COME TO WHERE I AM – Australia (Part four) in partnership with Critical Stages Touring, Australia

Here’s a look at the writers we have lined for you in the final volume of COME TO WHERE I AM – Australia, in partnership with Critical Stages Touring, Australia.

Merlynn Tong – Brisbane, QLD | Turrbal and Chepara-Yugarapul country
Merlynn is an actor and playwright whose writing credits include ANTIGONE (adaptation, Queensland Theatre), GOOD GRIEF (Queensland Theatre), SKIN (Dear Australia, Playwriting Australia), and THE BIG MAC (co-writer, development, Black Swan Theatre Company). Her one-woman-show BLUE BONES won 6 Matilda Awards including the Lord Mayor Award for Best New Australian Work and Best Mainstage Production, and Merlynn was also awarded Best Female Actor in a Leading Role. She is also the prize recipient of Screen Queensland’s Screen to Stage pitch, The First 10 Pages 2.0.

Mary Anne Butler – Darwin, NT | Larrakia country
Mary Anne is a multiple award-winning writer and artistic director. Her play BROKEN won the 2016 Victorian Prize for Literature, a Victorian Premier’s Drama Award and the NT Chief Minister’s Book of the Year. Four of Mary Anne’s plays have won NT Literary Awards for Best Script (2010, 2014, 2018 & 2019) and her work Lost Hearts is on the NSW HSC Theatre Curriculum list. She is a Sidney Myer Creative Fellow, Arts NT Fellow, Winston Churchill Fellow, Regional Arts Fellow and Asialink Fellow. Mary Anne is currently co-Artistic Director of Knock-em-Down Theatre.

Ian Michael – Perth, WA | Whadjuk Noongar country
Ian is a proud Wilman Noongar man, writer, actor director and producer. He has worked extensively with companies across screen, theatre and cabaret including Malthouse Theatre, Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, Ilbijerri Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, and Sydney Festival. Ian was awarded Melbourne Fringe’s Most Outstanding Actor in 2013 and 2015, Best Emerging Artist at Adelaide Fringe and received a Green Room Awards Association nomination for Best Independent Production in 2016 for HART. Ian is a Resident Artist at Black Swan State Theatre Company (2018-2020), is curating the Maali Festival, and co-writing the world premiere of YORK for Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA.

Ross Mueller – Geelong, VIC | Wadawurrung country
A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts masters program, Ross has been a writer in residence with the Royal Court Theatre in London (2002); a guest lecturer at VCA; and is the Fresh INK tutor for ATYP in Victoria. His works have been shortlisted for an AWGIE Award, the Patrick White Award and nominated for five Green Room Awards. He is a recipient of the New York Dramatists Playwright Exchange (CONCUSSION), and winner of the 2007 Wal Cherry Play of the year (THE GLORY). His most recent works include A TOWN NAMED WAR BOY, I CAN’T EVEN (Malthouse) and A STRATEGIC PLAN (Griffin).

Join us on Wednesday 30 September at 10:30am (BST) for a live Facebook premiere event to celebrate the fourth and final installment of new plays for COE TO WHERE I AM – Australia. Hosted by our partners, Critical Stages Touring and joined by our one of our Joint Artistic Directors, Katie Posner. Hear from each of the artists as they introduce their stories of belonging, connection, and home, before we see them read their beautiful new work. It’s going to be powerful and moving storytelling, and we’re thrilled to be sharing these next four artists with the world for our final installment of COME TO WHERE I AM.

The livestream will be on the Critical Stages Touring Facebook Page.

Catch up on the rest of COME TO WHERE I AM on Paines Plough’s YouTube Channel.

COME TO WHERE I AM – Australia (Part four) will be available to watch on Wednesday 30 September

Finn Anderson and Kirsty Findlay on ISLANDER Original Cast Recording

Image credit: Ali Wright – ISLANDER: A NEW MUSICAL – Presented by Helen Milne Productions

With a national Autumn 2020 tour postponed, the team behind ISLANDER have, instead, released the stunning original cast album, available now through Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and all major online music distributors.

The production had its first, and completely sold out, run last year in 2019 as part of our Edinburgh Fringe Festival programme in ROUNDABOUT at Summerhall before a three week season at London’s Southwark Playhouse last October. With national touring plans currently on hold, the album aims to give Islander fans a welcome opportunity to listen to the complete soundtrack anywhere and at any time.

The critically acclaimed show, performed by Kirsty Findlay (Olivier Award Nominated, OUR LADIES OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR) and Bethany Tennick (Stage Debut Award Nominated, ISLANDER at Southwark Playhouse) follows the story of Eilidh who stares out to sea and dreams of a new life beyond her lonely island. Myth and reality collide when the tide washes a mysterious stranger onto her beach, changing her life forever.

Epic storytelling intimately staged with a contemporary Scottish folk-inspired score, by award-winning composer, writer and singer-songwriter, Finn Anderson, while Kirsty and Bethany perform a whole host of characters, weaving, building and layering their voices using looping technology to create an expansive, ethereal soundscape. Exploring themes of loss, identity, migration and home, Islander was created on the Isle of Mull and is inspired by the sights, sounds and smells of the wind-beaten and wave-struck Western Isle.

To celebrate the launch of the cast album, we caught up with Finn and Kirsty, and asked them some questions about their run in ROUNDABOUT last year and what it was like to record this album instead of taking their show on tour.

What is your favourite memory from last year’s Edinburgh Fringe?
FINN: Climbing Calton Hill to watch the fireworks on the final night, feeling grateful that our story had reached so many people over the month of August.

How would you describe your experience of performing in ROUNDABOUT?
FINN: As a composer and sound designer working in ROUNDABOUT it was a joy to work with the surround sound. As a show that centres around music and sound, Islander felt really at home in the immersive in-the-round setting. Although it’s also a tent and our tech was on a hot July day… so pretty sweaty! 

KIRSTY: ROUNDABOUT is one of my absolute favourite venues so performing there was a dream. I always try and see shows there when I’m at the fringe because it gives every show such immediacy and intimacy that it always reminds me why I do theatre in the first place. You can see every nuance
which is amazing.

What have you been up to since the festival?
FINN: I released my solo album ‘Until the Light’ last year, and have been working on a bunch of theatre and circus shows. Highlights have included 5 weeks in Chicago earlier this year working on a new Scottish-Appalachian folk musical, and a new bilingual musical with Brazilian songwriter Siba and Portuguese director Tania Azevedo which we’re developing with support from National Theatre of Scotland. 

What made you decide to record this album, and what was your experience like?
FINN: Theatre is a one-off experience and it’s never the same twice. That has its own kind of magic, but it’s been exciting and challenging to take something that was made for a live audience, and transform it into an audio-only experience that people can go through in isolation. I wanted to give people a chance to revisit the show, and capture the music for those who didn’t see the live event. 

KIRSTY: It was great to come back together and record the album but it was a bit mind bending. We’re so used to recording the music live all the way through so recording it in sections without the loop station was really hard. I had to physically pretend I was pushing buttons just so I could remember what came next!

Can you describe this album in three words?
FINN: Intimate. Otherworldly. Playful. 

KIRSTY: Enchanting, Intricate, and SCOTTISH.

Why should people listen to this album?
FINN: I think the album offers a short escape from the noise that surrounds us in the media and in our heads right now. I hope it transports listeners into the mythical world of the show and offers a bit of perspective and magic – both for those who saw Islander, and those who are new to it. 

What is your favourite song on the album, and why?
FINN: Same But Different – I really enjoy the use of the loop station in this one, and I think Kirsty and Bethany’s voices really soar on it. It’s joyful, but also takes the audience on a real emotional journey with the two central characters.  

KIRSTY: I think Answerphone is my favourite song on the album (although I’ll probably have a different favourite next week!) The harmonies that Finn made for that song are just SO good that being able to hear them out of the performance setting is so satisfying. It was also one of the hardest to learn and perform so it’s nice to listen to it in a more objective way.

What would you say the best way to listen to this album is?
FINN: On a good pair of headphones, preferably near the water. Or lying on the floor after a long day.

KIRSTY: A friend of mine said she was going to download the album and listen with a pair of headphones on on the beach. THAT would definitely be the best way to listen to it. Although through a good pair of headphones would also do the trick!

ISLANDER Original Cast Recording is now Live. Here’s the streaming link to listen on Spotify:

Introducing the writers behind COME TO WHERE I AM – Australia (Part three)

Jon Bennett – Pinery, SA | Kaurna country
Jon is a multi-award winning comedic storyteller. His one-hour productions have been seen at over 120 festivals worldwide. He has written and performed eight comedy specials drawing on his experience growing up in South Australia and his many travels. His work has been selected for the 2019 New York Times Best Seller List (THE MOTH OCCASIONAL MAGIC), an Outstanding Storyteller Award (London Fringe, Victoria Fringe), and nominated for countless awards including seven nominations for a Just For Laughs Award at Montreal Fringe.

Margaret Davis – Blackheath, NSW | Gundungurra country
A performer, director and writer, Margaret has been creating stories since the 1980s. She was Assistant Director of the State Theatre Company of SA and Artistic Director of Riverina Theatre Company, and has directed productions in theatres around Australia. Margaret works extensively with local artists to craft new stories and experiences. She draws inspiration from her many projects including artist and performance groups in the Blue Mountains and recently as Guest Director at the Originate Project at Q Theatre Penrith producing PUSH ME, PULL ME.

Kathryn Ash – Cairns, QLD | Bama country
Kathryn is an award-winning playwright, dramaturg and actor. She is a co-founder of JUTE Theatre Company, where she has worked on projects for over 25 years. Kathryn has had over 12 professional productions of her work, including BAG O’ MARBLES for Queensland Theatre Company directed by Michael Gow, winner of the ANPC New Dramatists Award in 2001. Her work has been workshopped at three national conferences, and she has currently four published works. She is currently full time Creative Producer for JUTE’s writing programs and dramaturg-in-residence there.

Samah Sabawi – Docklands, VIC | Kulin nation (Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri)
Samah’s critically-acclaimed work has won multiple awards including a Green Room Award for Best Writing for THEM, and two Drama Victoria Awards for TALES OF A CITY BY THE SEA. Both works were selected for the Victorian Certificate of Education drama playlist. Sabawi is co-editor of DOUBLE EXPOSURE: PLAYS OF THE JEWISH AND PALESTINIAN DIASPORAS, winner of the Patrick O’Neill Award and co-author of I REMEMBER MY NAME: POETRY BY SAMAH SABAWI, RAMZY BAROUD AND JEHAN BSEISO, winner of the Palestine Book Award. She is currently a Virtual Writer in Residence at Melbourne University’s Union House Theatre.

Join us for our next Facebook premiere event to celebrate the third installment of stories at the COME TO WHERE I AM – Australia – Volume 3 live event hosted by our writers and partners Critical Stages Touring on Wednesday 16 September at 10:30am.

COME TO WHERE I AM – Australia (Volume three) will be available to watch on our YouTube channel on Wednesday 16 September

The Women’s Prize for Playwriting Finalists


Today we are delighted to announce the seven finalist scripts for the inaugural Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2020, selected from 1,169 entries. We created the Prize to celebrate and support exceptional UK and Ireland-based playwrights who identify as female. The winning playwright will receive £12,000 in respect of an exclusive option for the lead producers of the Prize to co-produce the winning play. The finalists plays will now be read and discussed by our judging panel, and the winner will be announced later in the autumn.

…blackbird hour

by babirye bukilwa

…blackbird hour is a call to arms to loving oneself when love has evaporated from the body.

babirye bukilwa is a writer, actor, model, poet, podcaster and songwriter. She was shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Shortlist 2019 with her debut play …blackbird hour, and is currently an artist in residence at Theatre Peckham 2020 with her second play …cake. bukilwa was invited to join the BBC London writers room 2018, as well as the Royal Court Introduction to Playwriting writers room 2019. As an actor, she was most recently seen in When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other (National Theatre). bukilwa co-founded the award nominated podcast ‘SISTREN’; a podcast and collective founded in 2015 to amply the Black, femme Queer British experience.


By Liv Hennessy

Set during calving season on a West Midlands farm, three people navigate their pastoral duty to the land, to the animals, and to each other.

Liv Hennessy is a writer from the West Midlands, interested in regional voices and stories. She has written several short pieces during her time as a Pentabus Theatre young writer, and with the Royal Exchange Young Company. She currently works as the Story Editor for ITV Emmerdale, and COLOSTRUM is her first full length play. 


By Chinonyerem Odimba

This is a story that takes in the shifts of both attitudes and violence in a new folklore style, it confounds any ideas of Black British presence, and follows the hopes, dreams, and fears of generations of Black women starting with a girl called Gabe.

Chinonyerem Odimba is a playwright, screenwriter, theatre director and poet. Her work for theatre includes Joanne and Amongst the Reeds (Clean Break / The Yard), a modern retelling of Twist (Theatre Centre), and Medea (Bristol Old Vic). She has also received commissions from Hampstead Theatre, Kiln Theatre, Live Theatre, Watermill Theatre, Radio 4, and Channel 4. She is currently working on commissions with RSC, BBC and Jermyn Street Theatre. Odimba has also worked as an Assistant Director/Director for Bristol Old Vic and Theatre503, and was due to direct Braids at Live Theatre Newcastle in April 2020.


By Amy Trigg

Juno was born with Spina bifida and is now clumsily navigating her twenties amidst street healers, love, loneliness and the feeling of being an unfinished project.

Amy Trigg is a writer and actor from Essex. Trigg’s essay An Ode to Improvisation (and Poehler and Fey) features in the book Feminist’s Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies) curated by Scarlett Curtis. She wrote two short digital plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Midsummer Festival in 2020, and her one-woman sketch The Rebrand won Colchester New Comedian of the Year 2016. As an actor, Trigg’s credits include The Taming of the Shrew, Measure for Measure (RSC), Shakespeare within the Abbey, The Sonnet Walks (Shakespeare’s Globe), and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Born with Spina bifida, she was the first wheelchair user to graduate from a performance course at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

REASONS YOU SHOULD(N’T) LOVE ME is Amy Trigg’s first full-length play.


By Eve Leigh

Red Sky at Night is about living as an immigrant in London, capitalism, aliens, and other things that are probably going to kill us.

Eve Leigh is a writer for performance.Her previous plays include Midnight Movie (Royal Court/Berlin Theatertreffen Stueckemarkt 2020), While You Are Here (The Place/Dance East), The Trick (Bush Theatre, national tour), Spooky Action At A Distance (Royal Court/RWCMD), The Curtain (Young Vic Taking Part), and Stone Face, Silent Planet (Finborough Theatre). She has also received commissions from National Theatre Connections, Bush Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Sheffield Theatres, and PappyShow. She was artist-in-residence at the National Theatre of Greece 2017. Leigh was awarded the Jerwood/Royal Court New Playwright Award in 2019 (with Jasmine Lee-Jones), and the Berlin Theatertreffen Stueckemarkt Selection 2020, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize.


By Miriam Battye

Over one evening, four virgins and two non-virgins try to answer the question that has been repeatedly asked of them, ‘What do you want?’

Miriam Battye is a writer from Manchester. Her previous plays include Scenes with girls (Royal Court), Trip The Light Fantastic (Bristol Old Vic), Pancake Day (Bunker Theatre/PLAY Theatre Co) and All Your Gold (Theatre Royal Plymouth), and she has written extensively for community and youth groups in Manchester and the South West.  She also has recently started to write for television and was the 2018 Sister Pictures Writer In Residence.


By Ahlam

The play is about love and resistance in Cairo.

Ahlam has submitted YOU BURY ME under a pseudonym.

Ahlam is an occasional writer, she tries to fit it between her anxiety about the end of the world and her anxiety about what her parents would think. When she’s not writing plays, she spends her time teaching herself how to put on liquid eye-liner, wondering why koshari isn’t the most popular dish in the world and contemplating who she would have been if she had grown up in Blacksburg (VA) instead of Cairo (Egypt).

Charlotte and Katie said:

“We are ecstatic to be sharing these seven plays as the finalists for the prize. They represent some of the most extraordinary new writing we have come across in our careers. Each story has been crafted with passion, vision and a bursting political heart. Reading them was an absolute privilege, and every one is a deserving winner. We want to thank every writer who submitted a play for sharing a bit of themselves with us. It was an incredibly competitive process that highlights how many amazing women playwrights there are working today.”