Every time I write a forward for the Red Door series I sit down at my computer and marvel at the amazing gig I’ve landed myself in. To have a series that you curate yourself, in which you choose plays that you love just because – well – you love them is an enormous gift and an unending pleasure. Sitting down to read Michael Gurr’s incendiary Crazy Brave I was reminded intensely of just how great a gift it is. And what treasures our collection houses.

I vividly remember the first time I read Crazy Brave. I was the Artistic Associate of its commissioning company, Playbox and, due to my insider status, I was one of the very first (outside of the production’s collaborators) to read it. I can remember sitting in my office with a fresh print of the text thinking what a brilliant title it was - and then I started to read.

Then, as now, I was used to reading drafts with a dramaturgical eye – thoughts of what might be tweaked, strengthened or streamlined. But as I began with this one I remember being sucked straight into its incredibly vivid world. I read it straight through without a thought in my head other than the extraordinary story that was tumbling, screaming off the page. This was the year 2000, a full 12 months before 9/11 changed the worldview of political action, and its plot premise (an unaffiliated loose group of individuals united by the political ideal to fuck it all up) had me enormously excited.


At first glimpse, I read it as a call to arms. The brilliant rhetoric of its central character, Alice (played in the original production by the incandescent Alison Whyte), is seductive in the extreme and, like all brilliant political thinking, contains the sense of an absolute truth:


You see it’s this.


All I want to do is speed up human evolution a little bit. I want to light some fires. I want to burn us out of the undergrowth and onto the plain. [beat]

That’s all.


But there is nothing simplistic about Michael Gurr. No easy answers. The clean and simple politics Alice espouses, the desire for straightforwardness, the desire for truth is a political dream. As I see it, the world according to Gurr is tricky and violent, both psychologically and physically, and the path through it is convoluted and plagued with toll gates; tolls that are exacted both literally and figuratively from those who seek power and advancement, regardless of their political persuasion.


You'll find more of my thoughts on CRAZY BRAVE, along with our video interview with Michael Gurr, on the blog. 

Tom Healey,
Red Door Curator




Alice is 'crazy brave' — a member of a political group trying to bring about change through the guerilla tactics of urban nuisance. This award-winning play is about three characters forced to find their own definitions of courage.



Michael Gurr has written screenplays, poetry and political commentary; directed for the theatre; and taught acting. He was Artistic Counsel at Playbox for three years, running the Theatre in the Raw play development program. In 1995 he travelled to Vietnam as part of an Australian Cultural Delegation, and was a presenter of ABC Radio National’s arts and entertainment program Nightclub in 2002.

 Tom Healey in conversation with Michael Gurr.