Parnassus' Den - supporting new Australian script writing since 1994

 
 
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RAISON D'ÊTRE

Over the past decade, Parnassus' Den has been supporting Australian writers by giving them the opportunity to have their scripts read to the public. Nearly 500 scripts have passed through the Den since its inception in 1994 - many of which have been produced locally, nationally and internationally - and PD now has a permanent home at The Old Fitzroy Theatre in Woollomooloo.

in 2005 PD became a production company and produced Justin Fleming's play - The Department Store - the inaugural winner of The Mitch Mathews Award - as its first ever production. PD founder and Literary Manager, Drayton Morley, speaks of how the organisation has evolved and of PD's plans for the future.

Why did you establish Parnassus' Den?
I am passionate about new Australian stories and many exciting Australian writers are crying out for support. Prior to PD being established, new and emerging Australian writers had limited options when seeking support for developing their scripts. For example, submitting work to established script development organisations for consideration was an option, but with only a few being chosen, the majority of writers had nowhere to turn.

So, in February 1994, a group of dedicated actors, writers and directors met for the first time at the St. Laurence Art Centre in Sydney to read what would be the first of hundreds of new Australian plays, films, television and radio scripts. Today, PD has matured to become an organisation with a constitution to support Australian writers and a team committed to that goal.

How does PD work?
Writers submit their scripts to PD. After selecting a script, the committee identifies readers from an ensemble of approximately 80 professional actors to breathe life into the characters and read the script to the public. The author attends the reading, following which, the audience comments on the script - what works, what doesn't - giving the writer invaluable feedback for the next draft. We're pleased to say that many scripts that have debuted at PD have gone on to screens, stages and airwaves throughout Australia and internationally.

What are PD's plans for the future?
The move to The Old Fitzroy Theatre in 2004 was a recent step in PD's evolution. Over the past 14 years, we have operated from numerous venues - From PD's origins at the St Laurence Centre in 1995 (now the home of ACTT), to the now defunct Cafe (and Theatre) Basilica - the spiritual home of PD - to the Side-On Cafe on Parramatta Road, The Green Iguana Cafe in Newtown, The Big Nose Cafe in Bondi and then The magnificent Friend in Hand Hotel in Glebe, PD has had a gypsy-esque existance over the years, but continues to evolve and thrive! The move to The Old Fitzroy Theatre in 2004 provided us with a theatre to present works professionally without losing the intimacy and non-confrontational environment that we value so much. We are also now working in the same neighbourhood with companies like the Tamarama Rock Surfers, Darlinghurst Theatre Company and the Griffin Theatre Company - all of which have a focus on producing and developing new Australian scripts.

We are very excited to be producing Rio Saki & Other Falling Debris by Shaun Charles, the winner of the 2006 Mitch Mathews award. We've assembled a great creative team that should help us do justice to a thrilling new Australian play.

Drayton Morley is a National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) acting graduate (1991) and has had a successful career as an actor over the past 17 years in theatre, film and television in Australia and overseas. PD is a non-profit organisation and hosts script readings most Monday nights at 7:30pm at The Old Fitzroy Theatre, 129 Dowling Street, cnr Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo, Sydney.Entry to readings costs $10 or $8 for members. Membership costs $25 per annum.

To be considered for a reading, please send your scripts to Drayton Morley at PO Box 655, Maroubra NSW 2035. Go to www.parnassusden.org.au for more information.

 

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