No Limits in the Riverland – Reflection

Hello and welcome to the Riverland Wrap Up! I’m your host, Kirste Vandergiessen, the Riverland Coordinator of the No Limits: Young Regional Writers team, and I’ll be taking you on a trip down memory lane. The Riverland has been jam-packed with fun events this year and they each deserve a little moment in the spotlight.

P.O.T.LUCK Open Mic Nights

P.O.T.LUCK was a series of open mic nights to be performed throughout Riverland towns.

The performers pose for a group photo.

P.O.T.LUCK was pitched to Statewide Regional Manager, Alysha Herrmann, from Riverland local Jess Weidenhofer – an incredibly talented, skilled and hardworking young creative in the Riverland. With the support of Writers SA and the No Limits team, Jess was able to plan two P.O.T.LUCK events.

Here are some words from Jess:

“Participating and performing in Open mic’s in the Riverland as a teen was always a nerve-wracking experience. I’d get up on stage with shaky legs and a shaky voice, and try my best to get through my cover of Zombie by The Cranberries without crying. The stage fright was real. And it was immense. I didn’t know if people could hear me through the distorted speaker as they chatted amongst themselves and dug into their pub meal. Did they like what they heard? Did they think I was meant to be a professional? Was I doing a good job, or should I give up then and there? All I needed was a little clap, a little foot tap of approval, a little smile from another young person in the crowd, just so I’d know that this terrifying moment is worth it. For most of my 20’s, I kept my music to myself and decided that maybe performing just wasn’t for me. 

However, November of 2021 turned out to be a pivotal month. Not only was it my grand re-entrance into the world after losing a lot of myself in an abusive relationship, but it all kicked off with an affirming “you are a successful applicant” for This Breath! I took a leap of faith in applying — My confidence in myself and as an artist had depleted over the years to what felt like nothing. I clearly remember how excited I was to get back to doing what I loved with this much needed external validation and support. To go from an environment that stifled any creativity I had, to landing amongst kind, talented, passionate human’s who truly cared about what I had to say, was the boost in morale I was searching for.

New year’s eve, I made my 2022 resolution: To grow professionally as an artist. To stand out, make a mark, and to make a real difference in this fish bowl arts community of the Riverland.  It wasn’t until I attended Riverland Scratch Night and Miscellany that I knew exactly how to do that. An Open Mic night! But not like the ones I performed in as a teen – I wanted to build something new! A night for people to just have a go, and that’s the cause for celebration. All of us have to be bad at something before we can be good at it. And that’s P.O.T.LUCK’s mission. To provide the warmth, love and celebration for people to come and make grand mistakes, to unapologetically tremble, to forget your lines and then forget them again. P.O.T.LUCK is the place to be for building confidence, for meeting other like-minded creatives who aren’t yet experts, for throwing caution to the wind and having a go for the laugh of it.

I’ve produced two P.O.T.LUCK’s this year. And their success was greatly due to the incredible support from Writer’s SA. I can’t wait to see what next year brings, and how P.O.T.LUCK (and I) will grow.”

Jess performing at P.O.T.LUCK Pride Edition

It’s so obvious to how much these open mic nights have meant, not only to Jess, but to the people who were commissioned to perform (Betty Lawrie, Soph Landu, Britnie Hocking, Mahala Rose, Jai Boon, Eliza Berlage, and Fleur Kilpatrick), all the people that jumped up to the mic in the open mic segment, and to everyone who joined us in the audience on those nights. These are the gatherings that make our gloomy years shine.

We can’t wait to see more P.O.T.LUCK events in the Riverland and to watch Jess’s producer journey. Thank you so much for all your hard work and passion, Jess.


As part of Country Arts SA’s Local and Live program, Statewide Manager, Alysha Herrmann, seeded the idea of providing a stage for local storytellers.

A huge projection screen lights the Chaffey Theatre stage. Tables, chairs, stools and bean bags face a small stage and piano, ready to absorb the incredible storytelling about to begin.

When I started with the team in January, this was one of many projects Alysha passed over to me. It was pitched to me as a reading showcase night in response to Riverland Scratch Night (a reading night for unfinished and raw performance pieces), for the reader’s more developed work and to see their progress.

I had a lot (a lot) of creative freedom – from naming the event, creating the floor-plan, stage dressing, projection slides, lighting colours and set up, etc. Luckily, I had Luke Meaney, Chaffey Theatre’s passionate and energetic technician as my guide. There are so many overwhelming decisions to make and having his experience and patience

We invited five Riverlanders, Fleur Kilpatrick, Joey Hanean, Jess Weidenhofer, Stuart Watkinson and Britnie Hocking, and a special guest from Adelaide Hills, Maddy Nyp, to join us for the night.

I am endlessly proud of each of them. And you can be too, watch the recording of Miscellany below!


Wriday, hosted by Part of Things, was a day-long event where Riverland writers were able to dedicate some time and space to their projects.

Wriday was an event designed by my own agenda – outside of my No Limits role, I’m also a writer and I’ve been trying to finish a novel this year. As it turns out, you need time and space to do that, and Wriday was the answer. Or so I thought.

Seven writers gather, laptops crammed on trestle tables. Cords and snack bowls tangle them together in a mess of words and thoughts.

As it turns out, when in a room full of wonderful, clever and creative people, writing is really hard. Most of our participants were able to get writing done (not me, obviously), some were writing pieces they would be performing at other events, like Truth to Power Cafe and Here. Now. Feast., others chipped away at long-term projects, and others gave themselves very specific goals to achieve before they left. I think each of them achieved their goals.

Part of Things was open for 10 hours! There was not a point in the day were the room was empty. Amongst our chats, we came to the consensus that we should organise regular writing group meetups (the next one in January). Wriday was a great event and set out everything I hoped it would (except my writing goals for the day, but we can ignore that).

We have some Creative Responses on their way, too! Keep your peepers peeled.

Cosy Hangout Nights

Gentle social gatherings to cosy up in a pillow fort, settle in, read, write, game, and dream.

There aren’t many spaces fit for our quiet, Riverland, night owls and I wanted to experiment with one. Overall, I hosted three events with Writers SA through winter and one more for Riverland Youth Theatre’s teen ensemble.

Originally, Cosy Hangouts were supposed to be for focused writing, reading and time for other quiet tasks, but the pillowfort provided the most comfortable and safe space for conversation, connection, big feelings, and lots of singing.

The event morphed into something the community needed and that feels like its biggest success.


And of course, we can’t forget Portal – my baby.

Kirste in front of Bonney Theatre wall with her gigantic illustration projecting against it.

Portal was a fantasy festival held over a whole weekend in the Riverland. From writing workshops, lightsaber wielding, an art exhibition, gigantic projection storytelling mural, and online commissions!

You can read all about Portal here, it was such a big event that I needed its own blog!

There are so many other things to talk about, like all our individual workshops and commissions. This year has just been so huge. I’m so proud of the No Limits team and everything we’ve been able to accomplish this year, I’m so proud of everyone who said “yes” to my schemes and agendas, I’m so proud to be a writer in the Riverland, we have an incredible community.

Thank you to everyone who was involved and to everyone who supported No Limits events through 2022, each and every one of you made this such a memorable year.

While the rest of my team wrapped up in December, I have one more event to deliver in March, so I’ll see everyone in the new year and keep an eye out for Counter Urban Questions, coming to a Chaffey Theatre or livestream near you.

Please be sure to check out all the things Alysha, Eliza, Audrey and Kathy delivered in their times with No Limits.

Keep it real, and I’ll see you around.

– Kirste x

This event was presented by the Writers SA No Limits: Young Regional Writers program and aimed at regional writers under 30, however writers from all ages and locations are very welcome to our program.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact Riverland Coordinator, Kirste Vandergiessen ([email protected])

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