Photo of Stu Mentha, playwright and editor.

Cartwrights makes carts, shipwrights makes ships … but playwrights? We make any vehicle you can imagine, vehicles to take you from fantasy to reality, daydreams to action, numbness to connection. The vehicles we make can take you anywhere. Because no matter what you’ve convinced yourself, you’re never too old for stories. Sometimes we weave magic carpets to fly you over the hot Saharan sands, or weld giant submarines to chase down the Hydra in the ocean depths, or perhaps you want to visit Neptune on a rocket ship? Theatre can take you there.

Hi, my name is Stu and I write serious comedy. Yup, sometimes it’s downright silly, sometimes it’s deep (always chasing that Hydra :)), and every so often it’s both. That’s what you get with me – wackiness and poignancy and everything in between. I love to make people laugh, because hey, we need to remember to laugh in this crazy, messed up world. Right?

So yes, hi, I’m a playwright. But I have to confess I’m a little bit different to other playwrights. You see, the world has changed since the days of the ancient Greeks and even Shakespeare. I see my blog and even film as new forms of theatre, it’s all storytelling after all, and I hone my craft accordingly.

So how can I help you?

I write for everyone, but especially for the person who is hesitant about theatre and literature. I write for the person who once pretended to like a play they got dragged along to simply because they feared someone would otherwise point a finger at them and shout, “Uncultured swine!” I write for the person who got turned off Shakespeare because someone led them to believe the great bard spoke the Queen’s English (when really he was a very funny, dirty old man who talked like a pirate), I write for the person who goes on a flash-mob-watching binge on YouTube and feels that ever-so-subtle pang of sadness that they’ve never seen a flash mob in real life. I write for the person coming home on the train late at night after work, staring at their phone screen playing Candy Crush Saga because they just want to be teleported to somewhere else, anywhere else.

More and more, in our modern society, it seems technology is the crack-addicted hare, and wisdom the asthmatic tortoise. We tell ourselves we’re more connected than ever, but really, deep down inside we know we’re splintered. But can a leopard change its spots? Can a tortoise shed its shell? Can an ostrich learn to fly? What would the world be like if we chose to worship love and not war? What would the world be like if ostriches could fly? Like the playwrights of old, crafting comedies and epics for amphitheatres, to reflect the past and imagine the future, I seek to share my philosophy with you. I seek to make my stories accessible, either on the stage or in bite-sized chunks here on my blog. That’s what I’m really passionate about – connection, not living a life glued to screens, but truly observing and living each moment in this amazing play we call existence, and helping others to do the same. Theatre is all around us, and it can help us live better, more fulfilling, maybe even more entertaining lives. What did that very funny, dirty old man who talked like a pirate once say?

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players” [please read in pirate voice. [peg leg optional [but preferred]]] 

Theatre is a vehicle for ideas. Theatre can make the fantastic real and the real fantastic.

Theatre moves people.

Nice speech, but who am I, you ask?

Short answer: My name is Stu Mentha and I am a professional playwright, author, and editor currently based in Melbourne. I’m thirty-one years old. Australian. I’ve written four plays that a lot of people seem to like. I’m writing a novel. I enjoy playing guitar, journalling, reading, and painting as well as the odd bit of origami (though most of the time it’s just paper planes). One day I’m gonna hike Machu Picchu.

Longish answer: I think I first became interested in writing, and especially comedy, when I wrote this poem in year seven in high school at the age of twelve …

I saw a cow

Then I heard a meow

There was a cat, hanging from the udder

‘What? I need my calcium, I heard it mutter.’

I read it out to my English class and my fellow students doubled over in stitches. My teacher, Mrs. Knappet, who just happened to be my favourite teacher of all time, told me I was special. Yep, that’s right. I had even worked out the poetic alchemy of half rhymes. I was on the road to becoming the next Shakespeare. Or so I thought. I entered my poem into an online poetry contest (one of those sham contests where everyone wins) and I remember the day I got the letter saying I had won. I remember jumping up and down in the backyard under the hills hoist waving the letter around empathically while getting tangled in a set of bed sheets, yelling, ‘This is it! I’ve made it!’ When I calmed down, I inevitably read the bit where I had to pay fifty dollars to buy the brick-sized anthology in which my poem would be printed. I’m glad to say that even at such a young age, I knew better.

A still from my latest play, Jewel Box, staged at Kolowrat Palace, Prague.
A still from my latest play, Jewel Box, staged at Kolowrat Palace, Prague. (actor: Michael Pitthan)

A few years went by and I found myself putting on a play for the local eisteddfod. My drama teacher at the time, Mrs. Finnigan, another favourite teacher, handed me a copy of David Williamson’s ‘The Interrogation’. I now think David Williamson is great. But at the time I thought he was utterly boring, probably because I had just a year earlier fallen asleep during a live performance of Face To Face by the same playwright. My mother’s boyfriend had to elbow me in the ribs to stop me snoring. In my defense I was just recovering from a terrible migraine (those were the years when I had to be in a dark room for 24 hours to deal with the mind-numbing pain) and my liver was still processing the heavy load of Nurofen. So I looked at this play, The Interrogation, and thought, bugger that. I’m gonna write something of my own. I’m gonna write something better. And I did (well, I enjoyed it more anyway). I called it, ‘An Interrogation’, and it was about a group of characters all knowing that they were in a play and trying to escape the burden of speaking their lines. Very meta. Years later I would find myself randomly sitting in David Williamson’s chair in a Sydney theatre. But that’s a story for another time.

Since those teenage years, I’ve continued to follow my passion for theatre and comedy, I still strive to make theatre that doesn’t put people to sleep regardless of their opioid dependence, and I still to this day have an unhealthy obsession with everything cats and everything slightly … how should I say it? … wrong.

So yeah, what was your question again?

Bloody hell! I didn’t ask for your autobiography. Let’s see some credentials, buddy …

Stu Mentha on the cover of the Prague Post. www.stumentha.com
My first professionally staged play, Déjà Vu, on the cover of the Prague Post.

I’ve written four professionally-produced plays: Déjà Vu in 2012, False Friends in 2013, Cat Black in 2014, and Jewel Box in 2015. All four plays premiered at the Prague Fringe Festival to sold-out audiences. Cat Black and Jewel Box were both number one picks of the Prague Fringe on FringeReview.co.uk and you can find a review of my work here: fringereview.co.uk. Jewel Box was most recently restaged at Divadlo Kolowrat in central Prague just across the road from where Mozart premiered Don Giovanni. Not bad right? I worked in Europe for several years as a creative producer, dialogue coach, actor, English teacher, editor, proofreader, and even as a set painter. I have years of experience editing and proofreading and still offer my services as a freelancer.

Education? I completed my degree in Professional and Creative Writing at Deakin University in Melbourne, 2009, studied Italian film and literature at the University of Turin, Italy, method acting at the Prague Playhouse, and have also attended numerous workshops most notably with Art Malik (True Lies), The Actor’s Temple London, Hollywood casting director Nancy Bishop, and Phil Burgers (Doctor Brown) winner of the Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Award.

As well as dabbling in art and flash fiction, I am currently working on a new play which will be my first drama (though not without comedy) as well as a novel and a number of short story collections. Pretty soon I’ll be making an advance on YouTube as well. Lots to come in 2018 so stay tuned to this blog for updates!

Still want more?

You can find more detailed information about my plays here, or, if you would like to hire me (novel and script editing, dialogue advice), or you’d simply like writing advice, you can find more information here.

You can also find me on Facebook, Google +, and Instagram.

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Because you want to hear more cat poems, right?

NOTE: I promise I won’t do anything naughty with your email. If you take a look around my site you’ll see that I don’t use ads, and I write often about how much I detest them. My attitude is the same for spam. The world is already filled with enough clutter. I’m not going to add to it!