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

War Crimes: How do you win the battle inside your head? l Award-winning Australian theatre

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A powerful story of five disenfranchised young women who are fighting for respect, railing against authority and struggling to form an identity in a small town with limited opportunities. The relocation of an Iraqi refugee family to the town provokes a climate of hostility and tension that threatens to violently explode.

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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, Hoods, won the AWGIE Award for Theatre for Young Audiences in 2007 and the Richard Wherrett Award for Theatre for Young Audiences in the same year.

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.

Stories of Love and Hate: When do they collide? l Headphone verbatim theatre

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At times funny, bizarre and confronting, cultures and ideologies collide in this intimate and innately Australian exploration of love and loss. Drawing the 2005 Cronulla Riots, which attracted worldwide attention for all the wrong reasons, Stories of Love & Hate considers the idea of hate being a consequence of feeling that the things we love are under threat.

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Roslyn Oades is well known for her pioneering work in the field of headphone verbatim and audio-driven performance, taking real life and fusing it into storytelling. As an artist, Roslyn harbors a long-term fascination for vocal patterns and moonlights as a well-known cartoon character voice performer—including major roles on the animated TV series Tracey McBean, Bananas in Pyjamas and Zigby. She has also worked extensively as a TV actor and puppeteer.

Halal-el-Mashakel: “Asylum seekers are just like you and me” l Refugee theatre

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An odd-couple story—a friendship between two musicians stuck in an immigration detention centre. There’s the drummer who loves rock ‘n’ roll and the guitarist with a passion for Cat Stevens. Their discord becomes a key, unlocking the deep frustration and aimlessness both men feel. And Linda Jaivin finds just enough dark humour to save them from oblivion.

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Linda Jaivin is a writer, translator and cultural commentator. She is the author of eleven books and a frequent contributor to respected publications, including The Monthly. Her first novel was the comic-erotic international best-seller Eat Me. Her seventh and most recent novel is The Empress Lover.

Her non-fiction includes Confessions of an S&M Virgin and the China memoir The Monkey and the Dragon as well as Beijing, which has just been published as part of Reaktion Press’s Cityscopes series. She is also a literary translator from Chinese, specialising in film subtitles, and an editorial consultant to the ANU's Australian Centre on China in the World.

Between 2001 and 2005, Linda regularly visited asylum seekers at Villawood Detention Centre where she helped some to draft appeals on their cases to the minister for immigration.

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.

Introduction to Shafana & Aunt Sarrinah l On the politics of Australian theatre

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Dr. Christina Ho reads her introduction to Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah. It’s called Creating Identity in a Hostile World. Dr. Ho researches migration, multiculturalism and the politics of diversity, focusing particularly on the experiences of Muslim Australians and the Chinese diaspora.

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.

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.

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.

The Making of a Great Play l Reflecting on award-winning Australian theatre

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Eamon Flack reads his foreword to The Seed, by Kate Mulvany. It’s called The Making of a Great Play, and this is something Eamon knows a lot about. He's worked extensively in theatre companies around the country. He is a writer and director - currently the Artistic Associate at Belvoir - and he has been at the helm of many successful productions.

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.

Moth: The chaos of teenage friendship l Award-winning Australian theatre

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Sebastian: fifteen, terminally unpopular, an overactive imagination and an obsession with anime and death. His only friend, Claryssa: emo Wiccan art-freak, barely one rung higher than him on the social ladder. A night drinking down at the cricket nets soon gives way to an ecstatic vision that leaves Sebastian unconscious, and their friendship left in ruin.

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Declan Greene is a writer and theatre-maker based in Melbourne. His plays include A Black JoyEight Gigabytes of Hardcore PornographySummertime in the Garden of Eden and Little Mercy. His work has been produced at Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, the Sydney Opera House and various backyards in suburban Melbourne. Awards include the Malcolm Robertson Prize, the R.E. Ross Trust Playwright’s Development Award, an AWGIE Award and Green Room Awards.

The Excruciating Theatre of Declan Greene l Reflections on award-winning Australian theatre

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Toby Leon reads Declan Greene’s Excruciating Theatre. It's Chris Kohn’s foreword to Moth, by Declan Greene, which Chris commissioned in 2010 when he was the Artistic Director of Arena Theatre Company in Melbourne.

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.