MTC’s Women in Theatre program (formerly the Women Director’s Program) was established in direct response to the significant under-representation of women in leadership positons within the creative industries. Over the course of one year participants are provided with the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the operations of a main stage company.
The great success of this program can be measured by the number Women in Theatre alumae who have continued their association with MTC through professional opportunities with the company or gone on to hold leadership positions at theatre companies around the country. We spoke with Jennifer Medway who participated in the program in 2016 about her experience. We were delighted when Jennifer joined MTC in July of this year as the inaugural NEXT STAGE Literary Associate.
How did you find yourself involved in MTC’s Women in Theatre program?
I was the Resident Dramaturg at the Australian Theatre for Young People at the time and I remember reading the callout and feeling like it was a great way to build my skills and connect with Melbourne based artists. I took a chance and applied and was thrilled to be one of the people selected!
How would you describe your experience?
It felt like a real two part experience- one was the mentorship with Literary Director Chris Mead which was invaluable, and the second part was ongoing workshops and connecting with the other participants and the members of the company who ran it. I loved meeting these amazing women who all excelled in their fields and getting to know about their artistic practice and their experiences as artists and women in the theatre industry. I found the workshops in leadership and communication a real highlight. Never having done anything like that before gave me a confidence boost and some solid skills to bring not only to my artistic practice but to the way I conducted myself in the many situations that exist outside of just the work itself.
How do you feel the program has impacted you and your career?
It’s had a huge impact! When I first started the program I felt much unsure of my next steps and my ability to take them. At the end of the program we had to pitch to members of the artistic team. I chose to talk about my expertise and how it might contribute to the literary infrastructure at MTC given their commitment to new Australian writing. Realising that I wanted to work for a major company and articulating a way this could be a reality was scary but exhilarating and something I’d never thought I could or should do. When a job was advertised this year as Literary Associate, I felt a clarity around the value of what I do, why I do it and an understanding of MTC that I hadn’t had before. I know that this was a direct result of having been a part of such a valuable program.
What advice would you give to current and future participants of the Women in Theatre program?
Make the most of being around so many amazing artists and relish in new connections. Be open and be present within the experience to learn as much as possible and make way for new exciting collaborations and opportunities.
How important is it that MTC remains committed to delivering the Women in Theatre program?
It’s vital that we continue to be on the front foot in addressing inequalities within the arts and don’t become complacent. There is still only one female artistic director of a major performing arts board company in this country. These facts alone indicate that programs such as this one still play a significant role in promoting women working within the arts and provide opportunities for growth, inspiration and the encouragement from other women that the ceiling is by no means unbreakable.
Thanks to the combined generosity of Donors to the Women in Theatre Giving Circle, this annual program is offered free of charge to emerging and mid-career women across a broad range of live theatre disciplines.
If you would like to find out more about becoming part of the Women In Theatre Giving Circle and supporting support female Australian artists and industry leaders contact Chris Walters, Annual Giving Manager on (03) 8688 0938 or email firstname.lastname@example.org