MTC Literary Associate Jennifer Medway spoke to our current NEXT STAGE Writers-in-Residence about the perks of working at MTC HQ.
As part of our NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program we have had the privilege of welcoming three playwrights into the building as our inaugural Writers-in-Residence. Over these first five years a total of 15 playwrights will have this experience for up to three years each, as a way to support and build the next generation of leading Australian playwrights.
While for many of us, the pattern of going to the office every day to work is a given, for writers to have a desk and come to work in an office can be a rare experience, and in terms of their professional practice – game changing. Our current resident playwrights are Dan Giovannoni, Natesha Somasundaram and Kylie Trounson, who have all spent the last year coming into MTC HQ on a regular basis, embedding themselves in both the office processes and the creation of our productions, all the while developing new plays for MTC themselves.
Each of these writers has a completely unique style of working and so the residency works differently for each of them. Dan finds he is most productive sitting in a café with headphones in, ‘I don’t know why it works – something about being in public but shutting the world out with music. I get twice as much done.’ But he has found it surprising how much coming into an office has made an impact, ‘I have found the routine incredibly helpful, the dedicated space to work great is for productivity, and the sense of family and welcome is lovely and humbling.’ Natesha agrees, ‘It’s been incredibly motivating and inspiring to be regularly surrounded by people who are completely and totally invested in the art of theatre. Having access to such a breadth of technical knowledge has been priceless.’ ‘It’s so nice to have a home,’ says Kylie, ‘For me, where I write is more important to whether I write, or how much, or how well I write. I have two small kids and a house full of toys, dirty laundry and toddler tantrums, so getting out of that space and into a space of relative calm and focus is imperative!’
Writing is often pegged as a ‘solitary profession’ but for these three playwrights one of the most valuable aspects of the residency has been spending time with other people. For Kylie, ‘Talking with the other residents about our work has been a surprising highlight. It’s a really supportive, collegiate group and Dan and Natesha both have excellent ideas and insight.’
Dan agrees that meeting the other writers and the team at MTC has been a huge advantage, ‘They suggest things to read, we talk about our ideas and muddle through them, we see shows together.’ Natesha admits that she tends to spend too much time talking when she’s around other people so to combat this, isolates herself when in the office, ‘including, but not limited to, in the corners of darkened corridors and storage rooms.’ But she perhaps puts it best when she sums up what the value of this experience has meant to her and why we are so passionate about the program as a company. ‘The most valuable part of the residency has been the sheer confidence it has given me as a writer. To be actively supported and endorsed by such a prestigious and ground-breaking theatre company has allowed me to break through barriers of fear and insecurity and instead approach writing and theatre as it should be approached − fearlessly.’
NEXT STAGE thanks the Playwrights Giving Circle for their generous support. Learn more here.
Pictured Dan Giovannoni, Natesha Somasundaram and Kylie Trounson at MTC HQ.