Wollongong-born actress Nikki Shiels is surprisingly upbeat about a year of "ups and downs, having no purpose in life".
But working in the arts is always unpredictable, she said, "even when there's not a pandemic happening".
Shiels was set to return to her roots and perform with the Belvoir Theatre Company in Wollongong last year, cast as the lead in My Brilliant Career.
The dream to see the adaptation of the Miles Franklin classic on a hometown stage remains a dream for now, but COVID-19 hasn't killed it off completely.
The actress is currently bringing 19th century feminist "Sybylla Melvyn" to life in Sydney, until the end of the month.
"It's a really amazing position to be in," Shiels told the Mercury.
"Firstly, to have work at the start of 2021, but also to know we are giving the gift of live performance to people who haven't been able to socialise [due to restrictions]."
Belvoir had the cast rehearse mid-year as originally planned before taking a 12-week hiatus in the hope theatres would reopen - and they did.
My Brilliant Career is the coming-of-age story of a young woman living in rural Australia in the 1880's.
Judy Davis and Sam Niel starred in the 1979 screen adaptation.
Shiels described her character's personality as "not fitting in to the opportunities that were available to women at the time".
"She's completely unapologetic, can turn on a dime, and has an amazing complexity that she is constantly wrestling with throughout the play about how to live her life beyond the circumstances that have been laid out for her," she said.
Nothing is confirmed yet for the showto be rescheduled at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre for this year, but "never say never".
The actress has come a long way since her first show at IPAC - playing Eliza Doolittle in the Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts production of My Fair Lady.
After graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts, Shiels spent a number of years performing with the Melbourne Theatre Company, but returned to Sydney to work with the esteemed Belvoir Theatre Company.
The last 12 months were tough and JobSeeker was leaned on for help, but the actress is grateful for the time off to spend with her partner - also an actor - and "have a chance to rest".
"It was real permission to stop and take a holiday in my own home," Shiels said.
"But I'm a small, tiny member of the massive arts community that essentially got cancelled for a number of months."
Nikki Shiels can be seen in My Brilliant Career until January 31 at The Belvoir in Surry Hills. https://belvoir.com.au
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