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Playwriting Australia is proud to support nine new plays in the second half of 2015.

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 over 80 script submissions and nominations from theatre companies nationally. All scripts were first assessed blind by our team of Dramaturgy Mentees, alongside a team of panel judges including Melbourne Theatre Company’s Literary Director Chris Mead (Vic), Blacktown Arts Centre’s Producer Paschal Berry (NSW) and Yirra Yaakin’s Associate Artist Irma Woods (WA), 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. 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.

Selected Plays

National Script Workshops

Trailer  by Vanessa Bates (NSW)

Jed still lives on the Central Coast, between the beach and the bush, on a train line with a city at either end. He’s never met his father but there is a Hollywood movie star myth that trails him. When Jed meets a young woman named Keera her curiosity and hard questions about his father push him towards the truth. Finding his father might fill the gaping hole left in Jed’s psyche. Except that he’s about to lose a mother as well…

Silent Night  by Mary Rachel Brown (NSW)

Silent Night is a gothic comedy about the horrors of Christmas and misguided community spirit. Bill and Anne Lickfold are helicopter parents with one son, Rodney, a Satanist. The Lickfolds eagerly awaiting the arrival of their life-size, hand carved, foot painted, non-native forest wood Jesus figurine from a remote village. They think the figurine will help them win The ARCE (Australian Regional Christmas Excellence competition). Needless to say, they are disappointed when the living breathing antichrist arrives instead of the Jesus figurine.

Cull Your Facebook Friends  by Grace De Morgan (NSW)

In a world where people need to die to be culled as Facebook friends, Dinah wishes she could show her true feelings and defriend more. She and her girlfriend Mae are leading double lives, at home and at work. So when she gets outed for lying to Mae, Dinah takes her rejection badly and starts culling on Facebook in a bid to feel powerful. Yet killing her ex-boyfriend Blake’s selfie-obsessed girlfriend might just be a step too far. 

Skylab  by Melodie Reynolds-Diarra (Vic)
Developed in partnership with Ilbijerri Theatre Company

July 1979, American Space Station SKYLAB crash-lands off the southern coast of Western Australia, near Esperance. Parts of the space station land on a small farm where an Aboriginal family live. Information released years later confirms there was ‘dangerous biological cargo’ on board. What if our brains were suddenly opened up and we were able to access the full 100%, rather than the 5% we are using now?

OneFourTwoSixFiveZeroThree  by Andrew Robinson (WA)

OneFourTwoSixFiveZeroThree is a serious work of comedy about the multiple relationships people form with the world and each other, the drive for freedom as it pulls against the need for connection, and the absurdity of waiting rooms.

A Counting and Cracking of Heads  by S. Shakthidharan (NSW)
Developed in partnership with Belvoir 

A Counting and Cracking of Heads tells the story of four generations of the one family caught in the Tamil diaspora. Sid is its youngest member and he’s a wild twenty-something. After meeting Lily, a Yolngu girl, Sid gradually opens his eyes, and his heart, to the importance of his Sri Lankan family, music and politics. He begins to explore a deep, urgent connection to a society and culture that feels entirely foreign, and yet distinctly like home.

Hobo  by James Taylor (WA)

Fred and Tank share a common bond; they’re both homeless alcoholics and live in an alleyway. Set in the place where bullshit goes to die, Hobo is a black comedy that explores what it means to be a man in the age of identity crisis.

 

One-on-one Dramaturgy

Far Beneath Flight  by Cat Commander (Vic)

Far Beneath Flight weaves the specificities and minutiae of daily life in the outer suburbs of Melbourne into a broader canvas that gives a vast overview of contemporary Australia. A play that lives and breathes in the place it is set, that shows we are connected to our environment in the same way we are all connected to each other.

The Greatest Gift  by Tom Holloway (Vic)

Having a child is the best thing you’ll ever do. You’ll feel more love than you knew was imaginable, and there, sleeping peacefully in your arms, you’ll find the meaning of life. The Greatest Gift will look at the utter joy of becoming a parent for the first time while it will also look at the other side… The fear and horror… The entrapment… The voice that hounds you with the possibility that you are ruining your child’s life forever.

 

Meet the playwrights

Vanessa Bates Headshot Vanessa Bates is an award winning playwright based in Newcastle, NSW. Her plays include Every Second (National Play Festival 2012), The Magic Hour, PORN.CAKE, Checklist For An Armed Robber and Darling Oscar. Trailer is her latest full-length work commissioned by Tantrum Youth Arts. Her plays and monologues have been produced by Deckchair Theatre, Malthouse Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Belvoir B-Sharp, Vitalstatistix, Black Swan Theatre, theatre@risk, The Miniaturists (London), Freewheels Theatre, ATYP, Tantrum Theatre and the Sydney Theatre Company as well as ABC Radio National. She won a 2012 Nick Enright Award (NSW Premiers Literary Award-New Play) for PORN.CAKE. She was a finalist for the Patrick White Playwrights Award and Griffin Award 2014 for her play Chipper, developed at the National Script Workshops. Vanessa was playwright-in-residence at Griffin Theatre in 2012 and is a member of the playwrights collective 7-ON.
MRB Headshot 2 Mary Rachel Brown is the recipient of the 2006 Griffin Award, 2007 Max Afford Award and the 2008 Rodney Seaborn Award. Her play Last Letters is currently on at The Australian War Memorial. Other works include The Dapto Chaser (Griffin Indie/ Apocalypse Theatre/ Merrigong Theatre Company) Inside Out (Christine Dunstan Productions), Die Fledermaus (Sydney Conservatorium Of Music), National Security And the Art Of Taxidermy (The Glynn Nicholas Group and B Sharp), All My Sleep And Waking (Elbow Theatre), Clown Empire/Red Nose Rising (Jigsaw TheatreCo). Mary has also written for TV, The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting (ABC), Home and Away (Chanel 7). Mary was a resident artist at the Griffin Theatre Company in 2015.
Cat Commander Headshot Cat Commander is an actor, writer and director based in Melbourne. She is a 2013 graduate of the VCA Masters in Writing for performance. In 2014 Cat was one of 12 writers selected to contribute to Red Stitch theatre’s Playlist, and her short play Melting went on to become the Melbourne Fringe hit, You Took The Stars, which was then performed at the Perth Fringe World in 2015. Cat’s first solo performance work, Cat Commander is Falling was performed in both Perth and Melbourne as well as touring to London in 2012. Cat’s one woman show Before The Spring was based on her experience of living in the Middle East in 2010 and was performed in Perth and Melbourne in 2013. Cat wrote for NYC Webfest selected webseries Ninja Panda. Cat has been an actor and director for educational theatre company Class Act Theatre since 2009. She also directs TV show Community Kitchen, a comedy cooking program hosted by comedian Laura Davis.
Tom-Holloway-Headshot Tom Holloway is an award-winning playwright based in Melbourne, Australia. His work has been seen across Australia, as well as in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. His credits in Australia include Storm Boy for Sydney Theatre Company and Barking Gecko, Forget Me Not and Love Me Tender for Belvoir, and And No More Shall We Part and Don’t Say The Words for Griffin. His United Kingdom productions include And No More Shall We Part, produced by Hampstead Theatre and Traverse Theatre for the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe and Fatherland produced by The Gate Theatre and ATC. His play Forget Me Not will be produced by The Bush Theatre this December, and he has been the librettist on the opera South Pole, premiering at Bavarian State Opera in Munich in January 2016. Also in 2016 his adaptation of Double Indemnity will be premiered at Melbourne Theatre Company, and his play Red Sky Morning will be produced as part of State Theatre Of South Australia’s Umbrella Program.
Grace de Morgan Headshot Grace De Morgan is a Sydney-based playwright. She is a co-founder of the theatre collective The Oligarchs and has written for Good News Week, MercerBell, OgilvyOne, Seizure, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Roast. Theatre credits include ’24 Hour Party Playwright’ as part of Rock Surfer’s Bondi Feast (2015), ‘Singled Out’ at the Seymour Centre (2013) as well as writing, performing and producing the multi-playwright project ‘Circuit’ at The Old Fitz (2013) and the Rocks Pop Up Project (2013). She most recently had a two-day development and public reading of ‘Cull Your Facebook Friends’ with US-A-UM in Sydney, and a round-table development of  her play ‘Modern Warfare’ by Somersault Theatre Company in 2014. Grace was a rehearsal room intern at the National Play Festival 2014. She is also an alumna of Central School of Speech & Drama, ATYP’s Fresh Ink National Studio & Augusta Supple’s ‘Write Here, Write Now’ initiative.
YELLAMUNDIE.indd Melodie Reynolds-Diarra is a Wangkathaa woman from Western Australia and is one of Australia’s most accomplished female Aboriginal actors with over 25 years’ experience in the theatre, film and television industries. Melodie studied at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, graduating in 1996. As an actor she has worked with directors such as Rosemary Johns, Rachael Maza, Wesley Enoch, Richard Frankland and Isaac Drandic. Melodie has worked with companies such as Chambers Theatre Company, Ilbijerri Theatre Company, Polyglot, Company B, Melbourne Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre and Red Stich Actors Theatre. Highlights in film and television include Natural Justice (Channel 7), The Broken Shore (ABC), Hardrock Medical (SBS) and Redfern Now 2 (ABC). Melodie was a participant in Ilbijerri’s Black Writers Lab. Skylab was selected for a reading as part of the Black Writers Lab Showcase and was showcased at Yellamundie Festival 2015. In 2013, Melodie was the Associate Director of Malthouse Theatre’s The Shadow King.
Andrew Robinson Headshot Andrew Robinson is writer and actor based in Regional WA. He has been involved in theatre and performance since 1985 and completed a PHD in Theatre and Drama Studies at Murdoch University in 2001. In 1987-8, Andrew performed with Tropic Line theatre in North Queensland and at the Adelaide Fringe, and then from 1992 he was involved with a number of different companies in Perth including Shadow Industries and Performance [Re]Search that resulted in performances in Morocco, Canada, Malta, Singapore and Western Australia. Andrew is currently pursuing a number of writing projects and is involved in community theatre in the Bunbury area, Western Australia. OneFourTwoSixFiveZeroThree is his first full-length play. 
Shakthi Shakthidharan Headhsot S. Shakthidharan is the founder and artistic director of CuriousWorks. He is awriter/director of theatre and film; and a musician and composer. Shakthi is Associate Artist at Carriageworks from 2013-2015, where he is developing a series of long form film andmusic projects. Rizzy’s 18th Birthday Party premiered at Carriageworks in 2014, andwas adapted into a feature film which premiered at Sydney Film Festival 2015. Shakthi’s debut play, A Counting and Cracking of Heads, is currently in development with Belvoir, MTC and Carriageworks. His acclaimed interactive, live art experience The Other Journey, premiered at Parramasala in 2011 before touring to Tasmania’s Ten Days on the Island in 2013. Shakthi’s first CuriousWorks initiative The Migrant Project brought together 50 Sydneysiders with cultural and artistic ancestries from across the globe. The Migrant Project was a series of sold out performances, lively forums and a feature length documentary film, This City is a Body, which continues to be screened in cultural and educational institutions around the world. Shakthi has also led CuriousWorks to develop an award-winning model for the innovative use of creative digital media in marginalised communities. In 2011, Shakthi was awarded the Kirk Robson by Australia Council for the Arts.
James Taylor Headshot James Taylor is an Indigenous actor and writer based in Perth. He completed a Certificate IV in Aboriginal Theatre at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2014 and has since been commissioned to write a new script for Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company. James has been developing his skills as a playwright through participation in workshops such as the Australian Writers Guild’s “Day of the Playwright”; working as an intern for the creative development of Dan Lee’s Bottomless as part of PWA’s 2014 National Script Workshops, and for the creative development of Abie Wright’s Gambu Ganuuru. James recently had his first script accepted into the Blueroom Theatre’s 2016 Summer Night’s programme where he will make his Directorial debut. James is currently in WAAPA’s production of Benjamin Britten’s Operatic adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, playing the role of Puck. 

 

Creative development partners 

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Photo credit: Actors Benedict Hardie, James Fraser and Cat Davies during the development of Deluge by Philip Kavanagh at the National Script Workshops, April 2015.

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