Theatre in Australia


The Lotus program has undoubtedly given me the drive and the space to actually develop a productive writing practice; forcing me to really consider how I construct cohesive stories and the elements contained with them. After ‘winging it’ for many years preceding, it was both an extremely frustrating and extremely enlightening process – and a skill that I am certainly still developing; but I also feel like I am starting to take a new ownership of my writing and I’m really excited to continue to grow in this new direction.

A really unexpected and hilarious highlight came from a moment all the ‘first draft’ writers shared in Sydney earlier this year, as we walked down the city streets one evening following a workshop. A drunken man pointed to one of our group, exclaiming an unoriginal racial remark – but then as he slowly gazed around our little cohort he exclaimed – ‘wait a minute – you’re all different kinds of Asians!’ He gawked as his tiny mind tried to comprehend how he might possibly be able simultaneously insult us all at once – whilst we held in fits of laughter. Drunken Sydney Man, succinctly summarised the beautiful diversity of individuals and artistry that the Lotus program had created. As lonely and isolating as writing can be, I was reminded that we were given a rare opportunity to propel each other forward – by being able to come together to discuss our worries and our passions, our dreams and our processes.

Broadly speaking, I’m deeply worried sometimes that Australian theatre is a shrinking bubble; a vacuum containing the same people engaging with and also creating works – making it seemingly inaccessible and alien to people outside of this realm. It’s really hard sometimes, explaining to people why I write and why theatre can be transformative. There are so many brilliantly explosive and poignant works that are pushing boundaries and treading heavily on complexities of the modern world; I worry that the lingering ‘exclusivity’ of mainstream theatre has inadvertently prevented the wider community from accessing these stories.

Natesha two

On the other hand, the initiation of the Lotus program shows me a real, decisive attempt to state that the mainstream theatrical space is as much a space for someone with my unconventional experiences and artistic style – as it is anyone else’s. Having been given unlimited space, freedom and most importantly, support – to create for the last year has opened my eyes to unlimited ways in which stories exist, how so many of them are lacking from the Australian stage and how it is so important to continue to support and nurture growing artists from all walks of life – not just the ones who have immediate access to the theatre.

At this year’s National Play festival, I hope to absorb absolutely anything and everything I can cram in to my head; from observing and understanding how other artists work – to further understanding how I really work. Having never had this piece of work performed in any context before; I cannot wait to unleash a gnarly and rambunctious gang of characters that have been whirling around in my mind for the past 6 months.

I am eager to learn how to facilitate and refine stories as they leave their paper-y confines and materialise in the real world. I am honestly terrified that, in seeing my writing ‘in the flesh’ – I won’t have any clue how to answer new questions raised about this work during the rehearsal period and performance. But it’s the exciting kind of ‘fear’ that only happens when you commit yourself wholly to a practice– like the fear you get before you get on a rollercoaster or before you get a tattoo – you might throw up the contents of your lunch, but you’ll ultimately be better for it at the process. (Just FYI, I’m not gonna puke this week, I swear.)

Natesha Somasundaram

Author: Natesha Somasundaram

Natesha Somasundaram is a 21 year-old writer from Melbourne. While currently completing her Bachelors of Performing Arts and Law, she has written and performed for a variety of productions ranging from student productions, the 2015 Comedy Festival, a handful of advertisements and one time she was even a writing intern at the Malthouse Theatre (fancy!!!). Her current play ‘Behind The Line’ is the longest piece of work she’s written to date – initiated and developed through the support of Playwriting Australia and Performance 4a’s Lotus. The reading of ‘Behind The Line’ at the 2016 National Play Festival will also be the first professional public reading of any of Natesha’s plays. Between writing, feigning vague interest in law stuff and watching copious re-runs of Tattoo Nightmares; Natesha spends a decent amount of time working out how many mediocre fart jokes she can say in a single breath, before passing out. (So far, her record is 3.5)

1 thought on “Theatre in Australia”

  1. This was a great article! I agree, “it is important to continue to support and nurture growing artists from all walks of life”. When art starts to become exclusive, we begin to block out people from different backgrounds from finding it relatable, and if they’re unable to connect with the views and language used in the performance then we start to discount large waves of people from engaging with the story, which seems very counter intuiative! The fear you speak of when “when you commit yourself wholly to a practice” I often call, wanting to vomit from an overwhelming sense of joy, haha, looking forward to seeing your writing “in the flesh” Natesha! ☺️

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