24th February 2022

Playwright Session March

To coincide with our production of SHIT by groundbreaking Australian playwright Patricia Cornelius, our next Playwright Session features three artists who have worked extensively in Australia. Irish director Susanna Dowling spent over a decade working in theatre in Sydney, and now returned she will speak to award winning Australian playwright Patricia Cornelius and Yorta/Gunaikurnai playwright Andrea James on what it is to make work on the other side of the world and how themes of gender, class and colonialism feed into their work. The Session will be hosted by playwright Phillip McMahon and facilitated by artist and arts manager, Lian Bell.

The Session will take place over Zoom at 11am GMT on Thursday 3rd March and will finish at 12.45pm GMT. The talk will last for 75 minutes including some time for some questions from the group. There will then be a further 30 minutes for the conversation to open up to the ‘floor’ – each Session has an opportunity for participants to chat and connect. 

The Playwright Sessions series is free to attend and is open to professional playwrights and theatre writers working on the island of Ireland and the Irish diaspora working professionally overseas. Sign ups to the Playwright Sessions mailing list are welcome any time – any new sign ups can join HERE. Sign up by 1 March to attend our next event.

Patricia Cornelius is a playwright, screenwriter and novelist.

In 2019 Patricia was announced as the winner of the prestigious Windham-Campbell prize for Drama.

Patricia’s latest play Anthem a follow up to Who’s Afraid of the Working Class (co-written with Andrew Bovell, Christos Tsiolkas, Melissa Reeves and Irine Vela) premiered at the Melbourne International Arts Festival in 2019 before being performed at the 2020 Sydney Festival. In 2018 Patricia’s The House of Bernadette premiered at the MTC to glowing reviews. The play was adapted from The House of Bernarda Alba by Lorca. Earlier in the year her new work In The Club premiered at the STCSA as part of the Adelaide Festival. She has also received the 2018 Mona Brand Award for women stage and screen writers.

In 2017 Big Heart, directed by Susie Dee premiered at Theatre Works and her play Shit, was presented at the Sydney Festival, following its 2015 Melbourne premiere as part of MTC’s Neon Season and its 2016 remount at 45Downstairs. Also later in 2017 her AWGIE nominated play Caravan co-written with Angus Cerina, Wayne Macauley and Melissa Reeves premiered at the Melbourne Festival. Her play Savages (45Downstairs) won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Drama in 2014 and the Green Room Award for Writing and was nominated for an AWGIE and the Griffin Prize. It has since been produced at Darlinghurst Theatre in Sydney. Over her career Patricia has written over twenty-five plays and they include: Do Not Go Gentle, The Call, Love, Fever, Boy Overboard, Slut and Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? (co-written with Andrew Bovell, Christos Tsiolkas, Melissa Reeves and Irine Vela).

Her prizes for stage work include the 2011 Victorian and NSW Premiers’ Literary Awards, the Patrick White Playwright’s Award, the Richard Wherrett Prize, the Wal Cherry Award and nine AWGIES for stage, community theatre, theatre for young people. She won the prestigious Australian Writers Foundation Playwriting Award in 2015 as well as the Patrick White Fellowship (2012), and a Fellowship from the Australia Council’s Theatre Board. Patricia has won the AWGIE Major Award three times. Patricia is a founding member of Melbourne Workers’ Theatre.

Patricia has adapted her critically acclaimed play Shit for the screen. The feature is directed by Susie Dee and Trudy Hellier is currently in post production. She is also developing a feature film with director Catriona McKenzie with Screen Australia funding. Patricia co-wrote the feature film adaptation Blessed, based on the play Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? (for which she won an AWGIE). Patricia wrote the novel My Sister Jill (Random House) and many of her plays are published by Currency Press.

Andrea James is a Yorta Yorta/Gunaikurnai woman and a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts.  She makes work that reflects her identity, sharing historical and contemporary stories of Aboriginal experiences within sharp contemporary theatrical language and form. Andrea is an experienced collaborator, playwright, producer and director. She was a recipient of British Council’s Accelerate Program for Aboriginal Art Leaders in 2013 and was awarded a Create NSW Aboriginal Arts Fellowship in 2018.  She has produced for Carriageworks, Blacktown Arts Centre and Urban Theatre Projects. She was Artistic Director of Melbourne Workers Theatre 2001-2008 where she is best known for her play Yanagai! Yanagai!  She co- wrote Coranderrk with Giordano Nanni for LaMama and Ilbijerri, Bright World with Elise Hearst for Arthur Productions and wrote Blacktown Angels for Home Country for Urban Theatre Projects, Bukal for JUTE Theatre (about Auntie Henrietta Marrie a Yidinjji woman who spearheaded global First People’s Intellectual Property Rights at the UN) which Andrea directed at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre and Winyanboga Yurringa (inspired by Hyllus Maris and Sonia Borg’s seminal novel and television series Women of the Sun) presented by Moogahlin Performing Arts and remounted at Belvoir in May 2019. 

Her works have shown throughout Australia, in the UK, Paris and New York.  She is currently a writer-in-residence at Melbourne Theatre Company developing The Black Woman of Gippsland from her grandmother’s country based on the catastrophic 1840’s legend of the “White Woman of Gippsland.”  Her play, Sunshine Super Girl, about Wiradjuri tennis superstar Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, was Produced by Performing Lines and premiered in Griffith on the 7thOctober 2020 and made its main stage debut at the Sydney Festival in January 2021.  Sunshine Super Girl will embark on a sixteen week Australian National tour in 2022 playing at major cities, regional towns and state festivals. Her newest play Dogged was written with collaborator and friend Cath Ryan and premiered at Griffin Theatre in May 2021.  Andrea is currently Artistic Associate at Griffin Theatre that compliments her freelance practice as Playwright, Director, and Dramaturg, continuing to specialise in instigating and encouraging new First Nations plays with emerging and established artists nationwide.

Susanna Dowling. Born in Dublin, Susanna has been working in Sydney as a director and dramaturg for over a decade.

She has directed for Sydney Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare, Ensemble Theatre, Belvoir, Darlinghurst Theatre, City of Sydney, the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Griffin Independent, Sport for Jove, and CDP Kids/ Sydney Opera House Kids and Families.

She has been a resident artist for Belvoir, Bell Shakespeare and STC. For a number of years she worked in new play development as Associate Director at PlayWriting Australia.

At PWA she also worked to promote Australian playwrights internationally, and created a community development program which later became a model of community playwright skills-training for several organisations and theatres around Australia.

She is a BA graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. She received an MA in Theatre Studies from the University of New South Wales and a Grad. Dip in Directing from NIDA. Susanna is a member of the 2012 Lincoln Center Theater Director’s Lab.