Show artwork for Life-changing support for Australian Writers
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Life-changing support for Australian Writers

Philanthropic support of MTC provides crucial opportunities for Australian writers.

By Melanie Sheridan

The life-changing work of MTC has been a consistent highlight of Virginia Gay’s career.

Virginia Gay is one of Australia’s most beloved stage and screen actors, with many MTC shows under her belt. In 2021 she will debut her joyous, hope-filled adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac at Southbank Theatre, and play the title role herself. And while her other role, as writer, is not new to her, it’s one that is especially close to her heart with this play, which grew out of the isolation and lack of human connection that was 2020. The fact that it is premiering at MTC in 2021 is beyond thrilling to her.

‘What I love so much, and what I think is really important about what MTC does, is that they put on classics, but classics that are interrogated and investigated; but they are also so committed to new Australian work.’ And as much as Gay adores acting, she has so much more that she wants to write. ‘So if this show, if this year of writing, works for me then my whole life will be different. My whole future will be different.’

The support of Donors is vital to Australian writers hoping for such life-changing opportunities. ‘That support allows the Company to take risks on new voices,’ Gay says, ‘and allows it to cultivate those voices. That’s the way we get great Australian theatre: by people backing these scrappy kids who wrote a play – and I could not be more grateful for it.’

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Virginia Gay, with James Saunders in On the Production of Monsters (2012) photo by Jodie Hutchinson

Donations help MTC change lives both on and off stage, Gay says, and she’s also grateful for the onstage opportunities she’s had with MTC. Among her highlights are The Beast (2013), despite the oodles of fake blood requiring her ‘to rush for the limited amount of hot water backstage at every interval’, and perfecting puppetry as a ‘nightmare squid god’ in Vivid White (2017). Gay’s acting debut with the Company was in On the Production of Monsters in 2012. ‘That was such a wonderful introduction to MTC,’ she says, ‘because Clare Watson is such a phenomenal creator, and the fact that she’s now running Black Swan is a terrific endorsement of exactly how well MTC picks talent and helps mature talent and then, hopefully, reaps the benefits of that.’

Cyrano plays at Southbank Theatre from 31 July — 4 September.

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Only through donations and private support will the Company return to a position of strength to create work for the hundreds of creative professionals whose livelihoods depend on us every year.

Published on 3 May 2021

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