For the past three years, Australian Plays has been thrilled to publish the scripts of new Australian works featuring (and often premiering) at the Sydney Festival. These texts live online, only fleetingly, for the duration of the festival but add an exciting opportunity to expand an audience’s interaction with these works and see how modern performance texts are constructed. Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch has been a powerhouse at the festival, broadening its remit and commissioning, developing and producing extraordinary and equally importantly, local work. I managed to sit down with him a few weeks ago and talk through some of the lines that connect works in the festival and in particular explore FIVE new Australian works in the 2019 Festival that feature in our third Sydney Festival Collection.

In this year's Collection we have works that touch on ideas of safety, isolation, connection and tread the line between performance text and play. From the multi-generational epic of Sri Lankan migration in Counting and Cracking by S. Shakthidharan, to the human, heartfelt and comic collaboration of JR Brennan and David Woods' devised The Chat, created with ex-offenders exploring the realities of our criminal justice system. In Vanessa Bates’ A Ghost In My Suitcase, an exploration of grief and connection, a young girl travels back to China to fight sprits with her ghost-hunting Grandmother discovering a long-lost family gift. The Weekend by Henrietta Baird is a Sydney-set one-woman play exploring family and the lengths we go to keeping our loved ones safe. Rounding out our Collection is the powerful and physically impressive The Man With The Iron Neck about multi-generational trauma in a small town Australian family. Written by Ursula Yovich, inspired by original work by Josh Bond, this is an urgent, beautifully realised work.

These pieces are urgent, contemporary and speak about belonging, humanity and safety at a time when the world can seem anything but. Talking with Wesley, I was reminded of Joan Didion’s great and simple quote “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”  We hope you enjoy the 2019 Sydney Festival Collection.


- John Kachoyan

Literary Manager, Australian Plays


Every January, Sydney Festival enlivens and transforms Sydney with a bold cultural celebration based on big ideas and cutting-edge art and performance.

The 2019 program spans 9-27 January and is kaleidoscopic in its diversity; from jaw-dropping cabaret, to epic art installations, international theatre, modern Indigenous work, exhilarating music gigs and more.

Inclusive programming, a broad range of free events and accessible pricing policies for the ticketed shows means that Sydney Festival is open to all, welcoming both Sydneysiders and visitors alike.


Sydney Festival was originally conceived by the Sydney Committee, the NSW State Government and the City of Sydney with a view to attracting people into the city centre during the holiday month of January.

The first Festival took place in 1977 and it has since grown to become one of Australia's largest annual cultural celebrations with an international reputation for modern, popular and intelligent programming. In many ways it is probably still best understood as a celebration of Sydney, and its style and energy reflect the confidence, diversity and vigour of one of the world's most beautiful cities.

The Festival has a history of presenting Australian premieres, and many of Australia's most memorable productions such as Cloudstreet and Smoke & Mirrors have resulted from Sydney Festival's commitment to nurture local artists.

It has brought many of the world's great artists to Sydney including: Ariane Mnouchkine and Thèâtre du Soleil (Flood Drummers); Robert Wilson (The Black Rider); Robert Lepage (Far Side of the Moon, The Andersen Project, Lipsynch); Schaubühne Berlin (Hamlet, Beware of Pity); Netherlands Dance Theatre; James Thiérrée; Philip Glass; Ian McKellen (Dance of Death); Peter Sellars; Batsheva Dance Company; National Theatre of Scotland (Beautiful Burnout, Black Watch, Aalst); Al Green; AR Rahman; Kneehigh Theatre (Tristan & Yseult, The Red Shoes); Wayne McGregor's Random Dance (Entity) and Studio Wayne McGregor (Tree of Codes); Ludger Engels and Vivienne Westwood (Semele Walk); and Fabulous Beast (Rian).