In the first two years of the program, there are twenty commissioned writers and writers-in-residence involved with NEXT STAGE. 

Angus Cerini (2017 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.

Patricia Cornelius (2017 commission)

Patricia Cornelius is one of Australia’s most awarded and celebrated playwrights. She is known for her confronting plays that often deal with people living on the margins of society, struggling with poverty and prejudice.

Patricia was a founding member of Melbourne Workers’ Theatre and has written over 25 plays including SHIT, Savages, Slut, The Call, Good, Do Not Go Gentle…, Boy Overboard, Cunning, Love, Jack’s Daughters, Opa – a sexual odyssey, Max, Platform, Lilly and May and Hog’s Hairs and Leeches. Fever and Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? were written in collaboration with Andrew Bovell, Melissa Reeves, Christos Tsiolkas and Irine Vela.

Patricia’s many awards include a Gold AWGIE, numerous other AWGIEs, a Green Room Award, the Jill Blewett Award and the 2006 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award. Her first novel, My Sister Jill, was published by Random House in 2002. She received the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Drama in 2011 and was the Patrick White fellow at Sydney Theatre Company in 2012.

Patricia co-wrote the feature film adaptation for Blessed based on the play Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? and she is currently writing a screenplay with Catriona McKenzie called Stolen with the support of Screen NSW’s Aurora program and Screen Australia. She also regularly works as a dramaturg and mentor to young playwrights.

Declan Furber Gillick (2018 writer-in-residence)

Declan Furber Gillick is a multi-disciplinary artist and musician working across theatre, poetry and Hip-Hop. He was born in Mparntwe on Arrernte country and now lives in Footscray on Wurundjeri – Boon Wurrung/Woiwurrung country.

Declan completed a Masters in Writing for Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2017 and in 2018 has had work read with Melbourne Theatre Company as part of MTC’s Cybec Electric play reading program and Little Theatre Company, as well as hosting and performing in the Melbourne Emerging Writers Festival and Red Dirt Poetry Festival.

Declan was accepted to develop new writing with Ilbijerri and Melbourne Fringe in their Deadly Fringe program 2018. Declan is an Arrernte Sovereign National and performs regularly as a musician and poet in Melbourne.

Louris van de Geer (2018 commission)

Louris van de Geer is a playwright and theatre maker from Melbourne. Her writing experiments with contemporary theatrical form and explores the impossible, the grim and the absurd; exposing them as deeply human.

Her projects include Looking Glass directed by Susie Dee and Triumph directed by Mark Prichard at fortyfivedownstairs; TRIUMPH directed by Tessa Leong at UNSW; The Son for Melbourne Theatre Company’s Cybec Electric play reading series; Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting For You for Next Wave and ACMI; Tuesday (MKAand radio play for ABC); Hunny-Bun & Baby Doll (Dixon Place NYC & Melbourne Fringe Festival); Don’t Look Now directed by Susie Dee; and They’re All In Their Little Boxes(St Martins). Louris co-wrote the short film Super (The Other Film Festival, Melbourne; ReelAbilities, NYC). She was finalist in the Griffin Award and the Edward Albee Scholarship; and was twice finalist in the Rodney Seaborn Award.

Louris holds a Masters of Writing for Performance from the Victorian College of the Arts, where she studied under Raimondo Cortese from Ranters Theatre. She was mentored by Christian Leavesley through the Australia Council’s JUMP program. Louris has interned with writer and director Richard Maxwell from New York City Players; Marius von Mayenburg at the Schaubühne Berlin; and Ivo van Hove from Toneelgroep Amsterdam. Louris is currently under commission with English Touring Theatre and Malthouse Theatre.

Dan Giovannoni (2017 writer-in-residence)

Dan Giovannoni has been writing plays for adults and children since his graduation from NIDA in 2010. Most recently his adaptation of Merciless Gods, based on the book by Christos Tsiolkas, played to critical acclaim in Melbourne and will go on to have a season at Griffin Theatre in Sydney later this year. His play Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories won the Helpmann Award for Best Children’s presentation in 2016 and was also nominated for Best New Australian work. His Red Stitch commission, Jurassica, played to sold out houses in 2015 and won him a Green Room Award for New Writing for the Australian Stage. He has also written for ensembles, such as with Cut Snake and The Myth Project: Twin for independent theatre company Arthur.

Michael Gow (2017 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.

Tom Holloway (2018 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

Anchuli Felicia King (2018 commission)

Anchuli Felicia King is a multidisciplinary artist of Thai-Australian descent who works primarily in live theatre. Her play Slaughterhouse was part of MTC’s 2018 Cybec Electric play reading program.

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.

Benjamin Law (2017 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.

Joanna Murray-Smith (2017 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).

Joe Penhall (2018 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.

Leah Purcell (2017 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.

Melissa Reeves (2018 writer-in-residence)

Melissa Reeves is a Melbourne Playwright. Her plays include Happy Ending, Furious Mattress, The Spook(awarded the 2005 Louis Esson Prize for Drama in the Victorian Premiers Awards, and two AWGIES for Best New Play), and Sweetown (awarded the Jill Blewitt Memorial Playwrights Award in 1993).

She wrote In Cahoots and Storming Heaven for the Red Shed Co., Great Day for Melbourne Workers Theatre, Road Movie for Back to Back Theatre, and Salt Creek Murdersfor Mainstreet. She has co-written a number of plays including Magpie (with Richard Frankland), and Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? and Fever (both with Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius and Christos Tsiolkas, composer-Irine Vela) – the former of which won best play in the Queensland Literary Awards, two AWGIES for best new play, and the Jill Blewitt Playwrights Award in 1999. Melissa also co-wrote the screen-play for the film Blessed, based on Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?

Chris Ryan (2018 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.

Natesha Somasundaram (2017 writer-in-residence)

Natesha Somasundaram is an emerging writer inspired by popular culture, classical literature and a fixation with the utility of humour. Natesha was literary/dramaturg intern with Malthouse Theatre in 2015 and has previously been supported through the Playwriting Australia Lotus Playwrights Scheme. In 2017 her work Entomology was featured as part of MTC’s 2017 Cybec Electric play reading series.

Chris Summers (2018 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.

Kylie Trounson (2017 writer-in-residence)

Kylie Trounson has worked as a playwright, actor and lawyer. Her work includes The Waiting Room which premiered at MTC in 2015 and was nominated for an Australian Writers Guild Award (AWGIE) for Best Play, The Man with the September Face produced at Arts Centre Melbourne in the Full Tilt Programme, Hotel and Uninvited Guests at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and The Hyacinth Project at La Mama. In 2011 her play Merman was shortlisted for the Patrick White Playwright’s Award.

Ellen van Neerven (2017 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.

Megan Washington (2018 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.

Mark Leonard Winter (2018 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.