Playwriting Australia (PWA) is passionately committed to seeing more stories by Asian-Australian writers on stage. The Lotus Project is a long-term program aimed at unearthing, nurturing and developing Asian-Australian playwrights and embedding them within the Australian theatre culture. Lotus is a four year, outcome-orientated project which will make a significant impact on playwriting in Australia. Each stage of Lotus has measurable objectives and the opportunity for these emerging voices to be heard.
Lotus Stage One (2014-15)
Over 70 artists, performers, writers and bloggers attended introductory workshops by PWA in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. 24 playwrights were chosen to participate in The Salon, PWA’s intermediate playwriting course, in each state. The Salons were facilitated by well-known, established playwrights: Maxine Mellor, Damien Millar, Angela Betzien and Lachlan Philpott. Twelve writers advanced to keyhole readings where their plays were rehearsed with professional actors and directors, and performed to a public audience.
Lotus Stage Two (2015-16)
Twelve writers across NSW, VIC and QLD, selected from Stage One as well as Asian-Australian writers who were perhaps too advanced for Lotus Bud (Stage One), have been invited by PWA to participate in an intensive 6-months program. This will include monthly one-on-one support with a playwright mentor, masterclasses with guest artists, and a weekend intensive combining all playwrights across the states. By the end of Stage Two the participants will be given a final, intensive session with their mentor to discuss their completed first draft.
Lotus Stage Three (2016-17)
This phase is completely driven by the playwright. Rather than a student/teacher relationship, the playwrights are now in a position to chart the direction of their play’s development. This is a significant shift in the process, and is aligned with PWA’s core philosophies of writer-lead process.
Lotus Stage Four (2017-18)
The stated objective of stage 4 was that two playwrights from stage 3 would be selected to partake in a residency with a key theatre company in their capital city. It was hoped for that three plays would be performed on a leading theatre stage. Lotus exceeded its objectives. In 2017, three plays were produced: Single Asian Female by Michelle Law at La Boite Theatre Company, Brisbane; Blue Bones by Merlynn Tong at Playlab, Brisbane, and Brisbane Powerhouse and Australian Graffiti by Disapol Savetsila at Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney (the youngest playwright ever at STC). In 2019, Katrina Iravati Graham’s play Siti Rubiyah was presented at Carriageworks as part of the Sydney Festival. Natesha Somasundaram has received a two year residency at the Melbourne Theatre Company. Ngoc Phan received a twelve months residency at La Boite Brisbane.
As a result of Lotus Asian-Australian playwrights have arrived on Australia’s main theatre stages.