The Emerging Writers Festival
11 May 2008
BMW Edge, Federation Square
Take four emerging playwrights and four famous paintings. Leave them alone for 48 hours and see what happens. Welcome to the second 48-Hour Play Generator, the closing event of Melbourne’s Emerging Writer’s Festival
How do local playwrights get their work read, let alone developed and produced? A script can be brilliantly written, but it’s only half-alive if it isn’t performed and seen. The Melbourne Dramatists are a group of well-known, mid-career playwrights trying to address the problem. Group members Ross Mueller, Adam Cass, Robert Reid, Melissa Bubnic and Amelia Roper cranked up the Generator.
Early career playwrights Tom Maclachlan, Fregmonto Stokes, Meg Courtney and Michele Lee were The Generator’s chosen fuel. On Friday, each was given a well-known painting as a stimulus. On Sunday, their newly written short plays were teamed with a director and three actors. On Sunday night, an audience gathered in the glass surrounds of the BMW Edge, eager to see the results. It really sounds like a writer’s nightmare. Who hasn’t had that dream where they are totally unprepared and about to be judged by an audience of their peers?
There cannot be any serious criticism of works written in such a short time. Completing the process alone is admirable. The fact that all created credible, interesting and engaging short plays proves how damn good these writers are.
It was fascinating to see works at such a raw, almost still-bleeding stage. Most chose very encompassing themes (God, religion and morality were popular), some let their characters have a personal rant, and most plot holes were filled with description and exposition – but each writer created something highly original without resorting to formula, cliché or stereotype. I’m sure that the hokey pokey of Not in this Town (Maclachlan), the taboo discussion of Every Spitting Angel (Stokes), the confession hearing cow of Gopastami (Courtney), and the haunting celler dwellers of Cellar Children (Lee) will all be developed by their writers into something new and wonderful.
This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com