2021 – an exciting year of new theatre

With just six weeks of 2021 remaining, we look back on an exciting year of theatre-making – and look ahead to returning for more in 2022!

The year began with our long-awaited theatrical season THE BEST, THE FAIREST, THE FIRST which was necessarily rescheduled (twice!) due to the events of 2020 before being presented at Gasworks Theatre from 3rd – 6th March. This brand-new production was created as a celebration for International Women’s Day, and featured scripts and performances by MWT playwrights and actors. If you didn’t manage to see this uplifting season of theatre, you can check out some show photos and reviews HERE.

Our monthly workshops have been well-attended, and we hope you were able to attend some of them – if not, you can check out what you missed BELOW.  Excitingly, the final three workshops for 2021 will be delivered by Naomi Sumner, our UNESCO City of Literature virtual Playwright-in-Residence. You can read about Naomi, her work and her workshops, which are for MWT members only, HERE. 

Our Page to Stage program, which over a six-month period saw MWT playwrights paired with skilled dramaturgs for the purpose of working intensively on their original full-length scripts, began in May and concluded with the showcasing of our four supported works from 15th – 18th November. You can read more about The Salon Readings here and you can meet our 2021 Playwrights and Dramaturgs here. Meanwhile, the In One Act program presented annually by MWT in partnership with the City of Yarra recently culminated in the Performance Readings, in which the short plays written by our 2021 Participants were shared with audiences on Tuesday 19th October. For more details about this program and to watch the Performance Readings, visit In One Act 2021.

2021 has indeed emerged as another magical year for the playwrights and artists of Melbourne Writers’ Theatre. We invite everyone to join us on our creative journey.

 

2021 CALENDAR

In 2021, our monthly workshops have been delivered at the Kensington Town Hall and on Zoom.. Full details regarding each of these workshops may be found on the EVENTS  page. At a glance, they are as follows:

Tuesday February 2
Workshop #1
Writing at Length – The Craft of the Full-Length Play
Kensington Town Hall
*This first workshop for 2021 was preceded at 6.30pm by the AGM.

Tuesday March 9  
Workshop #2
Writing at Length – The Craft of the Full-Length Play
*This time offered on Zoom

Tuesday April 6
Workshop #3
A Bunch of Scripts #1 – members’ plays are read and workshopped
*Kensington Town Hall

May 4
Workshop #4
Play Analysis – an in-depth discussion of a selected work
*Kensington Town Hall

June 8
Workshop #5
The Art of the Monologue
*Moved to Zoom

July 6
Workshop #6
The 2021 Monologue Soiree
*Moved to Zoom

August 3
Workshop #7
The Craft of the Short Play
*Zoom

September 7
Workshop #8
The 2021 Short Play Soiree
*Zoom

 

MONDAY OCT 25, NOV 8 & 22

A series of workshops to be presented by NAOMI SUMNER CHAN
(UNESCO City of Literature Playwright-in-Residence)
7PM – 9PM on ZOOM

Monday 25th October
Workshop #1 – Autobiographical Writing

Monday 8th November
Workshop #2 – Creating Verbatim Theatre

Monday 22nd November
Workshop #3 – Submission Tips for New Scripts

Monday 29th November
Script Reading – “Banana Split”
A reading with actors of Naomi’s latest play

 *** MWT members can register for Naomi’s events by clicking HERE. ***

 

15 – 18 NOVEMBER

PAGE TO STAGE 2021:
The Salon Readings 

These Readings, which represented the final stage of the 2021 program.
were presented nightly on Zoom as follows:

Monday 15th November
‘The Jasmine Suite’
by Michael Olsen

Tuesday 16th November
‘Tatiana, Dragon and Friend’
by Inna Tsyrlin

Wednesday 17th November
‘Agenda Conversation’
by MJ Wilson

Thursday 18th November
‘Blackspot Hotspot’
by Bruce Shearer

 *** Click HERE to learn more about PAGE TO STAGE and The Salon Readings ***

 

2020 show photos by John A. Edwards

 

P a g e

t o           


STAGE

 2 0 2 1

 

Q & A  with  INNA TSRYLIN    ‘Tatiana, Dragon and Friend’

Inna Tsrylin’s play ‘Tatiana, Dragon and Friend’ was one of four new scripts developed this year in MWT’s Page to Stage dramaturgical program. In the lead-up to the online presentation of ‘Tatiana, Dragon and Friend’ in The Salon Readings on Tuesday 16th November, we asked Inna about her thoughts on the dramaturgical process, the value of collaboration, her writing practice and the extent to which she draws on her cultural and linguistic background when creating a new piece of theatre.

 

Question: Your new play ‘Tatiana, Dragon and Friend’ was further developed this year through the Page to Stage dramaturgical program. To what extent – minimal or extensive – has it changed as a result of this process? And to what extent have these changes occurred as a direct product of your collaboration with your dramaturg and creative team – or would they perhaps have occurred to you, as the creator, in their own time, without this input from others?
ANSWER:
I love theatre because it’s collaborative and I think the Page to Stage program really embraced that aspect. I was very fortunate to have worked with Cathy Hunt who provided thoughtful and considered feedback, for which the play is now in a much better shape. I’m also very grateful for the chance to have heard the play read out loud in October by a group of actors. It was no longer voices in my head, I could actually start hearing what worked and what didn’t. I love actors so much for that gift. The first audience to a piece is usually the dramaturg, director, and actors, and if they respond to the work in a way that I’m after, it’s usually a good indication of how the general audience will respond. I try to write for the creative team. It’s them I have to impress or make them laugh or give them something to work with. They are the key to the play coming to life.

Question: Do you think that a playwright’s best work can ever be written in isolation – without being read by, workshopped with or reflected upon by one’s artistic peers – or will it just be a completely different play that is produced?
ANSWER:
As a medium, theatre is meant to be performed and lives on stage. There are a few geniuses out there who can write in isolation and bring a polished draft for the actors to rehearse, but honestly, what’s the fun in that? When I’ve been in the rehearsal room and the director suggests “how about we try this” or when an actor says “let me take it again because I realised what this scene is about”, that’s the gold. Unlocking moments in the play, digging deeper into the characters, creating theatrical images, all of these may start with words on a page, but the real magic is when you have bodies in the room. It’s a brilliant medium because as a playwright you work not only with your own imagination and craft, but with other artists and all their tools, all in the service of the play.

Question: Thinking back across your playwriting journey to date – do any of your produced plays spring to mind as having had an easier/shorter journey from start to finish than another? To what do you attribute that ease or brevity of development?ANSWER:
Most plays follow a similar journey for me in the sense that the first draft is written fairly quickly, and then it’s the beautiful and gruelling task of re-writing. The adage that writing is rewriting could not be more accurate to describe my process. I agonise over a line, then I realise I have a bigger problem with character development, then I go through a phase of not knowing how to fix anything, then I wake up way too earlier realising that the answers to all the problems in the play were there all along and I need to run to the computer and get back to writing. I try to develop a relationship with the play so that the characters start to speak to me and it’s them, not me, who start to reveal things about themselves; I’m just there to transcribe.

Question: How do your cultural and linguistic origins influence your writing practice? And do you feel that this influence, in some or all cases, is an unconscious or automatic one?
ANSWER:
My Soviet Jewish background is all over my work. First, it’s the reason I took up writing, there are too many Russian and Jewish playwrights to name, but their influence on me is very present in my artistic journey. Second, there is a lot of rich material to mine in my cultural and linguistic background which is what, I hope, gives me a unique voice. Plus, I grew up in Australia and have lived overseas for a while, all of these experiences have given me plenty to write about. All of the writers I admire lived very rich and even tumultuous lives, which is why they wrote. Authenticity and truth are vital to any art form, and you can only gleam those truths from engaging with life and digging into who you are as a person.

 

Photo:
Inna Tsrylin   (photo supplied by Inna)

 

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