Rita Kalnejais studied acting at Victorian College of Arts, graduating in 2001. She has since worked extensively as an actor with Belvoir, (Lieutenant of Inishmore, dir. Neil Armfield; Midsummer Night’s Dream, dir. Benedict Andrews; Disco Pigs, dir. Geordie Brookman; The Kiss, dir. Suzanne Dowling), Sydney Theatre, Mr Kolpert, dir. Benedict Andrews; Life is a Dream dir. Benedict Andrews; Morph, dir. Ben Winspear), Malthouse. Furious Mattress, dir. Tim Maddock; The Trial, dir. Matt Lutton; The Oddyssey, dir. Michael Kantor) and Griffin (Presence dir. Ros Horrin).
As a writer, her first play, BC, produced by Hayloft Theatre and Full Tilt, directed by Simon Stone had a sell-out season at Melbourne Arts Centre’s Black Box Theatre in 2009 and was nominated for Best New Australian Play at the Australian Greenroom Awards. Her short plays, Whistling in Bed and How To Get Very Clean were performed at Sydney Theatre Company as part of 2010 Rough Draft and 2011 Next Stage seasons respectively. In 2012 her play Babyteeth had a successful season at Belvoir Theatre. Its next production will be with Theatre Company of South Australia in 2013, directed by Chris Drummond. In 2012 Rita co-wrote B Street, a serial play staged in Belvoir Theatre Foyer, with Tommy Murphy and Charlie Garber. She was resident playwright at Sydney Theatre Company in 2011/12 as part of a Playwriting Australia/Sydney Theatre initiative, where she began developing StarStory, a play for children and their parents and friends.
Rita’s screenplay Cottontop won her a scholarship at Sydney Film School in 2008. She wrote, directed and co-produced Great Acts of Kindness: acts 2 and 4, a short film starring Joel Edgerton and Alice McConnell that same year.
Her essay, Humans Being, exploring grace on stage, for which she interviewed over sixty actors about their personal experiences of transcendence was published in the book celebrating Belvoir Theatre’s 25th Anniversary, edited by Bob Cousens. Her short stories, LoveStory and How To Breathe Through Someone Else’s Mouth, written originally for Imperial Panda’s erotic fan fiction and horror festivals, have been performed extensively at comedy and literary festivals and the latter is published in Ampersand Magazine.
Rita is currently developing Dogs, a musical with Belvoir Theatre and researching Fidelity, a play about Jeanne d’Arc which is being developed with Minds Eye, Bell Shakespeare.
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