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Book Nook
November 2020

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Welcome  

What a strange year it has been ...

What a strange year it has been, for Book Nook, for our families, for teachers and schools, for producers and theatre companies, for cities, states and for countries. It has been a strange year for everyone.

For all who may have missed our newsletters, sorry. We have been cocooned, in survival mode and doing the necessary to make it through the days and months of the long Melbourne lockdown. Teachers have been working their hearts out, adapting curriculum, learning new technology, managing budgets dominated by the need for investment in technology.

While we have had our heads down, playwrights and publishers have been busy. Some of the plays in this newsletter managed to be produced, some had limited seasons and some were sadly cancelled, may they rise again. Among them are many jewels that deserve more attention than I can manage before this newsletter needs to go out.

We were very sorry, as I am sure many of you were, to miss the Drama Australia Conference that was to have been held in Queensland this year. An absolute highlight of every year for us and our big opportunity to show you all the new titles.

Joe has collected them together here to present them to you. I hope that some of them will suit your teaching and production needs.

May you have a peaceful relaxing and very well-earned break and come back refreshed for some new beginnings and some comforting familiarity in 2021.

With admiration and respect,
Mary & Joe Sutherland


Table of Contents

New Australian Plays

  1. little girls alone in the woods
  2. Superheroes
  3. Arbus and West
  4. The Holidays
  5. The Moogahlin Collection
  6. From Darkness
  7. Absorption
  8. Solitary Animals
 
  1. Awakening
  2. The Surgeon's Hands
  3. Lost Boys
  4. Antigone
  5. Undertow
  6. 3 O'Clock, Flagpole
  7. The Age of Bones
Table of Contents links to information within the newsletter

New Australian Plays 1-5

New Australian Plays

little girls alone in the woods
~~~~~~~

by Morgan Rose

little girls alone in the woods  

In an ordinary street, in an ordinary suburb, in an ordinary town, something is amiss.

It’s not the maths exam the teens are about to fail, or the overdue essay. It’s not global warming or fast-fashion sweatshops. It’s a low buzz of anxiety, a quiet terror in the middle of the night.

Because girls have been going missing.

They’ve either walked off into the bush to live out some wild fantasy … or … or …

The adults aren’t taking any chances. All young women are required to be registered with authorities. And now a high fence is being erected. And now all females under the age of 18 have to wear a tracking device. And now they have to beware what they say or do in case it puts them in mortal danger. They will be controlled, and they will be safe.

But like a sliver of glass lodged under a manicured nail, this thought will not leave the girls alone: I am my own person; take me seriously.

Morgan Rose’s little girls alone in the woods is a whip-smart adaptation of The Bacchae that puts a contemporary feminist lens on the Greek legend of Dionysus, the god of wine, fertility, festivity, theatre and ritual madness. It dares us to go into the woods and seek out what knowledge lies beyond the border of respectability and rules. What worlds await us?

Maybe if I was older.
Maybe if I was larger.
Or smaller,
or prettier,
or uglier,
or gruffer.
Maybe if I was something else
I would feel like
I existed.
Like I could say something
and people would turn their heads
because they heard it
and believed it

  • Cast Info: 4-50F , 3M , 4 Any gender
  • Doubling possible, min. of 11 actors required

Superheroes
~~~~~~~

by Mark Rogers

Superheroes  

In Thirroul, Emily sits on the beach with her sort-of-ex-sort-of-not boyfriend, trying to figure out how to deal with her unwanted pregnancy.

In Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jana goes out to get groceries and slams into the day-to-day reality of the European refugee crisis.

Superheroes is a play about two women on opposite sides of the world living small lives in a time of big politics. It’s a play that parallels two very different lives to ask questions about what it means to take responsibility for your actions, and what it means to change your mind.

This play won the 2019 Griffin Award and the 2019 Patrick White Award. A chamber piece for three actors, it’s a lyrical, inventive and deeply humane story from an exciting new voice. It’s a play full of small surprises, not the least of which is finding a young Australian playwright who deeply believes in community, compassion and the essential good within humanity—despite what the daily news would have us think.

  • Cast Info: 2F , 1M

Arbus and West
~~~~~~~

by Stephen Sewell

Arbus-and West  

The Art of Exposure: Photographer, Diane Arbus meets Hollywood icon, Mae West in 1964.

Stephen Sewell’s Arbus and West draws on the infamous meeting in 1964 between two extraordinary women, legendary photographer, Diane Arbus and Hollywood bombshell, Mae West, and imagines what might have transpired. Stephen has masterfully created a power play of sexuality and intrigue.

SYNOPSIS

Hollywood bombshell Mae West built her career on lookin’ good – walkin’ the walk and talkin’ the talk – while legendary photographer Diane Arbus was famous for finding beauty in the everyday. When Diane turns up at Mae’s glistening LA apartment in 1964 to take her portrait, tensions quickly flare. Mae’s version of herself is very different to the one Diane wants to catch on film. But whose version wins out when a master of illusion meets a master of truth?

PRODUCTION HISTORY

Arbus & West was first produced by Melbourne Theatre Company, premiering at the Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne on February 22, 2019.

  • Cast size: 3
  • Suitable for Adults

The Holidays
~~~~~~~

by David Megarrity

The Holidays  

David Megarrity’s The Holidays is a touching portrait of memory and connection.

SYNOPSIS

The Holidays are on holiday: 12-year-old Oliver has been pulled out of school for an unexpected road trip with his mum and dad, en route to grandad’s seaside shack. But grandad, an eccentric artist, is not there. In this unkempt place stuffed with memories, it seems that the Holidays – instead of getting away from it all – have taken a lot with them.

This Queensland Premier’s Drama Award-winning play is a feast for the senses, a wistful and funny journey combining live performance, music and cutting-edge projection. A disarming and lyrical chronicle about family, for families, The Holidays is a show for sons, fathers, grandfathers, and anyone who loves one.

PRODUCTION HISTORY

The Holidays by David Megarrity (winner of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2018-19) was first produced by Queensland Theatre premiering at the Bille Brown Theatre on November 14, 2020.

  • THEMES: Family, Memory, Intergenerational Relationships
  • LENGTH: 80 minutes
  • CAST SIZE: 3
  • CHARACTER AGES: 10–40s+
  • SUITABLE FOR: Middle Years

The Moogahlin Collection
The Daly River Girl; The Fever and the Fret

The Daly River Girl by Tessa Rose
The Fever and the Fret by Jub Clerc

The Moogahlin Collection  

THE DALY RIVER GIRL by Tessa Rose

>Tessa Rose’s The Daly River Girl is a deeply personal story that speaks from the heart.

SYNOPSIS

The Daly River Girl by Tessa Rose depicts writer Tessa Rose’s personal story, starting from growing up with various non-indigenous foster families in Perth, Western Australia, an eternity away from her natural mother, family, and Country of Daly River, Northern Territory. Her story speaks from the heart and openly expresses her pain, anger and joy. We follow her journey from adolescence into womanhood, her first love, the cruelty of domestic violence, her resilience to overcome the many obstacles on her own.

PRODUCTION HISTORY

The Daly River Girl was first produced by Brown’s Mart premiering at The Brown’s Mart Theatre on November 8, 2017.

  • THEMES: Stolen Generation, Domestic Violence, Resilience, Hope, Empowerment
  • LENGTH: 60 minutes
  • CAST SIZE: 1
  • CHARACTER AGES: 40s
  • SUITABLE FOR: Senior Years

THE FEVER AND THE FRET by Jub Clerc

Jub Clerc’s The Fever and the Fret is a beautiful ode to love and memory. It examines one family’s tale of resilience as they reconcile small town life with a new, ever-changing world.

SYNOPSIS

The Fever and the Fret by Jub Clerc: Somewhere in outback Australia, in a mining town of red dust, Lizzy dreams of being reunited with her mysterious and ethereal mother. Her ambitious grandfather Iggy wants to look to a more prosperous future, but her wise grandmother Ruby wants to keep all the broken pieces close to her chest. Steeped with memory and spanning more than a decade of their lives, their story tells of loss, celebration, longing and new beginnings.

PRODUCTION HISTORY

The Fever and the Fret was produced by Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, premiering at the Subiaco Arts Centre on September 10, 2015.

  • THEMES: Loss, Family, Resilience
  • LENGTH: 90 minutes
  • CAST SIZE: 3
  • SUITABLE FOR: Senior Years

Australian Plays 6-10

Australian Plays

From Darkness
~~~~~~~

by Steven Oliver

From Darkness  

A gripping, darkly funny drama about a spiritual force and a family’s need to connect with it.

SYNOPSIS

It’s the anniversary of Vinnie’s death. His brother, 17-year old Preston is being visited by spirits— seemingly tormenting him while he sleeps. His sister, Akira buries her pain in her phone. Their father, Eric, is in denial and their mother, Abigail, is numbing her pain with drink, while Nan is coping with it all by talking… a lot. There’s no denying that Preston’s on the cusp of something otherworldly. The family’s disconnect from each other and the world has gone on long enough. It’s time to purge the past to embrace the present, if they’re to have a future, and an encounter with spirits might just be the catalyst they all need. Steven Oliver’s deeply moving new play deep-dives into contemporary family politics and the connection between culture, grief and our humanity, with Oliver’s signature aplomb.

PRODUCTION HISTORY

From Darkness was first produced by La Boite and Brisbane Festival premiering at La Boite on September 7, 2019

  • THEMES: Spirituality, Family, Grieving
  • LENGTH: 70 minutes
  • CAST SIZE: 5
  • CHARACTER AGES: 16–50+
  • SUITABLE FOR: Senior Years & Adults

Absorption
~~~~~~~

by Hayley Lawson-Smith

Absorption  

Hayley Lawson-Smith’s Absorption is a supernatural mystery-thriller and sharp examination of modern motherhood. It is a shrewdly observed take on social dynamics and helicopter parenting that captures the all too familiar and unnerving aspects of mothers in the school playground.

SYNOPSIS

A group of women take part in an experiment to observe the independence of their children. But all is not as it seems…

PRODUCTION HISTORY

Absorption was first produced by Baggage Productions premiering at the MC Showroom on July 17, 2019.

  • THEMES: Motherhood, Fear, Social Dynamics, Helicopter Parenting
  • CAST SIZE: 5
  • LENGTH: 1 Hour
  • CHARACTER AGES: 30s
  • SUITABLE FOR: Adults

Solitary Animals
~~~~~~~

by Elaine Acworth

Solitary Animals  

Do you avenge intolerable crimes or break the cycle of violence?

Elaine Acworth’s Solitary Animals takes two of the most confronting themes of the 1990s and crashes them head-on. Both are sexual crimes – the use of AIDS as a deadly weapon, and the rape camps of the Bosnian War. Each of the four ordinary characters must face issues of life and death but respond with their own individual coping mechanism.

SYNOPSIS

Blue wants revenge, Amela wants to choose, Grev wants to forget and Laurel wants to understand why. Do you avenge intolerable crimes or break the cycle of violence?

PRODUCTION HISTORY

Solitary Animals was first commissioned and produced by Sydney Theatre Company for New Stages premiering at Wharf 2 Theatre, Walsh Bay on July 17, 1996.

  • THEMES: Revenge, Photojournalism, Yugoslav Wars
  • LENGTH: 90 Minutes
  • CHARACTER AGES: 30s–40s
  • CAST SIZE: 4
  • SUITABLE FOR: Adults

Awakening
~~~~~~~

by Daniel Lammin

Awakening  

Daniel Lammin’s Awakening honours the legacy of Frank Wedekind’s masterpiece Spring Awakening, and questions current Australian attitudes towards the transition into adulthood.

SYNOPSIS

Awakening re-interprets Frank Wedekind’s controversial classic Spring Awakening and brings it crashing into the 21st century.

Melchior, Moritz and Wendla are on the cusp of adulthood, pulled between innocence and responsibility. Physically blossoming and emotionally vulnerable, they have to find their own way when the adult world around them seems incapable of guiding them.

In the midst of our national crisis over teenage mental health and sexuality, and debate fuelled by ignorance and bigotry, Awakening brings this timeless classic into a contemporary setting.

PRODUCTION HISTORY

Awakening was commissioned and produced by Monash Uni Student Theatre (a department of Monash Student Association), and first performed in the Old Council Chambers at Trades Hall in Melbourne, Australia from 25 August to 3 September, 2016. A professional season, co-produced by fortyfivedownstairs and Monash Uni Student Theatre, was performed at fortyfivedownstair in Melbourne, Australia from 1 to 21 May 2017.

  • THEMES: Youth, Mental Illness, LGBTQIA+, Sexuality, Violence
  • LENGTH: 90 Minutes
  • CHARACTER AGES: 13–50s
  • CAST SIZE: 6–10
  • SUITABLE FOR: Senior Years and Adults

The Surgeon's Hands
~~~~~~~

by Alison Mann

The Surgeon's Hands  

The Surgeon wanted the perfect daughter, so he made her.

Inspired by a true story of a plastic surgeon who “perfected” his two daughters, Alison Mann’s The Surgeon’s Hands is a revelation: outlandish, comic and disturbing, and alarmingly close to reality.

SYNOPSIS

The Surgeon wanted the perfect daughter, so he made her.

But is perfection truly achievable? Isn’t there always one more blemish, one more fault? Are there limits to our almost godlike ability to shape ourselves? And how does it impact our lives?

PRODUCTION HISTORY

The Surgeon’s Hands was first produced by Blue Cow Theatre and premiered at Theatre Royal Backspace, Hobart on April 20, 2016.

  • THEMES: Cosmetic and Reproductive Technologies, Genealogy, Identity
  • CAST SIZE: 3
  • LENGTH: 90 Minutes
  • CHARACTER AGES: 18–50s
  • SUITABLE FOR: Senior Years & Adults

Australian Plays 11-15

Australian Plays

Lost Boys
Lost Boys and promiscuous/cities

by Lachlan Philpott

Lost Boys  

Lachlan Philpott’s Lost Boys and promiscuous/cities is published as a collection. Cover art by Drew Connor Holland (Represented by Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane)

SYNOPSIS

Lost Boys – Cy and Robert Murphy are teenagers living in a life of sun and saltwater, but as the sun sets, a malevolent culture of homophobia and violence surfaces, with consequences that ripple across generations.

Inspired by real events and told through the eyes of three generations of the Murphy family. Lost Boys rips into a dark part of our male-dominated culture, asking how perpetrators of violent crimes live with their unspeakable pasts. Commemorating lives lost, this deeply affecting and potent new work forces us to examine secrets held for decades, and prejudices still held today.

promiscuous/cities – One city, one night, and a new story everywhere you look. But this isn’t the San Francisco you may have heard of in songs or seen on TV. This shit is real.

The inventive large cast multi-narrative work was created in a collaboration with MFA acting students at American Conservatory Theatre. It questions San Francisco’s reputation as a place of freedom and liberal practices, giving the cities dated mythology a shake. promiscuous/cities shines the light on issues such as homelessness, the impact of the IT boom, gentrification and the continuing legacy of the HIV pandemic offering the audience a theatrical experience that provokes conversation about how urban landscapes all over the world are changing and forcing those within them to change too.

PRODUCTION HISTORY

Lost Boys premiered at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre in May 2018.

Antigone
~~~~~~~

by Merlynn Tong after Sophocles

Antigone  

The epic argument rages on.

Merlynn Tong’s Antigone is a lyrical adaptation of Sophocles’ timeless tragedy, with a modern twist.

SYNOPSIS

A great city has been torn apart by a civil war between two brothers. In the aftermath, both lie dead – one hailed as a hero and lying in state, the other condemned as a traitor and dumped in a carrion pile. From the ashes of their conflict rises a dystopian state under a new leader – a career politician who rose to power by dint of her ruthlessness.

Grieving and heartbroken, their sister Antigone challenges the leader for the right to bury and mourn her dead brother with dignity, sparking a furious act of rebellion that will shake the city to its foundations.

PRODUCTION HISTORY

Merlynn Tong’s adaptation of Antigone was first produced by Queensland Theatre, premiering at the Bille Brown Theatre on October 26, 2019.

  • THEMES: Power, Family, Activism
  • LENGTH: 70 minutes
  • CAST SIZE: 5
  • CHARACTER AGES: 16–50
  • SUITABLE FOR: Senior Years & Adults

Undertow
~~~~~~~

by Hayden Jones and Sam Foster

Undertow  

Shock Therapy’s Undertow is an honest and powerful look at the hidden forces, beneath the surface that move us and determine the choices we make and the actions we take.

Centering around a high school community, the show follows a group of individuals, from a range of backgrounds, all dealing with their own unique challenge.

Shock Therapy draw on a range of film conventions and physical theatre techniques to push their signature style in a new direction, blurring the line between different realities. The result is storytelling that is fluid and inventive, sweeping you up in its current as the story pulls you deeper.

PRODUCTION HISTORY

Undertow was first produced by Shock Therapy and SunPac premiering at SunPac Theatre on February 14, 2020.

EDUCATION NOTES

Shock Therapy Productions often take an eclectic approach to their style of theatre, drawing on a range of theatrical influences to create work that feels inventive and contemporary. The education notes in Undertow explores the stylistic influences such as Epic Theatre, Physical Theatre, Tandem Narrative and Fractured Tandem structure through various activities and discussion.

Due to the sensitive nature of topics discussed in Undertow, it is encouraged that educators provide access to onsite and external support services to the students if required.

  • THEMES: Resilience, Mental Health , Relationships and Identity
  • LENGTH: 50 minutes
  • CAST SIZE: 17 Characters
  • CHARACTER AGES: 16-30+

3 O'Clock, Flagpole
~~~~~~~

by Steve Pirie

3 O'Clock, Flagpole  

After school… Fight! Fight! Fight! FIGHT!

Steve Pirie’s new magical realism work, 3 O’Clock, Flagpole jumps into the quadrangle and pulls apart classroom politics and safety, in a world where students must figure it out on their own all while learning fun facts about the ocean.

SYNOPSIS

It’s the first day of a new school year for Stella Bunt, and everything is changing. New rules, new teacher, new responsibilities. Stella and the rest of Year 10 Biology have a new class pet, Squish the octopus. Stella can’t explain why, but there’s just something about Squish that doesn’t feel right. But when Squish goes missing and a terrifying new kid arrives at school the very next day, Stella suspects they might be connected in some way… and she and the whole school could be in danger if she doesn’t find out how. To make things worse, this new kid has his eyes on Stella everywhere she goes.

Can Stella warn her friends in time of a coming disaster? Or will everyone find out why some mysteries of the ocean and its creatures are better left mysteries?

PRODUCTION HISTORY

3 O’Clock, Flagpole was first programmed to be produced by La Boite Theatre Company in July 2020, however due to restrictions during the COVID-19 Global pandemic its season was cancelled. It was intended to be performed by La Boite’s Young Artist Company.

  • THEMES: Bullying, Speaking Out, Schoolyard Politics
  • LENGTH: 1.5 Hour
  • CHARACTER AGES: 13–18+
  • CAST SIZE: Large cast without doubling
  • SUITABLE FOR: Middle Years

The Age of Bones
~~~~~~~

by Sandra Thibodeaux

The Age of Bones  

The journey of a young boy from Indonesia who goes fishing but fails to return after boarding a people smuggling boat and being imprisonment ‘down under’.

Sandra Thibodeaux’s The Age of Bones is a biting and magical satire set deep beneath the sea!

SYNOPSIS

The Age of Bones traces the story of Ikan, an Indonesian boy who goes fishing one day and fails to return. Fearing the worst, his family hires a famed seafarer to track him down – he finds nothing.

Combining Indonesian puppetry, music and digital projection, The Age of Bones follows Ikan’s fantastical story from Indonesia to his eventual imprisonment ‘down under’ and his fight to get home to his family.

A heartfelt and darkly funny tale inspired by the real-life stories of 60 Indonesian boys allegedly imprisoned in Australian adult prisons for working on refugee boats.

  • LANGUAGE: English and Bahasa Indonesia
  • THEMES: Injustice, Human Rights, Immigration Law
  • CAST SIZE: 7–8
  • LENGTH: 75 mins
  • SUITABLE FOR: Senior Years & Adults

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