Melbourne Theatre Company


Talented new Australian playwrights often find it difficult to get their work considered for production at either secondary or major venues. Theatre companies – whose financial situation is frequently tenuous – are often reluctant to risk producing new work as the cost of production to a professional standard is high, and the losses incurred if a production does not attract audience support can be very substantial. As a consequence companies increasingly tend to produce established works or new works from established playwrights, where audience support is predictable, rather than plays from lesser known authors

In part this is because the resources are often not available for authors to workshop their plays to iron out script and staging issues. Presenting work that is more advanced and “stage ready” is likely to enhance the prospects of it being considered for production as a large element of risk is removed.

The Foundation has agreed with the Melbourne Theatre Company to fund a program where nominated works can access professional actors and workshop facilities to undertake this exploratory and fine-tuning work. The intent is to generate a pipeline of new work from local playwrights that is “production-ready”, and reduce the risks now discouraging companies from staging less well known plays.

Recognising that writers from diverse backgrounds have been under-represented in the early years of the program, the MTC has partnered with three organisations – The Emerging Writers’ Festival, Footscray Community Arts Centre, and Ilbijerri Theatre Company – to identify new voices from First Nations people and those from CALD backgrounds. Selected artists with works already in development will work with the MTC for 12 months, with the objective of having the work showcased at the next Emerging Writers’ Festival.

Discover more about the MTC “First Stage” program