Australian National Playwrights’ Centre – Young Playwrights’ Studio, Canberra 2000
"They're out there now, making up an end", Jigsaw director Greg Lissaman told me 2 minutes before the show-and-tell for the Young Playwrights' Studio 2000 last Sunday. 3 young playwrights were seeing their work presented after 2 days of workshopping, funded by the Australian National Playwrights Centre.
As you may guess, Tom Hodgson (Hannibal and Co.), Sarah Kaur (Girl) and Christopher Curwood (Brain Drain) were not in competition with each other. The ANPC employed The Jigsaw Company and Canberra Youth Theatre to choose 3 scripts for development, each young playwright receiving a year's honorary membership of ANPC. This gives them the right to participate in the 2001 Australian National Playwrights' Conference and free professional assessment of their scriptwriting efforts.
The plays on offer represented typical work in one sense: a young teenage boy's humorous take on how Hannibal really got his elephants over the Alps; a self examination of what an older teenage girl expects of herself and what she really wants; an older boy's comic vision of sex and death in a game show format. All three showed elements of theatrical structure and consistency of style which explain why they were chosen for workshopping.
Maybe none of these scripts will make it through to full production - the ANPC process is designed to weed out as much as to encourage script development - but interestingly I thought the younger Tom Hodgson had the edge on his older colleagues. His work - bringing together Hannibal, his domineering mother, the example of his dead famous General father, his baby-face business-oriented brother, and the Tibetan lamas who train the elephants in the proper Buddhist tradition - showed not only a comic originality but a quite sophisticated level of character development, as well as a clever twist in the plot where it is actually Hannibal's brother who wins the battle for which Hannibal takes the credit. And it was based on research into the real (or at least recorded) history.
Some 19 Youth Theatre actors, with Tristan Flynn on lights, gave their time and a considerable degree of expertise to the workshops, with Roland Manderson, Greg Lissaman and Noonee Dorononila, and Catherine Langman as professional directors/dramaturgs. A mini-model of the Australian National Playwrights' Conference: what better way to learn?© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
Return to Frank McKone'sHome Page