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NIDA announces Launchpad winner as Periscope Productions

NIDA announces Periscope Productions as the winners of the inaugural Launchpad residency at the new Melbourne studios.

Benjamin Sheen from Periscope Productions

Photo: Fiona Spitkowsky (left) and Benjamin Sheen (right)

NIDA has announced the winners of the inaugural Launchpad residency at the new Melbourne studios. Periscope Productions, featuring VCA graduate Fiona Spitzkowsky and NIDA graduate Benjamin Sheen (Directing, 2015), will take up the one-week residency in the Creative Spaces: Guild in the heart of the Southbank Arts Precinct.

‘The residency will be crucial in allowing the company to explore alternative dramaturgical approaches to developing new Australian work,’ said Fiona Spitzkowsky, writer, and Benjamin Sheen, director.

‘We will be using the residency to begin development of a play called Scratch. On the surface, the play is a simple narrative about the breakdown of an intimate relationship,’ Spitzkowsky and Sheen explained. ‘But it is told through the layered tones of five voices speaking simultaneously through two characters, revealing that beneath the awkward stilted conversation and easy physical intimacy, there swarms a deep disconnection not only between two people, but between the minds and bodies of each individual. It is an exploration of isolation in intimacy, and the poetics of the unspoken, the unspeakable embodied language of depression and self-harm.’

‘We are excited to support Periscope in this residency, to allow the artists to develop the project in a safe creative space,’ said Client Engagement Manager - NIDA Melbourne, Dr Nithya Nagarajan. ‘Their residency will allow them to workshop fresh ideas, think big, put thoughts into action, be critically reflexive and engage with the NIDA community.’

The residency will include stripping the work to its skeleton, tracing the ebb and flow of the language, script analysis, experimenting with musical elements and projections, use of microphones, rehearsing excerpts of text and plotting storylines. A presentation of the work will be followed by a feedback/discussion session with the creatives and audience.

About the artists

Fiona Spitzkowsky is a writer, editor and theatre-maker. A graduate of VCA, she has worked as a producer for Attic Erratic, creative producer for the Emerging Writers’ Festival and assistant producer for the Festival of Live Art at Arts House. She has directed The Taming of the Shrew (MUSC, 2015) and [Lady] Macbeth (Twelve Angry, 2016). As a writer, Fiona has worked extensively with Australian Theatre for Young People (National Studio 2014, Voices Project 2015, Fresh Ink Program 2015), while penning scripts for Sprung Festival and Disability Media’s What’s Wrong With U?. In 2016, Fiona was a member of the Voiceworks editorial committee, has presented work at Crack Theatre Festival and Critical Animals Festival and Testing Grounds.

Benjamin Sheen is a film and theatre director and NIDA graduate (Directing, 2015). Before NIDA, Benjamin spent three years studying Media at RMIT in Melbourne, active in independent theatre as actor, designer and director. He co-founded Periscope Productions, and directed and designed Chatroom (2012), The Dice House (2013) and Attempts on Her Life (2014). Benjamin also directed and designed independent productions: Sugar Sugar for MKA and The Pillowman for Four Letter Word Theatre. In 2016, Benjamin worked as an Assistant Director on The Olympians directed by Jeff Janisheski, and undertaken Directing Secondments at MTC and Opera Australia.

Find out more about NIDA Launchpad and NIDA Melbourne.

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