A Note from Declan, 17 June


Dear Grif-friend,

We’re heading into the depths of winter, but the theatre scene in Sydney is well and truly defrosting from the snap-freeze of 2020. I’ve seen some extraordinary work on stages large and small over the last few weeks… Yellow Face from Dinosaurus/KXT, seven methods of killing kylie jenner from Green Door/Darlinghurst Theatre Company, the Angela Goh’s mind-bending (and time-bending) Blue Sky Mythic at Sydney Opera House… 

Last week I also made a quick trip to Canberra to see Milk at The Street Theatre, written by playwright, Palawa man, and 2020 Griffin Award winner Dylan Van Den BergMilk won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Drama—despite being Dylan’s first play (!). And within moments of the show beginning, you could see why, with its extraordinary lyrical prose and visceral storytelling. Dylan is one of our 2021 Griffin Studio artists, and I suspect you’ll be seeing his work on the SBW Stables stage sometime very soon… 

If you somehow missed us howling about it all over social media, a pretty huge thing happened this last week—with the announcement of Griffin joining the National Performing Arts Partnership Framework. 

If you’re not fluent in the language of arts bureaucracy, it can be a little hard to understand what this means, but it’s really huge.  

To explain:  

Every four years, Griffin used to have to re-apply for our government funding from scratch. This meant writing monster grant applications that explained what we do, why we do it, and laid out all our plans for the next four years. Putting these together took weeks, sometimes months of work—all while we were still trying to rehearse and put on shows. And if our application wasn’t successful, and our funding got cut or reduced, we were pretty much screwed (see: our funding cuts in 2015).   

But now that we’re part of the Framework, our funding is secure for 8 years at a time—the same as the other, bigger theatre companies, like Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir, etc. Which now means we’ve got a lot more security to dream further ahead. Excitingly, we also received an uplift to our funding, which puts us back to pre-2015 levels. All this is thanks to the remarkable efforts of our former leadership team Lee Lewis and Karen Rodgers, as well as Chair Bruce Meagher—who kept putting astonishing work onstage, even if things were impossibly lean backstage.

Like I said: really huge. 

Buuuuuut, if you think that means we won’t be asking for your help come End of Financial Year… I have bad news for you, my friend! We’re more secure in our monies now, but unfortunately, government $$$ doesn’t cover some of the most important things we need to do…  Like commissioning playwrights to write plays, and holding workshops to make sure they’re ready to go on stage. We are still totally reliant on you for that! So if you can, please donate this year—it’ll help us support artists after a really rough 2020. 

All this incredible stuff has been happening in the Griffin office, but there’s been exciting things brewing up in our rehearsal rooms as well over the last few weeks. 

Last Monday, our next Main Season show, Wherever She Wanders kicked off rehearsals. I got to see the first read and let me tell you, it was pure fire: the formidable Emily Havea and Fiona Press going head-to-head in a collision of two different eras of feminism. It’s a privilege that Griffin gets to premiere this work from the masterful pen of Kendall Feaver (The Almighty Sometimes) under Tessa Leong’s direction. Tickets are already flying out the door, so get in early on this one. 

Meanwhile, another master work of feminist playwriting is finding its feet again: Suzie Miller’s multi-award-winning Prima Facie is gearing up for its Special Return Season at the Seymour Centre, ahead of a tour to Queensland Theatre, HotHouse Theatre and Geelong Arts Centre. It’s been a true joy to welcome Lee Lewis and Sheridan Harbridge back into the Griffin fold, and we’re beside ourselves with excitement to see this work ride again.

That’s all! I’ve got to run… My partner Troy has FINALLY been able to move to Sydney from Melbourne, after a year and a half of living apart. We’re spending a lot of our time house-hunting—trying to find an apartment in Sydney that’s at least 2km away from a hot-yoga studio or a vegan fromagerie (we don’t need that kind of negative energy in our lives, thank you). Wish us luck.  

Much love,
Declan xx