Supporting seven new plays in their creative development.
This year Playwriting Australia is launching a more tailored approach to the way we support new plays by offering three different development programs including the National Script Workshops, Rapid Fire intensive sessions and one-on-one dramaturgy. From one-day play reading with immediate dramaturgical feedback, to a dedicated week or fortnight workshop, we offer selected playwrights the time, space and expertise from outstanding creatives and actors to help them refine their new plays. All selected plays are also in consideration for showcase at the National Play Festival each year.
In this round, the seven selected works were drawn from over 145 script submissions, open to playwrights nationally. All scripts were first assessed blind by our team of fifteen script readers and theatre associates including Malthouse Theatre’s Resident Dramaturg Mark Pritchard, ATYP’s Writing Coordinator Jenni Medway and QTC’s Resident Dramaturg Louise Gough. The shortlist was read by a panel of judges including our Artistic Director Tim Roseman, Associate Artist Iain Sinclair, and established playwright Jane Bodie.
We warmly thank all the playwrights for submitting their work to us. 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
Vanessa Darling by Anna Houston (NSW)
It’s Vanessa first day out of prison. She takes refuge in a small bedsit for rent. Fragments of conversation with herself, and meetings with old and new acquaintances shine a light on her criminal past, and the confusion of violence and desire that led her there. Vanessa Darling is a haunting tale of rehabilitation and self-imprisonment.
The Honey Bees by Caleb Lewis (SA)
As the world’s honeybees disappear, a family-owned honey business struggles to keep up with demand, exporting healthy Australian bees over the world to replace dying stocks. Overseen by fearsome matriarch, the business stands to make a fortune. Until family gets involved… The Honey Bees is a potent honeycomb of actions and consequences, family and empire; and what happens when the bee finally stings.
Deluge by Phillip Kavanagh (SA)
Deluge explores the consequences of existing in a world of too much information, and the state of anxiety we live with as we attempt to navigate it. The work consists of five vignettes about misunderstanding, online threats, gaming, hacking, and our existence, presented like tabs on a computer screen.
Hell’s Canyon by Emily Sheehan (VIC)
Caitlin, 17, and Oscar, 15 are on a self-funded roadtrip in regional Australia. Caitlin has promised Oscar she’ll be his girlfriend if he helps her reach her destination. But where are they heading? Hell’s Canyon is a wild ride into growing up and finding peace.
Rice by Michele Lee (VIC)
Nisha is a young and precocious corporate hotshot working as the Executive Officer of Golden Fields, Australia’s biggest rice company. She is close to sealing a confidential contract with the Indian government that would see the company taking over India’s rice distribution system. At the other end of the building, Yvette is a 64-year old cleaner. Their lives are about to entwine in ways they could never have expected.
Without Exception by Stephanie King (NSW)
Bill and Val meet at The Firm and get married. Bill does well, gets promoted as a result of Val’s career advice. They have a child. The Firm encounters difficult times, and the directive comes via email for Bill to execute a series of lay-offs. But the couple could never have foreseen that that directive would rip their family asunder.
Linger by Yvette Walker (QLD)
It’s been four years and a lifetime since Tania saw her ex-boyfriend Chris. One lie to her lawyer fiancé Adam, and one afternoon visiting Chris in prison bring on unimaginable consequences for Tania and everyone in her world. With Chris’ release date fast approaching, hidden secrets begin to penetrate the surface. Is all really fair in love and war?
Meet the playwrights
||Anna Houston has a BA in Communication and Cultural Studies from Curtin University, and graduated from NIDA in 2004. Her writing credits include In the Garden (Deckchair Theatre) and Vanessa Darling, winner of Australian Playwriting’s 2010 kicking down the Doors. As an actor, Anna performed in Hedda Gabler for Belvoir Theatre, Jump for Jordan for Griffin Theatre Company, and War Horse for Global Creatures. For Bell Shakespeare Company she has performed in Actors at Work, The Servant of Two Masters, As You Like It and The Taming of the Shrew. Other theatre credits include All My Sons for Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Blackbird and Tender Napalm for Perth Theatre Company, and The Woman in Black for newtheatricals.
||Caleb Lewis is a multi-award winning playwright. He studied at Flinders University and was later mentored by Nick Enright. His writing credits include Songs for the Deaf (Adelaide Fringe, 2004), Nailed (Griffin Theatre Company, 2005), The Sea Bride (Winner Inscription Emerging Playwright Award, 2006), Dogfall, Otzi – the story of the Iceman (Winner AWGIE Award), Men, Love and the Monkeyboy (2008 Mitch Matthews Award), Death in Bowengabbie (Adelaide Fringe, 2009), Aleksander & The Robot Maid (Seymour Centre, 2011), Rust and Bone (National Play Festival 2011, Griffin Indie & Stories Like These, 2013), Maggie Stone (State Theatre Company of SA, 2013). Maggie Stone was recently shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Literature Prize. Caleb is the inaugural winner of the Richard Burton Award for his play, Clinchfield.
||Phillip Kavanagh is a playwright and dramaturg based in Adelaide and Sydney. His works include ‘Which Time’ (Radio National), ‘Replay’ (NIDA), ‘Heart of Glass’ (Rock Surfers), ‘Plain Jane’ (Urban Myth), ‘Ecobots’ (Buzz Dance Theatre), ‘Jesikah’ (STCSA), and ‘Little Borders’. Phillip was the recipient of an Australia Council Early Career Artist Commission for Jesikah, and received a Colin Thiele Creative Writing Scholarship in 2011. He undertook a JUMP mentorship with Andrew Bovell in 2013. Phillip was awarded the 2011 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award; the 2011 STCSA Flinders University Young Playwrights Award; and the 2014 Jill Blewett Playwright’s Award. He was also shortlisted for the 2014 and 2013 Philip Parsons Fellowship for Emerging Playwrights. Phillip completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts and a MA in Creative Writing at Flinders University, and a Graduate Diploma of Dramatic Art (Playwriting) at NIDA.
||Emily Sheehan is a playwright and actor currently based in Melbourne. Her writing credits credits include Daisy Moon Was Born This Way (Rock Surfers Bondi Feast, 2015), Eating Sunshine (The Voices Project ATYP, 2014), Eating Sunshine (QTC Youth Ensemble 2014), Dance Hall Days – devised by cast (Q Theatre, 2014). Hell’s Canyon is her first full-length play. Emily was mentored by Lachlan Philpott as part of ATYP’s Fresh Ink Mentoring Program in 2014. She is currently undertaking a Masters of Writing for Performance at VCA.
||Michele Lee is a Melbourne-based playwright and author. Her play ‘Moths’ was the inaugural recipient of the Betty Burstall Commission and presented as part of Melbourne Theatre Company’s Cybec Electric 2015, as well as first showcased at the National Play Festival 2014. Her radio play ‘See How the Leaf People Run’, commissioned and produced by ABC Radio National, won an AWGIE Award for Best Original Radio Play in 2013. Her audio theatre work ‘Talon Salon’ premiered in the Next Wave Festival 2012, and was remounted for You Are Here Festival 2013 and Darwin Festival 2013. Michele’s memoir ‘Banana Girl’ was published by Transit Lounge in 2013. She is currently working on ‘The Naked Self’, a live art piece with Tanya Dickson commissioned by Arts House for their Festival of Live Arts 2016; she is under commission by Radio National to develop her radio play ‘Going and going’; and she is a member of the Malthouse Theatre’s Besen Writers’ Program, developing a new work ‘Girls in the City’.
||Stephanie King is a writer and performer from Sydney with a BA in writing and cultural studies from UTS. She has written for Crikey, Cordite Poetry Review, Writ Poetry Review, Vertigo, Radio National, and Spineless Wonders’ Out of Place anthology, and is a finalist for the 2015 Joanne Burns Fiction Award. She is a writer-performer with the 2015 PACT Rapid Response ensemble, and was a participant of the 2014 ATYP’s National Studio. As an actor and dancer, Stephanie appeared in Dr Who (BBC), The Lightbox (Unhappen), Details Unknown (Unhappen & Sydney Living Museums), Beautiful Thing (Burley Theatre), Morph (Verge Festival), Dog Sees God (The Actors’ Assembly), Hamlet (Marcus West), Leap Deprivation (Planet Breakfast), the MTV VMAs, Animal Farm (ATYP), and most recently Hunger (NIDA).
||A Waanyi woman from North West Queensland, Yvette Walker has established herself to be a prominent creative arts professional in Brisbane since moving from Cloncurry. An alumni student of the Aboriginal Centre of Performing Arts (majoring in Acting), Yvette’s writing credits include ‘Yerrabilela Jimbelung: Poems about Friends and Family’ (Keeaira Press), ‘Love Elixer’ (Emerge 10 x 10 Play Festival), and ‘Seven Deadly Gins’ co-written with Leah Purcell. She had short works showcased at the State Library of Queensland’s Annual ‘Black & Write’ Event. Yvette is currently developing her new music inspired drama stageplay ‘PULSE’.
The script development of Hell’s Canyon by Emily Sheehan is generously supported by Australian Theatre for Young People.
Photo Credit: Playwright Michele Lee and Dramaturg Mark Pritchard during the creative development of Moths at the National Play Festival 2014 (Photo Stephen Godfrey)