Melbourne Theatre Company has exciting plans for the future of playwriting, plans which are set to have a significant impact on the landscape of theatre in Australia.

MTC’s NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program will introduce the most rigorous playwright commissioning and development process ever undertaken by the company, setting a new benchmark for play development in Australia.

The five year program involves a $4.6 million investment, $2.3 million from the visionary donors of MTC’s Playwrights Giving Circle, complementing $2.3 million contributed by MTC, and will:

- provide a total of 50 residencies and commissions

- commission a minimum of 35 new plays, with flexibility in commission fees to allow writers additional time and resources to write;

- engage up to 15 playwrights as writers-in-residence for up to three years; and

- increase resources to workshopping and developing plays going through to production to ensure that they have been afforded every level of creative scrutiny and artistic support in making the finest possible work.

This new program is remarkable not simply for the significant increase in the annual number of commissions we will undertake and the financial resources devoted to writers and their plays, but for the meaningful length of engagement between writers and MTC. This new approach to playwriting and development will result in stronger, stage-ready plays that will enhance the fabric of Australian live storytelling.

Embedding writers in theatre companies has been shown to be the most successful model for the development of British and American playwriting – with the Royal Court Theatre, the National Theatre of Great Britain, New York’s Public Theatre and Signature Theatre all utilising this model to develop some of the most renowned playwrights in the world.