Playwright David Atfield.

IN a welcome piece of news for Canberra playwriting, David Atfield has been selected to be in residence at Canberra Theatre Centre during August, working on his new play, “Chiaroscuro” as part of the theatre’s New Works program.

“Chiaroscuro” will follow the story of notorious Italian artist Caravaggio as he paints a masterpiece from his studio in late-renaissance Italy, exploring themes of religion, queerness and the life of an artist.

Atfield, a winner of three Canberra Critics’ Circle Awards, is one of Canberra’s most respected directors and playwrights.

David Atfield, left, and Dylan Van Den Berg in 2019 working on “Milk”.

He originally came to the ACT as director of Company Skylark puppet theatre, but, preferring human actors to puppets, soon turned to “straight” theatre and enjoyed a long period of success first as a director and then as playwright/director.

He even directed the Disney musical “The Little Mermaid” at the Canberra Theatre for Free Rain in 2016.

Atfield has resolutely focused on queer issues in his plays, most notably in a largely-nude production of “Scandalous Boy”, about the Emperor Hadrian’s boy-lover Antinous, and “Exclusion”, about a bisexual prime minister, both at The Street Theatre.

He also worked as a dramaturg for The Street on “Milk”, which recently won playwright Dylan Van Den Berg the $30,000 Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting.

Atfield’s four-week residency runs from August 2–29, including two weeks in the rehearsal room, one week for technical rehearsal and five performances. This residency also includes all venue and associated costs, including technical, box office and front-of-house staff, as well as artist fees for up to four artists. The centre will also cover marketing and publicity for the presentation and provide producing support from its programming and technical teams.

New Works is Canberra Theatre Centre’s development program, designed to support the creation and presentation of new performance work from Canberra’s artists.

A one-week development residency has already been completed by Chenoeh Miller on her new work “The Fool”.

Alex Budd, director of the theatre centre, says, “We’re delighted to be able to offer this residency to David. Both he and Chenoeh are valuable and long-standing contributors to the ACT arts community, and we’re fortunate to be able to nurture their latest works in the Courtyard Studio”.

Tickets and performance dates for “Chiaroscuro” will be available soon at or call 6275 2700.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor