Australian playwright delivers “write stuff” as part of new script agency
AUSTRALIAN playwright Chris Thomas understands the value of the written word – and the importance of sharing resources.
After hearing TAZ Entertainment was launching Western Australia’s first agency representing emerging playwrights, he was keen to get on board to bring his work to a wider audience.
For the past five years, TAZ Entertainment has been promoting theatre and music events across metropolitan and regional Western Australia and has now expanded with its TAZ Playwrights agency.
"Melanie DeCull is the driving force behind TAZ Entertainment and it’s to her credit she’s had the innovation to fill a market gap when it comes to playwrights in Western Australia,” Thomas said.
“During my own personal experience in theatre over the years, as a performer and writer, I have seen a good selection of plays written by West Australian authors.
“But all too often they are only given one outing and then forgotten, simply because people are unaware these scripts exist.
“Yet year after year, people are on the hunt for one-act plays, musicals, kids’ pantomimes, monologues and full-length plays and can’t find anything suitable.
“What Mel has done is create an easily-accessible central point for these scripts and their playwrights with an effective online presence.
“Essentially, she’s created a shop window for scripts on the web, giving people a new option for all sorts of performance styles.”
TAZ Playwrights already represents 16 West Australian playwrights, including Bruce Denny, Travis Hooper, Mark Kont, Chris Thomas, Stephan Jean De Jonghe, Max Harvey, C. Aspden Pomfret, Peter Flanigan, Martin Lindsay, Noel O’Neill, Carole Dhu, Vanja Clayton, Denni Cee, Shirley Ingram, John Lewington and Johnny Grim.
Thomas has several scripts available, including SMS Mess, Which One?, King Bling, The Bonza Land of Oz, Who's Your Daddy? and Reality Matters.
In promoting a variety of theatre, matched with her own theatre experience in past 20 years, TAZ Entertainment director Melanie DeCull has witnessed some remarkable productions created by WA playwrights.
“There is an outstanding array of talent in our state that needs further encouragement and representation,” she said.
“Our new playwrights have limited forums where they can promote their scripts, so I set out to change that.
“By providing an online forum for these plays, theatre clubs, schools, groups and organisations from around the world can easily find them.
“Nature abhors a vacuum – and Stages WA, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Independent Theatre Association and various writers’ centres have all given encouraging support since setting up this venture.”
Script samples can be downloaded from www.tazentertainment.com.au by clicking on TAZ Playwrights, allowing people to try before they buy, DeCull said.
For more details and interview requests, contact Melanie DeCull via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Thomas can be contacted via email email@example.com
Swine flu in Doctor Who? Journo's Diary author’s short story proves prophetic
Journo's Diary author Chris Thomas had never heard of swine flu a year ago – but his Doctor Who short story published in April 2008 does have one or two similarities.
His time-travelling tale One Step Forward, Two Steps Back was featured in Short Trips: Defining Patterns, published by Big Finish, a UK company licensed to produce Doctor Who audio adventures and short story anthologies.
Thomas’ story features the Doctor trying to cure a disease on an alien planet but an unexpected mutation causes widespread death across the population.
The current swine flu is a new strain of the H1N1 respiratory disease commonly affecting pigs, mixing the human and animal versions of the influenza virus.
“In my story, there are two versions of the Doctor,” Thomas said. “His fifth incarnation is in the planet’s past, trying to cure the disease, while his second incarnation lands the TARDIS in the same planet’s future, unaware of what his future self is doing.
“Each time the fifth Doctor makes progress on curing the population, the future keeps drastically changing for the second Doctor and he doesn’t understand why because what’s happening in the past is actually his personal future.”
For those unfamiliar with Doctor Who, the central character is a Time Lord called the Doctor who can change his body when the old one dies, neatly explaining the change of lead actor. To date, there have been 10 Doctors on television.
Thomas said the disease in his story was simply a way to trigger an exploration of the cause-and-effect theme he had been given.
“When I first heard the swine flu was a result of viruses crossing with each other, I thought it sounded a little familiar,” Thomas said.
“Especially with all the talk of a possible pandemic spreading the infectious disease across large regions, that’s kind of what happens in my story because it affects the whole planet.
“Although my twist is the cure itself mutates and causes further problems, rather than the original disease.
“It’s obviously just a coincidence – but science-fiction programs like Doctor Who have always taken current possibilities and extrapolated them further.”
Short Trips: Defining Patterns, featuring Thomas’ short story, is available by clicking HERE.
Journo's Diary author Chris Thomas, pictured below - his Doctor Who short story has some similarities with the swine flu crisis
Book yourself in for Journo’s Diary
SOMETIMES simple ideas are often the best – and a good book still makes a great present.
Journo’s Diary by Australian author Chris Thomas is heaps of fun, describing the comical misadventures of a young cadet journalist as he copes with the good, the bad and the ugly life throws at him.
“It was probably inspired in some ways by The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole and Ben Elton’s style of humour,” Thomas said.
“I’ve occasionally had the feedback that ‘it’s a bit like a male Bridget Jones’ but I wasn’t even familiar with that work until after the book was published.
“I wrote the book I might like to read at the end of the day – if you’ve been up to your eyeballs in paper work you want something light and easy to read in the evening.
“It does get a bit risque in parts but that’s half the fun… it’s the same sort of humour that stems from the books and authors that may have influenced me.”
Based in Perth, Western Australia, Thomas has an extensive background as a journalist, writer, actor and in media relations. Three of his plays (SMS Mess, The Bonza Land of Oz and Who’s Your Daddy?) premiered in 2008 and his Doctor Who short story One Step Forward, Two Steps Back was published in the collection Short Trips: Defining Patterns.
As to whether any of Journo’s Diary is based in reality, Thomas said he deliberately crafted his novel to make people think they’ve spotted themselves or someone they know.
“By creating characters that resonate, people reading the book will say ‘Oh, I know a guy like that’ or ‘I used to work with a girl who did something similar’,” he said.
“I’ve always used the approach of taking a seed of something you may have encountered or heard, perhaps mixing it with something else, and then letting it grow into something that’s completely over the top, in order to gain maximum humorous effect.
“A good example is a portion of the book set in a baked beans factory, which prompted someone to ask me: ‘How do you know so much about baked bean factories?’ The answer is simple – I don’t, I just made it up.”
Thomas describes Journo’s Diary as “the kind of book you can dip in and out of without thinking too much” making it ideal for the holiday season or when travelling on a plane.
“Basically, I wrote it with just fun in mind but there are some poignant observations on life thrown into the mix as well,” he said.
For more information, contact author Chris Thomas via email firstname.lastname@example.org.