For First Nations Writers – The Playwrights Retreat

This has been one of our most successful projects, but in 2020 the Retreat will look very different as a result of the public health situation. But our now well-rehearsed collaboration processes, guided by cultural protocols, will remain. We have consulted widely on the new shape of this retreat.

10 playwrights will be supported by 5 dramaturgs over two separate 15-day virtual ‘retreat’ periods. The 15 days will be spread out over a 4-week period: one week intensive, two weeks of more fluid work, one week intensive. More artists will be supported through this project this year than in previous years.

The structure of the retreat will be entirely flexible. Participating playwrights will themselves determine the shape of the schedule.

Overall, the retreat will focus on writing, as well as making a digital communal space for sharing work, exploring ideas, taking risks, mentoring and collaborating.

Post-Retreat, each playwright will have the support of a PWA staff member or affiliated professional to discuss the future needs of their work and potential pathways to production.

The ten playwrights are Gary Hamaguchi (WA), developing a play set in the confined space of a pearl lugger ship in Broome; Barbara Hostalek (WA), developing Mates, which explores toxic masculinity in a family, and First Aid, a play that grapples with themes of betrayal, compassion, fatigue and psychosis; Andrea James (NSW), developing The Black Woman of Gippsland, based on historical events, archival material and oral testimonies from James’s Gunaikurnai family links; Colin Kinchela (NSW), developing a First Nations Queer story; Nathan Maynard (TAS), developing 37, a play focusing on Adam Goodes and the place of racism in Australian footy ethos and mateship; Ellen Van Neerven (QLD), developing a made-for-digital work about bullying in schools; Steven Oliver (QLD), developing From Silence, the second work in a planned series of five plays that began with From Darkness; James Taylor (WA), developing Wheat St., a satirical tragedy set around a pop-up bar in the heart of Perth’s Yagan Square; Yvette Walker (QLD), developing The Bunny Club, set in 1967 Brisbane and inspired by an old photo of an Aboriginal Playboy Bunny; and Alexis West (SA), developing House Arrest, a family thriller set in the world of gaming.

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