In News, Plays

Playwriting Australia supports two new and ambitious theatre projects exploring themes of migration, displacement and identity through the PWA Lab 2015.

For the second year of our Lab program, Playwriting Australia is proud to support two collaborative ventures between artists exploring non-traditional forms of theatre.

The PWA Lab is a workshop opportunity encouraging artists to take risks, experiment with new forms and examine the possibilities of including playwrights in innovative processes, aiming to bring the unique skills of a writer to an ever-widening theatre-making practice.

This year we received more than 40 applications from teams across the country, with a broad range of artists and projects demonstrating the vibrancy of cross-artform collaborations in the sector. Our Artistic Director Tim Roseman met with the selection panellists Rosie Fisher, Performance Curator for Carriageworks and Jeff Khan, Artistic Director of Performance Space to choose the successful projects for the 2015 PWA Lab.

The two selected teams will be given a week-long development workshop to workshop their idea and access dramaturgical support from the PWA artistic team. Read more about the projects and teams below and sign up to our e-news for updates on PWA Lab applications for 2016.


Supported projects 2015


Creative team: Elise Hearst, Andrea James (playwrights), Paige Rattray (director), Tom Hogan (composer). 

Bright World explores the parallel stories of William Cooper, the Aboriginal activist who lodged the only private protest against Kristallnacht to the German embassy in Melbourne in 1938, and the real life story of Elise Hearst’s grandparents who fled Nazi Austria to Melbourne following that cataclysmic event. Andrea James joins Hearst as co-writer/devisor bringing her own direct links to the story and the Cooper family. The project was initially supported by Theatre Works for a two-week long development in December 2014.

Elise Hearst (playwright) is a Melbourne-based playwright, and a graduate of a Bachelor of Creative Arts at Melbourne University. From 2006-08 Elise lived in London, attending the Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writers’ Programme. Readings and performances of her work were shown at Trafalgar Studios, The Soho Theatre, The Hampstead Theatre and Theatre 503. Recent credits include The Mesh (Red Stitch and ARTHUR), The Reckoning (Fairly Lucid Productions), The Sea Project (Griffin Theatre and ARTHUR, Mudlark Theatre and ARTHUR, MTC Cybec Readings), Dirtyland (National Play Festival, New Theatre and ARTHUR), She’s a Little Finch (MKA), and Delight (Griffin Theatre). Elise was a Griffin resident artist in 2010 and is associate writer with ARTHUR.

Andrea James (playwright) is a descendant of the Yorta Yorta and Kurnai Aboriginal nations. She holds a BA in Drama (La Trobe University) and a Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Animateuring) from the Victorian College of the Arts. Andrea was Artistic Director of Melbourne Workers Theatre from 2001-2008. She is best known for writing and directing Yanagai! Yanagai! a co-production with Playbox in 2004 which toured to the UK in 2006. Since relocating to Sydney, Andrea has directed Bully Beef Stew (PACT Theatre) and co-wrote Corranderk: We Will Show the Country (Sydney Opera House / Belvoir). She is the co-director of the Yellamundie Playwriting Festival and is a Board Director of Moogahlin Performing Arts and Urban Theatre Projects. She was a recipient of the British Council’s competitive Accelerate Program for Aboriginal Art Leaders in 2013 and most recently worked with Djon Mundine as Dramaturg for Bungaree’s Farm for the Mosman Art Gallery. Her latest play, Winyanboga Yurringa was showcased at the National Play Festival 2013 and will be staged in 2016. Andrea is currently the Aboriginal Producer at Carriageworks.

Paige Rattray (director) is a graduate of NIDA and co-founder of Arthur. In 2015, Paige is the Richard Wherrett Fellow at Sydney Theatre Company. Her directing credits include the widely toured Cut Snake by Amelia Evans, Dan Giovanonni and Paige Rattray (ARTHUR – winner of Best Production VCE Drama Awards 2013), Travelling North by David Williamson (STC – as Assistant Director), The Midlands by Hannah Malarski (Mudlark/ARTHUR), Return to Earth by Lally Katz (Griffin Indie/ARTHUR), Out of Place by atyp’s Fresh Ink writers, Lieutenant of Inishmoore by Martin McDonagh (NIDA), The Sea Project by Elise Hearst (Mudlark/ARTHUR/Griffin), Dirtyland by Elise Hearst (ARTHUR/The Spare Room), Underland by Alexandra Collier (STC/Roughdraft), the devised works Heartbreak Hotel (Griffin) and Blessed Are The Wild (NIDA), Bill W and Dr Bob by Samuel Shem (Carriageworks/Serenity Productions), Motel by Angela Betzien (NIDA/Adelaide Fringe), Bronte by Polly Teale (ATYP Under the Wharf) and Choice Cuts at the 2011 National Play Festival. In 2014 Paige directed the first two episodes of ARTHUR’S multi-episode epic The Myth Project:Twin (MTC’s NEON) and The Mesh (Redstitch) as well as lecturing in Theatre Direction at The University of Tasmania and undertaking a three-month residency at Laughing Waters in Eltham, Victoria. She was Griffin Theatre’s Resident Director in 2012 and Affiliate Director in 2010.


Creative team: Duncan Graham (Playwright), Tessa Leong (Director) and Elizabeth Gadsby (Designer)

Tumult  is a new theatre work that explores the radical upsurge of refugees around the world and Australia’s response to the problem of asylum, including the position of the stateless body in modern society. The work combines experiences of asylum seekers in the offshore detention centres in Australia and asks how do the most vulnerable become the most persecuted?

Duncan Graham (playwright) graduated as an actor from AC Arts, Adelaide in 2003. His plays have been produced at STC, Belvoir, MTC and Malthouse. They include: Black Crow Lullabies; one long night in the land of Nod; Ollie and the Minotaur; Cut; The Love Play; No Exit from the Roof; Half-Real; The Highway Crossing; Dreams in White; Twin – The Myth Project; Google/Griffin Project. Duncan received the Jill Blewett Playwright’s Award 2008, was shortlisted for the Griffin Award 2011 and Max Afford Award 2012 & 2006, was nominated for Best New Work at the 2012 Sydney Theatre Awards and shortlisted for the NSW Premiers Award 2014. Duncan was Associate Artist with STCSA in 2009, a Griffin Theatre Company Studio artist in 2012 and Playwriting Australia’s Associate Playwright at STC in 2012. He is currently under commission from STCSA, STC, Madman Entertainment, Think + Do Tank; Flying Penguin/In Space, and Adelaide Festival Centre. As a director his works include, The Homecoming, Google/Griffin Project, Cut; and as Assistant/Dramaturg – Measure for Measure & The City (Benedict Andrews), Hamlet & Uncle Vanya (STCSA), Our Town & Highway Crossing (Iain Sinclair).

Tessa Leong (director) is a founding member of isthisyours?, an Adelaide collective making new performance. isthisyours? won three Adelaide Fringe Awards for Make Me Honest, Make Me Wedding Cake (2009), You Wanna Talk About It (2014) and The Awkward Years (2015). Best We Forget played in Adelaide, Tamarama Rock Surfers, Under The Radar Brisbane Festival. isthisyours? was selected as part of the HotHouse Month in the Country Residency, Vitalstatistix Adhocracy and Incubator, and part of the MAPS SA. Tessa also works with artists Emma Beech and James Dodd as part of The Australian Bureau of Worthiness. The work has been made in Port Adelaide, Geelong, The Falls Festival, Viborg ( Denmark) and Goolwa (Kumuwuki, 2012). She’s also worked with Sydney Theatre Company, Ontroerend Goed, Vitalstatistix, State Theatre Company of SA, Restless Dance and Force Majeure. Tessa was a 2013 Griffin Theatre Studio Artist. In 2014 she was chosen to attend Le Seminaire, Festival d’Avignon.

Photo credit: Members of the Bright World   team at the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne, December 2014. (Photo courtesy of ARTHUR).

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