A new national organisation for the development, publication and promotion of Australian playwriting was launched today, with the announcement of an inaugural Board of Directors and Executive Producer/CEO.
Australian Plays Transform (APT) will seek new voices for the Australian stage, develop plays that stimulate the national conversation, link those plays to production, publish and promote them, then license them for future productions across Australia and around the world.
The new organisation will host a sophisticated online showcase and searchable database of the best Australian plays, generating significant income for playwrights.
APT has been forged from a consolidation of two previous organisations, the play development body Playwriting Australia and the publishing and production licensing organisation Australian Plays.
This consolidation was the central recommendation of the independent 2020 REA Review into play development in Australia, which gathered submissions from playwrights and theatres from across Australia.
Inaugural Chair of APT, Rob Brookman AM, said that the new organisation is a direct response to a changed and changing environment and well positioned to make a significant difference to how Australian playwrights feed into Australian storytelling, here and globally.
“I am delighted to be helping steer this significant new organisation, which is positioned to play a crucial role in the lifecycle of building great work from talented writers and developing genuine career paths and more sustainable livelihoods,” said Mr Brookman.
“It is also wonderful to welcome an immensely skilful and committed Board which provides an excellent balance of experience as we forge the pathway for the future. We are also thrilled to announce that leading script development executive Louise Gough will be our inaugural Executive Producer and CEO.”
Louise Gough is a widely respected figure in both the live theatre and screen industries, with 30 years of experience in story and project development, from seeding stages to final production. Gough began in theatre as a dramaturg and extended her career into screen story development, with editorial and script management roles at the highest level with ABC TV Drama, Film Victoria, Screen Australia and Arenamedia.
She recently completed a 3-year term as Head of New Work at Sydney’s Belvoir, overseeing an exceptional slate of new work for the stage. Her past theatre positions include Literary Manager at Playbox (now Malthouse) in Melbourne, Resident Dramaturg at Queensland Theatre, and Literary Fellow at Vineyard Theatre (New York City) for 6 years.
“The APT board is really excited to have secured Louise’s services,” said Mr Brookman. “She is a natural leader and will be a great advocate for Australian playwrights and their work. She has the right depth of experience, strength of purpose, strategic thinking and, above all, unswerving commitment to developing new Australian plays, finding pathways to production and securing their future life via publication and promotion.”
Gough was thrilled to be leading the new national organisation. “It is an immense privilege to serve APT. I acknowledge the significant impact the predecessor organisations have had on the Australian playwriting landscape and I look forward to extending and expanding on this legacy,” she said.
“The work undertaken in merging the two organisations has been immense. Many have contributed but, in particular, I thank David Berthold, Michelle Kotevski, Dr Paul Dwyer and Carin Mistry. With a Board of tremendous depth and an incredible National Advisory Panel, APT is well placed to become a renewed force in service of an expansive Australian theatrical canon.”
“There is significant strategic work to be done to secure the future for this organisation through partnering well, engaging with the sector deeply and widely, building bold programmes, and building long-term strategic relationships with government, fellow organisations and visionary philanthropic partners.”
“I will relish working alongside playwrights and those who work with them, to bring a rich panorama of Australian stories to our stages, our communities, into our classrooms and halls, and out into the world,” said Ms Gough.
Gough will take up her position in May.
Brookman, a former Executive Director of Adelaide Festival, General Manager of State Theatre Company of South Australia and Sydney Theatre Company and former Chair of the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals, is joined on the new APT Board by playwright and actor Nakkiah Lui; playwright and multidisciplinary artist Anchuli Felicia King; CEO of the Australian Banking Association, former Premier of Queensland and former Board member of Bangarra Dance Theatre Anna Bligh AC; President of Drama Australia and Chair of National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) Dr John Nicholas Saunders; Indigenous Scientia Senior Lecturer in the UNSW Faculty of Arts Design and Architecture and founding member of Moogahlin Performing Arts Dr Liza-Mare Syron; producer and CEO of Audioplay Gemma Pepper; Senior Legal Counsel of Macquarie Telecom Group Simone Smith; and festival/theatre director and Director-in-Residence at NIDA David Berthold.
Several staff from the predecessor organisations are continuing with APT, including APT General Manager Michelle Kotevski, formerly of Playwriting Australia, and several of the APT Hobart team, formerly employed by Australian Plays. New part-time project producers will be recruited over the next few months.
In fulfilling another key recommendation of the 2020 REA Review, a National Advisory Panel is also in place. Members include:
- Elena Carapetis, playwright (SA);
- Patricia Cornelius, playwright (VIC);
- Isaac Drandic, director and dramaturg, Resident Dramaturg Queensland Theatre (QLD);
- Eamon Flack, director and playwright, Artistic Director Belvoir (NSW);
- Declan Greene, playwright and director, Artistic Director Griffin Theatre Company (NSW);
- Jamila Main, playwright and actor, Co-Chair Equity Diversity Committee, 2020 Carclew Fellow (SA);
- Eva Grace Mullaley, director, Artistic Director Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company (WA);
- Rosemary Myers, director, Artistic Director Windmill Theatre Company (SA);
- Maddie Nixon, playwright, former Youth & Education Producer La Boite Theatre Company (QLD);
- Mark Pritchard, dramaturg and director, New Work Manager Malthouse Theatre, and Co-founder Centre for Dramaturgy and Curation (VIC);
- Paige Rattray, director, Associate Director Sydney Theatre Company (NSW);
- S. Shakthidaran, playwright, Artistic Director Kurinji, Artistic Lead Co-Curious, and Artistic Associate Belvoir (NSW);
- Annette Shun Wah, Executive Producer Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (CAAP), and Artistic Director OzAsia Festival (SA/NSW); and
- Alexis West, playwright and director, Resident Writer/Director State Theatre Company of South Australia (SA).
For more information about Australian Plays Transform, visit: www.apt.org.au for details.
Image: Louise Gough – courtesy of Australian Plays Transform