Tom's picks for November

28 Nov 2012

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 Dorothy Hewett

by Mary Morris

Recommended for schools

This month I have chosen a play by one of Australia’s greatest playwrights, Dorothy Hewett. Hewett occupies a very particular place in the Australian canon. Her writing is iconoclastic, richly theatrical, political and very accessible. The roots of vaudeville are strongly present and her preoccupation with the nature of being Australian makes all her work strong and unique. Golden Valley was written especially for children and is set very firmly in the goodies vs the baddies territory. Its eco-centred theme makes it especially poignant now and it would be an amazing piece to tackle with the current generation of kids so used to the lure of technology and gadgets. It’s old-fashioned in a way, but has lasted surprisingly well and, if nothing else, would introduce children to the magic of what theatre can achieve in a potent and startling way.
Blabbermouth is by Mary Morris adapted from Morris Gleitzman’s popular novel of the same name. Rowena, the central character, is one of the most endearing characters in Australian fiction. This is a coming-of-age story that is both funny and touching and has Gleitzman’s trademark humour threaded deeply in to the dialogue. This is a fun romp of a play – a small cast, but could be great for scenes or even a novel/play comparison exercise.

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by Rita Kalnejais

by Toby Schmitz

Recommended for tertiary study

BC by Rita Kalnejais was published earlier this year as part of our RED DOOR series. It is one of the most interesting new plays for my money of the last five years. Kalnejais is a wonderful actor – vivid and eccentric and the inner world of her play vibrates with both of these qualities in abundance. It is a loose re-telling of the pregnancy of Mary and Joseph but set in contemporary suburban Australia. Full of beautiful writing and extraordinary images, this would be a corker for any university group to stage.

Lucky is also written by a leading young Australian actor – Toby Schmitz. It won the Patrick White Award and was subsequently produced by the Australian Theatre for Young People. Schmitz is an accomplished and experienced playwright and his style is laconic, sharp and dark. His writing is intensely modern – economic and verging sometimes on poetic. This is a piece that would sit well in any university environment.

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by Nick Enright

by Debra Oswald

Recommended for community theatre

I have chosen two very different plays this month, though both are proven crowd-pleasers with audiences. On the Wallaby by Nick Enright is a beautiful and multi-layered treat. It is set in the depression in Port Adelaide and follows a family through the ups and downs of 1930’s Australia. The title refers to a phrase which was used to describe men who had to leave their families to travel and find work. It features songs, some dancing, some beautiful scenes and a really nostalgic look at a period of great change. Lots of roles and great opportunities for people of many talents and a rollicking good yarn!

Gary’s House by Debra Oswald was performed originally as a co-production between Playbox in Melbourne and Railway Street in Sydney (both now defunct). It is, in typical Oswald style, a beautiful and funny examination of suburban Australia and features the construction of a house as part of the action of the play. A great treat for any designer! Full of great roles, great scenes and cracking dialogue this is a gem of a play and a terrific audience pleaser.

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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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