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A tangible impact on Australian theatre

Jean Tong is the first recipient of Melbourne Theatre Company's NEXT STAGE Fellowship.

Jean Tongs story with Melbourne Theatre Company journeys from budding playwright to writer, director, to today being the first recipient of Melbourne Theatre Companys NEXT STAGE Fellowship.

Writing Hungry Ghosts for Melbourne Theatre Company (in 2018) was the most significant step in my career. As my first professional Melbourne Theatre Company writing gig, being offered these resources allowed me to develop the project at a rigorous level, letting me develop the skills that will provide a strong foundation for future work and collaboration.

Melbourne Theatre Company has been at the forefront of developing new Australian plays for over 70 years starting with the presentation of Ray Lawlers iconic Summer of the Seventeenth Doll in 1955, which changed the face of Australian theatre forever.

Our NEXT STAGE WritersProgram positions new Australian works as contenders on the national stage, through strategic investment in stories that reflect our community, are relevant to our times, challenge the boundaries of theatre making and fuel the cultural conversation.

Our inaugural NEXT STAGE Fellowship was awarded to emerging Writer and Director Jean Tong in 2023, designed to celebrate Jeans talent and ensure extraordinary professional development through immersion in the Company.

“There are so few theatre companies of scale in this country, and fewer still offer the chance to be mainlined into its bloodstream. This experience has made me a better, more resilient, and more confident writer and editor.

“But more importantly, it has offered me a place to share and dispel my doubts and empowered me as a writer and creative - impacts that will extend far beyond the residency itself.

Generous philanthropic support has enabled great leaps forward for our writers and their work, in line with our over-arching ambitions for the initiative - Best Practice, Artistic Excellence, Diversity and Reach. This includes the commission of five new writers, the award of our first NEXT STAGE Fellowship, and the facilitation of 25 dedicated development workshops with actors and creatives.

Our ability to invest in new work over multiple years is imperative to the ongoing legacy of the Australian theatre canon. To find out more about supporting the NEXT STAGE Writers' Program click here. 

Published on 12 June 2024

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