National Play Festival 2010

PlayWriting Australia Artistic Director Chris Mead announced details of the National Play Festival 2010 last night at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. Following its success in 2008 Australia’s leading new theatre festival returns to Brisbane in February with an extraordinary program of the best new plays from around Australia.

Mead says “This February Queensland is the state of the art and Brisbane is the voice of the nation. The National Play Festival clusters together the excellent, the funny, the raucous, the provocative and the sexy as amazing writers share their visions for Australia with us.”

Leading and emerging playwrights, directors, dramaturgs and actors from across the country will converge in Brisbane for the National Play Festival, a major two-week celebration of new Australian performance writing. “The Play Festival is a celebration of ingenuity and the many voices of Australia,” explains Mead, “From over 100 submitted scripts we showcase plays for breakfast and dinner, inspired plays, delicious plays and plays to be savoured.

“From women boxers to Ned Kelly, from coping with parents with senile dementia to shutting up annoying ghosts, from the crisis confronting international students to dodgy emails, the National Play Festival is the perfect opportunity to ignite your imagination.”

Premier of Queensland and Minister for the Arts Anna Bligh welcomed the return of the National Play Festival to Brisbane for 2010.

“Queensland has a strong reputation as a state that nurtures and celebrates good writing as well as new writing,” the Premier said.

“We do that through initiatives such as the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award, the $100,000 in funding to the National Play Festival and our support for the 2009 National Script Workshop.

“The Government’s aim is to encourage innovation and creativity in writing for the stage, as well as assist writers to gather the tools they need to help them develop and progress in their writing careers.”

Fortitude Valley’s Judith Wright Centre is the home of the Festival and buzzes with performances of more than 20 new Australian and international plays, including work by some of the country’s finest emerging talent and best-loved established playwrights.


The Showcase season is the beating heart of the Festival, presenting eight of the very best new plays hand-picked from across the country. With new works from our country’s best-loved writers, and new discoveries from the finest emerging talent, this is where to come to see what’s happening in Australian theatre.

Ross Mueller (Concussion) returns to the National Play Festival with A Beautiful Gesture a delicate, vertiginous exploration of people connecting against a backdrop of terror. Water Falling Down by Mark Swivel is a charming, poignant and closely observed portrait of paternal love, a celebration of the small moments of connection between father and son, and Mark’s first play in over 15 years. One of Australia’s favourite playwright’s Debra Oswald (Dags, Mr Bailey’s Minder, The Peach Season) writes with grace and humanity about real people in Marzipan, a life-affirming romantic comedy in which love and death are great partners. From Brisbane born playwright Angela Betzien (Hoods, Children of the Black Skirt) comes War Crimes, a razor-sharp depiction of adolescence by one of our most exciting up-and-coming talents who continues to push the boundaries of theatre for young audiences. 19 Trains is funny and acute, a play about endurance and the unlikely prospect of happiness from Melbourne actor and writer, Angus Cerini. Alana Valentine’s (Parramatta Girls, Run Rabbit Run) Student Body, based on extensive interviews with international students, is a provocative and theatrical study of learning and difference. A captivating and disturbing vision of the future, Tilt by novelist, playwright and director Catherine McKinnon is a theatrical puzzle for audiences to put together. Finishing up with a new work from Robert Reid written with caustic wit and a wicked desire to ruin his characters’ lives, The New Black is a vicious laugh-out-loud modern urban comedy.


The National Play Festival is a feast of Australian theatre with something to sample for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Play for Breakfast series is all about starting your day with some great local, national and international plays every morning. Bite size portions  – running at 30 – 40 minutes and all for free.

Kicking off with The Sweet Science of Bruising from Queenslander Elise Grieg. When the going gets tough, Liza gets going and sets about learning to box. With her father as coach, the sparks soon start to fly in a new play that promises both drama and comedy. Brisbane playwright Katherine Lyall-Watson’s Rosie Little’s Cautionary Tales for Girls is a collection of gutsy and lusty fables adapted from Danielle Wood’s successful book about the ‘stout booted, stout-hearted’ eponymous heroine Rosie Little. The Life and Death of Dan Kelly by Matthew Ryan, also from Brisbane, explores the life of Dan, youngest brother of Ned, who died at the siege of Glenrowan at the age of 19. Was he a bloodthirsty ruffian, a weakling or a misunderstood kid? And what if he faked his own death? Suzie Miller’s Transparency was controversially produced in 2009 by Ransom Productions in Belfast. Simon and Jess are deeply in love – they can see each other’s souls. Simon’s soul though is well hidden, as is his vicious past and its endless, nasty repercussions. What if someone you loved vanished without a trace? A Boy, A Man (then titled Colder) by Lachlan Philpott won the R.E Ross Trust Award and was short-listed for the 2007 Griffin Award. Separated from his mother, a young boy goes missing in Disneyland. Years later his life seems normal, stable, happy. Then he disappears again. In Fixer by Lydia Adetunji when terrorists attack an oil pipeline in the north of Nigeria journalists swarm, as do consultants, spin doctors and fixers, those hoping to make a buck by negotiating between cultures. Finally from Britain’s Adam Bruce comes Stovepipe the story of a private soldier in Iraq trying to track down what happened to his buddies. Described as “thrilling, refreshingly muscular drama” by London’s Evening Standard and “the most exciting theatrical thriller in town” by the Daily Telegraph.


The Bestest Play in Australia is a series of four short performances presented as a prelude to the evening Showcase presentations. Four groups of students were set a challenge: write the best play in Australia; and then they were given some pointers. The eight plays of the Showcase season – hand-picked as being the best in Australia – were analysed, scrutinised and dissected. Based on this scientific analysis, the challengers were given the secret formula. How they interpret the formula is up to them. Come and judge for yourself which is the bestest play in Australia.

Directors and dramaturgs involved in the National Play Festival include Brisbane’s own Michael Futcher, plus Leticia Caceres, Susie Dee, Peter Evans, Julian Meyrick, and Daniel Schlusser. Brisbane actors appearing in the Showcase season include Bille Brown (Narnia, Spamalot, Exit the King, Hitchcock Blonde), Sandro Colarelli (Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, The Narcissist), Bryan Probets (The Alchemist, School of Arts), Steven Rooke (Narnia, Footy Legends, The Pillowman, Anatomy Titus Fall of Rome: A Shakespeare Commentary) and Chris Betts (H20, All Saints, The Crucible). Further information about the other artists involved and additional performances, workshops and forums will be announced in the lead up to the event. Please keep checking for further details.


Dates: 15- 20 February, 2010.
Tickets: showcase from $20, plays for breakfast free admission
Bookings: 07 3872 9000 or
More information:

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