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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.