Writers on Campus: Creating characters for stage and screen

We all have favourite characters on screen or stage – people we love, love to hate, or simply find fascinating.

In this session of Writers on Campus, three of La Trobe’s expert scriptwriters discuss how they create compelling characters for films, TV shows, theatre and rock opera, the processes of collaboration that happen with co-writers, actors and directors, and ways to make imaginary people feel real.

When: Tuesday 24 October, 12.30 pm – 1.30 pm

Where: Borchardt Library, Room 1.34, Level 1, Melbourne (Bundoora) Campus

Dr Noel Maloney teaches screenwriting and performance writing in the Bachelor of Arts. He researches contemporary scriptwriting in Australia, focusing on the relationships between writing practices, and production cultures and economies, with a particular interest in television script development, and screenwriting in low budget, independent Australian cinema. He has served on the state and national committees for the Australian Writers’ Guild and is on the industry advisory board for RMIT’s screenwriting program. As well as publishing scholarly articles and reports, he has recently co-edited special editions for Text Journal and Studies in Australasian Cinema. In addition to his scholarly work, he maintains a creative writing practice. He has written extensively for radio (Cape St John, ABC Radio National), television drama (Neighbours, Blue Heelers and Home Away), and theatre (POV Dave, La Mama). Most recently, he and Dr Angie Black (VCA) have created Mine, a theatre work about the devastating impact violence has on the lives of two football players and their community.

Nicole Skeltys is completing a practice-led PhD at La Trobe that comprises the production of a rock opera about London’s finance industry called Canary Wharf: the Rock Opera. In developing the rock opera, she interviewed London finance workers and commentators, wrote the story, script, songs, and music, and constructed a website to host Canary Wharf. She also wrote commentary and background to the work, as well as storyboarded, shot, and edited a 50 min music film as a visualisation of the audio work. Nicole has spent 30 years in the music industry, composing and performing in Australia, USA and UK. She is best known as one half of iconic femme-tech outfit B(if)tek (1996-2003) and solo disco-hillbilly project Artificial. In B(if)tek, she toured with the Beastie Boys, recorded with Twin Peaks chanteuse Julee Cruise, was nominated for an Aria award, sold out the Sydney Opera House and headlined festival dance stages around Australia. She has subsequently composed music for film, TV and theatre, and released albums in many different styles, including electronic dance to folk rock, country, psychedelia and folktronica. 

Reg Cribb is an award-winning writer for stage and screen. His stage play Last Cab To Darwin won the Patrick White Playwright’s Award, the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award (Best Play), the WA Equity Award for Best New Play, the WA Premier’s Literary Award (Best Script) and the WA Premier’s Prize Award 2003 (Overall Literature) – making history as the first play to win this award. Reg adapted it as a feature film starring Michael Caton and Jackie Weaver. Last Cab premiered at the Sydney Film Festival and was nominated for eight AACTA awards. Reg won Best Adapted Screenplay with co-writer Jeremy Sims; they were also nominated for an AWGIE for Best Adapted Feature. Reg adapted the stage musical Bran Nue Dae for the screen, which was nominated for an AFI award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and adapted his first play The Return (re-titled Last Train To Freo) as a feature film which won the 2005 WA Premier’s Script Award. His many plays include Country Song about the life and music of Jimmy Little which was commissioned by QTC; Krakouer!, about the prodigious football family which was produced by Deckchair Theatre and toured nationally; and The Haunting Of Daniel Gartrell (originally commissioned by Sydney Theatre Company and produced by Perth Theatre Company). Reg co-wrote the one man play Gulpilil (with David Gulpilil) which was directed by Neil Armfield for the Adelaide Festival, Belvoir and the Brisbane Festival. He is currently the head writer on a six-part mini-series about the First Nations boxer Anthony Mundine for Paramount+, and is undertaking a Masters at La Trobe.