Sunday was a big day. Not just any Sunday- but a pretty special Sunday- the day for industry and peers to come and offer their support, thoughts, feedback to the four new works which have been in development through Queen Street Studio’s Script development hothouse “Off the Shelf”.

After several weeks of meetings, rehearsals, text messages, emails- and several redrafts, the participants had something to show- a 10-15 minute section or sections of a show which has been programmed for the inaugural Sydney Fringe Festival. This was a great opportunity for actors to see what shows are coming up for auditioning for- an opportunity for directors and writers to start thinking about their process and project… and an opportunity to gauge audience interest/ engagement with the pieces.

I selected these scripts based on the teams, the content of the shows- a suite of four which are of differing tones, genres, styles by a range of writers and directors- a self-referencial theatrical radio play, an absurdist comedy, A dark naturalistic drama and a black comedy- a mix of light and shade- distinctly themselves- undeniably unique.

The audience for Sunday’s showing consisted of enthusiastic peers and industry- some of whom are familiar with the Off the Shelf Feedback format- and some who were new to being asked to respond to the work. An audience of 60 people keen to have a sneak peek into the Fringe, some keen to support the writers, some wanting to meet some directors. All audience were able to offer something- a testing ground before the production rolls around.

The most exciting part for me is seeing just how many people are interested in new plays- and who seek to offer feedback to encourage and inspire the artists who have been in isolation creating the work.

Sometimes, a conversation can unlock everything. Sometimes questions about what you are doing or thinking are revealed in the process of articulating the thought or process… and as my mantra continues- nothing is wasted.

Another important part of feedback is not only the encouragement- but also the challenges that can be offered to the artists- and it is up to the artists to scrutinize and then decide what is useful, interesting or irrelevent. I do believe that writers know best- they often know what is wrong with their script- and sometimes it takes someone else to articulate it for them… for the thoughts to crystalize- sometimes the thing that is in opposition to the writer’s thought will unlock the concern- sometimes it will reinforce- but it is the conversation which is the most important thing- that offer- from an outside ear that can confirm or deny the playwright’s thoughts about their play.

And it takes practice talking about plays.

It takes takes practice deciding what is useful and what is not useful for the artists. And the more practiced you are, the more open to to criticism- because they are more resilient or practiced. And I am not talking about learning how to defend what you have written. I’m talking about learning what to take on and what to let go. Not all advice is good advice- as well meaning as it is.

I am so thrilled for all the Off the Shelfers- for their passion and talent and bravery in facing conversations about their fledgling works… I am honoured to have seen work by some beautiful and generous actors and the developing instincts of four remarkable directors- Keep an eye out during the Sydney Fringe for the plays developed during Off the Shelf:

Sexy Tales of Paleontology
written by Patrick Lenton
directed by Anne-Maree Magi
with Lucy Goleby and Felix Jozeps

The Hideous Demise of Detective Slate
written by Alli Sebastian-Wolf
directed by Jane Grimley / Assistant Director: Ben Ellwood
Rowan McDonald, Natalia Ladyko, Merren Winchester, Brendon Taylor, Robert Gadsbey, Anna Guy

Late Night Infomercials
written by Brooke Robinson
directed by Lisa Eismen
with Brendan Hawke and Danielle King

Peace at Last
written by John AD Fraser
directed by Lizzie Doyle
with Phil Spencer, Scarlet McGlynn and Greg Eccleston

Photos by Leah McGirr

Photos by Leah McGirr







For those interested in the next OFF THE SHELF (In October) keep an eye on the Queen Street Studio website… and if you are interested in applying to QSS’s residency for devised work, check out Queen Street’s newest opportunity to flex those creative muscles through BLUEPRINT. More info: