Today I am very excited to announce that a new, never previously offered, opportunity for Australian Music Theatre Writers (Music/Lyrics/Book) is now available from the Academy for New Music Theatre based in Los Angeles.
This two-year, online course, is one of the most rigorous and exciting programs available in the USA for aspiring musical theatre writers. Now for the first time, it is being made available online, outside of the USA, and only to Australian writers!
You can download the brochure here
What makes this opportunity unique, is that the Australian writing teams selected to participate – and there is only six spots available in the first instance – have the opportunity not only working with the very best teaching staff headed by ANMT’s Executive Director Scott Guy and Artistic Director, Elise Dewsberry, but they will also gain access to a network of American professional theatre producers, and other industry insiders, during and at the conclusion of the program in order to pitch their show. But wait, it gets even better. Depending on the calibre of the final work presented, ANMT may choose one, or possibly two, works for a a full concert reading (valued at $25,000).
OK, so if you’re not an Australian musical theatre writer (Songwriter/Lyricist/Bookwriter, or any combination thereof) and you’re reading this post, you might be wondering why this is such a big deal? The answer is because there are NO OPPORTUNITIES for Australian musical theatre writers to formally receive an education in this theatre discipline – in Australia itself. Nope, I’m not kidding, not a one!
However placing this incongruity into context is not difficult when you realise that there is almost a complete absence of recognition by music education institutions, funding bodies and/or other Arts granting bodies in Australia, that music theatre writers actually exist (in some respects, I think there are funding Boards that would rather actually they didn’t). It’s a bit hard to swallow when you realise that 24%, or thereabout, of the theatre-going public go primarily to see Musicals – but just not any homegrown ones.
It is now a decade since Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist, Jeanne Pratt, was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald (29/11/2002) saying “I believe our writers and composers have the ability to follow them [choreographers, dancers, actors and musicians] with original works of opera and music theatre. It’s time for an Australian to make that international breakthrough.” But since then, nothing has ostensibly changed; not, I might add, from lack of Jeanne and The Pratt Foundation making a concerted effort over a number of years to rectify this imbalance.
Valuable as they are up to a certain point, a few opportunities for Australian music writers to have their works initially selected and then subsequently workshopped, have come and gone post The Pratt Foundation initiative (Pratt Prize for Musical Theatre) – from which I exclude the invaluable and ongoing work of Magnormos – but the overarching and uniform weakness in each and every incarnation of all such subsequent initiatives, is that they do not deal with the primary requirement of “HOW TO WRITE MUSICALS?’ ‘Doctoring’ them or pseudo-artistic curatorial pretensions of ‘developing’ new works will never counteract basic problems of outline, character development, narrative flow, lack of knowledge of theatrical song form…..the list goes on. Like all other training requirements to develop artistic practice – there has to be a training program.
What’s my involvement? Just mentoring! No money, no kickbacks, no administrative fees, no financial gain whatsoever. Why? Because it is about raising awareness and doing something ‘real to assist young Australian musical theatre writers, that is way past due.
Australian music theatre writers – start your engines!