In March 2012, Playwriting Australia began a partnership with the Footscray Community Arts Centre to discover exciting new voices in a neighbourhood known for its multicultural population.
Following our established outreach model, our team of facilitators led a series of introductory playwriting workshops at Footscray Community Arts Centre working with local residents to equip them with the fundamentals of writing for the stage.
The second stage saw seven writers invited to enroll in the eight-week intensive playwriting Salon led by Melbourne-based playwright and lecturer Jane Montgomery-Griffith. The group met on Saturdays to bring their ideas into shape, discuss structure, characters, dialogue and dramatic action.
For the final leg of our project, we’re excited to support four playwrights-in-training by matching each of them with an established playwright. Since September 2013, Van Badham, Tom Holloway, Damien Millar and Melissa Reeves have been providing expert mentorship to guide our Footscray writers towards the completion of a first draft of their new play.
We’ll be catching up with them for a script development workshop and ‘through the keyhole’ showing for our theatre colleagues and friends in Melbourne later in the year. Stay tuned for more info on that event through the PWA Blog.
Meet the writers:
Grace Pundyk (mentored by Melissa Reeves) is a writer, photographer, performer and choreographer. Her most recent book, The Honey Trail (St Martin’s Press, NY, 2010) is a travel narrative, which took her around the world in search of honey, missing bees and the politics that sully this liquid gold. Grace’s most recent performance collaborations include ‘Pneuma’, which she choreographed for the Summer Solo Series at Melbourne’s Gasworks Theatre, and ‘Birds’, a performance installation exploring ideas around home, our interactions with others and our defining of the space that contains us. Birds was a MADE production and was performed at Hobart’s Peacock Theatre. She has performed as part of the Melbourne Festival; Tasmania’s 10 Days on the Island Festival; and been guest speaker at numerous conferences, including both the Sydney and Brisbane writer’s festivals. Grace is currently doing her PhD, a cross-disciplinary, performance-based project on the embodiment of memory at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). She also continues to train as a dancer – in ballet and contemporary dance, and flamenco and Kathak dance – both here in Australia and overseas. Her mentorship project with Playwriting Australia will, she hopes, culminate in her first play.
Tania Canas (mentored by Van Badham) is the Arts Director at RISE Refugee, overseeing the entire portfolio with particular emphasis on Project Coordinating the theatre projects. She is also a research candidate at the Centre for Cultural Partnerships, Victoria College of the Arts. Tania has performed as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Next Wave, Amnesty International’s ARTillery Festival as the Diversity on Stage and Screen event at ACMI. Most recently, Tania performed a movement-characterization piece for Footscray Community Arts Centre Belonging Across Lands & Oceans: Hispano-American Diaspora in Australia. Tania sits on the steering committee for FCAC’s and Arts Victoria’s Practitioners Voices Forum as well as the visual arts exhibition, Unseen Habitation. She is also on the Editorial Board for the International Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Academic Journal. Earlier this year her one-scene monologue script ‘Untouchable’ was published with Currency Press Australia. Tania is a Multicultural Arts Victoria/Melbourne Theatre Company CONNECT Ambassador for 2013. For more information please visit Tania’s web page
Dominic Hong Duc Golding (mentored by Damien Millar) came to Australia as a tiny baby in a cardboard box, evacuated from Saigon in April 1975, Operation ‘Babylift’. In numerous roles Dominic has worked with Australian Vietnamese Youth Media on Aussie Bia Om, Viet Boys Down Under, Banana Strip (2001-2004) and directed Walking Without Feet (2004) with the Vietnamese Community in Australia (VIC chapter) a art showcase by Vietnamese young adults with special needs. In 2000 he was involved with a site installation performance Memory Museum about Australia’s involvement in war for the Adelaide Festival Centre. Dominic has returned to Vietnam three times, each time a new show was developed, Shrimp (2005, 2007) which won the Drama Victoria Award, Mr Saigon, Ms. Hanoi (2007) and coordinated a major visual arts exhibition Unseen Habitation for RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees) in 2013.
Simon (mentored by Tom Holloway) is a paranoid artist. He is inspired by Whitney Houston’s song – I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me). Yes he is single, and if you were single too then you would understand why all great artists need to use brackets (it makes sense). Simon wonders if he is really the correct person to be writing a play, but Simon also wonders whether sharing needles is a good idea. Apparently life hurts.