The Writers Read at The Wheeler Centre (books, writing, ideas)
On the second of November this year, student writers from ACU's Semester Two Playwriting Unit from the School of Arts and Sciences (Vic) celebrated the completion of their short plays with readings at The Wheeler Centre: Books, Writing & Ideas. Over two hours, sixteen new short plays were read aloud for an audience of fellow students and friends.
The plays were as diverse as the student playwrights who created them. They ranged from serious examinations of issues like depression ('One More Day' by Kathleen Cantwell)... anorexia ('My Friend Anna' by Jessica-Kate Taylor)... drug culture ('Haze' by Helen Cashin)... and gender reassignment ('Be Brave, Dear One' by Patricia Draper)... to very funny perspectives on subjects such as suicide ('Top Of The World' by Daniel Cooper)... weddings ('Ticking The Boxes' by Owen Lee)... and teenage romance ('Stop' by Emily Imber).
Two plays gave us humorous glimpses of bleak futures: one, a paranoid world of surveillance and implants ('I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter' by Paul Gorrie)... and the other, the aftermath of Armageddon ('After the End of the World' by Aidan Phelan)... while one play took us back into the past with a look at the impact of white colonisation on indigenous people ('What They Took' by Ella Bourne). There was a series of monologues that explored a tragic chain of events and consequences ('Nightmare' by Michael Zerbi)... a peek at the interior lives of a butcher and his customer ('Chewing the Fat' by Monique Hook)... a sad tale of a young couple whose relationship is floundering just as their baby is due ('The House That Jack Built' by Benita Compton)... and an anecdotal reminiscence of a chance meeting with Elvis in the Australian outback AFTER he was supposed to have died! ('The Bay Tree' by Victoria Upward). One play presented a frantic and compelling internal monologue of the murder of a newborn child ('untitled' by Ellie Frindt)... and the final play got political with a touching and authentic story of a refugee in detention ('Do Not' by Enso Neghad).
While the plays were being written over the twelve weeks of semester two, the students also developed skills in dramaturgy and script assessment. Each student received written feedback on the first draft in week seven with readings of further drafts and the giving and receiving of group feedback in the final weeks of class. With the plays finally completed, the opportunity to meet up for one extra class and read them for an audience at Melbourne's centre for books, writing and ideas was too good to miss.
The Playwriting unit was taught by sessional lecturer and multi-award winning playwright, Chris Thompson, winner of this year's Australian Writers Guild AWGIE for Youth Theatre.
The ACU Playwriting class is grateful to Writers' Victoria at the Wheeler Centre for making the reading possible.
Benita Compton and Daniel Cooper reading to the audience