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Creative Development: Shadows in a Dress

Playwright Hannah Belanszky is one step closer to staging her script

2 min read

During a busy week of creative development at QPAC, playwright Hannah Belanszky (Yuwaalaraay) gave us an update on where she was at with her new work, Shadows in a Dress 

Hannah was part of our Sparks program in 2019, which in partnership with PlayLab Theatre is designed to foster and support the development of brand new script ideas by First Nations writers. She applied for the program, having already been involved with Playlab Theatre as a Young Playwright-in-Residence. 

“I was looking for an opportunity to further develop my writing skills and to start exploring some new ideas, and the Sparks program was a very nurturing space for me to do this,” Hannah says.

“One of the best parts of the program was the amazing group of black writers who were in the program with me. We all bonded through the experience and now support each other’s work outside the program.” 

Shadows in a Dress follows two young Aboriginal women, Alix and Sunshine, who, due to events in their pasts, become members of an all-female coven led by the charismatic yet controlling Rae.

Workshop for Shadows in a Dress Creative development for Shadows in a Dress.

The idea for Shadows in a Dress came from the initial question ‘What does it mean to be a strong and powerful woman?’; and Hannah drew power and inspiration from the women in her life, and the women who came before her. 

On the first day of the week-long creative development, we catch Hannah after a read of the script – she’s clearly energised by it.

“I find presenting my work both scary and satisfying. As a writer, you spend a lot of time in isolation with your work, so it can be a little daunting when you need to open it up to other people, flaws and all.

“That being said, I also enjoy hearing my work read because it’s when the characters can finally come alive. It means a lot to me when other people connect with my characters or find things in the story that resonate with them. Hearing the work read is also an opportunity to discover what is or isn’t working in a draft, so it’s an invaluable part of the development process.”

Showcase of Shadows in a Dress Hannah (second from the right) and cast before the public reading of Shadows in a Dress.

The week ended with a public showcase of the work, which Hannah says felt positive.

It felt like the best reading I’ve heard of the play so far which was quite encouraging given all the work I’d done in the past week. [From here,] I need to take the time to apply all the learnings I gained from the public reading to the next draft, and then onwards and upwards to get the script production ready.

Watch this space!

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Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners

We pay our respects to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors of this land, their spirits and their legacy. The foundations laid by these ancestors - our First Nations Peoples - gives strength, inspiration and courage to current and future generations, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, towards creating a better Queensland. Queensland Government’s RAP Acknowledgment of Country