Bluestone Church Arts Space Creative Development Program


The Bluestone Church Arts Space is a dedicated arts and performance venue located at 8A Hyde Street Footscray. It is a highly versatile performance space for emerging, mid-career and professional artists.

An annual creative development program is offered in the facility which is open to performers, artists and thinkers seeking a large space for the development of new work, testing and exploring ideas, or further developing your arts practice.

The purpose of the Creative Development Program is to encourage and facilitate creativity, encourage experimentation and innovation, increase the profile of the Bluestone Church Arts Space as a dedicated arts space within Melbourne, and to facilitate access for our community to a wide range of arts and cultural activities.

Short-term creative development residencies are offered on a yearly basis for up to four weeks, with successful applications clearly outlining the development aspect of the residency plan.

There is no requirement for applicants to be a resident of the City of Maribyrnong however connection to the local community is viewed positively. Any future performances following a residency are required to acknowledge the creative development opportunity offered by Arts and Culture Maribyrnong.

Creative Development Program Recipients 2020

The following Creative Development Residencies have been awarded for 2020.

  • The Anchor - to collaboratively and creatively develop the new theatre work ‘Little Bitch’ which investigates the expectations and influences that shape female behaviour.
  • Born in a Taxi - to collaboratively and creatively develop the experimental long form improvisation work, 'No Former Performer Has Performed This Performance Before'.
  • Jonathan Homsey - to collaboratively and creatively develop ‘ꜟFotonovela Gigante!’ with the aim for it to be universally accessible work for people who are CaLD, and those with hearing or vision impairments.
  • wit incorporated inc - to collaboratively and creatively develop ‘Ten Days in the Madhouse’, a new work by Jennifer Piper exploring the fraught experiences of women in psychiatric medicine.
  • Kissing Booth Productions - to collaboratively and creatively develop ‘We Are The Muses’ as an examination of the muse as an artistic phenomenon, with the aim to complete a script by the end of the process.


Creative Development Program Recipients 2019

The following Creative Development Residencies have been awarded for 2019.

  • She Said Theatre - to research and develop a new theatre work titled ‘Our Parents’, created by Seanna van Helten and Penny Harpham.
    Outcome: She Said Theatre’s 2019 residency provided much-needed time and a dedicated space to undertake creative research and development for a new work, allowing us to work to our own schedule and accommodate other collaborators and big discussions as this process unfolded. Having this creative freedom meant that we could ‘follow our noses’ wherever our research led us — and in fact, very early in the first stage of our development, we made a discovery that inspired a whole new concept for a theatre work reimagining the 1944 Hollywood film Gaslight as a Gothic melodrama for the post-MeToo era. During the first stage of our residency in June, we completed a full outline of this concept, which enabled Seanna to write a first draft of a script. We used the second half of our residency in October to try out ideas on the floor, to consolidate documentation of our process, and to prepare a multi-media ‘pitch document’. Thanks to the residency, we have enough material to pitch this work to potential presenting partners - including at MTC, where Penny is a participant in the Women in Theatre program. Once again our residency at the Bluestone Church Art Space has been an invaluable part of our creative process and planning in 2019; it not only facilitated the crucial early stage of research and development for a new work but has put us in a strong position to work towards a final performance outcome in 2020/2021. 
  • Kissing Booth Productions - to develop a performance text titled 'Leopard Print Loincloth', written by Jake Stewart and directed by Dominic Weintraub.
    Outcome: After a month-long workshopping process – which included a diverse range of approximately forty men – a well-received, full-house performance of the work took place at the end of July 2019. The process began with the simple starting points of contemporary Australian masculinity, the work of Tom of Finland, and the dramaturgy of gay pornography, and by the end of the residency, a two-hour play had been produced.
    'Leopard Print Loincloth' will have its premiere season at Theatre Works from 4-8 February 2020 as part of the Midsmma Festival
  • The Voice in my Hands - to develop the third work in a trilogy titled ‘Let Bleeding Girls Lie’ into a rehearsal-ready script.
    Outcome: The week-long residency at Bluestone Church Arts Space gave us our first opportunity to assemble the full team for Let Bleeding Girls Lie, to spend time together in deep and large conversations on the different contexts informing the work, to unpack them, and to feed them back into the show. This development was vital as it allowed our team to find a working methodology before we head into production next year. We're very grateful for both the time and the space.
  • wit incorporated - to develop and present 'How I Met My Dead Husband' by Lansy Feng, and to research, develop and present a new sketch comedy by Jennifer Piper and Belinda Campbell.
    Outcome: After months of development, a newly polished production of 'How I Met My Dead Husband' was presented at the Bluestone Church Arts Space from 21 August to 7 September 2019 (including a free preview for locals), and at The Bowery Theatre on 13 September. The production included new songs, more in-depth characters and more complex lighting, sound and set, and the production was well received by audiences. 

    Dead Husband puts a new spin on life’s final destination and does so with humour and flair.” - Beat Magazine

    'That Time That Everything Went Well and We Were Totally Fine', was written and revised, workshopped and developed, resulting in a staged production at the Bluestone Church Arts Space in November 2019. Throughout the season, the show was further tweaked and developed from audience feedback and reviews, resulting in a strong stage two of development. The show has been booked for performance at The Bowery Theatre for February 2020.
    “The nifty production was well organised and tightly executed.” - Melbourne Observer

    Both productions are now tour-ready for 2020.

Creative Development Program Recipients 2018

The following Creative Development Residencies were awarded for 2018.

  • Slown, Smallened & Son - to develop ‘Lady Example’, a performance project exploring women in our culture and our lives.
    Outcome: The Creative Development Residency allowed Slown, Smallened & Son to premiere a season of this work at The Substation, Newport as part of Next Wave Festival 2018, which was very well received by both audiences and critics. The three week development at Bluestone Church Arts Space was integral to the process of readying the work for performance. The space was large enough to resemble the scale of The Substation, allowing the full ensemble of performers to work all at once, for the first time since conceiving the work.

"This was our most ambitious and largest work to date, and so having ample space was a real asset to the breadth of this vision, and made its execution possible. We worked with our performers on choreographic scores, improvisations and learnt dance material, honing and refining it to the standard of the finished piece.” Slown, Smallened & Son

  • Lab Kelpie Inc. - to work on a new collaboration between Lab Kelpie’s artistic team Lyall Brooks and Adam Fawcett, ‘A World of Our Own’.
    Outcome: "Lab Kelpie Inc. came in at a very early stage of the project's life with just a seed of an idea, really, and came out the other side with - if not a whole oak tree - at least a healthy sapling of a show! It was so invaluable having a dedicated space to write, to build the story and structure, to explore the voice and physicality of the character on the floor, and even to play with preliminary staging and design ideas. We had some incredible and unexpected moments of discovery and creativity - as well as a healthy process of learning from (and unemotionally discarding) the failures. Our goal is to now continue the show’s development ready for a premiere season at Melbourne Fringe in 2019." Lyall Brooks and Adam Fawcett
  • She Said Theatre - to develop ‘Fallen’, a new work written by Seanna van Helten and directed by Penny Harpham.
    Outcome: ‘Fallen’ was presented at fortyfivedownstairs between 15-26 August 2018 following four weeks of creative development in the Bluestone Church Arts Space during May and July 2018. The season was incredibly well received with the production receiving multiple positive reviews. Actor Zoe Boesen has since been nominated for a Green Room Award for her incredible performance as Matron.

"Fallen remains an extended engagement with a fascinating piece of history, briskly designed and atmospheric” - The Age
“Hats off to everyone involved in Fallen. It's a fabulous work.”
- ArtsHub, 4 stars
"The fallen women find their feet in this uncompromising production. Penny Harpham’s direction is flawless with a superbly cast assemble of women.” - Theatre People, 4 ½ stars

  • wit incorporated - to produce a season of ‘Ophelia Thinks Harder’ by Jean Betts, a play that looks at the progress made in gender equality over the past two decades.
    Outcome: Centuries after Shakespeare penned Hamlet, more often than not productions of his works stick with tradition and stage Shakespeare with 400-year-old gender roles. wit incorporated set out to shake that up a bit with this production of Jean Betts’ fast paced, feminist love story, that takes the characters of Shakespeare's Hamlet through the looking glass and back again. ‘Ophelia Thinks Harder’ was staged in November 2018 in the Bluestone Church Arts Space to high acclaim, receiving a number of positive reviews.

"A fine cast of dedicated actors fill the length and breadth of this enchanting production. Clarke’s Ophelia is whimsical yet defiant; her strength lies in her questioning rather like Alice in Wonderland. The Queen (Jennifer Piper) is superbly outrageous and pompous; she too derives from the same source, bearing her signature hearts and off the cuff ridiculous statements. This is an entertaining theatrical experience that is rollickingly good fun absorbing and captivating production." - Stage Whispers

Creative Development Program Recipients 2017

The following Creative Development Residencies were awarded in 2017.

  • Anvil Productions - to creatively develop a new work exploring women’s experiences of being judged for their appearance, and societal expectations to confirm and please others, under the working title of ‘Resting Bitch Face’.
    Outcome: A 'work-in-progress' showing took place on 3 March 2017 following a three week intensive creative development residency. Following the residency, further development funding was applied for as the MCC residency proved there was a need for further dramaturgical development of the work.
  • ILBIJERRI  Theatre Company - to develop ‘Coranderrk’ in preparation for a national tour from April-June 2017.
    Outcome: Although ILBIJERRI had presented this work previously at Belvoir in Sydney and Northcote Town Hall in Melbourne, the Creative Development Residency was used to completely rewrite the script ahead of a National Tour which took place April-June 2017. The new version of the production brought on a new director (Eva Grace Mullaley, an exciting young Indigenous director and national convenor of the Blackfella Performing Arts Alliance) and a new (smaller) all Indigenous cast (Trevor Jamieson, Mathew Cooper, Ebony McGuire & Jesse Butler). After the development Ilbijerri Theatre Company took the production to the National Theatre in St Kilda for a final rehearsal period before the opening of the tour. A public showing of the development of Coranderrk was presented on 7 April 2017.

“What ILBIJERRI is able to take from this painful history is a story of resistance and of strength.” - The Age, 4 stars

  • Moral Panic - to develop a performance text for a new work titled ‘Love/Chamberlain’ by Bridget Mackey.
    Outcome: "The Bluestone Church Arts Space development allowed us to test out new writing on the floor, and provided space and time to expand on these discoveries. In November 2017 we closed a development season of six public performances at Canberra’s Ainslie & Gorman Arts Centre. Thanks to these opportunities, we now have a strong first draft of our script." Bridget Mackey
    2019 Update: Love / Chamberlain by Bridget Mackey was presented at Theatre Works between 10-20 October 2019

Apply for the Creative Development Program

Applications for the 2021 Creative Development Program are currently closed - applications for the 2022 program will open in August 2021. Subscribe to our Art Bytes newsletter for future updates on the program.

Creative residencies are also available at Footscray’s Artsbox.