Playwriting Australia is proud to support eight new plays in the first months of 2016.
From one-day play reading with immediate dramaturgical feedback, to a dedicated week or fortnight workshop, Playwriting Australia offers selected playwrights the time, space and expertise from outstanding creatives and actors to help them refine their new plays. Our New Play Development Program has seen many plays progress from a rough idea to a solid first draft, with some going on to be showcased at the National Play Festival.
In this round, the nine selected works were drawn from the largest round of submissions Playwriting Australia has ever received, with over 170 script submissions nationally. All scripts were assessed blind by a team of panel judges, joined by our Artistic Director Tim Roseman and Resident Dramaturg Iain Sinclair.
We warmly thank all the playwrights and theatre companies for submitting their work to us. With such a huge influx of submissions this round was particularly competitive and our readers were impressed by the talent and fresh array of voices, styles and themes on offer.
Read on for more info about the plays and playwrights.
National Script Workshops
So Long Suckers by Peter Docker (VIC / WA)
Developed in partnership with Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company
The Three Wise Men are drunk, lost, handcuffed, bewildered and don’t even know each other. They fight over grog. They try to remember who they are – but each time it is a grog-police-jail memory. They are prisoners haunted by memories of freedom fighters – Yagan, Ned Kelly & Jandamarra (who all lost their heads and their heads were lost). What is their wisdom? Will they get to the birth? Will their gifts be appropriate?
Murmurations by Julian Larnach (NSW)
Luisa, an African-Australian girl, has just arrived for orientation week at her new university in London whilst Emily, an Anglo-Australian woman, has arrived in Tanzania for volunteer work. Murmurations spans a week in their lives, as Luisa discovers the privilege that her university is built on, and Emily uncovers the corruption that runs through the heart of her organisation. All the while their fates become increasingly entwined with a man who has fallen from the sky.
King of Pigs by Steve Rodgers (NSW)
One Woman. Four Men. The hum of the fridge. A night light left on. She could be with any of these men; at twenty-two on a date on the Gold Coast, at thirty-one moving into an apartment in Albert Park, or at forty, happily married with a nine-year-old son living in Campsie. How does she decide? We don’t fall in love intentionally do we? King of Pigs is a direct response to questions of power and violence dominating our news feeds, questions we’ve ignored for far too long, questions that affect us all. Set in the here and now it is a raw and heartfelt exploration of the struggle for balance inside our relationships and homes.
I sat and waited but you were gone too long by Olivia Satchell (VIC)
A girl and a woman wait for the bus in an urban Australian backwater. The bus is late. The girl is listening to music, the woman clutching a dictaphone. As they begin to speak it becomes clear that both are missing something: the woman’s never seen a phone before, she’s wearing a hospital gown and she doesn’t know who she is. The girl is carrying her life around with her in a big duffel bag, her phone keeps ringing and she won’t pick up, and she writes songs that she’s unable to sing. For a moment, these strangers find comfort in each other.
Pedagogy by Chris Summers (VIC)
Sam and PJ, alone in a dusty Drama room, in a tiny town somewhere in regional Australia. PJ’s a lawyer turned teacher, trying to make a difference. Sam’s the student from hell, pushed out of sight and out of mind. As days and classes pass, a dangerous co-dependence and obsession builds, threatening to break at any moment. Who is teaching who?
Fallen by Seanna van Helten (VIC)
Six women have been given a second chance. Sealed off from the outside world, the women practise the art of being female and wait for their real lives to begin. Inspired by the history of Urania Cottage, a home for “fallen” women founded by Charles Dickens, Fallen explores what happens when the promise of a clean slate is built on the suppression of the past.
The Bees Are All Dead by Kit Brookman (NSW)
A mammal faces extinction. A dinner party goes awry. Speeches are made in parliament. Someone gets a job. War breaks out. There are rumours of a dragon. Neighbours move in. A child sees something strange. War breaks out again. Thanks are made for relative good fortune. A bargain is struck. Someone sings a song. No one can remember whether or not they saw it all coming. The Bees Are All Dead is a comedy about the future.
What Has Been Taken by Verity Laughton (SA)
Dora Schneider, 50s, an Australian landscape gardener, wakes in a hospital in Lahore, Pakistan. She has been injured when taken by Jamal Javad, a Pakistani detective, to the place where her kidnapped daughter, Isabel, was murdered by Islamist terrorists. What Has Been Taken moves backwards to trace Isabel’s misguided attempts to uncover secrets of Pakistani culture, and forwards with Dora’s attempt to find how and why her daughter was killed; and how she herself must now live.
The Rasputin Affair by Kate Mulvany (NSW)
St Petersburg. 1916. Grigori Rasputin – prophet, healer, peasant, sexual deviant – has literally taken over the affairs of Russia, and all in the name of God. But a small group of aristocrats, with the help of the mysterious maid Minya, plan to murder the Mad Monk and return Russia to its rightful leaders – nobility. That is, unless Rasputin really is who he says he is – God’s messenger. Based on true events.
Meet the playwrights
||Kit Brookman‘s plays include The Great Fire (Belvoir), A Rabbit for Kim Jong-il (Griffin), Nora (Belvoir, co-writer), Small and Tired (Belvoir), night maybe (Stuck Pigs Squealing/Theatreworks) and Heaven (ISM/Old 505 Theatre). He won the Philip Parson’s Young Playwrights’ Fellowship in 2012, and his work has been shortlisted for the Griffin Award and the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award. As a director his work includes Is This Thing On? (Belvoir, co-director), Small and Tired (Belvoir) and Heaven (Old 505), and assistant director on Belvoir’s productions of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Private Lives, and Babyteeth.
||Peter Docker is a writer/actor and VCA acting graduate based in Melbourne. He has published three novels, Someone Else’s Country, The Waterboys (shortlisted for Best Science Fiction Aurealis Award), and Sweet One (shortlisted for Best Crime Novel Ned Kelly Award). He has published numerous articles and short stories, and a radio play Marrying My Family for ABC Radio National. As an actor he has appeared for MTC, Malthouse, Ilbijerri, PTC, Deckchair, Black Swan, Yirra Yaakin, Griffin, Melb Workers, Barnstorm, and Kooemba Jdarra. Notables include Jandamarra: Sing For Country (with SSO at The Opera House), Honey Spot, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Torrez, Romeo & Juliet, Scenes From An Execution, Conversations With The Dead, Holy Day, Sweet Road, Up The Ladder, and MacBeth. Numerous TV guest roles include Jandamarra’s War, The Circuit I & II, Weewar, Blue Heelers, The Shark Net, Stingers, Neighbours, The Man From Snowy River and The Flying Doctors. Films include These Final Hours, X and Harry’s War. So Long Suckers was written in collaboration with Nyoongar artist Ian Wilkes and Bunuba artist Emmanuel James Brown.
||Julian Larnach is a Sydney-based playwright. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government and International Relations from the University of Sydney and a Graduate Diploma of Dramatic Art in Playwriting from the National Institute of Dramatic Art. In 2014, he was awarded the inaugural EMERGE: Riverina Playwrights Commission. The commissioned play, Beneath an Oxbow Lake, premiered in Griffith in June 2015, before a sell-out regional tour that finished at ATYP. His monologue Something I Prepared Earlier was produced for the 2014 season of ATYP’s Voices Project BITE ME, and published with Currency Press. He has completed creative developments for new works with Sydney Dance Company, Darwin’s National Youth Week Festival, NIDA Independent, Playwriting Australia and Griffin Theatre, as well as dramaturgical secondments with Belvoir and Melbourne Theatre Company. He has been generously supported by the Australia Council of the Arts, having undertaken a JUMP Mentorship and received an ArtStart grant. He was Resident Playwright at the Australian Theatre for Young People in 2015 and an Affiliate Writer for Griffin Theatre Company in 2013. Julian has been shortlisted for the Griffin Award for New Australian Playwriting, the Edward Albee Scholarship and the PWA Re-Gen Seed Commission. He is currently under commission with the Outback Theatre for Young People.
||Verity Laughton is an award-winning Adelaide-based playwright, and poet. Her work has been produced nationally and internationally.Her latest works are the verbatim theatre piece Long Tan, to be produced in Adelaide in August 2016 by Brink Productions and The Red Cross Letters, also opening in Adelaide for the State Theatre of South Australia this August.She is a member of the 7-O group of playwrights.
||Kate Mulvany‘s plays include The Seed, The Danger Age, the musicals Somewhere (music and lyrics by Tim Minchin), Masquerade (music by Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen) and reworkings of Julius Caesar, Macbeth and Medea. Her adaptation of the novel Jasper Jones recently played at Belvoir and a new production will take place at the Melbourne Theatre Company later this year. In 2015, Kate wrote the libretto for Towards First Light – an oratorio composed by Iain Grandage for the Anzac Centenary, performed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.Kate is also an actor, and has appeared in many stage productions across the country, including turns as Lady Macbeth and Cassius for Bell Shakespeare. She has also appeared in The Great Gatsby, The Turning, Secret City and was nominated for an AACTA for her performance in The Little Death.Kate is the Patrick White Fellow at the Sydney Theatre Company and is the Intersticia Fellow at Bell Shakespeare. She is also the ambassador of MiVAC and Agent Orange Justice which provide relief for regions in South-East Asia still affected by landmines and dioxin poisoning.
||Steve Rodgers was born in Newcastle, grew up in Tasmania and trained as an actor at Theatre Nepean in Sydney’s Western Suburbs. Steve’s play Ray’s Tempest was shortlisted for the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and nominated in the Best New Australian Work category of the Sydney Theatre Awards following productions at both Belvoir St and Melbourne Theatre Company. Steve’s second work Savage River played at the Griffin Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company and the Tasmanian Theatre Company and was also nominated for Best New Australian Work at the Sydney Theatre Awards. Nothing to Lose was Steve’s second collaborative effort with Force Majeure following the successful Belvoir coproduction and tour of his play Food. In addition to producing a group devised feature film in 2014, Steve is currently adapting a play to feature film and the Peter Goldsworthy novel Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam to stage play. The play was the winner in the 2015 Griffin Lysicrates Prize. Steve has worked as an actor in film, theatre and television for the last twenty years.
||Olivia Satchell is a writer, director and curator based in both Melbourne and Sydney. Her work includes Heart Dot Com (multi-playwright project; Tap Gallery) and solo performance work My Name is Truda Vitz (Somersault Theatre Company; Tap Gallery). She co-founded new writing development company Somersault Theatre in 2013 and is the co-curator of Melbourne monthly performance program Small and Loud. She is studying her Masters of Directing for Performance at VCA. In 2016, she will assistant-direct Splendour (dir. Jenny Kemp; Red Stitch), Bright World (dir. Paige Rattray; Arthur/Theatreworks) and Back at the Dojo (dir. Chris Kohn; Stuck Pigs Squealing/Belvoir).
||Chris Summers graduated from NIDA in 2012 with a Graduate Diploma in Dramatic Arts (Playwriting). In 2013, he was Affiliate Writer with Griffin Theatre Company and part of Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre Writers Programme. Chris won the Sydney Theatre Company Patrick White Playwright’s Award in 2014 and his play, King Artur, received a reading at the Wharf Theatre for the Sydney Writers’ Festival directed by Sydney Theatre Company Associate Director Kip Williams. He has also won the Sydney Theatre Company Young Playwrights Award, St Martins National Playwriting Award, the Union House Theatre Script Development Award and been highly commended for the Max Afford Playwrights Award. His commissioned plays include No Place Like (Union House Theatre, 2011), Crossed (La Mama, 2011), which was also included in PlayWriting Australia’s National Play Festival, and Burnt (atyp, 2011), a monologue published by Currency Press. Rat had a sell-out season at La Mama in March 2012 and Sandstone, developed through an Australia Council for the Arts JUMP Mentorship with Tom Holloway, had a workshop at Sydney Theatre Company in December 2012. In 2013, Chris participated in Canberra’s You Are Here festival with a self-performed piece, Not About You, wrote a monologue, Dessert, performed as part of Tamarama Rock Surfers’ Bondi Feast at the Bondi Pavilion, and created a short work, Paper Trails, for Manchester’s 24/7 Festival (travelling on an Australia Council ArtStart grant). Chris also worked as Dramaturg on the 2014 Malthouse Theatre / Griffin Theatre Company adaptation Roald Dahl’s The Witches. Chris holds a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours) / Bachelor of Laws from the University of Melbourne, and recently worked as a lawyer for Sydney’s HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (halc). He is currently teaching in Horsham, Victoria, while undertaking a Masters of Secondary Teaching through Deakin University as an Associate of the Teach for Australia program.
||Seanna van Helten is a writer, researcher and co-Artistic Director of independent theatre company She Said Theatre. Works written for She Said Theatre include the award-winning HART (co-written with performer Ian Michael), which premiered at Melbourne Fringe 2015, and is currently touring to New Zealand and South Australia; Laika and Wills (Melbourne Fringe 2013); Breaking (co-authored and co-directed with Penny Harpham, Melbourne Fringe 2012); and is currently developing Salt and Fallen for the company. Seanna has contributed as an arts writer to Milk Bar Mag, is the former Arts Editor of Brisbane’s Rave Magazine and has also published writing in Griffith REVIEW and Voiceworks. She is a graduate of the University of Queensland and of the University of Melbourne, where she received the Percival Serle Prize. In 2014, Seanna completed the Master of Writing for Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts.
Creative development partners
Photo credit: Contessa Treffone, Damon Herriman and Shannon Murphy for Cull Your Facebook Friends by Grace de Morgan at the National Script Workshops, February 2016.