Not in Print: playwrights off script - on inspiration, process and theatre itself

An Ever Changing Idiom - Alana Valentine’s response to Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, by Ray Lawler

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Alana Valentine reads her response to Summer of the Seventeenth Doll by Ray Lawler. It’s called An Ever-Changing Idiom and features in the Currency Press series, Cue the Chorus, in which an assortment of respected Australian playwrights respond to the work of their peers. You can download all the responses in the series from our website - currencypress.com.au


A little bit about Alana Valentine. She is one of Australia’s most renowned and respected writers. Valentine writes for the stage, screen, radio and multimedia projects, but is perhaps best known for her plays. She is well known for her rigorous use of research within the community she is writing about. Her work for the stage includes Run Rabbit Run, Parramatta Girls, Cyberbile, Ear to the Edge of Time and Comin’ Home Soon. She has received numerous awards, both in Australia and internationally.

Introduction to Brumby Innes and Bid Me to Love - Ric Throssel

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Alana Valentine—one of Australia’s most renowned and respected playwrights, whose work includes Parramatta Girls, Eyes to the Floor, Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah, Grounded and Cyberbile—reads the preface to the double edition of Brumby Innes and Bid Me to Love, two plays written by another of Australia’s literary treasures, Katharine Susannah Prichard. The introduction was written by Prichard's son, Ric Throssell.

A little bit about Katharine Susannah Prichard

Prichard was born in Levuka, Fiji, where her father was editor of the Fiji Times. She matriculated from South Melbourne College and worked briefly as a governess. She later taught in Melbourne studying English literature at night.

In 1908 she travelled to London, working as a freelance journalist for the Melbourne Herald and, on her return, as the social editor of the Herald's women's page. In 1912 she left for England again to pursue a career as a writer and published two novels, The Pioneers and Windlestraws. She met the Australian Victoria Cross winner, Captain Hugo Throssell while away and in 1919 she married him and moved to Western Australia. Already a committed Communist in 1920, she was a founding member of the Communist Party of Australia. In 1922 her only son Ric Throssell was born. While she was on a trip to the Soviet Union in 1933 Hugo Throssell committed suicide.

From the 1920s until her death she lived at Greenmount, Western Australia, earning her living as a writer of novels, short stories and plays. Her novels include Black Opal; Working Bullocks; The Wild Oats of Han; Coonardoo; Haxby's Circus; Intimate Strangers; and the goldfields trilogy The Roaring Nineties, Golden Miles and Winged Seeds. Prichard was a member of the Communist Party of Australia until her death, and her political concerns were reflected in most of her published work. Her novels were published throughout the world and translated into numerous languages. In 1951 she was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

A few words about Brumby Innes and Bid Me to Love

Written in the 1920s, Brumby Innes confronts the turbulent relations between the sexes and the races in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia. It is published with another Prichard play from the 1920s, Bid Me To Love which, by contrast, is set among the fashionable rich in the lush hills outside Perth.


Norm & Ahmed: Race prejudice is a profoundly irrational force l Australian theatre classics

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In Norm and Ahmed a rather ocker, white Australian male encounters a well-mannered Pakistani student with revolutionary ambitions on a Sydney street at midnight. The exploration of alienation in this play remained a common theme in Buzo’s work, with a tireless commitment to reflecting the true nature of Australian society.

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Alex Buzo was born in Sydney and educated at the University of NSW. In the late 1960s his early plays Norm and Ahmed, Rooted and The Front Room Boys pioneered a revival of Australian theatre. Macquarie and other historical plays such as Big River and Pacific Union helped to popularise the themes of our individual and national maturity. Buzo's books Tautology, The Longest Game, The Young Person's Guide to the Theatre and A Dictionary of the Almost Obvious confirm his reputation as an important recorder of the modern Australian idiom.

In 2005 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of New South Wales for his contribution to Australian literature. And following his death in 2006, his daughter Emma founded The Alex Buzo Company, which was the first arts organisation in Australia to produce, promote and perpetuate the work of a single Australian writer. Today, Emma Buzo is here to discuss what is, perhaps, her father’s most famous work, Norm and Ahmed, which she loves deeply and also directed for The Alex Buzo Company in 2007.

Wary Asians on a Theme: Dramatising in the Near North l Australian theatre in Asia

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Toby Leon reads an article Alex Buzo wrote for Quadrant Magazine in 2004. It’s called ‘Wary Asians on a Theme: Dramatising in the Near North’ and unpacks the cultural complexities that Buzo encountered when presenting his work in Asia - from India, to Malaysia and Indonesia too - seeing the reactions from audiences, reading local critics’ appraisals of his plays, listening to the directors’ choices about his characters motivation and truth, then trying to make those same choices himself when he directed his play Pacific Union in Jakarta. And of course the piece is brimming with Alex’s insight and humour, both just as sharp as each other.


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Alex Buzo was born in Sydney and educated at the University of NSW. In the late 1960s his early plays Norm and AhmedRooted and The Front Room Boys pioneered a revival of Australian theatre.Macquarie and other historical plays such as Big River and Pacific Union helped to popularise the themes of our individual and national maturity. Buzo's books TautologyThe Longest GameThe Young Person's Guide to the Theatre and A Dictionary of the Almost Obvious confirm his reputation as an important recorder of the modern Australian idiom.

Emerald City: Fame and greed in the merry old land of Aus l Classic Australian theatre

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A fast-moving, wisecracking commentary on 1980's materialism, urban mores and morals, and the rivalries and passions to be encountered on the road to success. Colin, a screenwriter, and his wife Kate, a publisher, move from Melbourne to Sydney, the ‘Emerald City’, where fame and fortune are there for the taking, but surprises are in store for them both.

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David Williamson is Australia’s best known and most widely performed playwright. He was the first person outside Britain to receive the George Devine Award (for The Removalists) and the awards kept coming. They include: twelve AWGIE Awards; five Australian Film Institute Awards for Best Screenplay; The United Nations Association of Australian Media Peace Award in 1996; and in 2005, the Richard Lane Award for services to the Australian Writers’ Guild. David has also received four honorary doctorates and been made an Officer of the Order of Australia. His prodigious output for the stage includes The Removalists, The Department, The Club, Travelling North, Don’s Party, Brilliant Lies and Dead White Males.

The Secret River: Our history is contested space l Classic Australian theatre

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William Thornhill: Born into brutal poverty in London in the late 18th century and transported to the Colony of New South Wales for theft in 1806. After earning his freedom he brings his wife and children to the Hawkesbury River where they ‘take up’ 100 acres of land, only to discover that it’s not theirs to take.

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Andrew Bovell writes for the stage, television and film. In 1992 he wrote the original screenplay for Strictly Ballroom and in 2001 he went on to adapt his stage play Speaking in Tongues in to the feature film, Lantana. The film premiered at the Sydney Film Festival in 2001 and went on to screen at numerous international film festivals winning many awards. Most recently Andrew adapted John Le Carre’s novel A Most Wanted Man.

His theatre credits include Scenes from a Separation (with Hannie Rayson); Speaking in Tongues, which premiered at Griffin Theatre in 1996 and has had over 50 other productions worldwide; Holy Day, which won the Louis Esson Prize for Drama at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and the AWGIE Award for Best Stage Play (2002); and When the Rain Stops Falling, which won Queensland and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for Best Play, the Adelaide Critics Circle Individual Award, Sydney Theatre Award for Best New Australian Work and 3 Greenroom Awards including Best New Writing for the Australian Stage.

Radiance: Families are full of secrets l Classic Australian theatre

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Cressy, Mae and Nona are half sisters with little in common bar the ghosts from their childhood. They return to their childhood home on the eve of their mother’s funeral. The tropical Queensland landscape is the spectacular backdrop for their turbulent and often humourous reunion. And they discover a surprising bond that is stronger than the pain of their history.


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Louis Nowra is one of Australia’s most successful writers. He has penned novels, crafted film scripts, authored two memoirs and worked as a librettist, but he is perhaps best known for his plays. Since the early 1970s he has created over 30 stories for the stage; several of them have earned a rightful place in the Australian dramatic canon, and our hearts. They include Summer of the Aliens, Cosi, The Golden Age, The Temple and Albert Names Edward.

Introduction to Radiance l Classic Australian theatre

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Louis Nowra reads his introduction to his play, Radiance. It’s called Women on the Mud Flats and it charts the journey of the work from a single image, into the shape of a story, to the premiere production and beyond. But this isn’t just a recount of the tale. If you're a believer in fate, you will see that Radiance is a story that was destined to be told.


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Louis Nowra is one of Australia’s most successful writers. He has penned novels, crafted film scripts, authored two memoirs and worked as a librettist, but he is perhaps best known for his plays. Since the early 1970s he has created over 30 stories for the stage; several of them have earned a rightful place in the Australian dramatic canon, and our hearts. They include Summer of the AliensCosiThe Golden Age, The Temple and Albert Names Edward.

The Removalists: Who’s in charge here? l Classic Australian theatre

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A young policeman’s first day on duty becomes a violent and highly charged initiation into law enforcement. Remarkable for its blend of boisterous humour and horrifying violence, The Removalists has acquired a reputation as a classic statement on Australian authoritarianism.

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David Williamson is Australia’s best known and most widely performed playwright. He was the first person outside Britain to receive the George Devine Award (for The Removalists). And the awards kept coming; they include 12 AWGIE Awards, five Australian Film Institute Awards for Best Screenplay, and in 1996, The United Nations Association of Australian Media Peace Award. In 2005 he was given the Richard Lane Award for services to the Australian Writers’ Guild. David has also received four honorary doctorates and been made an Officer of the Order of Australia. His prodigious output for the stage includes The Department, Don’s Party, The Club, Travelling North, Emerald City, Brilliant Lies and Dead White Males.

Preface to Don’s Party l Reflecting on classic Australian theatre

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Toby Leon reads H.G. Kippax’s preface to Don’s Party. From the mid-1960s on, Kippax was the authoritative critic at the Sydney Morning Herald and is said to have spotted the talent of the young John Bell, Robyn Nevin, Mel Gibson, Judy Davis and... David Williamson.

The Floating World: shipped over the edge l Classic Australian theatre

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Les and Irene celebrate their wedding anniversary by setting sail on the Women’s Weekly Cherry Blossom Cruise. But amongst the sun hats and piña coladas Les, a former WWII prisoner of war, finds himself confronted by old diggers, enemies and tormented memories. As the cruise ship floats further from home, Les’ grip on reality floats away too.

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John Romeril was born in Melbourne in 1945 and wrote his first plays while at Monash University, including Chicago, Chicago. He has worked extensively in theatre and film over the years, including dramaturgical work—often with young writers—and as Playwright-in-Residence with several theatre companies and tertiary institutions


Romeril helped found the Australian Performing Group in 1970, and until it wound—up in 1981 the first performances of his plays were usually at the Pram Factory in Melbourne. Examples include Mrs Thally F, Bastardy and The Golden Holden.

Cosi: A symphony of operatic madness l Classic Australian theatre

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Lewis is a bit of a non-participant in life, but when he takes up an opportunity to direct a play at a mental institution - for a bit of extra cash - he gets much more than he bargained for. He becomes emotionally involved with his actors’ lives as his production lurches forward, and the anti-Vietnam war protests take place in the streets outside.


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Louis Nowra is one of Australia’s most successful writers. He has penned novels, crafted film scripts, authored two memoirs and worked as a librettist, but he is perhaps best known for his plays. Since the early 1970s he has created over 30 stories for the stage; several of them have earned a rightful place in the Australian dramatic canon, and our hearts. They include Summer of the AliensRadianceThe Golden Age, The Temple and Albert Names Edward.

Trial by Madmen l Reflecting on classic Australian theatre

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Louis Nowra reads his introduction to Cosi. It’s called Trial by Madmen and you'll see that, once again, truth is stranger than fiction. And if you thought you knew everything there was to know about one of Australia's most beloved plays, think again.

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Louis Nowra is one of Australia’s most successful writers. He has penned novels, crafted film scripts, authored two memoirs and worked as a librettist, but he is perhaps best known for his plays. Since the early 1970s he has created over 30 stories for the stage; several of them have earned a rightful place in the Australian dramatic canon, and our hearts. They include Summer of the AliensRadianceThe Golden Age, The Temple and Albert Names Edward.

Scores to be Settled l Reflections on award-winning Australian theatre

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Erin Dewar reads Vera Rado’s introduction to The Shoe-horn Sonata. Rado was one of the many prisoners of war John Misto interviewed when conducting his research for the play. She endured three years in captivity and was moved to tears when she saw John’s play, because her story was finally being recognised.

Speaking in Tongues: mysterious reflections, love’s refractions l Award-winning Australian theatre

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Two couples set out to betray their partners. A lover returns from the past and a husband doesn’t answer the phone. A woman disappears. Her neighbour's the prime suspect. In this masterfully interconnected polyphony, an evocative mystery unravels alongside a devastating tale of disconnection between individuals, partners and communities.


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Andrew Bovell writes for the stage, television and film. In 1992 he wrote the original screenplay for Strictly Ballroom and in 2001 he went on to adapt his stage play Speaking in Tongues in to the feature film, Lantana. The film premiered at the Sydney Film Festival in 2001 and went on to screen at numerous international film festivals winning many awards. Most recently Andrew adapted John Le Carre’s novel A Most Wanted Man.

His theatre credits include Scenes from a Separation (with Hannie Rayson); Speaking in Tongues, which premiered at Griffin Theatre in 1996 and has had over 50 other productions worldwide; Holy Day, which won the Louis Esson Prize for Drama at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and the AWGIE Award for Best Stage Play (2002); and When the Rain Stops Falling, which won Queensland and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for Best Play, the Adelaide Critics Circle Individual Award, Sydney Theatre Award for Best New Australian Work and 3 Greenroom Awards including Best New Writing for the Australian Stage.

Playwright’s Note for Speaking in Tongues l Reflections on award-winning Australian theatre

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Erin Dewar reads Andrew Bovell’s introduction to Speaking in Tongues, which was first performed in 1996 by the Griffin Theatre Company. The play has become an Australian classic - a rich and complex work that offers a few new answers, and mysteries, each time you approach it.