FRESH INK FORUM: THE WONDER YEARS, Tuesday 15th January 2013
How does writing for young audiences and young performers differ from writing for adults? What are theatre companies looking for when commissioning and developing work for this demographic? What approaches work? And what special considerations and concerns must the writer bear in mind?
In this first in a series of Fresh Ink forums looking at all aspects of playwriting, leading practitioners Finegan Kruckemeyer, Tim McGarry, Debra Oswald and Jo Turner talk about their experiences and their processes in producing work for young audiences and performers.
The forum is moderated by Fraser Corfield, atyp’s Artistic Director.
Find out more about the inaugural atyp Foundation commission for writing for young performers, here and follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with our program of forums throughout the year.
Finegan has had 57 commissioned plays performed on five continents, and was an inaugural recipient of the $160,000 Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship. This year 13 works perform in Australia, China, England, Germany, and the US.
Finegan’s plays have had seasons in 50 Australian/international festivals; five IPAY American showcases; seven Australian states; five UK tours; and at the Sydney Opera House, Dublin Theatre Festival, Edinburgh’s Imaginate Festival, New York’s New Victory Theater and NYU, and DC’s Kennedy Center.
Finegan and his work have received the 2012 Helpmann Award for Children’s Theatre, 2010 Rodney Seaborn Award, 2009 AWGIE Award (Best Australian Children’s Play), 2008 Oscart (Best Children’s Playwright), 2007 Oscart (Best Playwright), 2006 Jill Blewett Award, and 2002 Colin Thiele Scholarship, among others.
Finegan is a Keynote Speaker at the 2013 One Theatre World North American TYA Conference, with other presentations in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Denmark, England, Indonesia, Scotland, Sweden and the US.
He lives with his wife Essie in Tasmania, from which he writes for national/international companies. Finegan is committed to making strong and respectful work for children, which acknowledges them as astute audience members outside the plays, and worthy subjects within.
Tim co-founded Monkey Baa Theatre Company with Eva Di Cesare and Sandie Eldridge in 1997 and the Company is now one of Australia’s largest touring companies.
A graduate from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Tim co creates and facilitates Monkey Baa’s drama workshop program, co creates new Australian theatre works based on Australian literature, and occasionally performs in, the Company’s work.
Monkey Baa presents a vast theatre program on the national touring circuit, and delivers an extensive drama workshop and teacher professional development program throughout rural and regional Australia.
In 2012 the Company relocated into its new home base – a 235-seat theatre in Darling Quarter. Together with his other work for the company, Tim now works as a programming producer for the new venue. Throughout 2013 he is will be co writing and directing the Baby Proms Program for the SOH. Tim has previously sat on the National Performer’s Committee for the MEAA, the Creative Directorate for Darlinghurst Theatre and the Sydney Arts Management Group. He currently sits on the board of Arts on Tour.
Debra Oswald is a writer for stage, television and children’s fiction.
Debra is the co-creator and head writer of the top-rating and acclaimed Network Ten series Offspring, the third series of which went to air in 2012. Debra won the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Award for the Offspring telemovie script. Her other television credits include award-winning episodes of Police Rescue, Palace of Dreams, The Secret Life Of Us, Sweet and Sour and Bananas in Pyjamas.
Debra’s stage plays have been produced around Australia. Gary’s House, Sweet Road and The Peach Season were all shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award and her play Dags has had many Australian productions. Gary’s House has been performed in translation in Denmark and Japan. Mr Bailey’s Minder broke the Griffin Theatre’s box office record in 2004, toured nationally in 2006 and was produced in Philadelphia in 2008.
Debra has written three plays for the Australian Theatre for Young People – Skate, Stories in the Dark (NSW Premier’s Literary Play Award in 2008) and House on Fire (2010). Eight of Debra’s plays are published by Currency Press.She is the author of three ‘Aussie Bite’ books for kids, including Nathan and the Ice Rockets, and six novels for teenage readers including The Redback Leftovers and Blue Noise.
Jo is a writer, director and actor. An artist in residence at the Sydney Theatre Company in 2012, Jo has directed for STC (Education), atyp, the Old Fitzroy Theatre, Tamarama Rock Surfers, Critical Stages and the Sydney Opera House, and has performed for Belvoir, Kay and McLean, B Sharp, La Boite, Q Theatre, Ensemble and hoipolloi.
Jo has written for Arts Asia Pacific, STC (Education) and adapted Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs for atyp and Riverside in 2011, and for atyp, the acclaimed Max Super Spy in December last year, adapted from Deborah Abela’s bestselling Max Remy series of books for children.
Fraser has been the Artistic Director of atyp since 2009, before which he was the Artistic Director of Backbone Youth Arts (Qld, 2005-2008), Riverland Youth Theatre (SA, 2001-2003) and the Associate Director of La Boite Theatre (1997-2000). As an Artistic Director Fraser has always been a passionate advocate for new work, commissioning and producing over twenty new plays and productions.
He has directed over thirty productions for professional, independent and youth theatre companies around Australia. atyp productions he has directed include The Laramie Project, Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs, The Tender Age and Max Remy Super Spy.
Fraser has sat on advisory bodies at all levels of the industry including as a board member for Young People in the Arts Australia (2007–2009) and Chair of the selection committee for the Youth Arts Mentoring Program (YAMP) (2006–2008). He was one of seven Australians selected for the ‘Next Generation’ international collaboration, which ran from the 2008 to the 2011 ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festivals.