Thursday, 1 December 2016

Doing Playwright Prep...

We all need to keep refreshing our sense of's not easy to find the time but we just wanted to put in a plug for Julian Meyrick's series in The Conversation. He makes it easy for the rest of us to grab the essentials...and then keep writing, just that bit better informed than we might have been a minute ago....

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

And Now For Something Somewhat Different...

Every now and then, in this mean old writing life, you get a little win...A poem of mine, Kangarilla, Summer, 2016, published earlier this year in the Australian Book Review, has been included in Black Inc Books, Best Australian Poems, 2016, edited this year by Sarah Holland-Batt, who is, incidentally the winner of the 2016 Prime Minister's Award for Poetry. As we say from time to time here at 7-ON, Woot! The particular poem means a lot to me and I am more than honoured to be in such company. (Verity)

Thursday, 10 November 2016

On the Mo(u)rning After

“There is no moving to Canada. If you are committed to justice & fairness in US, real people need your heart & fight here now more than ever,” tweeted former Clinton and Obama top economic aide Gene Sperling on Wednesday morning.

That’s how it is, friends one and all. We are not Americans, but we are inevitably involved in their election of a Nero, who looks set to fiddle whilst a heating world is burning.

But we can’t move to a metaphorical Canada, either. We must stay where we are, and attempt to salvage what we can.

Like most of us, I don’t really know what to do right now (this is Verity here). This morning in near-dark, in the bird-time, I got out and swept the paths around our house. Made things a little clearer? Got rid of some detritus? Something like that. The birds sang on.

So. One step at a time. With every action or communication or decision any of us makes that foregrounds civility and dignity and what we owe to the natural world which is the cradle of us all, we set our faces against this caricature of America’s shadow self. And our own society's shadow self.

So let’s start, shall we, whilst we can?

What can we do?

The return of One Nation was one thing, Brexit was another. Now that Donald Trump has his finger on the button, how do we keep believing that there’s a future worth getting up in the morning for?
Even more troubling than the idea of Trump in the White House is the realisation of how many millions of Americans support his views, who actually want a racist, misogynist, tax-evading crook running their country.

What can we do?

We can overcome complacency. Positive change isn’t something we can ever take for granted – the struggles for civil rights in the ‘70s, the advancement of multiculturalism in the ‘80s – we have to keep fighting for it. How? Go to every protest and rally for the things we believe in. Volunteer for political parties whose values we share. Use whatever we have, whether that’s a public profile, money, time, whatever means of expression is available to us to encourage compassion over hatred, creativity over destruction, inclusion over exclusion. Show our children by example how to treat other people, the environment, the world around us. As artists, we must use our voices and platforms to remind humans of their humanity.

Don’t let the haters win.

Our current 7-ON project is called The Seven Sins, inspired by a sermon delivered by Reverend Frederick Lewis Donaldson at Westminster Abbey in 1925. These are:

Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Worship without sacrifice.
Politics without principle.

While distressingly relevant already, after yesterday their urgency has just shot up. We have our work cut out for us.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


150 years before Hillary, there was Victoria...

Love new opera but can't get to New York's National Opera Center this Friday? No problem: Mrs President will be live-streamed and you can find out all about Victoria Woodhull, who made a bid for the presidency in 1872, decades before women were given the vote.

Woodhull not only ran for president (choosing the African-American Frederick Douglass as her running-mate) at a time when Trump's attitude towards women was the norm, she was also a Spiritualist, a Wall Street banker, the founder of a women's journal, and a proud 'free lover'. Mrs President traces her beginnings as a child psychic on the carnival circuit to national notoriety, her sex-scandal involving preacher and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, and her legacy.

Read more about the opera.

Composer: Victoria BondLibrettist: Hilary Bell

Upcoming performance: Friday October 28, 8 pm

National Opera Center
330 7th Avenue, New York City


It is unprecedented: A woman running for President of the United States. Her detractors call her "Mrs. Satan", and claim she belongs in jail. It is 1872, and Victoria Woodhull is the first woman to make a bid for the White House. Her story is the inspiration for Victoria Bond's opera, Mrs President.


The cast features the soprano Valerie Bernhardt as Victoria Woodhull and the tenor Scott Ramsay as Henry Ward Beecher, the high-powered preacher who is determined to destroy Woodhull. The cast also includes Katrina Thurman, Joy Hermalyn, Robert Osborne and Scott Joiner, with Naomi Lewin as narrator, pianist Daniela Candillari. Victoria Bond conducts. Tickets are $20 at the door.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


7-On was amply represented at this year's Australian Writers' Guild Awards last Friday night.

Here is Hilary whacking Donna on the head, while both proudly displaying their AWGIES.
Donna won for Radio - Adaptation ('Spirit', produced by Eastside Radio), Hilary tied with Katy Warner for Children's Theatre (for 'The Red Balloon', premiered by Black Swan State Theatre Co). And Noelle was nominated for Radio - Original Work with 'The History of the Single Girl' (ABC's Radiotonic).

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of these most prestigious awards: for writers to be recognised by their peers is a great honour indeed.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Long Tan (the play)

It's the season when theatre companies release their programs for the coming year,'s the moment to wave the flag a little.

Hence, here I am giving some forward notice for the upcoming Brink Productions season of Long Tan, a semi-verbatim piece I've been working on since late 2013. This was a production that looked like being scuppered after the arts funding imbroglio in 2015 and then, in one of those paradoxical turns of events, with quick response by the SA State Arts Ministry and generosity of other arts bodies (in this case, the State Theatre Company of South Australia and the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust both providing an umbrella for the show), and, yes, some funding from the new-born Catalyst Fund, it has been re-born, with perhaps a few more bells on it than might otherwise have been possible.

This is a piece very close to my heart. I've been researching and talking to an expanding range of Australian veterans, Vietnamese civilians and military people, family members of both and other people with insight into that war, those times, and the battle itself. It is such a loaded scenario that I expect there is no way I can please everybody, but...let's just take a deep breath and see what happens, I guess.

The play is not a conventional 'military history' or even straight verbatim record of events. The protagonist is D Company, 6RAR itself, and its 'enemy', the whole group of very young men, conscripts and regulars, Australian and Vietnamese, thrust into a situation of the kind of extremity most of us will simply never experience. Memory gets tricky at such times. There's no one 'true' story, though there is a (more-or-less) agreed sequence of events. Inevitably that, too, becomes part of the story.

This last August a previous play of mine, The Red Cross Letters, was produced by the State Theatre Company of South Australia. This was a record of the correspondence between the South Australian Red Cross Information Bureau and the families of lost soldiers in World War One. It was a complicated one, too, though less complicated than Long Tan. But it seemed to hit the spot, to get the tone right, to meet the needs of its audience.

Here's to the next one! Verity