A secluded English-style writer’s cottage in the heart of the Blue Mountains has seen Alice Springs playwright Betty Sweetlove put the finishing touches on a play that will debut at the Desert Festival this month.
Betty received a Varuna Fellowship funded by Arts NT, which helps writers travel to the National Writers House for a residency.
While there in June and July, Betty had a private bedroom and office, house management, and shared dinners with the other writers in the residency program.
“It was my first full play and it made such a difference to be able to step away from day-to-day responsibilities and just focus on writing,” she said.
“I went with the mostly written piece and it just gave me the space I needed to produce a final draft.
“It was the classic writer’s retreat.”
The play, The Nestmakers, tells the story of a start-up creating a resort for apocalyptic preparations on the outskirts of a small Alice Springs-like town.
Betty said the story explored climate anxieties and dreams for the future.
“It’s a satire – hopefully funny – that seeks to tell the story of the tensions that would arise in a city if a company created a compound for doomsday preparations,” she said.
“It’s really about how people would react if the end of the world was presented to them in a very real way.
“We have a great local cast and a brilliant director and I really hope we can deliver an enjoyable 55 minutes of people’s time.”
Georgia Thomas, Acting Director of Arts NT, said the partnership with the Varuna Writers Center began in 2016 and has supported 22 writers, with nominations for this year’s admission now open.
Georgia said the Northern Territory government, through the Arts and Culture Grants Program, has invested $50,000 over three years to support the Northern Territory Writers’ Residency Program.
“This fellowship provides valuable space and time to help writers focus solely on creative writing and encourage the creative process,” she said.
“The feedback we get from people who participate in this scholarship is that it really gives them the opportunity to elevate their work from good to great.
“The Varuna Fellowship is proud to have enriched the territory’s cultural offerings and I have no doubt that Betty’s work will add to that legacy.”
The program strongly encourages applications from First Nations writers and young writers and offers six virtual residency placements to increase access through an online mode.
Literary writers from the Northern Territory, including poets, songwriters, playwrights and illustrators can now apply for the Fellowship, which provides three NT writers with a two-week residency in Varuna -The National Writers’ House and six other NT writers with a week-long virtual residency.
Applications are now open and close on September 26, 2022.
To apply, go here
Tickets for Betty’s show can be purchased at The Nestmakers – 6pm Showing – Desert Festival (desfest.com) here