Tom's picks for October

26 Oct 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 Bren MacDibble

by Kit Brookman

Recommended for schools

OK, I’ve gone with two very different pieces here. The first (The Other 'Other' Tale Of The Three Little Pigs) is a delightful piece for hordes of very young children. Read below for the huge amount of fun the casts have had in doing this play. It’s a riff on fairy tales with a bit of an urban twist and would be a great fun piece to do with primary age children.

The second is by on of Australia’s most interesting emerging playwrights, Kit Brookman. Kit has made quite an impact both as an actor and a playwright in the past few years and his new play (Small and Tired) will debut on the Belvoir stage in 2013. Heaven was developed through Playwriting Australia and it’s a beautiful and tender piece that deals with adolescence and loss. This is definitely a year 10+ piece, but could be a beautiful thing for young drama students to work on.

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by Benedict Hardie
and Anne-Louise Sarks

by Nicki Bloom

Recommended for tertiary study

The plays I have chosen for this month have terrific roles and great directorial and design opportunities for tertiary students who are interested in the grit of good story-telling. The Nest was published recently as part of our RED DOOR launch. Written by two of the driving forces behind Melbourne’s The Hayloft Project this is a beautiful re-invention of Gorky’s The Phillistines. Edgy, contemporary, concise and very funny, this is a play that would go down big (as it did in its first season) with young adult audiences. It’s smart, sophisticated, bitingly funny and – ultimately - beautifully moving.

Tender by the extraordinary Nicki Bloom is one of the most exquisite studies of grief and shock that I have ever come across. The roles are potentially tricky for a tertiary environment (in that it has some older characters) but I think it would be a great piece to do (and see) in a university environment. This is a play that has touched audiences across the nation. It’s scary, delicate, fragile and very moving. I wish it had been around when I was at uni!

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by Alma de Groen

by Michael Gurr

Recommended for community theatre

This month I am featuring two of my favourite Australian playwrights: Alma de Groen and Michael Gurr. Whilst I suppose technically of different generations, both are passionate voices in the generation that followed the Second Wave, and both are committed and political writers – who are also capable of churning out a great tale.

Apart from sharing the gong of the NSW Literary Award (de Groen in 1988 and Gurr in 1997) these plays have a kind of serendipitous harmony in that they both feature an extraordinary central role for a woman.

In their original productions those parts were unforgettably played by two of the greatest actors ever to grace our stages: Helen Morse (in The Rivers of China) and Kerry Walker (in Jerusalem).

While The Rivers of China follows an epic historical narrative bedded in real events, Jerusalem is an examination of life in the backyard – ordinary people trying to navigate the problem of ‘being good’. The territory of these plays is so different, but the heart of both rings loud in the early 21st century.

I hope that plays such as these – lovingly crafted, intelligent and delicately critical of ourselves – will get more life in our theatres. They are both full of amazing roles, great challenges for directors and designers and – to me, most critically – beautiful writing for actors. Both plays have study guides available. Check our weblisting for details.

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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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