Sally McKenzie


Sally McKenzie featured image

Sally McKenzie is an arts worker based in Melbourne, Australia. She holds a Bachelor in Dramatic Art in Acting from NIDA and a Master in Fine Arts in Drama from QUT.

As a performer she has played both lead and ensemble roles on stages across Australia and won an AWGIE award presented by the Australian Writers’ Guild for Best Documentary Public Broadcast. Her decades of performance as an actor continue to inform her writing practice.

Her Churchill project, ‘To research screenwriting tenets within playwriting contexts and institutions with playwriting courses’, was simplified to ‘Developing Playwrights and their Plays’ upon submission.

In the past, theatre made in Australia borrowed heavily from other countries. It is only relatively recently when the Australian National Playwrights’ Conference was established in 1972 that the concept of telling our stories gathered momentum.

During Sally’s Masters’ Degree she focussed on writing for the screen. When she returned to playwriting her creative practice drew on the structural tenets that underscore screenplays. Generally, plays are authorial. They can be idiosyncratic in form and do not follow a predetermined structure. Conversely screenplays unfold on structural corsetry comprised of tenets such as turning points, catalysts, mid points and a range of other narrative devices designed to hook the viewer into the story and build the story towards a climax.

Sally was interested to talk to performance writers working as both screen and stage writers to ascertain if their practice in one medium impacts on the other. During the preparation for her Fellowship it became apparent that she should cast her research net wider, and as well as identifying and contacting performance writers, she reached out to potential interview subjects who develop new work, either individually or through companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Added to this strand of research was the branch she had originally intended to pursue: interviewing educators at a range of institutions where playwriting is taught.

In ‘Developing Playwrights and their Plays’ we learn from the wisdom of the tribe: the practitioners, who are at the heart of writing practice, the developers who help the writer achieve their vision, the educators who prepare the next generations of performance writers and the theatre companies: the ultimate ‘end-users’ of plays. It is hoped that this body of research will provide insights into the development of plays and provide an ongoing resource for playmakers and the broader community.


To research screenwriting tenets within playwriting contexts and institutions with playwriting courses

To research screenwriting tenets within playwriting contexts and institutions with playwriting courses

United Kingdom
The Arts
Sally McKenzie

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