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

Hoods: Who is responsible for childrens’ welfare? l Award-winning Australian theatre

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Each night two hoods ride a train to a wrecking yard on the outskirts of the city. Here, in this cemetery of stories, they are storytellers with the power to fast forward, pause and rewind. Tonight they tell the story of three kids left in a car. Exploring issues of poverty and family violence, Hoods is a suburban tale of survival and solidarity against the odds.

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Angela Betzien is a multi-award winning writer and a founding member of independent theatre company Real TV; her work has toured widely across Australia and internationally. She is currently the Patrick White Fellow at Sydney Theatre Company and developing new plays for them, as well as Melbourne Theatre Company and Belvoir.

Angela’s play Children of the Black Skirt toured Australian schools for three years and won the 2005 Drama Victoria Award for Best Performance by a Theatre Company for Secondary Schools. Another work, War Crimes, won the 2012 Kit Denton Fellowship and the QLD Literary Award for Playwriting; it was also nominated for a NSW Premier’s Literary Award in 2012.

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.

Brothers Wreck: How many people does it take for us to live? l Award-winning Australian theatre

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Brothers Wreck is about life, even though it begins with a death. On a hot morning under a house in Darwin, Ruben wakes to find his cousin, Joe, hanging from the rafters. What follows is the story of a family buffeted by constant tragedy, holding itself together. And little by little, they bring Ruben back from the edge.

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Jada Alberts is a Larrakia, Bardi, Wadaman and Yanuwa performer from the Top End of Australia. She graduated in 2006 from the Adelaide Centre for the Arts and in 2007 won the Adelaide Critics’ Circle Award for Best Emerging Artist. Jada has appeared on stage in Frost/Nixon, The Birthday Party, Second to None and Yibiyung; most recently she played Goneril in the national tour of The Shadow King. Jada appeared in the feature film Red Hill and on television in Rush Series III, Redfern Now, Wentworth and the upcoming Wentworth Series II. Jada is also an accomplished musician and painter of contemporary Indigenous art, and in 2013 she won the Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwrights Award.

Shafana & Aunt Sarrinah: What do you do when you disagree with someone you love? l Provocative Australian theatre

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At the heart of Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah is the relationship between an aunt, Sarrinah, and her niece, Shafana. Both devout Muslims, the younger woman wants to put on a headscarf, the older woman tries to dissuade her. For Sarrinah, the hijab represents a world from which she has escaped; for her niece, Shafana, it is a personal statement of renewed faith.

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Alana Valentine is one of Australia’s most renowned and respected playwrights. Her work for the stage includes Grounded, Cyberbile, Run Rabbit Run, Parramatta Girls, Eyes to the Floor, Watermark, Swimming the Globe, The Conjurers, Comin’ Home Soon, Dead Man Brake, Singing the Lonely Heart and Savage Grace.

Her writing has been awarded many times, including the Queensland and NSW Premier’s Awards, five AWGIE awards, including the inaugural David Williamson Prize and the Major AWGIE in 2013, the Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award, a residency at the Banff Playwrights Conference in Canada, the ANPC/New Dramatists Award, a Churchilll Fellowship, a Centenary Medal and an International Writing Fellowship at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. In 2012 she won the prestigious STAGE Award—judged by Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights and Nobel Laureates—for her play Ear to the Edge of Time.

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.

Jump for Jordan: caught between cultures l Award-winning Australian theatre

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Aspiring archaeologist, Sophie, left home when she was 20, much to the shame of her traditional Jordanian mother. Years later, losing sleep and petrified by the judgement of her visiting ‘mad Arab’ Aunty Azza, Sophie's forced to lie about her life, her career and the existence of her Aussie partner. Worst of all is the fear that she’s also lying to herself.

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Donna Abela served her playwriting apprenticeship at Powerhouse Youth Theatre, a company she co-founded in 1987 in Sydney’s culturally diverse western suburbs. Donna worked continuously with PYT for the next seventeen years as it consolidated its practice of community collaboration.


She has worked extensively as a dramaturge and script assessor for various theatre companies and organisations, including the Australian Writers' Guild and the Australian National Playwrights' Centre. Donna also teaches writing, and has lectured in scriptwriting at Wesley Institute since 1991.

Over her career, Donna has written more than 30 stage and radio plays for audiences of all ages. Credits include: A Cleansing Force, Olympia and Phoung, Spirit, The Greatest Show On Earth, The Rood Screen, The Daphne Massacre and Mrs Macquarie’s Cello.

Gary’s House: But is it a home? l Satire becomes drama

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Gary's failed in everything he's attempted. But when he inherits a block of land, he gets an urge to build a nest with his angry, pregnant girlfriend, Sue-Anne. A ratbag collection of misfits, loners, drifters and losers are thrown together on this scrubby patch of remote bush - loosely united in a comically desperate project, to build a home.

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Debra Oswald announced to her parents that she was going to be a playwright at twelve years old and she has been sharing stories ever since. Her broad body of work has been seen on screens large and small, watched in darkened theatres across the world, and read by too many people to count. She had early success with her play Dags and continued on with acclaimed works such as The Peach Season, Stories in the Dark, Skate and House on Fire. She was also the creator and head writer for the smash hit television series, Offspring on Channel Ten.

Introduction to Gary’s House l On the beauty of failure

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John McCallum reads his introduction to Gary’s House, by Debra Oswald. McCallum is one of the country’s most respected critics. He's published widely in the field of Australian theatre and drama and is the long-standing Sydney theatre critic for the Australian.

Rainbow’s End: What’s the definition of a hero? l Thought-provoking Australian theatre

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Set in the 1950s on the fringe of a country town, Rainbow’s End is a thought-provoking, often hilarious and emotionally powerful snapshot of a Koori family - Nan Dear, her daughter Gladys and Gladys’ daughter Dolly; it dramatises their struggle for decent housing, meaningful education, jobs and community acceptance.

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Jane Harrison is an indigenous Australian writer and playwright. A descendant of the Muruwari people of New South Wales, from the area around Bourke and Brewarrina, Harrison grew up in the Victorian Dandenongs with her mother and sister. She began her career as an advertising copywriter, before beginning work as a writer with the Ilbijerri Theatre Company. In the late 90s, Harrison was commissioned by Ilbijerri to write Stolen, about the Stolen Generations. The play premiered in ‘98, and was followed by seven annual seasons in Melbourne, plus extensive national and international tours.

Don’s Party: the way we were l Classic Australian theatre

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Election night 1969: Don and Kath hope for a change of government and give a party to watch the results. But as the tide turns against Labor, faded ideals and disappointed hopes begin to reveal themselves. This brilliant satire examines a society on the threshold of emerging from a generation of comfortable, conservative political and social values.


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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, Brilliant Lies and Dead White Males.

Silent Disco: plugging in and tuning out l Award-winning Australian theatre

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Tamara and Jasyn are in love. Jasyn wants to take Tamara to the formal, but he hasn’t got the cash. And in a world of absent mothers and distant fathers, Miss Petchall battles to keep another year of students out of the ranks of the vanished. Tamara and Jasyn soon come to realise just how hard it can be to find your own rhythm when everyone is marching to the beat of a different drum.


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Lachlan Philpott is a playwright, director and teacher. He graduated from the University of New South Wales, The Victorian College of the Arts and NIDA’s Playwrights Studio. He has previously been Artistic Director of Tantrum Theatre in Newcastle, writer-in-residence at Red Stitch in Melbourne and the Literary Associate at ATYP.


His plays have been performed across Australia as well as Ireland, the UK and the USA. They include Air Torture, Bison, Bustown, Catapult, Colder, Due Monday, Running Under the Sprinkler and Truck Stop.

Introduction to Silent Disco l Reflecting on award-winning Australian theatre

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Noel Jordan reads his introduction to Silent Disco, by Lachlan Philpott. Jordan is currently the Education Manager at Melbourne Theatre Company. He's previously worked as Director of the Come Out Festival, Curator and Producer at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Producer for Young Audiences at Sydney Opera House and a Drama Lecturer at the University of Melbourne.

The Seed: How well do you know your family? l Award-winning Australian theatre

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Meet Rose Maloney. Her dad went to Vietnam. Her grandfather is ex-IRA. Today's their collective birthday. From this intimate reunion, a silent family battle opens up, becoming a national story about finding new life amongst the rubble of old wars.


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As an actor Kate Mulvany has played lead roles with several major Australian theatre companies as well as appearing on TV and in film. As a writer, her plays include The Web, Blood and Bone (winner of Naked Theatre Company’s “Write Now"! Award), The Danger Age, which was shortlisted for the STC's Patrick White Playwrights Award, Masquerade, an adaptation of Kit William's classic children's tale, which featured at the 2015 Sydney Festival, and several other adaptations of classic works.

Stories in the Dark: princes, wolf-mothers & singing bones l Award-winning Australian theatre

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Tomas, 12, finds himself trapped in a war torn city, separated from his family. He takes refuge in a derelict house with Anna, 16. Every night she tells him folk stories to distract them from the sound of bombs outside, mingling the magic and earthy wisdom of folk tales with the hard-edged story of violence, conflict and the struggle to survive.


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Debra Oswald announced to her parents that she was going to be a playwright at twelve years old and she has been sharing stories ever since. Her broad body of work has been seen on screens large and small, watched in darkened theatres across the world, and read by too many people to count. She had early success with her play Dags and continued on with acclaimed works such as The Peach Season, Gary's House, Skate and House on Fire. She was also the creator and head writer for the smash hit television series, Offspring on Channel Ten.

Playwright’s Note for Stories in the Dark l Reflecting on award-winning Australian theatre

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Debra Oswald reads her playwright’s note for Stories in the Dark. It’s about obsession. The good kind. The kind that incites action, creativity, and in this case, the mixture of seemingly disconnected elements.

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Debra Oswald announced to her parents that she was going to be a playwright at twelve years old and she has been sharing stories ever since. Her broad body of work has been seen on screens large and small, watched in darkened theatres across the world, and read by too many people to count. She had early success with her play Dags and continued on with acclaimed works such as The Peach Season, Gary's House, Skate and House on Fire. She was also the creator and head writer for the smash hit television series, Offspring on Channel Ten.

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.

Holding the Man: I’ll see you soon, angel l Award-winning Australian theatre

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An adaptation of Timothy Conigrave's landmark book that faithfully captures the fifteen-year relationship between Conigrave and the love of his life, John Caleo. Speaking across generations, sexualities and cultures, this is a heart-wrenchingly honest portrayal of what it means to grow up, how we form relationships, and why we need to love and be loved.


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Tommy Murphy is one of Australia’s most beloved playwrights. His original stories, and his adaptations, have been warmly received - both critically and commercially. The adaptation of Timothy Conigrave’s best selling book, Holding the Man, is one of Tommy’s standouts. It won several awards and was presented by some of the country’s biggest theatre companies, playing to packed houses in most Australian capital cities, and travelling overseas to New Zealand, the US and London's West End.