Now entering the third year of the program, 25 writers have been commissioned or are in residence with MTC; 25 workshops have been held to further the development of 16 plays; and the first NEXT STAGE Commission to be staged, Golden Shield by Anchuli Felicia King, opened as part of Season 2019.

For 2019, Elise Hearst, Andrea James and Phillip Kavanagh join the Company as writers-in-residence while new commissions have been awarded to Van Badham, Aidan Fennessy, Dan Giovannoni and Anchuli Felicia King. In addition, the 2018 resident writers Declan Furber Gillick, Melissa Reeves and Chris Summers have also been commissioned to write new plays as they continue into the second year of their residencies.

Artwork for Van Badham

Van Badham

Commission

Van Badham is an internationally-award-winning writer, activist and occasional broadcaster, whose essays, fiction and criticism have appeared in numerous publications and whose plays have been staged all over the world. She began a weekly column in the Guardian in 2013 and appears regularly on television. Her published books include the plays Muff (NSW Premier’s Nick Enright Play Award) and The Bull, The Moon and the Coronet of Stars (Griffin), Banging Denmark (Sydney Theatre Company), the YA novel Burnt Snow and numerous anthologies of essays and poetry. She tweets via @vanbadham.

Aidan Fennessy

Aidan Fennessy

Commission

Aidan Fennessy is a writer and director. His work has been produced extensively both here and overseas. His writing credits include What Rhymes With Cars
and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company), National Interest (MTC and Black Swan State Theatre Company), The Way Things Work (Red Stitch Actor’s Theatre and Tamarama Rock Surfers), The House on The Lake (Black Swan State Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre Company, and productions in Rome, Athens and Madrid), The Trade (Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Tasmanian Theatre Company), Chilling and Killing My Annabel Lee (Playbox/Chameleon, Queensland Theatre Company). He was nominated at the 2016 Helpmann Awards for Best New Work. He won the 2012 Victorian Premier People’s Choice Award and the 2010 Griffin Award. Aidan was co-founder of Chameleon Theatre, a member of the HotHouse Theatre Directorite, Artistic Director of The Storeroom Theatre Workshop and Associate Director of Melbourne Theatre Company.

Artwork for Dan Giovannoni

Dan Giovannoni

Commission

Dan Giovannoni lives and works in Narrm/Melbourne. His plays include Merciless Gods (adapted from the book by Christos Tsiolkas for Little Ones Theatre), Jurassica (Red Stitch), Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories (Barking Gecko Theatre Company), Turbine (Malthouse Theatre) and Cut Snake (Arthur). In 2016, he was awarded a Green Room Award for Jurassica (New Writing for the Australian Stage) and a Helpmann Award for Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories (Best Presentation for Children). Plays in development include House and Little Prince, Big Prince (further collaborations with Bambert director Luke Kerridge), and Mad as a Cute Snake with Amelia Evans. Dan is currently under commission from Arena Theatre Company (Air Race) and is a winner of a Mike Walsh Fellowship 2016. He is a Writer in Residence at Melbourne Theatre Company as part of the NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program.

Artwork for Elise Hearst

Elise Hearst

Writer-in-Residence

Elise Hearst is a Melbourne-based playwright, storyteller, and sometimes performer. Elise trained in London at the Royal Court Theatre and had a long-time collaboration with independent theatre company Arthur and director Paige Rattray. 

Her plays include Bright World, co-written with Andrea James (Theatreworks), The Mesh (Red Stitch) and The Sea Project which was part of MTC’s inaugural Cybec Readings series and was shortlisted for the Griffin Award. Her play Dirtyland was part of the PWA National Play Festival. Elise is a former resident playwright at the Griffin Theatre, and in 2016 she was a finalist for the Lysicrates Prize for her play The Good Wolf.

Artwork for Andrea James

Andrea James

Writer-in-Residence

Andrea is a Yorta Yorta/Gunnaikurnai woman and graduate of VCA.  She was Artistic Director of Melbourne Workers’ Theatre 2001-2008 where she is best known for her play Yanagai! Yanagai!  Relocating to Sydney, Andrea was the Aboriginal Arts Development Officer at Blacktown Arts Centre 2010-2012 and Aboriginal Producer at Carriageworks from 2012-2016 and Blak Box Producer for Urban Theatre Projects in 2018.

She was a recipient of British Council’s Accelerate Program for Aboriginal Art Leaders in 2013 and was awarded Arts NSW Aboriginal Arts Fellowship to write a play about Wiradjuri tennis player, Evonne Goolagong.  Andrea performed in and co-wrote Bright World with Elise Hearst by Arthur Productions at Theatreworks April 2015 and directed her play Winyanboga Yurringa at Carriageworks and Geelong Performing Arts Centre in August 2016.  Her short play, Blacktown Angels premiered at Sydney Festival 2016 for Urban Theatre Project’s Home Country.  She was a collaborator in Moogahlin Performing Arts Broken Glass which she performed in at the Sydney Festival in 2017. In 2018 she wrote and directed a play entitled Bukal for JUTE Theatre that tells the inspirational story of Yidinji woman Henrietta Fourmile Marrie.  Her play Winyanboga Yurringa was remounted by Belvoir in May 2019 and her latest play Sunshine Super Girl will receive its world premiere in 2020.

Artwork for Phillip Kavanagh

Phillip Kavanagh

Writer-in-Residence

Phillip Kavanagh is a playwright, originally from Adelaide. He completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours) and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Flinders University, as well as a Graduate Diploma of Dramatic Art (Playwriting) at NIDA. He is currently a PhD candidate at Flinders University. Phillip has been awarded the Patrick White Playwrights' Award, Jill Blewett Playwright's Award, and the Colin Thiele Creative Writing Scholarship. His plays include Jesikah (STCSA), Deluge (Tiny Bricks/Brink/Adelaide Festival), Replay (Griffin) and a new adaptation of Moliére’s Tartuffe (Brink/STCSA).

Artwork for Anchuli Felicia King

Anchuli Felicia King

Commission

Anchuli Felicia King is a multidisciplinary artist of Thai-Australian descent who works primarily in live theatre. Her areas of interest include emerging technologies, 2D animation, VFX and projection design, music production and writing for performance. As a playwright, Felicia is interested in linguistic hybrids, digital cultures and issues of global urgency. She is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood Group, Roundabout’s Space Jam Program and Ars Nova’s Play Group. Currently based in New York, Felicia has worked with a wide range of companies including Punchdrunk, The Builders Association, PlayCo, 3LD Arts & Technology Center, Roundabout Theater, 59E59, Ars Nova, the Obie Awards, Ensemble Studio Theater and Red Bull Theater. She continues to work globally, with companies such as Playwriting Australia (Sydney), Yellow Earth Theatre (London), House of North (Berlin) and SHIFT Festival (Shanghai). Awards include: Bridge Initiative Finalist, Red Bull Short Play Festival Finalist, PWA National Script Workshop Winner, Columbia @ Roundabout Winner. In 2018, Felicia is working as the Associate Artistic Director at 3LD Art & Technology Center.

Artwork for Declan Furber Gillick

Declan Furber Gillick

Writer-in-residence

Declan Furber Gillick is an intercultural Arrernte (First Nations) writer, performance artist, story-teller and musician from Alice Springs. While studying Law and Philosophy he worked as a Cultural Competency Educator, an Aboriginal Legal Support Officer and an Outdoor Educator. Declan completed a draft of his first play, The Great Emu War, as part of the Victorian College of the Arts Masters of Writing for Performance in 2017. With an artistic grounding in hip hop, street theatre, activist-art and performance poetry, he delivers fierce and humorous work that interrogates race, class, culture and history, while striving to articulate and embody the complexities of mixed-race identities. His work is concerned with the strengths of First Nations communities, as well as the internal and intercultural political difficulties that these communities face the world over. Declan’s other projects for 2018 include The Unspeakable War, an international collaborative spoken word show with poet and performance artist Arielle Cottingham, and Frankie Bedlam and The Wellness Cult, a soundscape and storytelling collaboration with Aboriginal Jaadwa musician/producer James Howard.

Louris van de Geer

Louris van de Geer

Commission

Louris van de Geer’s work includes: Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting For You (Next Wave Festival 2014); Tuesday (MKA 2012) which also adapted for ABC Radio National; Hunny-Bun & Baby Doll (Dixon Place NYC 2015 & Melbourne Fringe Festival 2010); Looking Glass and Triumph, which will both premiere in 2016. Louris holds a Masters of Writing for Performance from the VCA and has interned with Richard Maxwell from New York City Players, Marius von Mayenburg at the Schaubühne Berlin and Ivo van Hove from Toneelgroep Amsterdam. She is the recipient of the 2015 Malcolm Robertson Prize and was named as one of Melbourne Writers Festival’s ’30 Under 30’ best young writers in Melbourne.

Artwork for Tom Holloway

Tom Holloway

Commission

Tom Holloway is a multi-award-winning playwright whose work has been staged extensively both in Australia and around the world.

In 2016 his adaptation of Double Indemnity was produced by Melbourne Theatre Company. His plays include And No More Shall We Part (winner of the 2010 AWGIE Award for Best Stage Play and the 2010 Louis Esson Prize for Drama in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, and produced at the 2016 Williamstown Theatre Festival, USA, staring Alfred Molina and Jane Kaczmarek), an adaptation of Storm Boy (winner of the 2014 AWGIE for Young Audiences and produced by Barking Gecko and Sydney Theatre Company), Forget Me Not (produced by Bush Theatre, London in 2015, starring Eleanor Bron, and premiered at Belvoir Theatre in 2013), Beyond The Neck (2007 winner AWGIE Award for Best Stage Play), Red Sky Morning(2007, winner R. E. Ross Trust Development Award, 2009 Green Room Award Best New Writing for the Australian Stage), Love Me Tender (nominated for the Western Australia Premier’s Book Awards and the 2011 AWGIE Award for Best Stage Play), and many more.

His plays have been seen across the UK, the USA, in Denmark, Germany, Jordon, South Africa, New Zealand and more. He was librettist for Czech composer Miroslav Srnka’s opera, South Pole that premiered at the Bavarian State Opera, Munich, in 2016, staring Thomas Hampson and Rolando Villaizon, as well as Make No Noise – an adaptation of the film The Secret Life of Words , produced by the 2016 Bregenz Festival, and premiered at the Bavarian State Opera for the 2011 Munich Opera Festival.

As well we theatre work, Tom is currently under commission with Srnka for a new work for Bavarian State Opera and has two film scripts optioned by international producers

Artwork for Anchuli Felicia King

Anchuli Felicia King

Commission

Anchuli Felicia King is a multidisciplinary artist of Thai-Australian descent who works primarily in live theatre. Her areas of interest include emerging technologies, 2D animation, VFX and projection design, music production and writing for performance. As a playwright, Felicia is interested in linguistic hybrids, digital cultures and issues of global urgency. She is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood Group, Roundabout’s Space Jam Program and Ars Nova’s Play Group. Currently based in New York, Felicia has worked with a wide range of companies including Punchdrunk, The Builders Association, PlayCo, 3LD Arts & Technology Center, Roundabout Theater, 59E59, Ars Nova, the Obie Awards, Ensemble Studio Theater and Red Bull Theater. She continues to work globally, with companies such as Playwriting Australia (Sydney), Yellow Earth Theatre (London), House of North (Berlin) and SHIFT Festival (Shanghai). Awards include: Bridge Initiative Finalist, Red Bull Short Play Festival Finalist, PWA National Script Workshop Winner, Columbia @ Roundabout Winner. In 2018, Felicia is working as the Associate Artistic Director at 3LD Art & Technology Center.

Artwork for Joe Penhall

Joe Penhall

Commission

Joe Penhall is a British-Australian writer who divides his time between London, Los Angeles and Melbourne, working across film, theatre and TV.

He is perhaps best known for his film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Road, for which Nick Cave composed the music; his West End hit musical, Sunny Afternoon, written with Ray Davies about 1960s group The Kinks; and most recently his Netflix original series Mindhunter. Sunny Afternoon won four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical. Joe wrote Blue/Orange for the National Theatre UK starring Bill Nighy, which went on to win an Olivier Award, an Evening Standard Award, and the Critics Circle Awards for Best Play, before being staged by MTC in 2002. In 2004 he wrote an exposé on tabloid journalism and celebrity, Dumb Show, for Royal Court Theatre, which also played to MTCaudiences in 2006. His other work includes the play Some Voices; feature film Enduring Love, based on Ian McEwan’s novel; award-winning television series The Long Firm; and Moses Jones for BBC Television.

Melissa Reeves

Melissa Reeves

Writer-in-residence

Melissa Reeves is a Melbourne playwright. Her plays include: Happy Ending (MTC Lawler); Furious Mattress (Malthouse); The Spook (Belvoir, Malthouse); Sweetown, In Cahoots and Storming Heaven (Red Shed Co.); Great Day (Melbourne Workers’ Theatre); Road Movie (Back to Back Theatre); and Salt Creek Murders (Mainstreet). She has co-written a number of plays for Melbourne Workers’ Theatre including: Magpie, with Richard Frankland; Who’s Afraid of the Working Class and_ Fever_, both with Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Christos Tsiolkas and composer Irine Vela. Melissa also co-wrote the screenplay for Blessed. She was recently awarded a two year fellowship by the Theatre Board of the Australia Council. Previous awards include the Jill Blewitt Playwright’s Award (Sweetown, 1993); Queensland Literary Award for Best Play, two Best New Play AWGIES and the Jill Blewitt Playwrights Award (Who’s Afraid of the Working Class, 1999); and the Louis Esson Prize for Drama, Victorian Premier’s Awards, and two Best New Play AWGIES (The Spook, 2005).

Artwork for Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan

Co-Commission

Chris Ryan is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts in Music (Voice) and Acting.

His writing credits include co-writing/adapting Thyestes for Malthouse/Belvoir (2010 Green Room Award for Best Adaptation/Best Main Stage Production), and co-writing/adapting The Wild Duck for Belvoir (2011 Helpmann Award for Best Play 2011 and Sydney Theatre Award for Best Mainstage Production). He also wrote for Tis Pity She’s a Whore (Malthouse Theatre) and co-wrote and performed Andre Tonight! for the Melbourne Fringe Festival (Melbourne Festival Discovery Award 2016). In 2018 he co-wrote Thicker Than Water(TerryandTheCuz) which premiered at Joe’s Pub/Public Theater NYC and will return in summer 2019 for an extended season.

The Wild Duck has been performed internationally to critical acclaim at London’s Barbican, Holland Festival and Vienna Festwochen. Thyestes has received similar acclaim in France (Nanterre-Amandiers), Holland (Holland Festival) and Germany (Theater Der Welt).

Chris Ryan has been commissioned alongside Megan Washington and Mark Leonard Winter to create a new musical work.

As an actor, Chris made his Broadway debut in 2016 in The Present (STC/Thompson Turner Productions).

Other credits include The Hypocrite (Melbourne Theatre Company); Three Sisters, All My Sons, Cyrano De Bergerac, Gross Und Klein (Sydney Theatre Company); Thyestes, Measure for Measure (Belvoir); Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid (Malthouse Theatre) and King Kong (Global Creatures) for which he received a Helpmann nomination for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

Artwork for Chris Summers

Chris Summers

Writer-in-residence

Chris Summers graduated from NIDA in 2012 with a Grad Dip in Dramatic Arts (Playwriting) and in 2013 was Affiliate Writer with Griffin Theatre Company and Writer in Residence at Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre. Chris has won the Max Afford Award for Pedagogy (2016), the Patrick White Play Award for King Artur (2014), the University of Melbourne Union House Theatre Script Development Award (2009), the St Martins National Playwriting Award (2008) and the Sydney Theatre Company Young Playwrights Award (2005).

Commissioned plays include No Place Like (Union House Theatre, 2011), Crossed (La Mama, 2011), which was also included in PlayWriting Australia’s National Play Festival, and Burnt (ATYP, 2011), a monologue published by Currency Press. Rat had a sell-out season at La Mama in March 2012 and Sandstone, developed through a JUMPMentorship with Tom Holloway, had a workshop at the Sydney Theatre Company in December 2012. In 2013, Chris participated in Canberra’s You Are Here festival with a self-performed piece, Not About You, a monologue, Dessert, as part of Tamarama Rock Surfers’ Bondi Feast at the Bondi Pavilion, and a short work, Paper Trails, at Manchester’s 24/7 Festival (on an Australia Council ArtStart grant).

Chris also holds a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours) / Bachelor of Laws from the University of Melbourne and a Masters of Secondary Teaching (Teach for Australia) from Deakin University.

Artwork for Megan Washington

Megan Washington

Co-Commission

Megan Washington is an Australian musician and songwriter also known mononymously as Washington. Originally performing jazz music, her style evolved to indie pop and alternative rock where she sings and plays piano and guitar. In 2010, she released her debut album, I Believe You Liar, on Universal Music, which peaked at number three on the ARIA Albums Chart and, by end of 2011, received a platinum certificate from ARIA for shipment of 70,000 copies.

In December 2009 Washington won the inaugural Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition for her track ‘How to Tame Lions’. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2010 she won the Best Female Artist and Breakthrough Artist awards and received five further nominations for work associated with I Believe You Liar and ‘How to Tame Lions’.

Washington’s second album, There There, was released on 12 September 2014 through Universal Music.

Megan Washington has been commissioned alongside Chris Ryan and Mark Leonard Winter to create a new musical work.

Artwork for Mark Leonard Winter

Mark Leonard Winter

Co-Commission

Mark Leonard Winter graduated from the acting program at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2005.

Mark works as an actor, writer and director with Black Lung Theatre and the critically acclaimed Hayloft Project. Mark co-wrote and appeared in Malthouse theatre’s Thyestes, which ran a sell-out season and was awarded Best Production, Best Ensemble and Best Adaptation at the 2010 Green Room Awards. Thyestes was remounted by Belvoir and the Sydney Festival in 2012 and performed internationally in 2014-2015. In 2018, Thyestes was be remounted for the Adelaide Festival.

Mark is a 2017 recipient of the prestigious Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship. The Fellowship recognises outstanding talent and exceptional courage in mid-career artists.

Mark’s theatre credits as an actor include: Miss Julie and Birdland (Melbourne Theatre Company); Three Sisters, Chimerica, Suddenly Last Summer and The Effect (Sydney Theatre Company).

Mark’s feature film credits include: The Dressmaker; Healing; Balibo and Van Dieman’s Land. His television credits include: Top of the Lake: China Girl (Foxtel, BBC Two); Cleverman (ABC); Pacific (HBO) and Killing Time (TV1). Mark recently finished shooting the Netflix series Pine Gap.

Mark Leonard Winter has been commissioned alongside Chris Ryan and Megan Washington to create a new musical work.

Artwork for Angus Cerini

Angus Cerini

Commission

Angus Cerini is a writer, performer and director with a background in dance and the creation of works of performance that marry a physical approach with the written word. These productions have toured throughout Australia and internationally. They include solo works Filch, Fuckwit, Puppy Love, Saving Henry version 5.0, Chapters from the Pandemic and Detest (this thousand years I shall not weep).

His play Wretch won the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and Save for Crying was awarded an RE ROSS Trust Award and received the Green Room Awards for Best New Writing and Best Independent Production.

In 2014 he premiered Resplendence for MTC’s NEON Festival, for which he received the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Drama, and his play Normal.Suburban.Planetary.Meltdown premiered with Malthouse Theatre as part of their Suitcase Series. In 2015 The Bleeding Tree premiered with Griffin Theatre Company, after winning The Griffin Play Prize, and was part of Sydney Theatre Company’s 2017 season. The Bleeding Tree also received a Helpmann Award, the NSW Premiers Literary Award and the AWGIE for Best Play alongside the David Williamson Prize.

Artwork for Patricia Cornelius

Patricia Cornelius

Commission

Patricia Cornelius is a founding member of Melbourne Workers Theatre. She’s a playwright, novelist, film writer and dramaturge. She’s a recipient of a Fellowship from the Theatre Board of the Australia Council and the 2012 Patrick White Fellowship. She has also been awarded the 2014 Victorian Premier’s drama award, 2011 Victorian and NSW Premier’s literary awards, 2006 Patrick White Playwright’s award, 2009 Richard Wherrett Prize, 2003 Wal Cherry Award, The Jill Blewitt Award and the R.E Ross Trust Award. Her plays have earned her 10 Awgies for stage, community, theatre for young people, and feature film adaptation. She has written over 25 plays. Her most recent works are: Big Heart, Savages, Do not go gentle…, Slut, Love and The Call.

Patricia has worked in collaboration with many theatre companies including young people’s theatres and has a commitment to the development of the text through work shopping with actors, directors and other theatre makers.

She had taught writing for performance for 8 years at Swinburne Arts.

She has been on the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the last 2 years.

She was a long term member of the Board of Melbourne Workers Theatre.

She has been mentor and dramaturg to many playwrights including Melissa Bubnic (Shedding) and Tony Briggs (The Sapphires).

Plays: Big Heart, Taxi, Savages, The Berry Man, Slut, The Call, Good, Do not go gentle…, Boy Overboard, Cunning, Love, Fever, Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?, Platform, Hogs Hairs and Leeches Little City, Lilly and May Jack’s Daughters, Max, Dusting Our Knees, The Aftermath, Last Drinks, Taxi, No Fear, Opa- a Sexual Odyssey, Home of a Stranger, Somewhere Else, Witch, On the Brink, You Still Here, The Flying Emu
Film: Blessed
Novel: My Sister Jill-

Artwork for Dan Giovannoni

Dan Giovannoni

Writer-in-Residence

Dan Giovannoni lives and works in Narrm/Melbourne. His plays include Merciless Gods (adapted from the book by Christos Tsiolkas for Little Ones Theatre), Jurassica (Red Stitch), Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories (Barking Gecko Theatre Company), Turbine (Malthouse Theatre) and Cut Snake (Arthur). In 2016, he was awarded a Green Room Award for Jurassica (New Writing for the Australian Stage) and a Helpmann Award for Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories (Best Presentation for Children). Plays in development include House and Little Prince, Big Prince (further collaborations with Bambert director Luke Kerridge), and Mad as a Cute Snake with Amelia Evans. Dan is currently under commission from Arena Theatre Company (Air Race) and is a winner of a Mike Walsh Fellowship 2016. He is a Writer in Residence at Melbourne Theatre Company as part of the NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program.

Artwork for Michael Gow

Michael Gow

Commission

Michael Gow’s plays include the Australian classic Away, The Kid, On Top of the World, Europe, Sweet Phoebe, Live Acts on Stage, 17 (for the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain), Toy Symphony and Once in Royal David’s City. His plays have been performed in Poland, the Czech Republic, Vietnam, Japan and all over the US.

Michael has been Associate Director of Sydney Theatre Company and Artistic Director of the Queensland Theatre Company. He has directed for all the major Australian theatre companies as well as Opera Australia, Australian Theatre for Young People and the Lincoln Centre’s New Visions New Voices programme.

Michael’s awards include two NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, two Sydney Theatre Critics Circle Awards and an AFI Award for writing the ABC miniseries Edens Lost. His most recent play Once in Royal David’s City premiered at Belvoir in 2014. In 2015 he directed a remount of his production of The Magic Flute for Opera Australia and his translation of Mother Courage and Her Children premiered at Belvoir. 2016 saw two critically acclaimed productions touring under Michael’s direction; Voyage to the Moon(for which he also wrote the libretto) with Victorian Opera / Musica Vivia and The Pearlfishers for Opera Australia.

In 2017 Away was staged as a co-production between STC and Malthouse while Once in Royal David’s City will enjoy Brisbane and Perth premieres at Queensland Theatre and Black Swan State Theatre Company.

Artwork for Benjamin Law

Benjamin Law

Commission

Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based journalist, columnist and screenwriter, who has completed a PhD in television writing and cultural studies. He is the author of two books, The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012), both of which have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards. Together with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis, Benjamin has also co-authored the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014).

The television adaptation of The Family Law, created and written by Benjamin and produced by Matchbox Pictures, screened on SBS in 2016. The pilot’s online premiere gained 1.1 million views, with the season as a whole the most-watched program on SBS On Demand. The Family Lawreceived a 2016 AACTA Award nomination for Best Television Comedy Series, and was renewed for a second season, which will air in 2017. Ben is writing on the new EndemolShine and Network Ten drama, Sisters.

Benjamin is a frequent contributor to Good Weekend (The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age), frankie and The Monthly, and has written for over 50 publications, businesses and agencies both in Australia and worldwide. He is a regular guest panellist on The Book Club on ABC and has appeared on Q&A.

Artwork for Joanna Murray-Smith

Joanna Murray-Smith

Commission

Joanna Murray-Smith is a Melbourne based playwright, novelist and screenwriter. Her works at Melbourne Theatre Company include Three Little Words, Switzerland, Pennsylvania Avenue, Songs for Nobodies, True Minds, Rockabye, The Gift, The Female of the Species and Ninety. Joanna’s play Honour, written in 1995, remains her most successful work to date and has been produced in over two dozen countries. Many of her plays have appeared all over the world, including on Broadway, the West End and at the Royal National Theatre in London.

Joanna has won three Premier’s Literary Awards for her dramas Honour, Nightfall and Rapture. Her 2004 play Bombshells won the Fringe Fest Award at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the London Theatregoers Choice Award the following year.

Joanna has also published three novels: Truce, Judgement Rock and Sunnyside and two operas produced by Opera Australia: Love in the Age of Therapy (composed by Paul Grabowsky) and The Divorce (composed by Elena Kats-Chernin and aired on ABCTV last year).

Artwork for Leah Purcell

Leah Purcell

Commission

Leah Purcell is an internationally acclaimed director, writer and actor. In 2016, she was the start-up director on the hit 7 Network/Screentime series, The Secret Daughter. In 2015, Leah directed episodes of Goalpost Picture/Pukeko’s Cleverman which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, aired locally on the ABC and on the Sundance Channel in the US. She is currently directing the follow up series, Cleverman 2.

Her play, The Drover’s Wife (in which she also played the title role), was a part of Belvoir Theatre’s 2016 season. Leah was awarded the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Drama and the Victorian Prize for Literature for this play.

Leah is currently developing a film based on the play and an original screenplay, Moxie Girls, with the support of Screen Australia. Leah’s theatre directing credits include Brothers Wreck (Belvoir Theatre), Don’t Take Your Love to Town, a play she also co-devised and starred in (Belvoir Theatre), Stolen (ACPA), Actor on a Box – Dreaming and Theatre In Practice – Stolen (Sydney Theatre Company Theatre in Education), The Story of the Miracles at Cookie’s Table (QPAC), 7 Stages of Grieving (Sydney Theatre Company), Reflections: 40 Years and to the Future (ACPA/QPAC) and Howie The Rookie (Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts).

In 1997, Leah co-wrote Box the Pony which was the smash hit of the 1997 Festival of the Dreaming and has played to sell-out seasons at the Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney Opera House, the 1999 Edinburgh Festival and the Barbican Theatre in London. The published text of the play won the 1999 NSW Premier’s Literary Award and the 2000 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Best Play.

Leah was a script consultant on Love Child series two and three for Playmaker Media. Leah also nominated and won Logies and AACTA Awards as part of Redfern Now series one and two and Cleverman series one. She won the 2016 AWGIE for best script TV Teen Drama Ready for this which was also nominated for an international Emmy for Best Teen Drama series.

Natesha Somasundaram

Natesha Somasundaram

Writer-in-Residence

Described as ‘puerile, offensive and mind-bendingly smart’, Natesha Somasundaram writes viciously funny stories that are sometimes sad and often weird. Natesha has previously developed work with Playwriting Australia and has had work presented at the 2016 National Play Festival, 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival, and has performed as an actor at the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Her 2017 play Jeremy and Lucas buy a Fucking House sold out at La Mama Explorations and will be presented at the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Natesha is a Writer in Residence at Melbourne Theatre Company as part of the NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program.

Artwork for Kylie Trounson

Kylie Trounson

Writer-in-Residence

Kylie Trounson has worked as a playwright, actor and lawyer. She is currently a Writer in Residence at Melbourne Theatre Company as part of the NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program. Kylie’s plays have been developed through Playwriting Australia’s National Script Workshop and National Play Festival, Sydney Theatre Company’s Rough Drafts and Melbourne Theatre Company’s Cybec Electric. Her work includes The Waiting Room, which premiered at MTC in 2015 and was nominated for an AWGIE award for Best Play. Other plays include The Man with the September Face (Arts Centre Victoria/Full Tilt), The Lost Story of the Magdalene Asylum (Green Room Award winner for Best Site Specific Work), Love Letters (Victorian Arts Centre), Hotel and Uninvited Guests at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. In 2010/11 she was Writer-in-Residence at Red Stitch and wrote Merman, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Patrick White Playwright’s Award. Kylie is also developing new television dramas with Matchbox Pictures and Easy Tiger.

Artwork for Ellen van Neerven

Ellen van Neerven

Commission

Ellen van Neerven is an award-winning Mununjali writer from South East Queensland. Her first book, Heat and Light (UQP, 2014), was the recipient of the David Unaipon Award, the Dobbie Literary Award and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Indigenous Writers Prize. Ellen was named as a Sydney Morning Herald‘s Best Young Australian Novelist in 2015. Ellen’s second book, a collection of poetry, Comfort Food (UQP, 2016) was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize and Highly Commended for the Wesley Michel Wright Prize.

Ellen’s writing has appeared in publications such as Frankie Magazine, The Saturday Paper, The Griffith Review, The Lifted Brow, Meanjin and Overland. She has been invited to talk and perform her work in Canada, the US, India, Indonesia, The Philippines, and across Australia. She currently lives in Melbourne.