DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM For emerging wRITERS
ABOUT THE INITIATIVE
She Writes is a new writing and performance program for emerging or mid-career female-identifying playwrights. This program offers participating writers support networks and professional development to generate the next wave of unique performance writing, ready for when stages become live again.
She Writes is tailored to deliver 14 exceptional writers professional opportunity and creative development during the pandemic isolation period. She Writes provides crucial peer and professional networks and connections for emerging or mid-career playwrights.
Theatre Works has partnered with the Victorian College of the Arts for this project, pairing a resident writer with a VCA dramaturgy student to work together on a new piece of writing. VCA has had a long and rich relationship with Theatre Works over the years, creating pathways for emerging professionals during and following graduation from vocational training in acting, directing, dramaturgy, design and production.
She Writes offers an invaluable opportunity for our resident writers and VCA dramaturgy students to actively collaborate with the industry in developing a new generation of dynamic new performance works.
Participants are offered peer support, dramaturgy, mentoring and masterclasses. Their works will receive programmed play readings and professional feedback throughout development. Theatre Works aims to realise the resulting performance works on stage in future Theatre Works Seasons.
Jane is a playwright, screenwriter, director and mentor. Her plays, including Water, Lamb (with songs by Mark Seymour), Savage, Music, Hinterland, This Years’ Ashes, A Single Act, Still, Ride and Fourplay have been performed worldwide, from London to Australia. She won Australia’s Victorian Premier Literary Award in 2006 for A Single Act and a Green Room Award in 2003 for Still. In 2019 she won The Griffin Theatre Lysicrates Award for her play Tell Me You Love Me. Jane has written for TV and radio, including The Secret Life of Us, Crash Burn and Moving Wallpaper. Radio includes Seeing Somebody for Radio National and Well for Radio 4. Her short film ‘Alice’, directed by Garth Davis was selected for screening at Cannes Film Festival.
Jane worked at The Royal Court Theatre in London as a writing tutor, and at Central School of Speech and Drama. She was The National Theatre Studio Artist in 2006. Jane was Head of Playwriting at NIDA (Australia) from 2009 – 2012, Associate Artist at The Griffin Theatre in 2013 and Artistic Associate at Playwriting Australia in 2014. Jane has worked as dramaturge on many standout productions, including Emily Sheehan’s Hell’s Canyon, Katie Beckett’s Which Way Home and Michelle Lee’s Rice.
Van Badham is a writer, commentator, activist, occasional broadcaster, theatremaker and one of Australia’s most controversial public intellectuals. In addition to a weekly column for Guardian Australia, her work has appeared in The Age, Australian Cosmopolitan, Daily Life, Southerly, Women’s Agenda, Britain’s Daily Telegraph and in anthologies for UQP, Hardie Grant and Monash University Press. She is a frequent guest on panels for ABC’s Radio National, The Drum and Q and A, Channel 7’s Sunrise, the All About Women festival and The Festival of Dangerous Ideas. As a playwright, her work has been performed across Australia and the UK, in the US and Canada, and in Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Germany and Austria, and she is the recipient of three Premier’s awards for stage writing. Her first novel, Burnt Snow, was published by Pan Macmillan in 2010. Born in Sydney, Van is a very proud alumnus of Port Hacking High School Miranda, the University of Wollongong, the University of Sheffield (UK) and Melbourne Uni. She is active on Twitter via @vanbadham.
As a theatremaker Van had more than 100 international productions of her work. In 2015, she was under commission for new plays with the Tasmanian Theatre Company and the Melbourne Theatre Company. In 2017, she is under commission from Luxi, in Sunderland, UK. Her most recent theatre projects include the critically-acclaimed Late Night Story at the Adelaide Fringe 2015, Notoriously Yours at the 2014 Edinburgh festival and also in 2014 The Trollhunter – a Melbourne Comedy Festival show with Catherine Deveny, and Big Baby: Boss of the World – a collaboration with Terrapin, the national puppet company, which toured statewide.
Internationally, Van’s works for stage and musical theatre have appeared at the Edinburgh Festival, Adelaide Festival, New York Summer Play Festival, in Australia for Malthouse Theatre, Griffin Theatre, HotHouse Theatre, Terrapin Puppet Theatre and Merrigong Theatre, in London at the Royal Court Theatre, the Bush (for Paines Plough), the Finborough and Theatre503, and toured extensively in the UK, across her native Australia and to the US, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Slovenia.
The BBC World Service, Radio 4 and Radio 3 have produced her radio dramas. She trained in writing for television on attachment to BBC serial Holby City and her award-winning short film, Octopus, screened in the Dungog, Tropfest Australia, Munich International, Berlin International and LA Shorts festivals. Van is the winner of numerous awards: in 2015, she was awarded the NSW Premier’s Award for Best Play, the West Australian Premier’s Book Award for Best Play, was a finalist for a Kennedy Award for Journalism, shared the Victorian Greenroom Association Award for Best Production with her collaborators as the writer of The Bloody Chamber for Malthouse Theatre. She also won three awards including Best Play in the Adelaide Fringe Awards with Notoriously Yours.
Jean Tong is a writer, dramaturg and director, and a current Philip Parson’s Fellowship (Belvoir) and Development Assistant at Goalpost Pictures. Jean’s work includes: FLAT EARTHERS: THE MUSICAL; HUNGRY GHOSTS (Melbourne Theatre Company); ROMEO IS NOT THE ONLY FRUIT (Malthouse Theatre, MICF; Brisbane Festival); THE LOCKDOWN MONOLOGUES (Malthouse Theatre).
Jennifer Medway has been the Literary Associate of Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) since 2017 and a practising dramaturg for the past ten years. She has held positions such as: Resident Dramaturg at ATYP, Studio Artist at Griffin Theatre, Co-Artistic Director of the Crack Theatre Festival, Associate Artist-Dramaturgy at Belvoir and Literary Assistant also at Belvoir. Jennifer also works as a freelance dramaturg for independent and mainstage theatre companies and script assessor working on major playwriting prizes across the country.
Krystalla Pearce is an Australian theatre maker and teaching artist. She completed her Masters in Performance Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has been trained in teaching artistry and aesthetic education at Lincoln Center Education in New York City. She works primarily with new Australian writing; her work often has a community and social justice focus.
Krystalla is the co-founder and co-Artistic Director of Rat King Theatre, an experimental theatre company based in New York City that tells stories through words, bodies and food. Her performance work has been presented in Australia, and internationally in Greece, Mexico, and the USA including at Theatre Works, Red Stitch, The Brick, The Wild Project, PERFORMA15, The island_resignified, and Dixon Place.
She has devised theatre workshops in New Delhi, been involved in community building workshops in Indigenous Australian communities, and has completed artist residencies across New York City.
She has been the recipient of the Dame Joan Sutherland Award and is part of this year’s Women in Theatre Program at Melbourne Theatre Company.
Bronwyn Pringle is a Melbourne-based Lighting Designer and theatre maker. She has worked around Australia with companies such as Pop up Playground, NICA, ArtPlay, MTC, Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Australian Theatre of the Deaf, Arts Projects Australia, Black Hole Theatre, Outback Theatre for Young People, Chambermade, Marruk Marruk and more, working across all genres of performance, on projects ranging from large festivals to community engagement to small developmental pieces in venues that include The Princess Theatre, a London West End Nightclub, Falls Festival in Lorne, a warehouse in Buenos Aires, the Federation Square air-conditioning ducts, The Segerstrom Arts Centre in California, and a woolshed in Glencoe, plus many more conventional and non-conventional theatre spaces.
She has received Green Room Awards for her lighting for alias Grace (Malthouse Theatre) and Letters from Animals (Here Theatre/SRWT) plus numerous nominations, and two Melbourne Fringe Festival Design Collaboration awards. Other design highlights include Heisenberg (MTC), Serial Blogger(X:Machine), Spin & MINI Spin (Anna Seymour), Yarn (La Mama), Closed for Maintenance (Making Space), Beneath and Beyond (Making Space) and Songbirds and Angels (La Mama).
Teaching credits include VCA, NMIT, Monash University, The Women’s Circus, Box Hill Tafe, VUT, Koorie Heritage Trust and ArtPlay, with workshops focused on adult learning through to colour theory with 6 year olds. She has also been a member of numerous peer assessment panels.
Bronwyn has just completes her Master in Design for Performance at The Victorian College of the Arts, across production and Dramaturgy.
Brooke graduated with a Bachelor of Theatre from James Cook University in 1996. She has worked professionally as an actor on stage and screen for over 20 years. During this time, she participated in performing arts festivals as an actor, writer, producer and script assessor. Brooke co-founded a Melbourne-based independent theatre company named Pretty Penny Productions that focused on emerging artists and women in theatre. In 2012 she graduated from RMIT with an Advanced Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. Brooke has been commissioned twice by Melbourne Writers’ Theatre to write biographic plays about prominent Australians, and has had 3 monologues produced, with one in pre-production for MWT’s 2020 season. Brooke is currently studying a Master of Theatre (Dramaturgy) at VCA.
Emma Fawcett is a Melbourne theatre maker, dramaturg and performer with a background in physical theatre, clowning and anthropology. Her areas of interest include new Australian writing, devising processes, visual theatre, autobiographical and documentary theatre. Recent works include the devised pieces The Cycle (dramaturg, dir. Draf Draffin, 2019), and Floodlands (dramaturg, dir. Emily Burke 2018) and Dog Park (director, written by Krysten Smyth, 2019). Emma has taught Cultural Studies in the Liberal Arts program at Victoria University Polytechnic for the past four years and completed the Master of Dramaturgy at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2019.
Meta Cohen is an emerging queer composer, dramaturg and sound designer. Her work spans music, theatre and interdisciplinary art.
In her theatre work, she specialises in sonic dramaturgy and musical thinking in theatre making. Recent credits include Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights (composer/dramaturg/sound designer, dir. Alyson Campbell), Hedda GablerGablerGabler (dramaturg, dir. Mary Angley) and A Slippery Thing (dramaturg, dir. Rinske Ginsberg).
Meta is an associate artist at Alyson Campbell and Lachlan Philpott’s queer performance collective wreckedAllprods and a resident sound designer in the New Ghosts Theatre Company’s IGNITE collective. In 2019, she completed a Master of Dramaturgy at the Victorian College of the Arts. Meta is especially passionate about bringing queer, interdisciplinary and sound-driven work to the stage.
Noemie Huttner-Koros is a queer jewish performance-maker, writer, dramaturg and community organiser. Noemie’s practice engages with sites and histories where ecological crisis, queer culture and composting occur. Noemie graduated from WAAPA’s Performance Making course in 2018 and is currently studying a Master of Theatre Dramaturgy at the Victorian College of the Arts. Her work has taken place in black-box theatres, alleyways (The Lion Never Sleeps, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights), dinner parties (The Trouble Makers, You Are Here Festival & Batch Festival) and galleries (Borders, Spectrum Gallery), and regularly dramaturgs and produces across theatre, new writing and contemporary performance. Noemie is an organiser of Arts & Cultural Workers for Climate Action, a co-director of interdisciplinary performance group KAN Collective and has worked with companies including Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, DADAA and Australian Theatre for Young People. Hailing from Ngunnuwal country, Noemie lives between Whadjuk Noongar country and Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung country.
Stéphanie Ghajar is a Lebanese Australian theatre and filmmaker, mainly working as a director and dramaturge. Her work delves into the human condition to explore the individual in deeply personal situations where the familiar motions of the everyday darken and veer towards the tragic. Having a mixed background and working in both film and theatre together has shown evident streaks of each medium seeping into the other, in a wide scope of cultural narratives.
Ghajar is currently an Associate Artist at Theatre Works, assisting Iron Lung’s director on their production of Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling. She is also devising and performing in an online performance, Flight, with an NYC-based multimedia theatre company, Anonymous Ensemble, as well as script doctoring and developing Mert Berdilek’s feature films The Horse Thief and Ağri
Alanah is a multi-disciplinary artist drawn to creating performative sensorial experiences. Since graduating NIDA MFA directing course in 2018, Alanah has gone on to study a MA at Melbourne University (Arts Management and Culture). Whilst at NIDA, Alanah collaborated with Triple J/ Rage and Canon to create May Lyn’s music video “Soldiers” and participated in a two-week exchange with the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Art in Berlin. This exchange inspired Alanah to relocate to Berlin for a secondment with German director Kay Voges. Alanah is the co-creator of theatre company, Rotten Honey, with writer Hannah Samuel. RH’s centers female-identifying, queer narratives that speak to contemporary feminism(s) and sex-positivity. Currently, Alanah is an Associate Artist at Theatre Works and working with Platform Arts to adapt Carmen Maria Machado’s short story “Inventory” for the stage and the digital world.
Olivia Staaf is an emerging theatre director and dramaturg based in Melbourne. Olivia is a graduate from Monash University’s Centre for Theatre and Performance and is currently completing her Masters of Theatre (Directing) at the VCA. Her directorial works with Monash Uni Student Theatre (MUST) include From Scratch (2020), The Golden Age (2019) and Signs (2019), with assistant directing credits including Vinegar Tom (2018) and The Late Night Late Show: Live! (2017). Olivia completed directing placements on Cloudstreet at the Malthouse Theatre in 2019 and The Great Australian Play at Theatre Works in 2020. This year Olivia is an Associate Artist at Theatre Works.
“I write pieces of theatre that are bold and playful and heartfelt. I am excited by theatre that explores humanity in all of its joyous complexity. I have written a play based on Germaine Greer’s provocations, a verbatim piece called The Greer Effect which is based on her extensive archives.”
“My writing is often informed by place. I like to explore big, existential ideas, and often draw on research. Reflecting on my work recently I realised a common theme in most of my produced plays is women who are trapped – whether literally or metaphorically. That feels very apt for the play I am working on now.”
“My writing is an intimate exploration of aspects of myself that have impacted my life growing up, and the details of my life that I hope can empower others to feel seen and heard. Intimate details of what it is to be young, Asian, Vietnamese, Female and from a working-class background.”
“[Meegan and I] tend to be drawn to high concept comedy and sci-fi with queer themes. We aren’t afraid to be silly or commercial, and try to pack our work full of heart! Our play is a family dramedy set during the 2019 bushfire season.”
“Aside from the connections to some incredible writers and theatre makers, as screenwriters we’ve been given an invaluable crash course in playwriting and the theatre industry from some of Australia’s top talent.”
“I’m a non binary playwright and wannabe clown with a passion for accessible theatre for young audiences. I am an avid tea-maker, occasional tea-finisher currently back at uni for an Honours year in queering theatre for young people and creating queer futures.”
“Using both theatre and installation art, my writing aims to dissect gender politics and analyse the way we interact with the natural environment. My work is whimsical, poetic and bizarre, but I try to keep it firmly grounded in contemporary issues.”
“I’d describe my writing as poetic trash. I love using big glorious words and rambling romantic phrasing to talk about things that are trashy and not exactly ‘cool’, things that are often viewed as ‘basic’. This is why I love musicals.”
“I am highly influenced by music and my writing merges theatre with story-based composition utilising live contemporary music to underscore the text which is delivered by the main protagonist via slam poetry, rap, melody and scripted dialogue.”
“The parallel worlds swirling around in my head have been helpful lately. All I can hope is that anything I produce is entertaining, whilst exploring things like environmental destruction and sexual abuse.”
“My work continues to evolve in both craft and themes as I continue to explore and play. In the past it’s been teen drama, autobiographical monologues and transmedial pieces. Now it’s science fiction, surrealism, and boogieing babies.”
Generally speaking, my writing style is poetic and impressionistic. As Theatre is a new form for me, particularly in long form – my writing style is evolving. At the moment it’s retaining the blackness, humour, pace and pathos which I like to sustain in my online blogging.
Caitlin is an activist, writer and performer from Sydney, by way of Newcastle. Her writing has appeared in publications like Antipodes, Overland, Mascara Literary Review and Sydney Review of Books, and has been shortlisted for the Fair Australia and Victoria University prizes.
This project has been supported by the City of Port Phillip through the 2020 Arts Response grants.
This project is supported by the Victorian Women’s Trust and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.