Sunday, 18 June 2017

Fair use?

Fair use. It’s a complex issue with advocates on all sides. Of concern to all writers and artists, and certainly any whose work uses collage or remix. There are different points of view out there—and among 7-ON.

Wherever you stand on the question of fair use it’s good to be well informed. So here are links to two articles about fair use, one for, one against.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Good With Maps

Good With Maps returns for four Sydney shows in June. Part of Siren Theatre Company’s fund-raising to take Good With Maps—together with Misterman and One Hander—to the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

Good With Maps is written by Noëlle Janaczewska, directed by Kate Gaul and performed by the wonderful Jane Phegan. Nate Edmondson’s sound design and composition for the production won a 2016 Sydney Theatre Award.

'an exquisite production, knotty, agrarian and ideologically blasphemous … it is untamed and necessary, lyrical and intense. I found myself hanging off every word and surprised when it reached its end.' Theatre Reviews

The shows are on at Belvoir Downstairs and all tickets are $45.

Performance dates and times are:

Thursday 15 June, 8:00 pm
Friday 16 June, 7:00 pm
Saturday 17 June, 8:30 pm
Sunday 18 June, 5:00 pm.

More information and tickets here.

Should you happen to be in Edinburgh during August you can buy your tickets through or through the venue's system which is:

Thursday, 25 May 2017

LONG TAN (the play)

This is after the event and now out of sequence – Hilary’s post about the upcoming Seven Stories (3rd June) should be read first!

I had promised the rest of 7-ON that I would post about Brink Productions’ presentation of Long Tan in Adelaide in April of this year. But…sometimes a show will leave a tidal wash in its wake and then it takes a while to get back to normal life. After three years working on this piece, and the responsibility of accurately reflecting survivor testimony without lessening the complexity of the material in play, it’s taken me a while to get my nose out of that big surf.

So… I won’t go on. The moment for immediate reflection has gone. But I can say that the experience of making this show has probably changed my life and certainly the direction of my career. And how bizarre for that to happen at this time in my life! It was completely wonderful to have some of the veterans of the battle at the show on that first night, and to receive their approbation. We – any show this big – 12 actors, creative team, technical exercise of the presentation being by way of headphones, implies a ‘we’ – it’s a collective commitment – received some fantastic responses, and reviews. So here’s a picture or two (both taken by photographer Kate Pardey) and a link to a couple of the reviews – though for the one in The Australian you might need to be a subscriber to that paper.


Monday, 15 May 2017

Seven Stories

I am commandeering our blog to spread the word about a show coming up on June 3. The 7-ON site seems an appropriate place to spruik it, being as it is a collaboration between seven composers, and a response to the idea that there are seven basic narratives that connect humanity, globally and throughout history. Seven is the magic number.

I was initially brought on board as dramaturg, though we quickly realised that the piece would need text. So I've created words, both spoken and sung, that function to draw the individual compositions into a whole. There is also a beautiful visual component by Sarah-Jane Woulahan, and the music will be performed by the fabulous Ensemble Offspring.

The composers, who all happen to be women, are a widely ranging and wildly gifted bunch: Amanda Brown, Kyls Burtland, Jodi Phillis, Bree van Reyk, Jane Sheldon (who will also be singing), Sally Whitwell and Caitlin Yeo.

There are mates' rates available to the esteemed readers of this blog. See below for more info.
Hope to see you there!

WHEN: Saturday 3 June 7.30pm 
WHERE: City Recital Hall

As a friend, you can book tickets online or via phone at the special discount rate of $40 + booking fee by using the promo code: FRIENDS at the time of purchasing. BOOKINGS: or call 02 8256 2222 

Thursday, 23 March 2017


7-ON did not want to let the restoration to the Australia Council of the bulk of the Federal Arts Funding that was diverted to the Catalyst Fund two years ago go unremarked.

Firstly, it is satisfying, and reassuring, that Minister Fifield has listened to the sector. Thank you, sir.

Secondly, we thought we might pass on the summary of the press coverage put togther by the Theatre Network NSW.

Thirdly, as the Theatre Network Victoria points out,There are some details that are still unclear, such as how much uncommitted money is left, once the recommendations about funding Victorian Opera, Opera Queensland, Queensland Ballet and Brandenburg Orchestra are implemented. This Friday (24th March), there is an additional estimates hearing into the arts, at which we hope some of these questions will be answered.”   

And lastly, we’d like to reaffirm, with regard to the above, that our main hope is that ALL of the funding taken from the small to medium sector be returned to it (including the $2 million kept back at the Minister’s discretion (Wot 4, Minister???) And that if the four major organisations mentioned as needing funding boosts really do (and they may well), then it should not be at the expense of the small to medium sector, which suffered most from the former Minister, George Brandis’, disruptive and misplaced initiative.

Friday, 3 March 2017


After a Sold-Out season and acclaim at Griffin Theatre in 2016, TRIBUNAL is returning for a very special season, at the home of PYT in Fairfield, Australia’s most culturally diverse suburb. TRIBUNAL interrogates Australia’s past and present through the telling of parallel stories of indigenous Australia and newly arrived refugees. 

TRIBUNAL is an ambitious new participatory performance project that brings together artists, human rights activists, lawyers, young leaders and outlaws. An Australian Truth and Reconciliation Tribunal is created to interrogate and explore notions of truth and lies around the labels of ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker’.

Having seen the show on opening night, I can say that it's heart is even deeper and more assured than in its first season at the Griffin. We are a country that can create and compound complex trauma in its first and latest peoples. We are also a country that can create and compound joy when we listen and bare witness and ensure safety. This show by this amazing team does the latter.

2nd March – 11th March, Thursday – Saturday 7.30pm 
The PYT Fairfield Theatre, 19 Harris St Fairfield 
Tickets available through

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Reporting back ... what we did the last six months of 2016

We try to check in every six months with what we’ve each/all been up to. We’re a little behind the beat with this most recent ‘report’ as we (and the rest of the world!) are well and truly into 2017 now. Still … the last six months of 2016 found us in our usual range of work beginning, ending, pending, and planning. It’s great to watch each other’s ups and downs … in slow personal periods to take pleasure in someone else’s fiery accomplishments, and in those full-on times to know that around the corner may well be a temporary becalming … so here it is. We’ll do our usual thing of alphabetical order, which means … Donna’s first!

In the middle of the year, my play Jump for Jordan received a staged reading by the Australia Theatre Company in Los Angeles, and much to my relief, the Aussie sense of humour was no barrier at all to the creative team and audience.

A few months later, I followed in my play’s footsteps and went to the U.S. to soak up the desert at Joshua Tree, and catch up with loved ones and fav playwright Christine Evans in Washington DC. After a brain-mulching 5-year stint in academia, for a blessed month, I pretty much did nothing but be, and sleep, and look, and laugh, and dream.

Back home, when I had the wits to pick up a pen again, it was not for a theatre company, but for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Until mid-2017, I’ll be working with a terribly talented writing team to place about 4000 survivor stories on record. The Commission is an effective and healing force for change, and I’m proud to be able to support its work.

In September, I moderated a great AWG Write Night event with Melbourne playwright Patricia Cornelius called Write Like A Man. Third time lucky, I was awarded a Literature Board grant for a new play The Secret Warzone. I also received the examiners’ reports for my doctoral thesis, made a grand total of four changes to the bibliography, and got the thing gone for good.

In October, I won an AWGIE for my radio adaptation of Spirit which was the first play I wrote for a 7-ON project, and thanked the play’s producer Eastside Radio FM for filling the radio drama vacuum left by the ABC. In November, I went to Tasmania with International Grammar’s Year Tens as a tutor on their Writing the Island project, and ran the introductory workshop of the Page to Stage course for Playwriting Australia and the NToP which will run through until June. In December, I joined the Artistic Advisory Council of Milk Crate Theatre, and brought Flame Tree Street, my latest full length play, definitively into existence.

Throughout the year, as a board member, I saw Powerhouse Youth Theatre produce shows which ripped up the Griffin and Opera House stages, or took over the streets of Fairfield. They also hosted a damn fine Christmas party at the Bearded Tit in Redfern.

Well, honestly what is there to say about the last six months of 2016 except let’s all move on? No, actually, there is loads to say but frankly I’m a bit depressed right now and feeling A Bit Shit so you’ll have to chat amongst yourselves. This year my new play Trailer was produced (beautifully) by Tantrum Theatre and directed (gorgeously) by Anna Kerrigan. A second play on mid-year was Basin which was produced and commissioned by Eastern Riverina Arts and directed by the mighty Scott Howie. My mind is on Basin right now because yesterday I received the brand new shiny published script in the mail which always makes a playwright go Tee Hee! Or at least this one does.

Basin was a very interesting work, created by seven regional writers and myself. I was the Facilitating Playwright and, I guess, script editor on the work and we began with me running playwriting workshops and then editing material that came out of these workshops into one big beautiful play – a three-hander. It was a fabulous process involving a bit of to-and-fro-ing from Newcastle to Wagga etc and a lot of emailing. But it worked! Yay us!

Towards the end of the year I was head-down-bum-up (so to speak) on a new play for Barking Gecko in Perth. This is an adaptation of Gabrielle Wang’s A Ghost in My Suitcase, set in China and exploring notions of identity and grief as well as a bunch of feisty gals and some rather unpleasant ghosts. Fun as. Still working on it now … excuse me if I bust out a few kung fu moves as I write this.

The other project I worked on in 2016 was a web series based on a book I wrote about infertility and other Hilarious Adventures. The series is called All Our Eggs. We got development funding from the Gender Matters scheme and before the end of 2016 I was able to squeeze out (see what I did there) eps 1-4. (9 in total, rest written by fabbo director Martha Goddard). Not entirely sure where we’re up to now but Watch This Space. 

And finally…we got a puppy. He’s a miniature schnauzer and I have fallen deeply in love. Tip: Puppies are very good for writing. Also when feeling A Bit Shit. Get one.

The latter half of 2016 was mostly about pushing things along that were already in motion. I worked on a new draft of a commission for the STC, which I had needed to put aside for a long time before finding a way forward with it. I continued on Seven Stories with Ensemble Offspring and a band of brilliant composers who all happen to be women, working towards a performance at City Recital Hall in June. With composer Andrée Greenwell, I visited choirs in Bega and Bermagui in preparation for our work on her piece Ten Wishes For The Future of Our Children: Saying No To Domestic Violence. I had a very joyful time collaborating with Justine Clarke and Alice Osborne on the kids’ show Look! Look! It’s A Gobbledygook!, adapted from Justine’s children’s books. And most recently it’s been all about reconceiving Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree for the stage, thanks to the National Theatre of Parramatta.

Getting out and working with other people is always such a pleasure when you spend much of your time alone. So as well as working with these artists, it was rejuvenating doing some teaching (NSW Writers’ Centre; Griffin) and dramaturgy (Clare Testoni’s Heed The Spark for PWA’s National Script Conference).

The highlight of the last six months was Good With Maps at Sydney’s Kings Cross Theatre in November, as part of Siren Theatre Company’s Invisible Circus program. It was a very happy process taking the piece from page to a production where every element was in sync. Beautifully performed by Jane Phegan, we got rave reviews and great audience responses. Kate Gaul received a Sydney Theatre Awards 2016 nomination for Best Direction and Nate Edmunson won a Sydney Theatre Awards 2016 for Best Score or Sound Design. And so the good news is that Good With Maps will have further outings in 2017/18.  

Apart from Good With Maps, it’s been thistles and, well, trying not to feel overwhelmed by the world’s lurch to the political right: Brexit, Trump, Duterte, and of course our own homegrown conservatives and climate-change deniers. A carnival of nationalism, hate-speech, bullshit and corruption. On the up-side—please, let there be an up-side!—I’m hoping this will lead to a resurgence of political theatre. The times demand it. In Svendborg Poems, penned in exile in Denmark in the 1930s, Brecht wrote: ‘In the dark times/Will there also be singing?/Yes, there will also be singing./About the dark times.’

Let’s get singing.

The last fortnight of 2016 I spent in Korea. Part research, part holiday.

This has been a period of slogging-on for me. I had the great satisfaction of my verbatim theatre piece, The Red Cross Letters, being presented at The Space at the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust by State Theatre of SA in August, 2106. We (director, Andy Packer, musicians Matt Gregan and Quincy Grant and actors Lizzy Falkland, Elizabeth Hay, Rory Walker and Matt Crook, set and lights, Geoff Cobham, lights and video design Chris Petrides) got great reviews and wonderful community responses from audiences all around South Australia. I think there’s more in this material and I’m hoping to be able to follow it up.

And …I completed my first year of a PhD in Political Theatre at Flinders University. My stars, but there is some interesting stuff out there! Having a whole university library to trawl through is…well. Some of us are slightly greedy pigs. I know it’s work. But, frankly, I’m finding this late-life mind-expansion activity a bit of a thrill right now, so I hope it continues to deliver that hit along with the inevitable self-doubts etc.

I’m also continuing to write and publish poetry. It’s a bit of a shock to the management after all these years obsessed by the theatre, but…it is what is is, as they say. So. Good fun there, too.

And I’m slightly nervously preparing for (1) a workshop, then (2) rehearsals, then (3) the production in early April (again at The Space at the AFCT, this time produced by Brink Productions) of another semi-verbatim play. This one is about about the 1966 Battle of Long Tan, in Vietnam, and is called (surprise?) Long Tan. This play affects more than just me, so I am highly aware of the responsibility involved. Deep breath. We have a great team (Chris Drummond, directing; Luke Smiles, sound and music; Chris Petrides, lights; Wendy Todd, design, amongst others), some really lovely actors, all 12 of them (!) We’ll all be giving it our best shot. I hope some of you may come along to see it.

Ned’s just started a new job so we’re just going to refer you to his excellent web-site for his current thoughts and news and when he comes up for air, he’s promised to post a few more for 7-ON!

Sometimes writing has to be fought for as one fights against the perfectionist self. In the last six months, the written world has been in slo-mo. That’s what unrelenting and rigorous editing will do, but it’s been worth it as The Play has determinately taken wing.

I have also been in the midst of placing a number of my other plays, which have never seen the world, into safe hands for closed, industry or public readings. I’m at that stage where only this process can push the works forward.

As usual, I’ve been working on a new visual art series called “Afterimages”. These are miniature paintings featured in pop-ups at markets around Sydney. Some of the paintings can be seen here:

Finally, I’m still continuing with the disturbing and strange Relics of the Anthropocene Age. The image itself seems somewhat theatrical.