Hatch Lab Residents – Paper Stars

The Hatch Lab was created by Salty Theatre, in partnership with Theatre Works, to assist artists in their development of new musicals and provide much needed support to writers and composers who seek an opportunity to revise, workshop and ultimately bring to life their musical works on stage. Salty Theatre has been making a name for itself as an “underground highlight” (Cameron Woodhead – The Age), “someone to watch” (ArtsHub) and “the answer to off-broadway in Melbourne” (Youshouldseeitmelb), and couldn’t be more excited to be introducing the first ever residents of The Hatch Lab.

The Hatch Lab proudly welcomes it’s inaugural residents: Playwright and director Miranda Middleton (MFD Dir., NIDA, dir. Ned: A New Australian Musical, New Theatre), playwright Grace Chapple (MDF Writing for Perf., NIDA, Never Closer, 2020 Griffin Award Shortlist) and composer and lyricist Luke Byrne (Between the Sea and Sky, NYMF Best Musical 2018, MD, The Harp in the South, STC) to its residency program as they develop, workshop and ultimately premiere their new Australian musical, Paper Stars

Paper Stars is a new Australian musical which theatricalises the early career of one of Australia’s most successful storytellers. Everyone knows her as the woman who created Mary Poppins, but who was P.L Travers before she became famous? Inspired by true events (yet told with a healthy spoonful of imagination), it follows the intrepid Helen Lyndon Goff as she leaves home – with just a feather and a carpet bag – to forge a career for herself in London. While she successfully reinvents herself as P.L Travers, and finds the inspiration to write her world-famous novel, she must also deal with some baggage from her past…With a whimsical book by Grace Chapple and Miranda Middleton, and an original score by Luke Byrne, Paper Stars is a story about learning how to cope in a dark world, and finding magic in real people and things, rather than fantasy.

Miranda Middleton, one of Paper Stars’ creators, has this to say, “We’re living in an age when art and storytelling are increasingly undervalued and under-funded by our government. But like P.L. Travers, our writing team believes fervently in the power of stories; not just as escapism, but as a vehicle for our collective imagination. The act of assembling in a dark theatre and imagining better ways of being en masse is very real, and political, and important. Many people don’t know that Mary Poppins was written by an Australian, and if they do, they know the older P.L. Travers as embodied (impeccably) by Emma Thompson in Saving Mr Banks. We’ve done a lot of research into her earlier life and personal philosophy, and used our own imaginations to fill in the blanks, in an attempt to tell her rather remarkable story in an artistic and engaging way. Paper Stars has been a real labour of love over the past six months, and a welcome distraction from our “muggle jobs”. But this support from Salty Theatre and Theatre Works, and the chance to really pour our hearts and souls into the show’s development and production over the next year, is so exciting. We can’t wait to share this story with an audience in the near future, and send forth a bit of magic into the world.” 

The Hatch Lab Mentors include Michael Rubinoff (Olivier Award Winner, Tony Award Nominee; Producer and Concept Creator of Come From Away, Founder of the Canadian Music Theatre Project), Dean Bryant (Helpmann, Greenroom and Sydney Theatre Award Winner; Dir. Kiss of the Spider Woman, MTC; Writer. Prodigal, Off-Broadway), Ashley Clapp (Dorothy Ellen Ransom Prize of Musical Composition; MD. My Brilliant Career), Lee Hart (Movement Dir. Ghost Ship; Dir. Half Girl, Theatre Royal), Michele Lee (Australian Writers’ Guild stage Drama Award, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award; Writer. Going Down, Malthouse; Rice, PlayLab Theatre), Megan Phillips and Peter Cavell (Best of Fringe, Ed Mirvish Award; People Suck, Toronto, Salty Theatre/Theatre Works; The Anxiety Show, The Pirate Queen of the Stars), Scott White (Dora Nominee, Canadian Comedy Award Nominee; Composer. Top Gun! The Musical, Salty Theatre, Canada, US; The Giant’s Garden, Canada), and London’s Chalk Dramaturgy (Perfect Pitch, UK, Sweeney Todd, Vancouver Opera), with more heavy hitters on the docket to come. 

The culmination of this year of development will be the world premiere of Paper Stars in November 2021 at Theatre Works. 

 “In order to fly, you need something solid to take off from.” – P.L. Travers, OBE


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