Keynote experts to bring wealth of knowledge to short play festival

By University of Otago - Division of Humanities | Posted: Tuesday March 5, 2019

Chicago-based producer and director Tanya Palmer will add an immeasurable wealth of insight, experience and knowledge as the UNESCO Cities of Literature Short Play Festivals keynote expert this September.

Palmer is Producer and Director of New Play Development at Goodman Theatre, Chicago’s oldest and largest non-profit and non-commercial theatre.

At the theatre she has expanded production and established the company’s annual new play development programme – New Stages – into a nationally recognized festival.

She has also been responsible for commissioning and developing more than 150 new plays, many of which have gone on to full productions at theatres around the US, received major awards, and entered into the contemporary canon. 

Palmer is an adjunct professor at the Theatre School at DePaul University and, as a mentor to literary and dramaturgy interns at the Goodman and previously at the Actors Theatre in Louisville, has trained and helped to launch the careers of dozens of playwrights, directors, dramaturgs, producers and administrators.

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Tanya holds an MFA in Playwriting from York University in Toronto.

Department of Music, Theatre and Performing Arts head Professor Stuart Young says Palmer is a valuable addition University of Otago-hosted event.

The Festival is part of the University’s 150th Anniversary celebrations, and is being run in conjunction with the UNESCO Cities of Literature and the Dunedin City Council. In addition to a full schedule of weekend and evening performances over eight days, the festival programme will feature workshops, rehearsed readings and “pitch” style presentations of scripts, and a series of forums on aspects of 21st century dramaturgy and playwriting – all of which the public is invited to attend.

“Tanya will add an immeasurable wealth of insight, experience and knowledge and is well qualified for leading the appraisals and panel discussions of the new work that will be presented. She has extensive experience in framing feedback sensitively to apprentice and emerging writers, and I know they will benefit greatly from her input,” Professor Young says.

He also acknowledged Amanda Faye Martin for identifying Palmer as an ideal candidate for this role. Martin will be re-joining Theatre Studies as its Playwriting Teaching Fellow in July this year.

Other keynote experts are: 

Victor Rodger

Former Burns Fellow and all-round enthusiast, playwright Victor Rodger. Victor’s acclaimed plays include Sons, My Name is Gary Cooper, Ranterstantrum and Black Faggot. He has held several writing residences and currently teaches scriptwriting at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington.

Dr Fiona Graham

Dr Fiona Graham, playwright and dramaturg, is Director of the MA in Dramaturgy and Writing for Performance at Goldsmiths College, University in London. Fiona lived and worked in Auckland 2004-2014. Her plays have been staged at Auckland’s Herald Theatre and by Massive Theatre Company, and she has a diverse portfolio as a dramaturg, including physical theatre, dance, ambulatory and site-specific performance projects. Fiona was also dramaturg for Hush and Be | Longing, verbatim plays created by Hilary Halba, Professor Young and collaborators in Theatre Studies at Otago. She recently authored Performing Dramaturgy.

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