FLIGHT is a brand new initiative, developed in partnership with the VCA, and is a mini -season of Australian works by writers who have completed the VCA Masters In Writing For Performance led by acclaimed dramaturg and writer Raimondo Cortese of Ranters Theatre.

Multi award winning Cortese has written over 30 plays and texts for theatre and is himself a graduate of the VCA. He was a founding member of Ranters Theatre, serving as Artistic Director from 1994 – 2001. Ranters motto is to make original work that responds to the social and psychological contexts of everyday life. As well as his other artistic endeavours, Cortese teaches script writing master classes both here and overseas, and is a lecturer in Master of Writing for Performance in Theatre, VCA School of Performing Arts, Melbourne University.

A beneficiary of Cortese’s extensive knowledge is up and coming playwright Bridget Mackey whose play, Kindness, makes its world premiere stage debut at Theatre Works early next month.

Read on as Mackey discusses her time at the VCA under Cortese as well as her new work, Kindness.

My year studying the VCA: Masters of Writing for Performance course was a challenging, exciting and incredibly worthwhile experience. I had spent a few years making theatre in Melbourne and applied for the course because I wanted to interrogate and expand my writing practice.

During my Masters, I learnt from Raimondo Cortese, who runs the course; theatre-makers Jenny Kemp and Richard Murphet; as well as Robert Reid and Alyson Campbell. Raimondo also organised lectures from both local and international playwrights and theatre makers. This was really wonderful because we were introduced to the diversity of professionals who make up the local and international performing arts landscape. We were also encouraged to see as much work as possible while studying at the VCA. I think that this connection to the industry is really important, because as a student, it’s so valuable to gain an idea of where your work might sit within the within the industry.

As a teacher of writing, Raimondo encourages and fosters his student’s individual voices. We were given freedom to experiment with form and content. We studied classical texts, we looked at how they operate, but the focus was always on how our texts respond to our present society. The result of this ‘freedom to explore’ was that I graduated from the course with an expansive idea of what a play can be, rather than a limiting one. Despite being given a lot of freedom, our work was work shopped by both Raimondo and the other students in the course. Through this constant analysis of our own and our classmates writing, we developed a critical eye for our own work, which is an incredibly valuable skill.

My play Kindness was written as part of the writing course at the VCA. The course fosters collaboration across the entire performing arts school. As a result, I have developed a network of theatre-makers. The co-directors on my play Kindness, Kate Shearman and Alice Darling, graduated from the VCA directing course at the same time as me. It is so wonderful that Dan Clarke has created a festival where we are able to showcase these new works, not just in a reading, but with a full production.

Saturday 1 August, 7:00pm