Tom's picks for February - Community Theatre

13 Feb 2014

The latest recommendations from our Literary Manager



Each month Tom delves into our extensive catalogue and suggests plays suitable for classroom use, for tertiary study and performance and for community theatre groups. You can also get these recommendations delivered via email, by signing up here.



by Vivienne Walsh


by Mark Swivel


Recommended for community theatre

To kick off 2014, I have chosen two plays that celebrate, albeit in vastly different ways, the dynamics of broken families. God’s Last Acre by Vivienne Walsh examines a single parent family surviving – just – through tough economic and emotional circumstances. Canoeing in Soomaa by Mark Swivel is a delicate portrait of a non-custodial father and son on holiday together and acts as a beautiful partner to his earlier father/son play Water Falling Down (which explores the generation up).
God’s Last Acre was originally produced at Playbox and marked the arrival of a fluent and original voice in Australian playwrighting. To that point, Vivienne was known mostly as an actress but this play with its beautiful portrayal of three generations of Australian-Irish working class women was an impressive debut. Apart from its warmth and humanity it is remarkable for the rich and complex women that take centre stage. This is a play with wonderful roles – a real epic and, although essentially a drama, it has a great deal of sparkle and comedy in its language. This would be a great play for any company with strong women actors to tackle (and there are heaps of those!) Like so many Australian plays it thoroughly deserves more productions.
Mark Swivel has an uncanny and extremely honest touch in his writing about emotions that flow between men. Canoeing in Soomaa is a short and simple play – although enormously complex emotionally – about a father and a son trying to get to know each other. Like God’s, this play lives and dies in the acting of it. There are no big effects or tricks, no sudden sweeping plot turns, just finely observed characters negotiating their way through the minefield of the ties that bind us together in our familial relationships. It is sufficiently short to form part of a double bill – perhaps with its companion piece…? There’s a challenge to someone looking for a great night for three male actors in three different generations!

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Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts and Music (VCAM) in 1989 Tom Healey has worked as an actor, a director and a dramaturg with companies and projects around the nation. Positions held include Curator of the Australian National Playwrights’ Conference (2006), Artistic Associate of Playbox (1999-2003), Artistic Directorate (Hothouse Theatre 2006-09), Casting Consultant and Artistic Counsel (Malthouse Theatre 2005-07) and Panellist (Arts Victoria Performance Panel). As a dramaturg he has worked with Australian playwrights both emerging and established, and he has directed premieres of many new Australian works. He has also directed and developed works in contemporary opera, cabaret and music theatre and taught at the universities of Melbourne, Ballarat and La Trobe as well as the VCAM and NIDA. Tom is currently the Literary Manager of the Australian Script Centre.

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