By Karren Gail 

The smell of grease paint, the footlights and thunderous applause; it’s enough to make any performer leap to the stage. That’s all well and good but with no script, there’s no play which is where the National Theatre of Parramatta’s (NTofP) ‘From Page to Stage’ program comes in.

The NTofP is the resident theatre company Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre and the initiative ‘From Page to Stage’ is the inaugural and free mentoring program for up and coming playwrights. 10 successful applicants will receive mentorship, tutorials and workshops over 15 months with some of the industry’s most prolific contributors lending their learned hand and voice to the recipients.  Not only will they have the benefit of this breadth of tutorage, they may well be considered for inclusion in the NTofP’s annual season as well as The National Play Festival, so yes, you may see your name on a program in the future.

Executive Producer of NTofP, Joanne Kee says this is an exciting time for the arts in Western Sydney. “With announcements such as Tropfest moving to Parramatta, it’s a great time for the arts scene because we’ve actually got a huge population and a huge amount of creative people in Western Sydney. Traditionally people have had to go to the inner city to get work so by having these activities and opportunities in Parramatta, it means they can stay in their community if they so choose”.

The inspiration for the program comes from the foundation of what the NTofP is all about. “We want to tell stories that resonate with people of Western Sydney and we want to capacity build. By having a theatre company in Parramatta, that already shifts the balance and what we are wanting to do is upskill or provide networking opportunities so people can have their work performed. Some of them may even tour. We know there are writers here and I think we’re actually going to get snowed under with applications. We think it’s really important, at our core, to have a thriving, vibrant theatre company, we need to have a starting point and a good starting point is actually the writing” says Ms Kee.

Importantly, applicants can only apply if they reside or work in Western Sydney, the catchment of which is; Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith, Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly.

“We’re looking for people who have already demonstrated they can write, hopefully a play but it could be a novel and we’ll be looking at putting the nation on stage so we’re looking at what is as a microcosm of Australia and in the people of Western Sydney there’s a good mixture of that” said Ms Kee.

After the 15 month mentorship, Ms Kee believes they’ll be an ongoing support mechanism in place once the project concludes. “We absolutely believe they’ll be ongoing support for the participants because we’ll have gotten to the know them and they’ll be part of our bigger artistic community and family so we’ll be interested in what they’re doing, and we’ll be interested to help them with their networks in the future.”

The good news is Joanne Kee has great hope for ongoing support for this mentorship program, past the current 2016 program. “We want to provide lasting and ongoing frameworks and opportunities so we hope with these projects and capacity building will grow as opposed to just a ‘one off’ opportunity.

So, you’re keen, you have your written work and you’re keen to apply, what is going to set you apart from the other contenders? Ms Kee has a simple answer. “I think their strength is their quality because they have to submit a sample of their writing and it’s going to hinge on the quality of what they submit.”

So what are you waiting for?

Applications close midnight 28 August, 2016

To apply: https://riversideparramatta.com.au/NTofP/engage/from-page-to-stage/