About Melbourne Writers’ Theatre
Meet Our Committee
Clare Mendes’ novels include Drift Street, The Curtain Raiser and A Race Across Burning Soil (HarperCollins) and her latest novel The Unvoiced Consonant (Little Owl Press – ebook). Clare’s radio plays have been produced by ABC Radio National. The Agreement, her first full-length stage play, was performed at La Mama Courthouse in October 2015 and her play, Trash Goes Down The River was performed at Bluestone Church Arts Space in June 2017. For many years Clare worked as a storyliner and scriptwriter for the television soap “Neighbours”. She has travelled extensively and has lived and worked in South-East Asia and Latin America. She graduated from The University of Melbourne and is the recipient of an Angus & Robertson Fiction Prize, an Asialink Award, several Arts Victoria grants, a Varuna residency and a Playworks Script Award.
Treasurer & Life Member
Bruce Shearer has written and produced a number of plays for Melbourne theatres. He has also written plays aimed specifically at youth audiences which have been performed at schools and universities in Melbourne, Adelaide and the USA. In several of his plays, he has written lyrics and collaborated with composers. In 1996, a musical production of The Absolutely Awesome Giant (Panstwowy Teatr “Lalka” Warsaw) and an opera The Cantankerous Caterpillar (Pleciuga Puppet Theatre, Szczecin) were performed in Polish children’s theatres. Bruce has also had stories published in Australian Short Story. His poetry has appeared in Eureka Street, The Australian and Verso, and at the 2013 Big West Festival he won the Roadside Haiku prize for Best Poem and for “prolific poetic lyricism”.
Mazz Ryan graduated from the University of Tasmania with a Performing Arts Degree in 2001, followed by a Bachelor of Teaching in 2003. She then travelled, teaching drama and working on theatrical productions in the UK and Vietnam. Whilst living in Tasmania, she worked with a range of community and independent theatres as an actor, musician, dancer, director and lighting/sound technician. On her return to Melbourne, she joined MWT, and was appointed Stage Manager for their ‘Page to Stage’ season of new writing, continuing in that role over the past 5 years, alongside writing and acting. In 2018, she will co-direct their second season of ‘Six Degrees in Melbourne.’ Her plays have been presented by MWT in The Melbourne Monologues and St. Kilda Stories. For Essendon Theatre Co she presented The Pirate Princess, a children’s pantomime; the Orgasm series for the Owl and Cat Theatre; and Overture for L’hibou Productions, Adelaide. Mazz is an all-round theatre enthusiast who enjoys the collaborative work involved in theatre-making. She endeavours to speak to a wide audience through her writing and believes that theatre can influence change, open minds and initiate conversations.
Artistic Advisor & Life Member
Christine Croyden is a Melbourne-based playwright, lyricist and novelist. Her produced plays are available through Australianplays.org
In 2011 Croyden was selected for the Inaugural Stage and Screen Residency with mentor, Katherine Thomson at Varuna. In 2012
she was the recipient of a Copyright Agency Ltd (CAL) Scholarship. In 2014 she was awarded mentorship by lyricist Jack Robinson in Paris and MMD (Mercury Musical Developments) in London. She is the author of two novels for young adults, The Painted Portal and The MemoryThief published by Equilibrium books, and her short stories, critical writing and newspaper articles have been widely published in journals and newspapers. Croyden’s book and lyrics for The White Mouse, a musical inspired by the life of Australian WW2 heroine, Nancy Wake, with Composer Drew Lane, is licensed through David Spicer Productions. Her most recent play TheWorld without Birds: a musical fable, produced by MWT and Stormy Weather Productions at the Courthouse in 2016 is, now published and available for production internationally. Croyden is a life member of MWT and ran the organisation from 2008 until 2016.
Founding Melbourne Writers’ Theatre
The Melbourne Writers’ Theatre was founded in October 1982 by a group of writers including Jack Hibberd, Jack Opie, Merle Thornton and others. Its vision was to develop Australian plays and playwrights, with the goal of maintaining an Australian repertoire. In 1987, through the kind auspices of the Victorian Government, under the management of the Department of Conservation and the Environment’s Historic Buildings Council, the MWT was allowed the use of the former Carlton Courthouse, an attractive neo-gothic building adjacent to the site of the old Pram Factory in Drummond Street, Carlton. This building was converted into a small but versatile 80-seat theatre space. MWT lost their Government funding in 1995, at which time La Mama took over the management of the Courthouse as a theatre. Now, by arrangement with La Mama’s Liz Jones, we have a six-week season each year and use the space once a month for our script readings and workshops. MWT thanks La Mama for its ongoing support.
Our goal is to be a provider of resources, information and skills development for Victorian playwrights. We seek to support and promote theatre networks, the craft of playwriting and the diverse writing culture that exists right across Victoria and in its capital city, Melbourne – a UNESCO City of Literature! Our members range from experienced playwrights to those just starting out. We became a membership organisation in order to survive, and we still view hands-on script development and workshopping as integral to the development of plays. Our Committee members are all experienced writers, and we have actors and directors as Associate members. As we are a writers’ organisation, Full Membership is open only to writers and aspiring writers.