Musicians swap notes for words with Songrites

Indigenous voices will feature at the National Play Festival with Songrites.
Musicians swap notes for words with Songrites

Indigenous artists (left to right) Abe Wright, Casey Donovan, and Troy Brady who will feature during Songrites at the National Play Festival. Image © Sydney Opera House. 

Playwriting Australia (PWA) is hopeful that pilot Indigenous playwriting development initiative Songrites will gain future traction at the 2014 National Play Festival, to be held in Sydney from 12 to 15 June.

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PWA Artistic Director Tim Roseman said that celebrated Indigenous musicians Casey Donovan, Abe Wright and Troy Brady would each present excerpts of new writing for the stage at Sydney Opera House on Thursday 12 June.

‘We have been working with them for some months now about the fundamentals of storytelling, and the way that things than can be brought to music can be brought to a different genre.

Roseman said that Songrites would form a strong marker of how to best engage new artists. ‘It’s a program that we hope can do again with the Sydney Opera House, we hope that it can become a part of the calendar.

‘The hope is that it will create an audience for people to come and see these artists, not just because they like going to the theatre – hopefully it brings in new audiences, but equally creates avenues and pathways for people to just give it a go.’ 

Songrites was conceived by Head of Programming at Sydney Opera House Rhoda Roberts, a long term advocate of Australian Indigenous playwriting.

‘There aren't enough artists and not enough places to go to find new works. The resources are so scarce and the opportunities so few, that really anyone with talent is pounced upon and very quickly milked for everything that they can give.’

‘Part of Rhoda’s thinking was to try to create a pipeline of artists. By working with these three exceptional Indigenous Australians in Casey Donovan who won Australia Idol, in Troy Brady who was part of Aim4More, the first Indigenous boyband, and in Abe Wright who was a member of Street Warriors. They’ve got two pop stars and a hip hop artist who are not necessarily immediately connected with the theatre but who have masses to say and clearly have a voice.

‘That is the more important thing. Craft can be taught, but a voice is irreplaceable,’ he said.

Songrites will be held at the Sydney Opera House on Thursday 12 June at 3.00pm

The Playwriting Australia National Play Festival runs from 12 to 15 June in Sydney.

For full program information and tickets visit the Playwriting Australia website

Troy Nankervis

Monday 2 June, 2014

About the author

Troy Nankervis is an ArtsHub journalist from Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @troynankervis