Playwright program empowers young regional voices
A play created by students from refugee and multicultural backgrounds was streamed to family overseas. Alyssa Terese reports.
06 December 2023
Twenty-three students from a rich tapestry of backgrounds gathered for the Multicultural Playwright Program, creating and performing that was also streamed to family and friends in five different countries.
The Arts Unit’s regional three-day workshop was attended by Orara and Coffs Harbour high school students, helping develop the theatre writing and language skills of students from years 7 to 12 from refugee backgrounds, as well as students who are culturally and linguistically diverse.
It is the second time the workshop has run outside Sydney.
Participating students represented backgrounds including Iraq, Myanmar, India, the Congo and Kenya.
Coffs Harbour High School English and Drama teacher and program coordinator, Jessica Rattenbury, said the program incorporated student voice and empowered them to work together, creating art to share.
“The program focuses on facilitating improvisation activities to build student confidence and skills and provides an opportunity for them to share their stories, interests and perspectives through collaborative working,” she said.
“The Multicultural Playwright Program runs each year in Sydney, so it’s amazing to have it in Coffs Harbour again for the first time since 2019.”
The Coffs Harbour workshop is run in collaboration with Umbrella Theatrical Production facilitators, Adrienne Megan Lester and Claudia Desautels, who give individuals and groups the opportunity to have share ideas and voices through artistic exploration, creative development and public showcases.
“The NSW Public Schools Multicultural Playwright Program not only enriches the lives of participating students but also highlights the importance of providing platforms for diverse voices in the realm of arts and culture,” Ms Rattenbury said.