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Dear Australia

What is happening right now?
What is being revealed about us?
What are we not paying attention to?
Where do we want to go next?

Between 2-5 July, 50 fearless and inspiring new short works from some of Australia’s best playwrights were streamed by more than 30 performing arts organisations from across Australia.

Dear Australia was an extraordinary national moment led by Australian playwrights.

At a time when a pandemic has forced reflection and change, these playwrights  responded to questions that get to the heart of where our nation is and where it might go.

The stories are postcards addressed to “Dear Australia…”. They are a unique account of these times and a striking moment of national celebration and reflection.    

Back in Based on a project by Ireland’s Abby Theatre, Playwriting Australia (PWA), the national body for the development of Australian plays and playwrights, invited 25 theatre organisations from across Australia to each nominate a playwright. PWA then commissioned these 50 playwrights to each write a short monologue, which were then filmed by 50 extraordinary actors, many in their own homes.

These moving and sometimes provocative stories will be grouped over three nights and live streamed by the partner theatres, along with major performing arts centres such as Arts Centre Melbourne, Sydney Opera House, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Canberra Theatre Centre and Darwin Entertainment Centre.

David Berthold, the interim Executive Chair of Playwriting Australia, said that this was a project that “not only elevates the voice of playwrights, but also demonstrates the huge diversity of voices this nation enjoys. Recent months have exposed and prised open many cracks in our society. These 50 micro works address major questions, allowing us to see into some of those cracks, but also inviting us to see light ahead. These stories are, in turn, confronting and comforting. Together, they are a revelation and unique celebration of Australian voices.”

Participating playwrights include Brendan Hogan, Richard Frankland, Nakkiah Lui, Anchuli Felicia King, Suzie Miller and Jada Alberts, along with actors such as Jack Thompson, Miranda Tapsell, Helen Thomson, Danielle Cormack, Peter Carroll and Tasma Walton.

The list of writers and performers, as well as the links are below

Watch  Part one

Some stories in Part One contain strong language, sexual references and adult themes, including references to miscarriage and suicide, and may be unsuitable for some audiences

Originally Streamed
7:00 PM Thursday 2 July

1. Nakkiah Lui with Miranda Tapsell
2. Elena Carapetis with Elena Carapetis
3. Willoh S Weiland with Kris McQuade (Puppet by Noah Casey)
4. Ellen van Neerven with Elaine Crombie
5. Sam Nerida with Helen Thomson
6. Morgan Rose with Emily Goddard
7. Claire Christian with Megan Wilding
8. Dan Giovannoni with James Majoos
9. Bumpy Favell with Jessica Window
10. Diane Stubbings with Jennifer Hagan
11. Mark Rogers with Steve Rodgers
12. Emele Ugavule with Anthony Taufa
13. Ross Mueller with Marco Chiappi
14. Eric Gardiner with Kevin Hofbauer
15. Finegan Kruckemeyer with Glenn Hazeldine
16. Anchuli Felicia King with Catherine Văn-Davies
17. Bjorn Stewart with Bjorn Stewart
18. Mary Anne Butler with Roxanne McDonald

Watch Part Two

Some stories in Part Two contain strong language, sexual references and adult themes, and may be unsuitable for some audiences.

Originally Streamed
7:00 PM Friday 3 July

19. Glenn Shea with Kelton Pell
20. Jada Alberts with Tasma Walton
21. Stephen Carleton with Belinda Giblin
22. Chris Beckey with Mémé Thorne
23. Aanisa Vylet with Alaa Sukkarieh
24. Merlynn Tong with Fiona Choi
25. Brendan Hogan with Connor David Skillicorn
26. Tasnim Hossain with Arka Das
27. Catherine McKinnon with Jane Phegan
28. James Taylor with Kyle Morrison
29. Kathryn Marquet with John Batchelor
30. James Elazzi with Sam Khatib
31. Kathryn Ash with James Frecheville
32. Rachael Chisholm with Shaka Cook
33. Julianne O’Brien with Greg Stone
34. Peter Cook with Stephen Phillips
35. Susan Rogers with Peter Carroll

Watch Part Three

Some stories in Part Three contain strong language, sexual references and adult themes, including references to domestic violence, and may be unsuitable for some audiences.

Originally Streamed
5:00 PM Sunday 5 July

36. H Lawrence Sumner with Shakira Clanton
37. Donna Abela with Helana Sawires
38. Barbara Hostalek with Rayma Morrison
39. Gretel Vella with Harriet Gordon Anderson
40. Liv Satchell with Belinda McClory
41. Lucy Combe with Kate O’Reilly
42. Janis Balodis with Jacek Koman
43. Suzie Miller with Emma Jackson
44. Kylie Coolwell with Angeline Penrith
45. Nathan Maynard with Richard Green
46. Matt Hawkins with Pontsho Nthupi
47. Tariro Mavondo with Carly Sheppard
48. Kamarra Bell-Wykes with Danielle Cormack
49. Future D Fidel with Pacharo Mzembe
50. Richard Frankland with Jack Thompson

With the participation of Australian Theatre for Young People (atyp), Barking Gecko Theatre, Contemporary Asian Australian Performance, Blue Cow Theatre Inc., Brink Productions, Browns Mart, Griffin Theatre Company, HotHouse Theatre, Ilbijerri Theatre Company, JUTE Theatre Company, La Boite Theatre Company, La Mama Theatre, Merrigong Theatre Co, Monkey Baa, Moogahlin Performing Arts, NORPA, Playlab Theatre, Red Stitch: The Actors’ Theatre, Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta, South Australian Playwrights Theatre, The Street Theatre, Terrapin, Theatre Works, Windmill Theatre Co, and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.

Presented in partnership with Adelaide Festival Centre, Arts Centre Melbourne, Canberra Theatre Centre, Darwin Entertainment Centre, QPAC, and Sydney Opera House.

Additional broadcast, captioning and marketing support by Arts Centre Melbourne.

We asked Yackandandah playwright Brendan Hogan to talk about his work for Dear Australia.

Brendan lives and works in Yackandandah and writes primarily for children and their families. His published works include, Scaredy Cat (2015) and How to Beat a Bully (2016), both of which have been performed by the Yackandandah Young Players and youth ensembles in schools around Australia. In 2018, he won the national Martin Lysicrates Prize for his play, Farewell, Mr Nippy, which he continues to develop with the aim of bringing it to the stage in the near future. His play, The Last Boy On Earth was presented as part of the 2019 HotHouse Theatre Season.
Other current projects include a collaborative creative development, with the support of HotHouse Theatre’s Celsius program, exploring the local story of The Uiver, and retelling it as an immersive piece of theatre for young people. Brendan has also created works for adults and especially enjoys collaborating with diverse community groups to develop unique and authentic theatre. He currently teaches recreational drama classes at the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, Yackandandah.

In addition to the three nights of streaming there was a n In Conversation as part of Sydney Opera House Digital program “From Our House to Yours”

Moderated by Nakkiah Lui, and featuring Aanisa Vylet and Donna Abela, this live conversation is the perfect accompaniment to the comfort and confrontation of Dear Australia.

The conversation was a deep dive into how some of Australia’s most diverse and impressive voices have asked what’s happening, what’s being revealed about us, and imagined our future in monologue form.

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