“I have been fortunate to have witnessed Matt’s work for the last decade, and to have forged a close personal and professional relationship with him. As I got to know Matt as a friend, we spent many hours talking about our dreams of producing work which actually had a reason to exist – that had something useful to offer about the human condition, about the lack of diversity in our screen and stage culture, about compassion, empathy, equality and kindness, about how to improve things for people through our artistic and creative endeavours.
I saw more of his productions, all exceptional, all deeply human, and demonstrating diversity and inclusion, and was continually impressed and moved by Matt’s extraordinary ability to realize and communicate story through his talents as a director and developer of new works. I have now worked with Matt on two productions, The Heretic for the MTC, and an independent production of a new play, Mother, written for me by Daniel Keene, one of Australia’s most accomplished writers, which was instigated entirely by Matt. We have just completed a national tour of the play, which has been incredibly successful, and which received two Helpmann Award nominations.
Like me, Matt understands that we are all there to serve the writer, who writes to serve humanity. Matt’s calling as a director is truly a vocation. He loves the theatre and understands its potential power to effect change and to evoke powerful feelings. He is utterly committed to the idea that the arts should hold up a mirror to society, and allow the audience to reflect. His view, like mine, is that the audience doesn’t come to see the actors. Rather, they come to see themselves. Matt is someone who understands the vicissitudes of life, someone who is mature. His great and unique strengths include his extensive knowledge of plays and their power and relevance, his commitment to working in this country, and his ability to work with all kinds of theatre practitioners in an environment that promotes innovation and creativity.
Matt understands more than most about prejudice, and inequality, about cruelty and exclusion. The result is one of the best collaborators and directors I have ever worked with. Matt understands that theatre, while unique and wonderful, is limited in its reach, and has begun to develop some of his wonderful ideas for story for film and television. He has worked incredibly hard to shift his focus to this wider canvas, and the ideas he has are begging for development.
I am also acutely aware of the difficulty of finding people in this industry who work in the way Matt does – with kindness, a lack of ego, an acknowledged responsibility to serve humanity through the stories we tell, and with the ability to create an inclusive, harmonious workplace where people are encouraged to do their best for the right reasons. I believe that Matt has the potential to create stories, both on his own and in collaboration with others, that have a profound effect. His productions are haunting, memorable and thought-provoking in a way that theatre and film rarely are.
Matt’s ability to teach, inspire, draw together and collaborate should not be overlooked. It is very rare to work with someone who has those qualities. He is a remarkable man who has much of value to offer us all.”
Noni Hazlehurst, AM
“As a playwright, it is important not only to find a director who has an intellectual and emotional affinity with the concerns of my work, but who also through their skills and practice can demonstrate their individual interpretation of my plays, lifting them off the page and into a vibrant life of their own. Matt has already shown a particular ability to do this. The strength of Matt’s work is its restraint, its delicacy, its attention to detail and its enormous compassion…working with Matt has been, as usual, a very rewarding experience. What makes working with these people stimulating is the truthfulness of their work, their dedication to the always difficult and consuming process of making a piece of theatre, and their emotional and intellectual generosity.”
“As a director Matt has demonstrated a deep passion and commitment to New Australian work since his graduation from VCA. He has a rare ability to elicit fine, brittle and compelling performances from his casts as well as demonstrating great leadership in this role. His relationships with fellow artists, especially with writers, are always based on great respect as well as a rigorous working method. He’s a director who works with a text creatively to produce the best even when resources are tight. His remarkable output since graduating also reflects a very strong drive and by working this well in the independent sector it also suggests a great ability to work within very tight budgets.”
“Matt Scholten is a Theatre Maker and Director who has worked for many years in a variety of theatrical forms and styles. He has developed his craft through perseverance and dedication. Having directed countless pieces in the thriving Melbourne Independent scene, he was chosen to direct Noni Hazlehurst in the Melbourne Theatre Company’s main stage production of the The Heretic. Not only was The Heretic critically acclaimed but it was also a box office hit and was evidence of Matt’s development as a Theatre Director. Matt has a broad appreciation of the Australian canon and is well acquainted with both new and established work.”
“I first met Matt in 2013 when he requested a Director’s Attachment on series two of “A Place to Call Home.” From the first day I was impressed and energised by his dedication to learning the craft of screen directing. Cut to 2017 and I asked Matt to be the Drama Coach on a new series for ABC, NITV and Disney Channel called “Grace Beside Me” which I was directing. This involved ensuring that three very green teenage actors would be up to speed to shoot a thirteen episode series. Matt hit the ground running and, with two weeks to shoot, really brought their chemistry and skills up to world class level. Matt’s intelligence and sensitivity are at the forefront of all his work and I would work with him whenever he was available. He is a remarkable Director and Drama Coach.” Lynn-Maree Danzey Director (“A Place to Call Home”, Love Child”, “Packed to the Rafters” “Secret Life of Us”)
“When I first spoke with Matt I was very quickly infused with his joy, intelligence and his dedication to theatre and to the arts and artists in general. Matt has a deep understanding of the minds of artists, and to be more precise, actors. He revels in our joy in creating, is connected with our past experiences, and is so deeply committed to the trust between the actor and the director, which allows the actor to be brave, step out onto the edge and fling ourselves into the rehearsal process, without judgement, or ‘fear of being wrong in our choices’. I will say it again- Matt allows the actors to be brave. He then gently guides you, as the director and consequently, as the actor, before you even know it, to what we, as a company, desire, and how to tell the story and serve the playwright and the story. Matt brings a rehearsal room together as a true ensemble, the greatest thing that any production can aspire to, and in doing that, he creates a beautiful, challenged, confident, brave and trusting company.” Barbara Lowing, Actor