Working with playwrights Write Here, Write Now
Some people look at a few hundred dollars as the cost of a flight to New Zealand, or a modest bill at a fancy restaurant, or perhaps the cost of a cheap suit or an outrageous hair treatment from an innerwest hairdresser. I don’t. A few hundred dollars for me is the start of something new.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’ve not really been the lonely holiday/pricey food/cheap suit/hair treatment type of person.
The options for me as an artist are few and far between – if I wait for the results of funding rounds – or to be granted a residency somewhere – I will never ever do anything.
I’m not good at that.
So a few hundred dollars and a wild notion that what I would do is buy some space off my old employers to run my own sessions, my own residency… and I called it WRITE HERE, WRITE NOW.
The idea is to respond actively to playwrights – to answer some questions I have about writing. Questions like: How do I start directing new work before it has already had the life and vigor work-shopped out of it? How to I nurture and connect with playwrights on a practical level? What can I offer that no one else can? What if playwrights were priviledged and supported before they even wrote their great play? What if playwrights had some one to come to with a wild and dangerous idea – and what if they were greeted with a “yes, tell me more” rather than silence or rejection or a “answer these questions to fit our criteria” stuff? What if playwrights were asked to write on the spot? What if playwrights were given spontaneously stimuli and challenges to write to spec? What if writers were selected not by a project – but by their interest in a potential project? How to you make playwriting immediate? How do you write collegiate? What happens when you confine the writer in a time and space? Writer’s block or writers unblock?
So I sent out this call:
“Write Here, Right Now will be encourage a select group of playwrights to write on site, within a finite period of time – this is a hot, ready multi-playwright project for those who love writing to spec, writing in the company of others and who love a deadline. (Or have a “Just do it!” attitude) If you have any questions or need more information, don’t hesitate to send me an email email@example.com … I’d love to hear from you.
Dates: Mondays (12th & 26th March, 9th April & 23rd April)
Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Venue: Studio 10, Fraser Studios 10-14 Kensington Street, Chippendale
To submit your expression of interest: Please provide the following by 6pm on the 7th March to firstname.lastname@example.org:
• Your contact details (Name, mobile number & email address)
• A sample of your writing (2 pages)
• A brief bio (1/2 page)
• A brief response outlining what interests you about this project (1/2 page)
And I hired a space.
I received over 150 submissions from Sydney writers. I selected 10 (double what I expected) and I held a bonus group for 15 invited writers who weren’t selected for the monday night sessions, for a one night only sample of how I work and what I like to work on.
A response came from one of the “bonus” writers who blogged about the experience here http://ildikosusany.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/day-sixty-two-of-366/ (I really recommend her blog)
“The highlight of my day… was a most splendid and insightful writing session lead by Augusta Supple as a side-project to her Write Here, Write Now writing program. I am ever so indebted to her for inviting me to be a part of such a perfect evening of writing and sharing. Augusta set us off on an imaginative, creative – and I must say easy – journey of writing and devising. I say easy, because, as Augusta mentioned, sometimes as writers we get “stuck” or we make writing seem harder than it is (well, sometimes it is)! However, with just a few simple exercises or a piece of stimulus – a song here, a smell there, a fistful of words/names/adjectives/locations/fears/wishes scribbled furiously on a series of place cards, we can have a whole play and a whole world of creativity within the palms of our hands! Even passing around a contrived text message conversation and adding to the dialogue can get the ideas flowing! Stream of consciousness writing is such a powerful, whimsical and productive way of getting something, anything, down on paper – and it can be such a perfect way to get the left brain working and to get you moving towards something big, new, exciting and… unexpected! I will definitely be using some of these wonderful exercises in the workshops I am running with refugees in Brisbane for the creation of a new theatre piece created and performed by the participants themselves!
It was so lovely and special to meet with other writers and their work was incredible and beautiful and poetic and mesmerising – I have my work cut-out for me and a lot of learning ahead of me on this journey! It was so magnificent and intimate – to hear the work of others and to share in something poetic and thoughtful and magical. I loved it! What a night! Augusta is a gem and I wish her all the best with her Write Here, Write Now project! I was very pleased and very humbled that she follows my blog and it’s good to hear that people enjoy sharing in this journey – and in some cases, being a part of it! I learnt a great deal and I wrote a great deal! Additionally, I am re-re-enthused about getting back on the horse and getting this play to a play-reading standard! Whatever that may be.”
We met, drank tea, wrote wrote wrote. Shared work. After two months of writing and meeting and pitching and emailing… the initial face-to-face sessions are over. And in two Thursdays time, we will be testing out the works via the voices of generous actors in a reading situation. I’m still not sure what sections will be offered, how much or what will be read… but it’s been really wonderful to share this time.
And I’m looking forward to the reading of the new material, Thursday week.
Here’s a little bit about the writers: Pretty interesting people, I think you’ll agree?
A graduate of VCA (BFA-Painting ‘97), NIDA (Grad Dip-Directing ‘00) and UTS (MACreative Writing ’10), Melita has directed, dramaturged and written for many independent theatre, dance and cabaret productions.
Melita’s plays include ‘Crushed,’(New Theatre’s Spare Room Season ’12), ‘The diver’ (short), ‘SPEW,’ (Darlinghurst Theatre ’04), ‘Sugarbomb,’ (TRS@ The Old Fitz ’04), ‘Solitude in Blue,’ (Griffin stablemates ’02), ‘Swing Girl,’ (Griffin stablemates ’01) and ‘Night Reflections,’ (NIDA ’00). Melita was a resident playwright at Griffin Theatre Company in 2005/06. From 2007- 2010, Melita trained as a screenwriter and novelist at UTS. She is continuing to develop the screenplay (‘Solitude in Blue’) and fictional memoir (‘The art of failure’), commenced during her Masters. Also in development are text and illustrations for a children’s book, a one-woman show: ‘The Wonder from Downunder: The search for Gippsland’s Giant Worm,’ and a new full-length play: ‘Goodnight Moon.’
Jasper Marlow’s resume encompasses credits as a producer, playwright and screenwriter, across film,
theatre and commercials. His first full-length play Zetland debuted at the 2010 Sydney Fringe Festival where it was nominated for Best New Work at the Fringe Awards. He has been a member of ATYP’s Fresh INK ensemble 2009/2010 and received mentorship from Lachlan Philpot, Matthew Whittet and Jane Fitzgerald. An avid theatre writer, his short-plays have been performed in Tasmania and New South Wales. These include: ‘Deep Space 9mm’ (Onefest-Hobart, 2009) ‘Stories from the 428’ (Sidetrack Theatre,2010) ‘Zetland’(Sidetrack Theatre, 2010) and Tell it like it isn’t (ATYP, 2011). Trained at the Australian Film Television and Radio School, his debut short-film ‘Reception’ has been an Official Selection in both local and overseas Film Festivals. Most recently it won Best Thriller/Horror at the Hollywood International Student Film Festival where Jasper was invited to attend the ceremony and received the award from legendary Actor Edward Asner (Up, El- Dorado). He is currently working on a new play and short-film which, fingers crossed, will be completed before the 2012 Armageddon.
Carolyn’s first two plays, Careers for Attractive Ladies (2010) and Mongrel (2011) were both official selections of the Sydney Fringe Festival. As a 2011 member of the Australian Theatre for Young People’s playwright development program, Fresh Ink, her monologue ‘Stick’ was selected for inclusion in The One Sure Thing and published by Currency Press as part of The Voices Project 2011-2. She is a member of Alana Hicks’ online comedy collective The Kvetch Set, and her screenplay, Detroit, is a finalist in the 2012 Australian Film Festival’s upcoming FutureFilm screenplay competition. Carolyn graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Master’s in Literature and Modernity in 2009. She also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Sydney, where she is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of English, conducting research into adaptation and twentieth century lyric drama. While at the University of Sydney, Carolyn has been extensively involved in student publications, writing regularly for Honi Soit and The Bull, and served as an editor of Hermes, the University of Sydney Union’s annual literary anthology. She is currently developing a situation comedy about a high school debating team (pilot episode in post-production) and a longer play about primordial monsters who avenge murders in suburban Australia.
Georgia is a writer, director and producer for theatre, film, print and radio. She has studied writing in its various forms at NIDA (Young Writers and Directors Studio), Metroscreen (ArtStart Young Screenwriters’ Program), UTS, and as a member of ATYP’s Fresh Ink Young Writers’ Ensemble. Her first two short works for theatre, Mollycoddled and Dear Diary Today I… were performed at the 2011 Short + Sweet Theatre Festival, Sydney. She was subsequently awarded the Best New Talent Award in the festival, and Mollycoddled received another production in Auckland. She has had her work published twice in the UTS Writers’ Anthology, and once with Currency Press as part of The Voices Project. Her monologue Twisted featured in The One Sure Thing, produced by ATYP. In 2011, Georgia’s film projects included All Bound (producer), Death By Diamonds (producer, costume designer), Sister Death (production design, 1st AD), Tell (writer, director, editor, sound designer), and Honourable Discharge (production design). Her short film, Tell, was nominated for Best Experimental Film at the Golden Eye Film Festival, and pre-production on her next project as writer/director, Shoebox, begun in January. Her theatre directing credits include Beach (Timothy Daly, Fort Productions), Ruby Moon (Matt Cameron, Hatter Productions/Seymour Centre), Margin Walker (Luke Scholes, Short + Sweet Sydney), Dear Diary Today I… (Short + Sweet Sydney), and Dangerous Lenses (Brooke Robinson, Queen Street Studios residency). She has interned in various capacities at ABC Radio National, Belvoir Street Theatre and Griffin Theatre. Georgia also performs in poetry slams around Sydney. Georgia is currently working in production and development at ABC Radio National’s Radio Arts unit. She holds a Certificate III in Entertainment, Live Production and Events (Technical Production) and is studying a Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Media Arts and Production) and in International Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.
James Pike is an Australian playwright, cultural activist and labourer. He was born in Hornsby, Sydney in 1988.
His first work ‘Pendeo’ was performed by alumni of the American Academy of Dramatic Art (AADA) at both the Charles Jehlinger Theatre in Los Angeles and at the Edinburgh Festival in 2006. His lived and wrote in Aix, France in 2007 before undertaking a Bachelor of Communication (Theatre/Media) at Bathurst, NSW in 2008. His works ‘Fly in the Ointment’, ‘Archie’ and ‘Before and After Knockoff’ (all written in 2009) all received immediate performance while the latter was selected for the 2010 Sydney Fringe for performance at the New Theatre. Funding bodies ArtsOutWest and Local Stages supported a regional tour of the work. His short plays ‘The Crib Room’ (2006), ‘Bernard and Leon’ (2007) and full-length ‘Cotton’ (2011), ‘Ballad of a Locksmith’ (2010), ‘Penelope’ (2009) ‘The Unit’ (2007) are yet to be performed. His writing subjects unintentionally herald the lives of entrenched Australians and his style can be described as playful, symbolist and colloquial while retaining classical story design. His plays arehigh-staked and visceral with intention to move and provoke thought.
James works as dramaturg, facilitator and secretary for Desert Pea Media, an indigenous cultural development organisation operating in remote communities around the country. His travel and work in rural and indigenous environments has affected the subjects of his recent stories. He plans to base himself in Sydney while continuing expeditions to minute communities intermittently over the next few years. His current project is on the shearing industry and has taken him from Casterton, VIC to Collarenebri, NSW where he temporarily works as a rouseabout.
My name is Guy Birks and I am a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). I graduated from the NIDA Playwrights Studio in 2007 was then mentored for 2 years by Francesca Smith, then Director of the Playwrights Studio. Since then I have completed several plays – including We Do Invisible Mending, Visiting Hours are Over, and The Door that Does Not Open – and have had work performed at NIDA, the Powerhouse in Brisbane (with Arts Council funding) and in venues in Sydney. Currently, I am working on the text for a one woman musical play called Why Lions (and humans) Live Longer in Captivity, and my musical collaborator on this play is a post graduate student at the Conservatorium of Music. I am also about to workshop my one act play We Do Invisible Mending with actors Fiona Butler, Richard Hilliar and John Michael Burdon. I have been a member of the Australian Writer’s Guild for a number of years.
Alli Sebastian Wolf
At twenty six years old I have been quite lucky in my creative life; working as a visual artist, playwright and theatre maker I have been widely published, exhibited and performed. I have been supported by numerous grants and residancies and won prizes including the Patrick White Young Playwright Award, The Sydney Fringe Festival Best New Theatre Award and am currently on a Sydney Premiers Fellowship. My dioramas have been seen in national magazines and in solo shows in Sydney and Melbourne, winning prizes and receiving grants since 2009. I write for and creatively direct a performance collective Deep Sea Astronauts who are staples at arts and music festivals in Australia. My latest play The Importance of Being Ernest Dragons and Other Classic Tales As Told By An Octopus at the old Fitzroy Theatre, Sydney, opened to great response.
Melissa Lee Speyer
Melissa graduated from NIDA’s full-time Graduate Diploma in Playwriting in 2011. Her plays have been performed in Australia as part of NIDA’s Festival of Curious and Original Things, Griffin’s Festival of New Writing (24 Hour Play Project), Crash Test Drama in Newtown, Playtime in Kings Cross, Short & Sweet Short Play Festival and Playwriting Australia’s Kicking Down The Doors initiative.
I am an emerging playwright in Sydney. I am currently writing a third draft of a full length play Second Time Around (It’s a play about sexuality, fidelity and a search for personal truth in a world built of image) dramaturged by Augusta Supple and she just directed Stephen Wilkinson in Boys’ Night as a part of Griffringe. I am also writing the first draft of a comedic play called That’s great … Now act gooder! Focusing on a one month rehearsal period leading up to opening night of a Narrabeen Amateur Dramatic Society production of Working Title. A devised play written by an anonymous writer and directed by the infamous Arthur Flagontout. N.A.D.S. is an independent amateur theatre company fighting to stay in the game. They are going through a name change from N.A.D.S. to N.A.D.S. replacing the amateur with actor. This boost in street cred along with the help of well-loved community actors and an E-Street star will hopefully put NADS on top. Welcome To Sydney: Now Get Out Of Our Way is a collaborative project in its development stage with Stephen Wilkinson & Elizabeth Heaney, from our company Cut The Bull Productions. This is a play exploring what it is like to live in Sydney from an outsider’s perspective. Featuring a collection of monologues and scenes on the eclectic people you meet in the City of Villages. Cut The Bull are also working on a rap video called East Suburbia Gangsta about living life on the other side of the Coca-Cola sign. Tellin like it be told from the ’hood of Vaucluse the Hugo Posse Bosse leave no check unturned yo!
Grace De Morgan
Grace is a Sydney-based writer/performer who finished her Masters in Writing for Stage & Broadcast Media at the Central School of Drama, London in December 2010. Her performed works include: My Brother’s Keeper and Three is Not the Magic Number (short plays staged as a part of Theatre 503’s Rapid Write Response initiative).
After her first play Integrity’s Wench was long-listed for the Edward Albee Script Competition Award in 2010, the Australian Writers’ Guild invited her onto their Pathways program. In July 2009, she spent two weeks on a writing internship at Channel Ten’s Good News Week and has had five ‘Postcard’ articles published in the
Sun Herald Travel lift-out since November 2008 – February 2012. Grace is currently working as a captioner at Red Bee Media, volunteering as a Short & Sweet script assessor, doing an online copywriting internship at Todae.com.au and redrafting her second play, Said a Father to His Son. Her short play Riding the Red is
was performed as part of the Short and Sweet Festival at the Sidetrack Theatre, Marrickville.
And whilst I continue to work with the writers individually and in a group setting… they continue to work on their own projects…
Here’s some of what’s coming up by these writers:
CRUSHED by Melita Rowston:
AM I GOOD FRIEND directed by Georgia Symons:
HEART DOT COM with work by Jasper Marlow and Luke Carson
Five newly commissioned monologues/small-handers directed by Olivia Satchell written by Luke Carson, Ellana Costa, Alison Rooke, Jasper Marlow, Katie Pollock
exploring the absurdity/beauty of searching for love without being able to touch/see the other person.
EAST SUBURBIA GANGSTA written and performed by Luke Carson:
Showing at Cut & Paste
DATE: Sunday May 13th 2012
WHERE: The Old Fitzroy Theatre
COST: $12.00 (door sales only)
MICRO FOREST PERFORMANCE created by Alli Sebastian Wolf
HOME BREW FESTIVAL
Venue: The Old Fitzroy Theatre
Dates: May 17th – 19th 2012
Times: 7pm doors.
Bookings: www.rocksurfers.org or 1300 241 167