DEATH MATCH & CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT
This October, Monash University's Centre for Theatre and Performance returns to Malthouse Theatre with a new Australian play, Death Match, an explosive work of physical theatre tackling the big issues – life, death and ambition – against the backdrop of a sporting arena.
This is the third year of Monash’s program of commissioning writers to create new plays for students to perform at The Coopers Malthouse as part of the ongoing relationship between the two organisations.
This year’s writer Morgan Rose says that the model of development Monash supports is rare in Australia. In an era in which many playwrights get caught in endless cycles of development and plays remain in the workshop or worse – the dusty draw – to be trusted to produce a performance-ready work is exciting:
‘The Monash model of commissioning theatre makers to create work that is then immediately produced is the ideal process of creation,’ says Rose. ‘It allows artists to create work and encourages non-traditional methods of creation. We are given the time, support and resources to make new work. Monash is supporting artists, creating high-quality work and pushing boundaries at the same time.'
Previous commissioned playwrights have included Patricia Cornelius and Melissa Reeves, whose 2016 script for Monash, Uprising, was recently shortlisted for an Australian Writers Guild Award. In 2015 Morgan Rose worked with fellow playwrights Angus Cerini, Daniel Keene, Fleur Kilpatrick and Zoey Dawson to create Welcome to Nowhere. Rose’s voice was so perfectly suited to that of the Monash student performers that she became the first playwright to be invited back for a second time.
The play is directed by Rose’s long-time collaborator, Katrina Cornwell.
‘Morgan and I have been collaborating on theatre projects since 2010 and as such have developed our own unique process of devising,’ says Cornwell. ‘Working with Morgan, someone that knows my work and my aesthetic so well, is both joyful and challenging. Joyful because we share the same sense of humour and challenging because we are never afraid to share our honest opinions with each other and argue for hours over the details. We keep each other on our toes as we are always attempting to do something that we haven't done before.’
Death Match’s robust and desperate physicality is certainly something that the Monash student performers have not done before. This is the first work of physical theatre that has been commissioned in the three years of the Monash/Malthouse Theatre partnership. In supporting such a work, the department seeks to acknowledge the inherent value of this form in a city where the physical language of theatre is as vibrant as the written word.
‘Monash University’s Centre for Theatre and Performance is committed to contributing to a thriving cultural community which our students are entering,’ says Centre director, Dr Jane Montgomery Griffith. “We want to nurture the next generation of theatre makers and as such, it's vital that we support the current generation. The Monash/Malthouse Theatre partnership makes this possible by enabling The Centre to commission some of the best playwrights in the business to work with our students to create a uniquely collaborative event.’
From our Major Partners at Monash University.