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.


Across five years, MTC will have writer-in-residence opportunities for up to 15 writers who have a background in playwriting and would benefit from specific experience of, and writing for, a major company’s mainstage.

These writers will be resident at MTC for up to three years, receiving an annual stipend, office resources, company support, regular meetings with the Artistic team and integration with all aspects of MTC’s operations including the programming and production decision-making processes. In the first year of residencies the writers will not be obliged to write a full play, unless they wish to do so.

Applications are now closed for the 2019 intake of resident writers.


Commissions will be available for writers who have had experience writing for a major theatre company’s mainstage. We will also commission writers and artists of calibre from allied media, embracing a diversity of ideas and talent while maintaining our commitment to our audience and MTC ‘s programming priorities. MTC will have the flexibility for larger commissioning fees to assist writers in creating works of greater scale and vision, or works that require research elements in their development.

By the end of the five-year program, a minimum of 35 writers will have been commissioned to write one full play, and some may be invited to undertake a second commission within the program.

In selecting writers to join the NEXT STAGE program, MTC will consult its group of advisors from various fields about writers of promise and ability.


Playwrights Giving Circle

This landmark program has been made possible by the visionary donors of MTC’s Playwrights Giving Circle, who have invested $2.3 million in NEXT STAGE, matched by $2.3 million contributed by Melbourne Theatre Company.


Thank you for sharing our passion and commitment to Australian stories and Australian writers.

NEXT STAGE advisors

MTC will consult with a group of national advisors from various performance and literary fields to discuss writers of promise and ability, including those working in media or literary genres other than theatre.

Tony Ayres Producer, Director and Co-founder of Matchbox Pictures
David Berthold Artistic Director, Brisbane Festival
Lee Lewis Artistic Director, Griffin Theatre Company
Rachael Maza Artistic Director, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company
Kate Mulvany Actor and Playwright
Simon Phillips Director, former Artistic Director of MTC
Morry Schwartz Publisher, Schwartz Media

NEXT STAGE also consults with the Australian Writers’ Guild and Playwriting Australia.

Some NEXT STAGE play developments will be delivered in partnership with Playwriting Australia.

MTC would like to thank the University of Melbourne’s Business Projects Services for its assistance in designing the NEXT STAGE model.