It’s been a big year for the National Theatre of Parramatta. Established late in 2015 and having performed its first two works to critical and audience acclaim, the resident theatre company of Riverside Theatres is attracting much attention.
And now, in further pursuit of its mission to put the nation on the stage, the company is calling for expressions of interest for its inaugural playwriting program, From Page to Stage.
Presented in association with Playwriting Australia, From Page to Stage is a free program that will afford playwrights the opportunity to hone their skills while aiming to assist new Australian works in coming to life on the stage.
Ten applicants, each with a demonstrated commitment to writing, will receive guidance from some of the industry’s best playwrights and facilitators. The program will commence in October and take the form of a 15-month course that will include mentorship, tutorials, workshops and script development opportunities. Additionally, the participants’ plays will be considered for inclusion in the National Theatre of Parramatta’s annual season, as well as the National Play Festival, Playwrighting Australia’s major industry showcase of new Australian works.
“A lot of the opportunities these days are for things that are based in the more central Sydney district,” Joanne Kee, executive producer of the National Theatre of Parramatta, tells Theatre People.
She says From Page to Stage is about providing a more accessible opportunity for artists residing in Western Sydney.
“At National Theatre of Parramatta, we’re all about stories that resonate and reflect the people of Western Sydney,” says Kee. “Western Sydney is quite a large chunk of the population of New South Wales. So, it’s a really good microcosm of Australia.”
She describes National Theatre of Parramatta as a “very inclusive theatre company”.
“While the work is curated, we’re also very much interested in hearing of stories from people who might not necessarily have had opportunities [via] the traditional models,” she says. “I think we’re unusual in that we’re quite open to how we source material. Of course, what we want to do then is make sure that that material is produced at a really high quality.”
Kees talks about the company’s excitement at the response to its first two productions, Swallow and Stolen.
“We’ve just been so thrilled,” she says. “We’ve had incredible critical acclaim and industry buzz.”
And already, the company’s shows are being seen by a sizeable number of audience members.
“In this year alone, I think we’ll have over 190,000 attendees in Riverside Theatres,” Kee says.
Stolen, the Jane Harrison-penned work that tells the stories of five Indigenous Australians, enjoyed a sold-out run in Riverside’s 213-seat Lennox Theatre.
“We actually extended it by an extra week,” Kee says. “We’re looking to tour [Stolen] in 2018.”
So, having the chance to have a play produced by the National Theatre of Parramatta means having it potentially seen by a considerable number of Sydney theatregoers.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity for artists because we’re very visible. We have an incredible amount of media interest,” Kee says. “We do have a population base and we have an audience in Western Sydney, and they’re actually a theatregoing audience.”
Talking about those who should apply for the program, Kee stresses that From Page to Stage is not an entry-level opportunity.
“We’re looking at going for people who’ve actually written a play,” she explains. “We want to be able to take people to the next stage of their development… and provide networking and exposure opportunities.”
Those interested in taking part in National Theatre of Parramatta’s From Page to Stage program can find more information and apply here: https://riversideparramatta.com.au/NTofP/engage/from-page-to-stage