The Downstairs Theatre was an exciting hive of discussion this week as the 14 artists selected for the inaugural Belvoir Artist Workshop met for the first time. The pilot program, which runs for 12 months, offers emerging artists two of the things they need most: space to work and a community of artists.
Our Artistic director, Eamon Flack, says that the program aims to provide “a home for young artistic leaders”, and also a creative space for “people who have been historically shut out”. The selected artists comprise a mix of writers, directors, actors and dramaturgs, from a diverse range of backgrounds and with varying levels of experience.
So who are these emerging artists? Aanisa Vylet, an actor, writer and director whose self-devised show The Girl was shortlisted for the 2015 Philip Parsons Playwriting Award; journalist, screenwriter and author Benjamin Law whose television series The Family Law is gearing up for a second series on SBS; and Bjorn Stewart, an actor, writer and director who has appeared on the Belvoir stage and most recently wrote for and starred in Black Comedy.
There’s Chris Dunstan, a theatre-maker with a passion for creating work with and for young people; Constantine Costi, a writer and director who has worked on projects for Vivid Festival, Opera Australia and Griffin Theatre Company; and writer Disapol Savetsila whose play Australian Graffiti will be performed at Sydney Theatre Company in 2017; Rebekah Robertson is a performer, theatre maker and creative producer. She is interested in traditions of oral storytelling, methodologies of collaboration and living dramaturgies of decolonised theatre and has created work for White Night and Crack Theatre Festival.
Dominic Mercer is a director and dramaturg who has created works for Melbourne Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre Company, Old 505 Theatre and NIDA; Kate Cheel is an actor who has appeared in productions for State Theatre Company of South Australia, Windmill Theatre Company and Griffin Theatre Company; and Kevin Ng, an emerging artist of Indonesian-Chinese descent, has created works for theatre, experimental live arts and community arts.
Best known to Belvoir audiences for her performance in Jasper Jones, Matilda Ridgway is one of the selected artists; as is Priscilla Jackman, who has developed and directed works for Sydney Theatre Company; Sabrina D’Angelo, a performer and theatre-maker who crafts shows that combine physical comedy, mime, puppetry and music; and playwright, composer and musical comedian Yve Blake.
These 14 artists will be provided with access to our rehearsal space and Downstairs theatre to workshop productions and ideas, free tickets to performances, and mentorship when sought. Each of these artists are encouraged to invite other artists they wish to collaborate into the space. “The range of possibilities is completely open,” Eamon says.
Recalling his own beginnings in the industry, Eamon says how you joined the profession used to be clearer. There was B-Sharp and the Old Fitz, which both supported independent works from new Australian voices, but now finding that way to break through in Sydney is more challenging. The Belvoir Artist Workshop aims to be a space where “artists can work out what their place is.”
We’re thrilled to have them at Belvoir.