-cultural background includes her family life in New Guinea and the creative influence of her older sister, an artist and sculpture whose works referenced the village life and stories of Indigenous communities. But her natural physicality gained prominence when she trained under the famed swimming coach Forbes Carlyle and gained a place among the winners in the Pacific Games.

She went onto completing an anthropology degree when she found her niche in further acting and physical performance studies. She went onto create the La Boheme café in Northern NSW and then sailed across the seas to continue performance and research practices with Grotowski Group leader, Ludwig Flaschen (voice and ritual) and Sigmund Molik (physical theatre ritual and performance presence).

"I have spent the most part of my active career performing, training, teaching and directing in Europe, northern and western Africa, Joanne said.

"I finally settled and created Paradoxe Theatre Company in Paris and continued to work with other contemporary theatre dance, circus and puppetry companies."

A poster for the show 'Dusk 'Til Dawn'.
A poster for the show 'Dusk 'Til Dawn'.

However, in the last couple of years, personal questions began to surface above the trajectory of her career path.

"After the events that shook Paris, I questioned my priorities in life and career," she said.

"Was I satisfied with my identity as an artist who had completely integrated one society but had lost touch with my origins, my parent's culture?

With her daughter in Australia, Joanne followed her heart and returned to Australia about 18 months ago.

"I've discovered the empathy of Australians," she said. "Every day, I am amazed at their generosity and integrity.

"I am moved by their unique sense of humour, the umbrella of care and helpfulness they cast over their fellows in such a matter of fact way! And I am impressed by the quality of the creative industry here."

Back in Australia, not missing a beat, Joanne enrolled in the inaugural Masters of Professional Practice (Performing Arts) course under the supervision of Dr Lynne Bradley at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

"The Masters course has enabled me to confront and develop my practices, skills and knowledge in both entrepreneurial and the creative performance areas of the profession," she said.

"This course has been an intensive, highly structured incubation period into current practices. It has provided a context and the keys to enter the current Australasian market."


  • Plenty of walking, including bush walking
  • Daily Qi Gong (A form of Tai Chi)
  • Each Monday, a 3-hour Dojo workout with Zen Zen Zo Dojo (Suzuki, Butoh and Viewpoints practices), in Brisbane.
  • Swimming
  • Graduation show detaail

Performance details

Masters of Professional Practice (Performing Arts) graduation show:

'Dusk 'til Dawn'.'Dusk 'til Dawn' is directed by Mr Simon Woods, Artistic Co-Director of Zen Zen Zo physical Theatre Company. The show  opens at the J Theatre, Noosa at 7pm on Friday, December 9 and  is on  Saturday, December 10, 2017.

Bookings at

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