Australian Plays Transform

First Nations Retreat

We are very happy to announce the successful applicants for APT’s First Nations Retreat for 2022!

The First Nations Retreat & Development Strategy is a 6-step project aimed at seeding, developing, connecting, publishing and distributing plays by First Nations playwrights.

Philanthropic support and retreat location provided by Shark Island Kangaroo Valley, 15-23 February 2022.


This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts
funding and advisory body.


Andrea Jamesis a Yorta Yorta/Gunaikurnai woman and a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts.  She makes work that reflects her identity, sharing historical and contemporary stories of Aboriginal experiences within sharp contemporary theatrical language and form. Andrea is an experienced collaborator, playwright, producer and director. She was a recipient of British Council’s Accelerate Program for Aboriginal Art Leaders in 2013 and was awarded a Create NSW Aboriginal Arts Fellowship in 2018.  She has produced for Carriageworks, Blacktown Arts Centre and Urban Theatre Projects. She was Artistic Director of Melbourne Workers Theatre 2001-2008 where she is best known for her play Yanagai! Yanagai!  She co- wrote Coranderrk with Giordano Nanni for LaMama and Ilbijerri, Bright World with Elise Hearst for Arthur Productions and wrote Blacktown Angels for Home Country for Urban Theatre Projects, Bukal for JUTE Theatre (about Auntie Henrietta Marrie a Yidinjji woman who spearheaded global First People’s Intellectual Property Rights at the UN) which Andrea directed at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre and Winyanboga Yurringa (inspired by Hyllus Maris and Sonia Borg’s seminal novel and television series Women of the Sun) presented by Moogahlin Performing Arts and remounted at Belvoir in May 2019.

Her works have shown throughout Australia, in the UK, Paris and New York.  She is currently a writer-in-residence at Melbourne Theatre Company developing The Black Woman of Gippsland from her grandmother’s country based on the catastrophic 1840’s legend of the “White Woman of Gippsland.”  Her play, Sunshine Super Girl, about Wiradjuri tennis superstar Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, was Produced by Performing Lines and premiered in Griffith on the 7th October 2020 and made its main stage debut at the Sydney Festival in January 2021.  Sunshine Super Girl will embark on a sixteen week Australian National tour in 2022 playing at major cities, regional towns and state festivals. Her newest play Dogged was written with collaborator and friend Cath Ryan and premiered at Griffin Theatre in May 2021.  Andrea is currently Artistic Associate at Griffin Theatre that compliments her freelance practice as Playwright, Director, and Dramaturg, continuing to specialise in instigating and encouraging new First Nations plays with emerging and established artists nationwide.

Jorjia Gillis is a proud Saltwater woman of the Budawang tribe of the Yuin nation. As a Sydney based writer, actor and arts educator Jorjia has worked on a number of theatre and TV productions. Jorjia is the currently the Balnaves Fellow at Belvoir where is developing her play Throwback. Jorjia recently performed in the award winning short film Game Night and co-wrote and performed in the comedy show The Office at the End of the World with the Kvetch Set. Other theatre credits include, Bollywood Dreaming and Bless the Child at the Yellamundie Festival, BAD a performance salon at PACT curated by Cope St Collective, iDNA, Haircuts, A Pair of Lunatics, Slutterati, Haus, Enron, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet and The Woman. Jorjia was an Arts Educator for Bell Shakespeare and a Graduate of the University of New England and the Academy of Film Theatre & Television.

Melody Dia is a proud Nyul Nyul woman, born and raised in Broome Western Australia, with a mixed heritage of Indonesian, Indian and European background. She has loved theatre ever since she saw the original stage play of Bran Nue Dae, as a young girl. After discovering Shakespeare at school, Melody developed an avid interest in the written word in all forms including writing poetry and attending Broome’s Corrugated Lines Festival each year.   

Melody has been a participant of the Goolarri Writers Program since 2014. In October 2020, Melody’s first full length play FIFO – Fit in or F**k Off! premiered in Perth and Broome, co-produced by Goolarri Media Enterprises and Yirra Yaakin Theatre.

‘Car stories’ is her latest work in development.

Melody has worked in pubs/kitchens, classrooms, mine-sites, and corporate offices. Her current job working in Aged Care, regularly takes her across the Kimberley, supporting Elders who live in remote communities. 

Nathan Maynard, is a Trawlwoolway, pakana/palawa man and writer from lutrawita/Tasmania.

Nathan’s first play, The Season, featured in the 2015 Yellamundie Festival, produced by Moogahlin Arts.

From the Yellamundi festival, The Season went onto receive major festival initiative funding and opened at the Sydney opera house as part of the Sydney festival. Hobart Theatre Royal as part of the, Ten Days on the Island Festival.

The Malthouse theatre as part of Melbourne festival and many other venues during a 12 week regional tour of Australia, where it played to crowds in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia.

In November 2016, Nathan finished a 15-week writer’s attachment with Blue Rocket animation, where he helped produce and direct a palawa kani (a Tasmanian Aboriginal language) episode of the award winning animation series Little J & Big Cuz.

Nathan wrote an episode for the second series called Pilot bird.

Nathan was selected for the 2017 & 19 PWA Aboriginal playwrights retreat at Bundanon, where he had the opportunity to learn from some of Australia’s leading first nations playwrights.

In 2017 Nathan co-directed, Jonathan Saunders’s, animation series, Zero Point, which featured a cast including Mark Cole-Smith and Steven Oliver.

Nathan was the recipient of the, Tasmanian Aboriginal Artist of the Year Award in 2006 and 2013 and the receipted of the 2018 Tasmania Aboriginal of the year award.

Nathan received the 2018 Errol (Tasmanian Theatre awards)  for best writing.  and the 2018 Green Room award for, new writing for the Australian stage.

The Season also won best production.

Nathan was selected by the, Australian Council Of The Arts, as the Australian delegate to attend the 2018 Dublin Theatre festival as part of the Next Stage Program, where delegates were chosen on their potential in taking their work to the next stage.

Nathan collaborated with acclaimed Maori writer, Jamie Mc Caskill on a children’s play titled, Hide the Dog, which like The Season, received major festival initiative and to be produced by, Tasmania Performs. It will feature at four major Australian festivals in 2022. Wooden Horse productions have secured the rights to do an adaptation for the movie which Nathan and Jamie will write.

Nathan’s play “At what Cost” was work shopped and read at the 2018 Moogahlin Preforming Arts, Yellumundie first nations writers festival, where it was well received and earnt future development funding. It will be produced by the Belvior company in February 2022. Nathan has a second play Flush which was commissioned by Belvoir and is in discussions to be presented in their 2023 season.

Nazaree Dickerson Currently based on Gunditjmara country, Portland Victoria, Nazaree Dickerson, or Naz, as she prefers is a Wardandi Bibbulman Noongar and Burmese person from Boorloo (Perth), Western Australia. Naz is an Actor, Writer and Director currently working with Ilbijerri Youth Ensemble. A performer for many years, Naz has worked with leading theatre companies including State theatre of SA, JUTE theatre, Ilbijerri Theatre company and Vital Statistix. She started her writer/director journey this year with two commissioned works CRUMBS and Ngarngk; Giver of Life which debuted at Yirramboi Festival 2021.

Her lived experience as a queer woman of colour and a family ravaged by the trauma of multiple stolen generations is what fuels Naz to continue sharing First Nation narratives.

Ngaire Pigram is a proud Wajarri and Yawuru performing artist, writer and director, from Broome WA. She has worked in theatre, film and television both in front and behind the scenes. Credits include, Jimmy Chi’s ‘Bran Nue Dae’ Brendan Fletcher’s ‘Mad Bastards’ and Mystery Road for which she was nominated for an AACTA award. Her Writer/Director debut was for short film, ‘Dark Whispers’ in 2014. Ngaire is currently a writer/director on RED, a feature film development with Ramu productions, Pink Pepper productions and Brown Sugar Apple Grunt. She will also direct her first pilot series later this year, in collaboration with Brooke Collard as part of Screenwest’s ‘Out Now’ initiative. Ngaire has participated in the Indigenous Goolarri Writers Program for the past five years and was a dramaturg on for Ilbijerri’s Blackwrights Program – she is working on her first solo piece, ‘Grieving Joy (My name is Cora)’ for the APT First Nations Retreat & Development.

Troy “Jungaji” Brady keeps cultural fires burning through song, language, melodies and traditional dance, his unique ability to inter weave & co-exist between both the traditional and modern world in maintaining his ancient songlines is integral in ensuring the old people are alive in the words he sings and speak. Described as “Outback Motown in the LA press at the MUSE EXPO 2006, this proud Western GuGuYalanji and Birri Gubba songman shares his stories of country, love and law in language through contemporary soul/roots music.

 In 2017 he was a featured artist with internationally renowned “Black Arm Band’ that toured the United States including “Hawaii” and in Canada, not to mention performances with “WHICH WAY UNCLE” at the Brisbane Powerhouse 2016, was critically well received.  On a domestic front also stand out performances at Byron Bay Blues and Roots, Woodford Folk Festival and many others as a solo artist. Forging a career over 25 years, he has led a number of bands before taking hold of his traditional spears and embarking on a solo journey, his current music exploring more of his language and connection to the country of his ancestors north of Proserpine & Cairns. 

The incredible opportunity to embark on a national tour with critically acclaimed, cleverly created “Barbara and the Campdogs” 2017-2019 (Belvior Theatre Sydney, working alongside stellar artist Ursula Yovich & Elaine Crombie, has seen Jungaji nominated for “Best new supporting male actor at the 2018 Sydney Theatre Awards 2018. As an upcoming playwright Troy has been developing his theatre skills with a beautiful piece titled “BETTING ON BLACK”, which was inspired by the great Rhoda Roberts who come up with the iniative “SONGWRITES”, in collaboration with Opera House & Playwrights Australia, where First Nations songwriters can create in the theatre space. Also the opportunity to act in the Opera Australian musical piece “Yarrabah” 2014. A consummate professional both on and off the stages, Troy has recently returned to the studio and is excited about releasing songs in his traditional language fused with a beautiful backdrop of classic SOUL/RNB sounds that are sure to appetite your musical pellet. This is Troy “Jungaji” Bradys musical journey…

We acknowledge that we live and create on unceded lands. We pay our respects to the First Peoples of Australia, and to their elders past, present and future.

© Australian Plays Transform 2024