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

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.

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.

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.

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.