Malcolm Robertson Writers Program
Image: Pia Johnson
SUPPORTED BY THE MALCOLM ROBERTSON FOUNDATION
Since 2004, the Malcolm Robertson Foundation has been a leading supporter of the development and presentation of new Australian work, playing an essential role in the sustainability of Australian contemporary theatre.
Through their visionary support, the Malcolm Robertson Writers Program allows us to commission two early career playwrights each year to write a full-length play.
One need only look to the Malcolm Robertson Prize recipients listed below to understand the incredible contribution the Foundation has made to the Australian performing arts, assisting artists to achieve their first mainstage commissions in a major performing arts company and paving the way for a new generation of theatre-makers.
You’ll have seen many of these plays on our stage—like Australian Realness, Good Muslim Boy, Going Down, Blaque Showgirls, Ugly Mugs, Walking into the Bigness. And there are some fantastic new commissions in the pipeline that you can expect to see in future years.
Commissioned writers include Aran Thangaratnam, Claire Coleman, Vidya Rajan, Tom Ballard, Louris van de Geer, Kit Lazaroo, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Osamah Sami & Janice Muller, Jada Alberts, Emilie Collyer, Michele Lee, Zoë Coombs Marr, Nakkiah Lui, Peta Brady, Richard Frankland, Declan Greene, Lally Katz…
The program is named in honour the late great Malcolm Robertson—an actor, director and former Playbox Theatre Company literary manager, who worked tirelessly throughout his career to encourage and develop Australian playwrights.
2021 MALCOLM ROBERTSON COMMISSIONS
Nazaree Dickerson (Creative Dawn Productions) is a Noongar/Burmese woman from Western Australia. She studied a diploma in performing arts at Adelaide Centre for the Arts, and is now based in Melbourne. Currently a program director with Ilbijerri Youth Ensemble, Naz's credits include The Longest Minute and Proppa Solid (JUTE), Chopped Liver (ILBIJERRI Theatre Company), and The Season (Sydney Festival/Melbourne Festival/Performing Lines). Her plays Crumbs and Ngarngk: Giver of Life premiered in 2021 as part of YIRRAMBOI Festival.
For Malthouse Theatre, Nazaree is writing about empathy, radicalisation, and how we as a community relate to seemingly random acts of violence. Her new play is set in an inner-city convenience store, where an Aboriginal activist flees a violent clash with police, seeking refuge and justice from some unwitting bystanders.
Keziah Warner is a playwright and dramaturg. She is an alumna of Melbourne Theatre Company’s Women in Theatre Program, Malthouse Theatre’s Besen Family Artist Program, Red Stitch Actors' Theatre's INK Program, Playwriting Australia’s Post-Production Program, and Soho Theatre’s Writer’s Lab. She has won Sydney Theatre Company’s Patrick White Playwrights Award, has been shortlisted for the Griffin Award and the Martin-Lysicrates Prize, and longlisted for Soho Theatre’s Young Writer’s Award. Her credits include Poona (Next Wave), Control (Red Stitch Actor's Theatre), Help Yourself (MTC's Cybec Electric), LuNa (VCA), and Her Father’s Daughter (Hotel Now).
Keziah is working on an original piece of Australian Gothic that draws on the mythology of FW Murnau's 1922 silent movie classic Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror. Reimagined against the Tasmanian landscape, Keziah’s smart subversive approach speaks about environmental degradation, gentrification, and the allure of big money in a small town.
Carly Sheppard is an emerging cross-disciplinary performance artist based in Naarm (Melbourne) whose work negotiates across dance and theatre performance, sculpture, drawing, voice, and installation. Carly explores the experience of being a part of the Indigenous diaspora of Australia—intersecting identities and the navigation of trans-generational inheritances, the borders of ownership and autonomy, and the mapping of these shifting spaces and their interaction with changing social and cultural environments. Carly was the recipient of a Green Room Award for Best Production In Experimental Theatre for Crackers N Dip With Chase N Toey in 2019, Best Performance in Independent Theatre for Love by Patricia Cornelius and Susie Dee, is an Alumni of the 2015 British Council Accelerate Program, and was the recipient of the Eleanor Harding Award for Best New Talent in the Victorian Indigenous Awards for her work White Face in 2014.
Carly studied Bachelor of Dance at Victorian College of the Arts, a Diploma of Careers in Dance at National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association, and a Bachelor of Creative Arts at The University of Melbourne.