It’s no secret. I love playwrights. Completely. Utterly. Obsessively.

And occasionally (probably twice or three times a year) I have the great fortune of spending some time with playwrights in the form of short courses at various places and I have been honoured to have the time and company of some of Australia’s most respected, award wining, creative, prolific writers: Hilary Bell, Timothy Daly, Noelle Janaczewska. There are many reasons why I like short courses-

1. I have come to the understanding that no two playwrights are the same, nor do they enter a room the same way. The doorway to playwrighting is sort of like that in Beetlejuice- you take a piece of chalk, draw it on the wall and push- and there you are – in another world. Just as Monet, Dali, Picasso and Whitely don’t paint the same and yet were all painters- no two playwrights are the same (nor their perspectives and methodology) and that is absolutely how it should be. No one can tell you how to be an artist- or why you should be one. But they can give you tools to help you unlock your own understanding of what you are doing and some keys to how to do it differently/better. What you learn from a playwrighting course is what you bring to it- and what youa re willing to surrender and what you are willing to learn. Like with all things I suppose.

2.For me playwrighting courses are the easiest way to meet playwrights. Writers are (like many artists) reclusive by nature- their craft takes time and solitary-ness… silence and focus. This doesn’t mean they are anti social- just they spend alot of time with words and computers. Short courses let me get to know writers- let me find out who they are, how they think, what they want, what they are passionate about… and this is alot more effective than a PDF landing in my inbox- I get to have contact with them… Last year I met Caleb Lewis and Suzie Miller doing a course and they looked across the table from me and said-“oh, are you Augusta- you aren’t what I thought you were like at all!”… (Which I choose to take as a compliment) Since then I have been able to get to know them a little more – which is great (for me at least!)

3. Courses force me to stop and focus. To get away from my email and all the demands of my laundry and everyday life and focus on story- focus on what I love. It encourages me to priviledge my time and my thoughts. It forces me to have discipline about my own writing, allowing me to see and use techniques for when inspiration is thin on the ground… Coz inspiration is for amatuers as someone once said… and a job is a job. Storytellng is a job and it”s important to keep going at work- even when you don’t “feel” like it.

So when I heard that Caleb was holding a course for Queen Street Studio’s Toolkit workshop- I HAD to sign up… A whole weekend of wordsmithery with Caleb- can’t wait! Hope to see you there!

TOOLKIT is Queen Street Studio’s professional development program for Sydney’s independent performing arts community and is perfect for anyone interested in adding skills and inspiration to their creative ‘tool kit’. Lead by Australia’s most inspired and experienced artists; TOOLKIT is designed to provide a great environment for trying out new ideas and developing new approaches alongside a diverse cross-section of our artistic community. TOOLKIT is supported by the City of Sydney.The program is specifically for emerging or mid-career performance practitioners and is open to members and non-members of Queen Street Studio.

Saturday 17 April: 12pm – 6pm
Sunday 18 April: 10am – 4pm

$130 members/ $160 Concession/ $180 Full

Registration and payment deadline?
15th April 2010

Every day we take in hundreds of stories – each new morning we wake hungry for more. For thousands of years we’ve gathered to tell stories. Story has ever been our way of sharing knowledge, of understanding; it helps us come to grips with the world. We are all born storytellers but some of us will pursue it doggedly, always looking to improve our craft, striving for clarity, simplicity and poetry in all our work. Over two days we’ll discuss the basic elements of story: plot, character and theme. We’ll also look in detail at setting, character development, dialogue, exposition, the 8-point plot arc, upbeat versus downbeat plotting, the 3 Aristotelian conflicts and the need for suspense. Lastly we’ll consider style, genre and medium and how these different choices impact on your story. This is a practical workshop designed to give a strong grounding in classical narrative while also delving into new strategies for storytelling. You’ll also hone your bardcraft and general wordsmithery.

Caleb studied playwriting at Flinders University, later being mentored by Nick Enright. In 2004 Songs for the Deaf opened at the Adelaide Fringe and Lewis began a two-year residency with Griffin Theatre Company culminating in the 2005 premiere of Nailed. His play, The Sea Bride, won the 2006 Inscription Emerging Playwright Award earning a two-week workshop with playwright Edward Albee. In 2007 Dogfall opened in Adelaide to critical acclaim. In 2008 Songs for the Deaf toured to Hong Kong; later that year Caleb was awarded an AWGIE for Otzi – the story of the Iceman. His play, Men, Love and the Monkeyboy was shortlisted for the Griffin Award and Company B Belvoir Phillip Parsons Award and is the winner of the 2008 Mitch Matthews award. In 2009 Death in Bowengabbie, was nominated best production at the Adelaide Fringe and won the judge’s commendation for best new writing. The play opens in Sydney in March 2010. Lewis’s latest work, Clinchfield, opened in Adelaide in July. He has recently returned from developing a script on Palm Island with the Australian Theatre for Young People and is currently adapting anovel, Rust and Bone, for the stage.