The First Nations Playwright’s Retreat is a program which aims to support a group of outstanding Indigenous writers.
This week‐long creative residency was held over 6-13 February and focused on writing, as well as creating a community for sharing work, exploring ideas, taking risks, mentoring and collaborating.
We began our journey in Sydney on Gadigal land where eight established playwrights, from all over Australia gathered. We road tripped our way down to the beautifully remote Bundanon Trust, on the land of the Wodi Wodi people of the Yuin Nation. The first night was a perfect beginning to the week; with a beautiful welcome to country by Richard Scott Moore who not only welcomed us, but sang and told us the special yarn of how he met his wife.
We were lucky to be joined by playwrights Rhoda Roberts (NSW), Jane Harrison, (VIC), Yvette Walker (QLD), Glenn Shea (VIC) and Tammy Anderson (VIC), all of whom attended our first ever Indigenous Playwrights Retreat, back in 2015. This year Nathan Maynard (TAS), Andrea James (NSW) and Blake Osborn (NSW) also joined the group.
Over the seven days, as the weather changed from the three hottest days in the year to thunderstorms, this adventure saw work developed that was exciting, vibrant and ready to be seen.
The program is self-facilitated by the playwrights, however their time at Bundanon was supported by resident dramaturg Raimondo Cortese. Raimondo was available for dramaturgy feedback with morning writing exercises, workshops, writing master classes and group readings.
The playwrights took in the country, and used the time to focus purely on what their writing needed. Some were focusing on the initial research stages of a new work, while others were tightening up their final draft. It was a natural progression; we heard work read from each of the playwrights whose voices and stories were challenging, hilarious and heart breaking.
As important as the time and space to write, the cultural yarns that took place during the retreat were just as relevant. Glenn Shea also took a cultural discussion on Brain storming Black fella style: What is Black theatre?
So much exciting work came from just one week; watch this space!