Wednesday, August 4, 2010

She's Not Performing

La Mama Presents
A DOLL and Soulart Production

She's Not Performing
A new play by Alison Mann

A woman visits a club and sees a stripper who is a mirror image of herself. She begins to believe that this could be the daughter she adopted out as a teenager. A journey through the psyche of a woman in search of a child she once lost.

...Suddenly I became all sex and baby...

A darkly surreal and tender look at past adoption practices and the impact they have in the present day.

Written by: Alison Mann
Directed by: Kelly Somes
Cast: Andrea Close, Chris Bunworth, Rachel Purchase, Mike McEvoy

Set Design: Tanja Beer
Lighting Desgin: Darren Kowacki & Lisa Mibus
Costume Design: Melaine Liertz
Dramaturg: Maude Davey
Puppetry/Visual Theatre: Gina Moss 
Consultant:  Rinske Ginsberg 
Dance Choreographer: Tamara Searle
Sound Design/Composition: Jared Lewis 
Production / Stage Manager: Jess Keepence 
Set Design Assistants: Ashlee Hughes & Jacquie Holland

VENUE: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday St, Carlton
DATES: 18th August - 5th September
TIMES: Wed & Sun 6.30pm, Thu, Fri, Sat 8pm
TICKETS: $25 Full, $15 Concession
BOOKINGS: 9347 6142 or

Monday, November 9, 2009


MD is strongly represented in the developmental readings this week at the MTC Lawler Studio.

The pieces are eclectic, original, and unlike anything you will have seen on Melbourne stages this year.

And, they include a number of MD members at the helm!
  • Wed 11th @ 7pm --> Elise Hearst & Sam Strong's The Sea Project
  • Thu 12th @ 7pm --> Amelia Roper & Naomi Edward's Hong Kong Dinosaur
  • Fri 13th @ 7pm --> Declan Greene @ David Mence's Pretty Baby
Come along and see what we have been up to over the last few months. It promises to be a lot of fun and there will, of course, be plenty of red wine and Q & A afterwards.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Link to the Unordinary

Dr Ricci-Jane Adams, a Melbourne playwright & recent PhD graduate, has written a terrific thesis on magical realism in Australian theatre. It covers the work of Lally Katz, Ben Ellis and Kit Lazaroo, and is well worth a look:

Seeing in Unordinary Ways: Magical Realism in Australian Theatre
by Dr Ricci-Jane Evangeline Adams
University of Melbourne

This thesis introduces three emerging Australian playwrights, Lally Katz, Ben Ellis and Kit Lazaroo, who are interrogating the politics of culture, identity and gender through the application of magic realism to theatre. This thesis contends that magic realist theatre offers a public site for the cultural mediation of binaries: self and other, margin and centre, life and death, western and non-western, pragmatic and spiritual. Australia, because of its history, geographical location and cultural positioning provides a fascinating case study."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Melbourne Dramatists' New Writing Award 2009

And the award goes to….

The Melbourne Dramatists New Writing Award, supported by the Melbourne Theatre Company was presented at the Melbourne Fringe Festival Awards on Saturday 10th October at Trades Hall.

The winner of the 2009 award is:

Tom Holloway for his play And No More Shall We Part


Highly Commended:

A Black Joy by Declan Greene

Yuri Wells by Benedict Hardie



Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry into the award.    

For more info about the Melbourne Fringe Festival go to:

Australian Women Directors Alliance - Debate gains momentum

Debate is flourishing in news papers and blogs across Australia regarding the representation of women directors working for main stage companies.  The debate has also recently reached the UK.  The Australian Women Directors Alliance (AWDA) present statistics and research that points towards a distinct lack of opportunities for women directors in Australia.  The AWDA is advocating for serious debate and change. 

 The AWDA is a non-profit coalition of professional women directors and theatre makers. The purpose of the AWDA is to provide a community of peers for mutual support and to further the art, professional development and visibility of women directors in the theatre industry. The AWDA was formed in 2009 as an outcome of focus group discussion arising at the 2009 Australian Theatre Forum (ATF).

 To read recent developments in this discussion and a range of articles go to: 

Posted by Alison Mann

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Create a culture of Creation

Wonderful to read this today over at Marcus Westbury’s blog:

I wonder whether Australia’s European cultural history has somehow left us wanting to keep the artefacts and trappings of European culture while skipping the forces that led to it.

We should flip the traditional hierarchies over. Rather than place our culture centres at the top, it makes far more sense to think of them as at the bottom. It is time we placed far more emphasis on creation and development than reproduction, middle management and bureaucracy by thinking about those street-level tasks and challenges.

Time to recognise that culture — and, by extension, art — is not large and grand but small, dynamic, co-operative and competitive creation and to nurture it right at that point. Time to flip the system over and put the bureaucrats and administrators on the bottom and put the creators back at the top.

Amen to that. Writers are creators!

Melbourne Dramatists' New Writing Award

Yes, it's that time of year again:
Melbourne Dramatists'
New Writing Award

Supported by the Melbourne Theatre Company

The award is presented to the writer/s responsible for the best script at this year's Melbourne Fringe. The award is judged on the brilliance of the writing (rather than the production). The award is judged by us, your peers.

The award includes:
$250 AND a funky Fringe trophy AND opening night tickets to Melbourne Theatre Company shows in 2010!

Winner announced at the Fringe Awards, Saturday October 10th
Previous winners include Alison Mann & Adam J Cass

Have a show at the Fringe and want to be considered?
Contact the Fringe office

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Recognising the new life, with Martha

"Many writers failed to recognize the new life in their own art, and missed seeing the truth that a first-hand observation of life is always of more value than rules of any sort. Therefore an immemorial war has been waged between the sticklers for old laws, on the one side, and, on the other, the genuinely creative writers. In no art has this war been more apparent than in the drama; and in no art have rigid rules been more oppressive. There have been long periods when the dominance of technical rules, wholly or partially outgrown, has sterilized and all but killed the theater."

Aristotle, Classic Technique, and Greek Drama (1927)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Good acting is good acting

I don't think there is a conflict between the writer's intentions and a commitment to diverse casting. When I write a play, I want the best actors. And the best actors are not always white and Anglo looking.

I think the problem is that white, Anglo looking performers are considered the natural default. If you have a non-white Anglo looking performer - than that person's ethnicity needs to somehow be the subject of the play or inform the character. As though you couldn't have a strung-out prostitute being played by a Sri Lankan performer without the character needing to talk about her Sri Lankan-ness. If they're not white, we need to explain their otherness otherwise, why were they cast?

My friend told me an anecdote. She was an extra on City Homicide. She sat at a desk. In between takes, she had a conversation with Aaron Pederson. He asked how she got into extra work. She told him that she wanted to be an actor but decided against it fairly early on because of the way she looks and the roles she knew would be offered to her. Her mother is Malaysian and her dad is from Trinidad and Tobago. So no one can really place her. Some people thinks she looks Indian, Thai, Arabic, or even Aboriginal. She wasn't interested in a lifetime of 'ethnic other' roles. Aaron Pederson told her that his role in City Homicide is the first role he's had that hasn't been about being Indigenous Australian - and he's been acting for over a decade.

Like in any other field, people should be given jobs based on whether they can perform the role. Can Aaron convince as a tough cop with a troubled personal life? Yes. Is he attractive and will viewers like him? Yes. Would it be nice not to see Gary Sweet in this role? Yes.

We should all be committed to seeing a diversity of faces on our stages and screens and recognise (this is so obvious that it's embarrassing to say it - except the fact that this conversation is happening means it needs to be said) that non-white actors can play a whole lot of roles that have nothing to do with their ethnic background.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

MD and the Smacktors

Enjoy some pics from our last triumphant Smackdown!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Conversations on Casting

The racial diversity in Australian theatre issue has flared up again, this time finding a more dialogical home for itself online.

Point your browser to Red Stitch's online forum and check out the discussion.

I don't want to write a big post about it here (I've already done that over at the forum) so it will suffice to say that I believe strongly in the need for Australian theatre companies and directors to make cross-racial casting part of their everyday practice.

I'm not really sure how this intersects with our concerns as writers; whether, for example, we think that diverse casting practices are more important to uphold than the writer's intentions?

For me, though, seeing The Birthday Party at MTC the other night was a good example of how diverse casting can open up new layers of meaning in a text. And, a few small annoyances aside (since I know the text religiously), I thought that it was well handled.

Any thoughts or comments?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Offensively unfunny

Andrew Denton asked Mel Brooks if he believed there was any subject that you couldn’t make fun of. The man who created The Producers – a comedy with musical numbers about the Holocaust – answered (and I paraphrase here because I can’t remember his wording), ‘The only thing in bad taste is not being funny.’ That means everything is up for grabs – genocide, paedophiles, constipation and yes, sick children. But you better make it funny.

And that’s my problem with the Chaser’s ‘Make-a-realistic-wish’ sketch. It wasn’t funny. It was lame. And somehow in all the debate about the sketch – we seemed to have lost sight of that. The debate shouldn’t be about whether you can make fun of terminally ill kids or whether the ABC was wrong to air such a controversial sketch. The debate should be about the laziness with which some comedians approach ‘wrong’ humour.

I love a bit of wrong humour. I love humour that pushes well past the boundaries into black unsettling terrain. The problem with the Chaser’s sketch is that it relied solely on being wrong - ‘ooh, they’re making fun of sick kids – that’s so naughty’. It’s not enough to just be ‘wrong’. Anyone can say something offensive. Just take a ride on the 57 tram if you want to be shocked and appalled. The skill is how you push that wrong humour and make it funny. Being funny is about doing something unexpected, crazy, ridiculous, over-the-top – something. It requires skill and thought.

The only thing that could’ve saved that ‘Make-a-realistic-wish’ sketch is if that sick kid poked Chris Taylor in the eye for being such a patronising douchebag. Then I would’ve giggled.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Roll Up Roll Up for the Smackdown!!

Ladies & Gentlemen!!

Melbourne Dramatists' Smackdown is back (by popular demand)!

It's the one and only event of its kind: bare knuckle, no holds barred, playwright wrestling (in a large vat of baked beans) for YOUR gratification and felicity.

So come one, come all...

And join us for a night of theatrical goodness at Melbourne's own Storeroom Theatre.


David Mence! Melissa Bubnic!

Alison Mann! Robert Reid!

Ross Mueller! Amelia Roper!

Thursday 18 June,

Doors open at 7:00pm for a 7:30pm start

@ The Storeroom,

St Georges Rd, North Fitzroy

First floor Parkview Hotel

Corner of Scotchmer Street

& St Georges Road

North Fitzroy

Melways Ref: 30 B12

Tram 112, Stop 22

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Whose Face?

I was recently sent a link to an article in The Australian about the young Perth director Matthew Lutton. For others (like me) who missed it the first time around I have included it below (The Face: Matthew Lutton, by Victoria Laurie, 21/2/09). You can't help but admire the guy's chutzpah. One small part was worth a reread. For playwrights, in particular,

"...we compare notes on whether we go to the theatre to see a play or rather to savour a strong directorial vision.

"(Lutton) If there's two versions of Women of Troy showing in a city, I go to see Barrie Kosky's version because I want to see what he does," he says. "Otherwise I can go home and read the play: I go to hear his voice.""

Do you go to the theatre to "see a play" or "to savour a strong directorial vision"? I stay home and read plays a fair amount too, but I'd like to think that if they were all playing in my city, I'd go - strong directorial vision or not. There's something about hearing them aloud. It's almost as if they were written that way. After reading the article for the first time I made angry toast. That's the toast you make when you cut each slice into four squares, not because you need to but because it makes you feel better. I ate the toast and read the article again. I believe in story. I almost feel the need to apologise for this but you'll notice that I don't.

I believe in a collaboration between director and playwright (when there is one. And some of the old ones might not be around so much anymore, but they wrote stuff down. That's the thing about playwrights, we write stuff down). I believe in a collaboration for the production of stories that are not owned by the director, or the playwright, or even the performers. I believe in a collaboration for the production of stories to be owned by the audience. The audience own your work. If your audience leaves feeling that it is yours, and not theirs, then you have failed. If your audience leaves believing that they are not smart enough for you, or smart enough for theatre, then you have failed. Yes, you. And when I say you I don't mean Lutton or Kosky or anyone else with a strong directorial vision, I mean you, dear reader & fellow theatre maker, or me. Yes. Usually I mean me. If my audience leaves believing that they are not smart enough for me, or smart enough for theatre, then I have failed.

When a person buys a novel she can take it home and put in on her shelf. She can write her name in it and decide whether it goes on the bottom shelf or the top one with the DVDs, or next to the lamp or under the painting she got from Ikea. That novel might be so great she reads it two or three times before lending it to a friend. Who returns it. She owns that novel. It lives in her house. A play, on the other hand, lives in a theatre. The theatre is someone else's house. She must be invited in. 'Not yet,' says the usher, 'we haven't opened the doors yet.' She only gets to see it once and not at any pace, or rereading the bits that were difficult, but once, and at one pace. In this day of object ownership - DVDs, books, paintings from Ikea - what can the theatre offer? The answer is complimentary key rings. No. Or maybe. Or maybe the answer is an experience that she feels she can own. A story she can take home. Theatre made for the audience. I believe in theatre that audiences feel empowered to own. Accessible is not a dirty word. Accessible is everything. I want them to take it home - the characters, the images, the ideas, the costumes, the memory of an actor - I want them to want to take it all home. That's all. Nothing else. Nothing else matters if you don't have that. I almost feel the need to apologise for it - How obvious! How sentimental! I almost feel the need to apologise for it but you'll notice that I don't.


- Amelia Roper

Sunday, May 31, 2009

His name is Tom Holloway

The following link is for The Age online article called "A stage they're going through" (30/5/09). It's worth a look but does seem to suggest that all independent theatre artists in Melbourne aim for either a Malthouse Tower Room season or a Full Tilt gig. Now they are both great opportunities but really, is that accurate? I also noticed that it mentions the play Red Sky Morning on a number of occasions, but never once mentions the playwright. The playwright's name is Tom Holloway. I mention that the playwright's name is Tom Holloway because, well, even though my name is not Tom Holloway, and Tom Holloway is not a Melbourne Dramatist, I still think that if I'm going to mention that the play is called Red Sky Morning, then I should probably also mention that the playwright's name is Tom Holloway. I won't mention the director, or the venue, or the actors, or the program, or the name of the journalist, because they have all been covered in the article.

- Amelia Roper

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mueller's No Man's Island opens in Sydney

No Man's Island was first produced over ten years ago at La Mama. It was the first La Mama play to be included in the Melbourne International Festival. Two years ago it was presented at HERE performance space in New York City. Next week it finally opens in Sydney.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Melburnalia No. 2 Opens to Great Reviews!

Melbourne Dramatist David Mence's comany White Whale Theatre has achieved wonderful reviews for this week's opening of their show Melburnalia No. 2.

"We're really pleased with the response, it's been a long road but it demonstrates that Melbourne audiences are defininately interested in seeing Melbourne writing."

Check out the Age review

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Another Melbourne Dramatist in The Age

Ross Mueller is a Melbourne Dramatist and today he was featured in an article in the Saturday Age A2. You can read the article by clicking on this link - click away.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Ghost Writer

A Play Reading of The Ghost Writer By Ross Mueller
Directed by Lucy Freeman
David Whiteley, Georgina Capper,
Natalie Carr & Kevin Summers

Saturday 30 May, 2009. 3pm
The Plaza Room The Arts Centre on St Kilda Road.
General admission is by $5.00 donation.

“I am so thrilled to be directing a public reading of the re-write of the Ghost Writer. The fact that the play premiered on the MTC main stage in 2007, and the playwright elected to keep working on the material into 2008 is nothing short of inspiring. I believe if all plays in the contemporary Australian cannon underwent this detailed and responsive reworking, our repertoire would be the stronger for it.” Lucy Freeman

This script is available for sale through - Playlab.
Go to the
for details on how to purchase your copy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Early Stages - Play Reading

She's Not Performing

A new work by Alison Mann
Directed by Kelly Somes

Thursday 28 May, 2009


The Black Box, Arts Centre

The Early Stages features some of Melbourne’s exciting emerging playwrights, presenting their new works through performed readings. The third in the series is She’s Not Performing by Alison Mann.

Margarite by chance sees a girl at a strip club that uncannily resembles herself. She becomes fascinated by the girl and continues to attend the strip club by herself. Margarite had a daughter adopted out when she was a teenager. Is it possible the girl at the club could be her? Or is Margarite looking out from within her own fantasies?

The Early Stages are FREE events, presented by the Emerging Writers' Festival in partnership with FULL TILT.