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Fresh Ink

When Ciella Williams took part in Fresh Ink in 2016 – the Australian Theatre for Young People’s mentoring program for emerging writers – she hadn’t written much for theatre.

“I was always a bit intimidated. How do you begin writing something so monumental? You don’t realise that everyone starts with a crappy first draft and everyone starts with feelings of inadequacy, and you just have to push through.”

Fresk InkFast-forward to today, and Ciella is busy mentoring a new cohort of budding young playwrights taking part in the program – co-presented here in the NT by Brown’s Mart – and preparing for the premiere of her first full-length play, Hush, in Sydney, before it hits the Brown’s Mart stage later this year.

Conceptualised just days after she gave birth to her daughter, Hush cuts through cultural narratives about motherhood to explore the fears, ugly desires and harsh realities women experience when faced with this transformation.

Ciella was approached to write the play by Lucy Clements, a theatre director and founder of Ignite Collective – a group that aims to create more substantial roles for women in theatre – thanks to connections she made during her time at Fresh Ink.

“She rang me, and it was six days after I’d given birth to my daughter, so I was a little bit shell-shocked, but I knew I’d kick myself if I didn’t do it.”

With such achievements under her belt and her own experience being mentored by one of the NT’s premier playwrights, Mary-Anne Butler, in the program, it’s fitting that Ciella is now the one cultivating the talent of young playwrights.

“It’s really inspiring,” she explains, “and gives you so much hope for the future of the performing arts in this country, especially in a regional place… It’s just so exciting to see how strong these creatives are, and have been, year after year.”

Darwin audiences can experience some of these exciting new voices for themselves at a performed reading of the short plays written by participants in the program at Brown’s Mart at the end of the month.

But you’d better be quick – tickets to this free event book out fast.

“People are so hungry to see these new works come to life and to support these young playwrights. It’s a really special example of the arts community up here coming out to nurture the next generation,” Ciella says.


Thumbnail: Ciella Williams and this year's ATYP participants

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