Playwriting Festival 2016

Champing at the bit to get your writing on stage, but running low on collaborators? Dramatic Speed Dating is just one of the sessions on offer at The NSW Writers’ Centre’s Playwriting Festival, offering the opportunity for attending playwrights to meet with likeminded directors, designers and producers.

The 2016 festival is curated by writer for stage, page, screen and sound Hilary Bell (Wolf Lullaby, The Splinter), who has put together a program designed for playwrights looking to broaden their horizons – whether that be through skilling-up, diversifying their craft, or networking. The festival draws together practitioners from major companies with regional playwrights, emerging artists, writers of musical theatre and of adaptations, to explore the ethical dimensions of the stories we tell and the variety of ways to get a production up. “I have had the pleasure of designing a program aimed at recognising what we do in all its breadth, complexity, difficulty and joy,” says Bell.

The program features over 30 speakers, including stage writer and author Michele Lee (Moths); Griffin Theatre Artistic Director Lee Lewis; Literary Manager of Sydney Theatre Company Polly Rowe; celebrated playwright and Head of NIDA’s Writing For Performance Program Stephen Sewell (The Blind Giant is Dancing); former Playwriting Festival director Vanessa Bates (PORN.CAKE); award-winning playwright Suzie Miller (Caress/Ache); Artistic Director of Playwriting Australia Tim Roseman; award-winning playwright Lachlan Philpott (Silent Disco); poetry, performance and essay writer Noëlle Janaczewska (Mrs Petrov’s Shoe); winner of the Griffin Award Donna Abela (Jump for Jordan); Bell Shakespeare Writing Fellow Jada Alberts (Brothers Wreck); and many more.




Saturday 19 March, 10am-6:30pm

NSW Writers’ Centre, Callan Park, Balmain Rd, Rozelle

Members – $60, Conc. Members – $50, Non-Members – $90

View the full program here.

Book tickets here.

Please note that the program and speakers are subject to change.


*****Angela Betzien will be replacing Tom Holloway as keynote speaker and Matthew Whittet will be replacing Tommy Murphy*****


Listen to Angela Betzien’s keynote.


Dramatic Speed Dating

Champing at the bit to get your writing on stage, but running low on collaborators? Dramatic Speed Dating is here to connect you with a variety of directors, producers and designers.

Playwrights can sign up for two nine-minute sessions, where they pitch their play (or ideas) to two potential collaborators. All times and collaborators will be randomly assigned. Sessions will run throughout the day.

Sign up when registering for the festival over the phone or by emailing [email protected] with your name and phone number. Get in quick, as spaces are limited. Sessions are free with purchase of festival registration.



Donna Abela has written over 30 original and adapted plays. Recent works include Jump For Jordan (2013 Griffin Playwriting Award, 2015 AWGIE Award for Stage), Monkey… Journey to the West (Kim Carpenter’s Theatre of Image, national tour 2014- 2015), and Caylee’s Ukulele (Australian Performance Exchange, nominated 2014 AWGIE Award for Children’s Theatre).




Jada Alberts is currently an Intersticia writer in residence at Bell Shakespeare. She was an associateartist at Belvoir in 2014-2015 and was the recipient of the 2013 Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award. She works professionally as an actor and a writer.




Vanessa Bates is an award-winning playwright whose plays include Trailer, Every Second, The Magic Hour, PORN.CAKE, and Darling Oscar. Her newest play, Trailer, will be produced by Tantrum Theatre in Newcastle, Wyong and Sydney. She is currently working with Eastern Riverina Arts to write a new play with rural writers. @Vanessa_Bates



Hilary Bell’s plays have been produced nationally and internationally. They include The Splinter, Wolf Lullaby, Fortune, The Falls, The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Ruysch, Memmie Le Blanc and The White Divers of Broome, and adaptations of The Seagull and the film The Red Balloon. She collaborated with Lally Katz on The Mysteries: Genesis and with Paul Capsis on Angela’s Kitchen. She also writes musicals, song cycles and opera, her collaborators including Phillip Johnston, Andrée Greenwell, Douglas Stephen Rae, Elena Katz-Chernin and Jim Sharman. A graduate of the Juilliard, AFTRS and NIDA, Hilary has been the Tennessee Williams Fellow at the University of the South, and the Patrick White Fellow at the STC. She is the author of three children’s books: Numerical Street, The Marvelous Funambulist of Middle Harbour, and best-seller Alphabetical Sydney.


Angela Betzien’s work has toured widely across Australia and internationally. Her plays include Children of the Black Skirt, Hoods, War Crimes, Girl Who Cried Wolf, The Teenage Alchemist, Where in the World is Frank Sparrow, The Dark Room and Helicopter. In 2014 Angela was the Patrick White Fellow at Sydney Theatre Company. She is currently working on commissions with Melbourne Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company and Belvoir. In 2015, Mortido premiered at Belvoir and STCSA and Helicopter premiered at the National Theatre of Norway, Oslo.


Kylie Coolwell’s first full length play, Battle of Waterloo, premiered in June 2015 at STC. Her acting credits include Solange in The Maids for Q Theatre Company; Marlene in Parramatta Girls for Newtown Theatre; and Menan in Lessons in Flight at The Dreaming Festival and for Darlinghurst Theatre Company.




Peter Evans was appointed Co-Artistic Director of Bell Shakespeare, alongside John Bell in 2012. A devoted classicist, he is the first person to share the Artistic Director title and duties since the company was founded in 1990, and was handpicked by Bell to co-lead Australia’s foremost Shakespearean and classical theatre company.




Sean Hawkins is currently the Associate Artist and Producer with Red Line Productions and with the company has appeared as Jules in Brendan Cowell’s MEN and recently directed the show Debris by Dennis Kelly.





Jay James-Moody is an award-winning producer, director, and actor, and is Artistic Director of Squabbalogic Independent Music Theatre. Credits include Grey Gardens, Of Thee I Sing, Triassic Parq, Man of La Mancha, Carrie, Forbidden Broadway, and Reefer Madness among many others. He will direct Bring It On The Musical for WAAPA in 2016. @jayjamesmoody @squabbalogic



Noëlle Janaczewska writes performance, poetry and essays. She is the recipient of numerous awards, most notably a 2014 Windham Campbell Prize. Recent works include The Other Polish Explorer and The History of the Single Girl, both for ABC Radio; Dear Scott (fortyfivedownstairs, 2015); and Blasted Island – Nauru’s backstory, for the 2014 Sydney Opera House FODI.




Dhananjaya Karunarathne  a published playwright, director and designer, working in both Sri Lanka and Australia. Some of his theatre credits include Two People on Run, Waiting for Valentine, The Story of the Last Bus and The Jury, The Zoo Story.  Dhananjaya is also the writer and co-director of A Sri Lankan Tamil Asylum Seeker’s Story as Performed by Australian Actors Under the Guidance of a Sinhalese Director presented  by the Merrigong Theatre Company in 2015. Currently he is undertaking a post graduate research at the University of Wollongong.



Ava Karuso is a playwright/performance-maker based in Sydney. Her first full length play, Rope Burn, was performed as part of the 2012 Sydney Fringe Festival. As artist in residence at the Shopfront Contemporary Arts Centre she created the edible piece Life.Death.Food. Ava’s latest play, The History of the World from Now, premiered at the Adelaide Fringe.




Phillip Kavanagh is a playwright based between Adelaide and Sydney. He has been awarded the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award, Jill Blewett Playwright’s Award, STCSA Flinders University Young Playwrights Award and Colin Thiele Creative Writing Scholarship. His plays include Jesikah (STCSA), Replay (Griffin), Deluge (Tiny Bricks/Brink/Adelaide Festival) and a new adaptation of Tartuffe (Brink/STCSA).



Leland Kean is the Artistic Development Manager for Merrigong Theatre Company. Prior to joining Merrigong in 2015, Leland was the Artistic Director of the Tamarama Rock Surfers Theatre Company. During his decade-long tenure with the Rock Surfers he programmed and produced over 100 new Australian works and established both the Old Fitzroy and Bondi Pavilion Theatres. @andkeano



Mark Kilmurry is current artistic director of the Ensemble Theatre. Recent directing credits include My Zinc Bed by David Hare; Educating Rita by Willy Russell; Absent Friends by Alan Ayckborn; The Anzac Project by Geoffrey Atherden and Vanessa Bates; and Frankenstein by Nick Dear. Mark has adapted many scripts for the stage including Russell T Davies’ Casanova.




Michele Lee is a playwright and writer working across stage and audio. Michele’s current projects include an Arts House digital theatre commission, The Naked Self (co-created with Tanya Dickson); a commission for a new play Going down (Malthouse Theatre, Malcolm Robertson Prize); and a commission for a short plays project, Power plays, with Sydney Theatre Company.




Lee Lewis is the Artistic Director of Griffin Theatre Company. Her productions include Silent Disco and Emerald City for Griffin; Twelfth Night for Bell Shakespeare; Honour for Sydney Theatre Company; and This Heaven for Belvoir. Her recent work includes Masquerade; Highway of Lost Hearts for Darwin Festival; and The Serpent’s Table at Sydney Festival.




Ned Manning is a writer, actor, educator and member of the playwrights’ collective 7-ON. Published work includes plays Us or Them, Milo, Close to the Bone, Luck of the Draw and Alice Dreaming, and his teaching memoir, Playground Duty. His latest play, Tsunami, has been short listed for the 2015 Patrick White Award. @NedManning




Jennifer Medway is currently the Resident Dramaturg at ATYP. She was a Griffin Studio Artist in 2014, Co-Artistic Director of the 2013 Crack Theatre Festival and Associate Artist- Dramaturgy at Belvoir in 2012. Jennifer has worked as a dramaturg on Jump for Jordan (Griffin), By the Sea Freedom (FODI/Applespiel), and Blood Pressure (Rock Surfers).




Suzie Miller is a multi-award winning playwright who has been in residence with Ex Machina & Robert Lepage, National Theatre London, National Theatre of Scotland and Griffin Theatre. She has won and been shortlisted for the Kit Denton Fellowship, the AWGIES, state premier’s awards, Irish Times award, and the New York Fringe Festival. @luckyzola



Clive Paget is a classical music and arts writer who has enjoyed a 25-year career in music and theatre. As Sir Nicholas Hytner’s music theatre consultant at London’s National Theatre, he was dramaturgically involved in many new projects including London Road; Caroline, or Change; and Jerry Springer, the Opera. @ClivePaget




Lachlan Philpott’s work has premiered at Crowded Fire San Francisco, Sydney Theatre Company, The Traverse Theatre Edinburgh and Melbourne Festival. Lachlan’s plays include Bison, Bustown, Colder (R.E Ross Trust Award), M.ROCK, Silent Disco (Winner Griffin Award; Best stage play, AWGIES), and Truck Stop (Winner best play, young audiences, AWGIES).




Tim Roseman is a director, dramaturg and producer, and Artistic Director of Playwriting Australia. He has developed plays for Belvoir, Griffin Theatre, National Theatre (UK), Kennedy Center, Royal Court Theatre, Old Vic, Young Vic, Soho Theatre. From 2007-2012 he was joint Artistic Director of multi-award-winning new writing venue Theatre503 in London. @tim_roseman




Polly Rowe has been Literary Manager at Sydney Theatre Company for eight years. Her role includes consulting on programming decisions, commissioning new plays and providing dramaturgical support to playwrights. She also curates STC’s Rough Draft creative development program. Before joining STC Polly was acting Literary Manager, then Literary Associate at Belvoir in Sydney.



Phil Scott is a writer/actor/composer/pianist. He co-writes and appears in the Wharf Revue for the Sydney Theatre Company. His one-man shows include Serious Cabaret and Cabaret Survivor. He has appeared in (and co-written) many ABC TV series including The Gillies Report and Three Men and a Baby Grand. Phil has composed two musicals, Safety in Numbers (Q Theatre) and The Republic of Myopia (STC).



Stephen Sewell is one of the most celebrated and experienced writers in Australia. He is well known for his film and theatre work, including his AFI Award-winning script of The Boys (1998), as well as plays such as The Blind Giant is Dancing, It Just Stopped and Kandahar Gate (Parade Theatre, 2014).




Cristabel Sved is a director, actor, teacher and dramaturg, and is currently the Artistic Director of Milk Crate Theatre. Some of her more notable achievements include being a founding member of the Darlinghurst Theatre Company; Resident Director at Griffin Theatre; Associate Artist at Belvoir and a member of the Artistic Committee for B Sharp.




Joanna Weinberg is an award-winning song, book and lyric writer. She has written and performed in 13 original one-woman shows and produced four albums including the critically acclaimed Piano Diaries and a recording of Lifeforce – the Mother of all Journeys, her musical about IVF. Joanna’s latest show is Pandora’s Bag, a song cycle about handbags. @joannaweinberg1




Matthew Whittet is a writer and actor. He graduated from NIDA’s acting course in 1997 and his writing credits include Seventeen, Cinderella, Old Man, Fugitive, School Dance, Girl Asleep, Big Bad Wolf, Silver and Harbinger.  Matthew’s feature adaptation, Girl Asleep had its premiere at the 2015 Adelaide Film Festival where it won the Foxtel Audience Award for most popular feature film, and also screened at the 66th Berlinale, where it was the opening film for the Generation 14plus sidebar.




Pierce Wilcox is an Associate Artist with Sydney Chamber Opera, where he wrote the libretti for Notes From Underground, which is being revived at Carriageworks in 2016, and Fly Away Peter, which toured to the 2015 Melbourne Festival. He is developing a song cycle inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Snow Queen’ and adapting Victory over the Sun for the Biennale of Sydney. @pierceindeed



Alli Sebastian Wolf is a multidisciplinary artist working across theatre, performance and visual art. She is writer/creative director for theatre collective Deep Sea Astronauts and the winner of the Qantas SOYA Written Word Award, Sydney Fringe Festival’s Excellence in New Theatre Award, and the CAL NSW Premier’s Western Sydney Young Writers’ Fellowship.




Tom Wright has been involved in Australian theatre since the early 1990s, writing or co-writing a number of plays and adaptations, including Black Diggers, Ubu, The Lost Echo and Optimism. He was Artistic Associate at Sydney Theatre Company 2004-2012. His most recent adaptation was Picnic At Hanging Rock for Malthouse and Black Swan. @OldTomWright

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