Home Grown’s The Grassroots Initiative helps Australia’s emerging writers get it right

Home Grown is a Melbourne based not-for-profit collective dedicated to supporting, developing and promoting Australian musical theatre. Home Grown firmly believe that success of original Australian content like Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Boy from Oz and Women in Black indicate that now is the time for our young writers to step up and learn from their peers. Passionate about the vital importance of grassroots creation, Home Grown advocate for the changing needs of writers and the challenges they face in writing their our stories and music, and bringing them to life on the stage.

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Amy Lehpamer, Keegan Joyce, Jane Patterson

Founded by local a songwriting duo, Ben Nicholson and Nick Hedger, Home Grown are celebrating their second birthday this month, off the back of their successful first Songbook Series at Chapel off Chapel, featuring the songs of Craig Christie. Another Songbook Series concert is planned for the end of the year, with details to come.

The Grassroots Initiative is the latest offering from Home Grown and provides a series of opportunities for writers to hone their craft and skill, as well as develop a piece of work. This is born out of the belief that the way to a strong industry of Australian made musical theatre is to pay due focus to development of writers and the skill of writing in this country, not just the development of a piece for production.

This long term scheme is thanks largely to the continued support that Home Grown has received from the Victorian College of the Arts, who have a long history of developing Australian works. By combining forces, The Grassroots Initiative brings together the authentic voice that Home Grown has established for emerging writers, with the expertise and wonderful resources of the college.

“VCA is delighted to partner with Home Grown in the Grassroots Initiative as a part of our commitment to fostering new Australian music theatre and the talents of local writers and composers,” says Margot Fenley, Head of Music Theatre and Lecturer in Acting, Victorian College of the Art. “Support and mentorship of emerging creative artists is essential to the development of vibrant, diverse and culturally relevant works of quality and we are excited to see what may emerge from this new program.”

“It is the constant and amazing support from local arts institutions like Chapel off Chapel and the VCA that have kept us going,” says Nick Hedger, co-founder of Home Grown. “The Grassroots Initiative is providing a support network for emerging Australian writers in musical theatre, and a unique opportunity to gain feedback and guidance from their peers. I’d encourage anyone who is writing to apply now and start the process of bringing your work to life!”

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David Peake

The first step is a series of rehearsed readings, designed for writers ready to take their work to the next level. Successful applicants will be invited to present a rehearsed reading of the first 30 minutes of their musical to an intimate audience of home grown supporters and a small panel of hand selected industry experts. What follows is a private feedback session where the panel examine writers’ work purely based on its merits as a piece of writing. Writers will be offered help and constructive advice on how to improve, and challenged on ideas as to where to go, all without cost.

For writers there’s great benefit. It’s the perfect way to develop the quality of their writing before proceeding to stage a workshop production, or working towards rehearsing a public showing. Likewise, this is also useful for productions which may have already seen a workshop and would like industry feedback on rewrites undertaken since.

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Katie Weston, Henry Brett, Lucy O’Brien

The Grassroots Initiative has drawn on a pool of big names within music theatre to form the panel of experts that will critique and develop emerging writers. Panelists include Michael Tyack (Musical Director), Martin Croft (Director and Performer), Jason Langley (Director), Rachel Taylor (Producer), Queenie Van de Zandt (Performer), Dean Bryant (Director and Writer), Peter Rutherford (Composer), Peter J Casey (Composer), Matthew Lee Robinson (Composer and Lyricist), Glenn Ferguson (Producer), Stu Hendricks (Head of Hal Leonard Australia and MTI Australasia), Tanya Mitford (Director, Choreographer, Performer), Teresa Borg (Writer, Director, Performer and Creative Director at Life Like Company) and Dr Zachary Dunbar (Music Theatre Doctorate).

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Hilary Cole

Applications are now open for The Grassroots Initiative Block One intake, July to November 2016.

For more information and to apply, visit http://www.homegrownaus.com/the-grassroots-initiative


Block One Key Dates

Applications close 13 June 2016

25 July: Reading 1 and 2

3 October: Reading 2 and 3

28 November: Reading 4 and 5


All photos by Diep Nguyen

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