On Friday 2 December, we launched our 2017 season. Here's what we said.
Well hello there! I'm Jennifer Piper, wit incorporated Company Manager. Thank you for joining us to celebrate wit incorporated’s 2017 Season Launch!
We acknowledge that we are on the traditional lands of the Kulin nation. We offer our respect to the elders of these traditional lands and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples past and present.
It’s my great pleasure to welcome some special guests.
- Vivian Clarke, Arts & Culture Officer at City of Maribyrnong
- Penny McDonald, who is a teacher of The Alexander Technique, a wizard and director of Harmonic Motion
As well as Kim, Justin, Alexandra and Robin, who will entertain us later in the evening with a selection of nice tunes and stuff they remember from the old days.
But first, I'd like to introduce our Artistic Director, Belinda Campbell
We have some very exciting things to share with you tonight. And I’d like to start by officially welcoming to the company some new wits! These artists will make up our 2017 ensemble of women.
So put your hands together for Allison Bell, Claire Bowen and Sarah Clarke.
I’m immeasurably thrilled to be working with this brilliant cohort of women
After a successful residency in this beautiful building that is Bluestone Church Arts Space this year, I’m very pleased to announce that Maribyrnong City Council has granted us artistic residency for 2017! Thank you very much for your support Arts & Culture team, we are looking forward to continuing to work closely with you next year.
And now, the season! 2017 will be a year of women in theatre and diversity on stage. Every show you will see on the wit stage, will be written by women, directed by women and performed by women. But we know that gender isn’t the only great divider in our society. So you’ll also see casts as diverse as the community in which they are performing.
The first show of the season is: A Hero’s Guide to Saving the Planet
An environmental superheroes adventure for children. This funny and highly silly play, aims to teach children - and remind their parents - of the important ways we can save the planet, by reducing what we use and recycling everything we can. Be ready for shiny capes, cheesy catchphrases and groan worthy jokes.
After undergoing further development with our ensemble, and a season in Bluestone in July, this play will be made available to local schools for an incursion.
Our second show: A Scandal in the Weimar
Lady Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Jean Watson, travel to Berlin and face off against the NAZIS. Along with it’s season in August, this play will receive further development in an Arts Box Residency in January, creating a brand new song in the style of the Jewish German Cabaret stars, as a centerpiece for the production.
Written by two extraordinarily talented wit’s, Claire Bowen and Jennifer Piper.
Our final show for 2017: Outside In
Set inside a women’s prison, this marvelous script, by Hillary Beaton will be on stage in October. The back of my copy, published in 1984, says “her writing grew from a rising feminist consciousness and the desire to create roles for women where they are seen as the subject and not the object”.
Playmarket describes it as "Brutal, funny and at heart, a love story…. an intensely honest portrayal of seven women's lives within the hostile world of prison."
Well, those are the fully staged productions for 2017, but wait there’s more! We enjoyed our play readings so much this year, and they were so well received, that you can expect more readings to be announced throughout next year.
Sundays at the church, a workshop for actors, writers and directors will also continue, next year. This meetup will run on a regular basis - roughly every four weeks - at 6pm, here in Bluestone. These get togethers are not a class. They are a chance to meet other artists, work on your craft, test material and rehearse in this beautiful space.
We operating a 'pay what you can' system. We depend on your contribution to cover the cost of the venue and insurance, but we understand it's not always possible for working actors to stump up the cash. Just bring along a fiver, or spare change and drop it in the jar when you get here.
The dates for first half of 2017 will be released shortly, so artists be sure to put them in your calendars. We have a few more sessions left in December, so make sure you check our facebook page for updates.
Alongside our season of theatre shows, we are also continuing our children’s outreach program Wit Kids in 2017. Wit Kids provides children aged 5-12 years with after school drama classes, at a very low cost. Before the end of term one this year, our two afternoons of classes were completely full and we had to add a third day. It has been an absolute joy to work with this diverse group of children, and I can’t wait to get started on next year’s program.
Our amazing artistic program could not happen without the support of our season partners.
Maribyrnong City Council, as well as hosting us in this amazing space, provided two grants in 2016 – one to fund the development of Couch Potato and one to run the pilot year of Wit Kids. In 2017, they’re providing another grant, to help us grow our corporate partnership program.
Braybrook Community Hub continue to support our Wit Kids children’s drama program, through venue sponsorship and additional funding.
Seddon Community Bank have come on board to partner with us in continuing Wit Kids for 2017. We’re hoping that the partnership will also allow us to expand the program, to reach even more children.
While you have some grog in your glass, please raise a toast to Jen Pfeiffer and Naked Wines, for their second year of wine sponsorship. Jen is a really exciting winemaker, based in Rutherglen up near the border, and we love working with her to Rock it Like a Redhead.
Cheers also to Jayne, Danielle and the team at Two Birds Brewing in Spotswood. They are the only women-owned brewery in Australia, they’re westies like us, and they make really good beer. It’s a partnership that just makes sense, and they round out our bar for 2017 as beer sponsors.
Every season, we bring in the lights, staging and other tech to turn this into a working theatre. LX Mech Hire sponsor us with lights and other tech, as well as a whole lot of encouragement and wisdom, and we really couldn’t do it without them. When we need to sort out a stage, Pro-Stage Victoria are also really good to us.
Getting word out to audiences is also pretty important, and Minuteman Press Footscray have taken great care of us as printing sponsors this year. We’re looking forward to carrying that partnership into 2017.
We also have huge love for Howard Fine Acting Studio, Williamstown Little Theatre, Rooftop Honey, Harmonic Motion, and Finesse Cakes by Ingrid.
And it’s not just corporate support.
Our members and ticket-buyers are the heart of what we do. Without you in the audience, we are just screaming into the void.
Our donors get us over the line when we can’t quite reach. Particular thanks this year to Terry Cerche, Jeremy Willmott, Barry Voellner and Penny McDonald.
Melbourne’s independent theatre scene is amazing, and it runs on the smell of an oily rag. Each year, the wits put in about 1600 hours of unpaid work each, to bring you world-class entertainment. That’s quite a bit when it’s your profession.
You can sponsor, donate or subscribe. You can book out a show and we’ll turn it into an event for your customers, suppliers, staff or VIPs. You can introduce us to someone who might want to sponsor us.
There’s a whole lot of ways for you to keep us on stage. Just ask.
Because at the end of the day, wit incorporated only exists with every person here.
So here’s to all of us.
We are wit!