My name is Kathryn Ash. I’m a playwright, dramaturg and actor living in and working from Far North Queensland, Australia since 1990.
In the early 1990’s, I was one of three female theatre practitioners who founded a professional theatre company in Cairns—Just Us Theatre Ensemble, now known as JUTE Theatre Company. Through JUTE, I developed my skills in scriptwriting, producing some ten scripts for company productions over the first decade. One such script was Bag O’ Marbles, a family drama that was selected to be developed and read at the National Playwright’s Conference in 2001, and in the following year, it was co-produced by Queensland Theatre Company and JUTE under the direction of Michael Gow. Bag O’ Marbles was also the winner of an international award, the New York’s Dramatist’s exchange in 2002, and is published by Playlab press.
All that while I was also busy creating JUTE programs that cultivated a healthy environment in Far North Queensland for other writers. In 1999, I created Enter Stage Write, a script development program designed to support emerging regional writers and support JUTE’s ever-growing need for new Australian regional works for production. The program encouraged new and established writers to explore their writing craft, create the stories that made them excited, and have those stories performed in front of a live audience. Enter Stage Write flourished under the guidance of some of Australia’s most skilled and respected dramaturgs; Micheal Gow, Timothy Daley, Tom Gutteridge, Francesca Smith, Sue Rider, Ian Brown, Ian Sinclair and Peter Matheson. Each year we saw a huge improvement in the level of skill and professional success in our regional writers, so much so that others began to notice. The program won two awards in recognition of its work with regional writers – The Playlab award for Services to New Work in Queensland and the Queensland Writers’ Award. That program developed 49 new works, at least twenty of which have gone on to be produced either in Cairns or elsewhere.
In the 12 years of running that program Enter Stage Write, I learned a lot. As I sat in on most dramaturgical sessions with the writers I came to understand that I had a passion not only for writing stories, but also a passion for helping other people write their stories. I realised that I am, in fact, a dramaturg. I began to working in creative developments of new work at JUTE and in other regional centres.
In 2016, I headed up a new program for the company. Write Sparks. I’ve designed and delivered this new program specifically for new writers, to help them understand the basics of story-telling. There is also an online version of it, Write Out Loud, in which I teach learning scriptwriting through a series of downloadable modules of learning. I delight still in working for JUTE as a dramaturg, working on creative developments of various new works for established writers in preparation for production. It is such an exciting job to help bring other writers to the very best place for their work to be told.
I continue to write plays. I continue to have success in development opportunities and in productions. Twenty-seven years in this kind of work and my story is still unfolding.