There is an extraordinary opportunity in Sydney right now. Tomorrow night is the first preview of Rice…and then for the next couple of weeks across the mainstages in this city you will be able to experience for yourself the writing of women across centuries. Aphra Behn at Belvoir, Caryl Churchill at STC and Michele Lee at Griffin. They have nothing in common as writers apart from their gender, so probably should not be compared at all—apart from the fact that this week on Broadway there is only one play by a female playwright running.
That play is Paula Vogel’s Indecent, produced by female producer Daryl Roth.
So very rarely will you have the chance to hear the voices of women, written by women, across the 17th, 20th and 21st centuries, and decide for yourself what remains relevant, what is slowly evolving and what if anything has changed in the way we create female characters.
Rice is our coproduction with Queensland Theatre and comes to Griffin after a sold out season in Brisbane in the Bille Brown Studio. Brisbane wrapped its huge heart around this play and I think you will too when you spend time with the wonderful characters created by Michele. This play reminds us why we must keep writing and producing new Australian plays because there is nothing like the feeling of a story written for us right now that goes straight to the heart of how we are trying to grow as a country right now.
At the opening night of Cloud Nine, Artistic Director of STC Kip Williams asserted that Caryl Churchill is the world’s greatest living playwright. Now that may be so, but coming from the little theatre on the hill dedicated to the work of Australian playwrights, I can honestly say that I wrestled with the relevance of that play to what matters in Australia at the moment. It is a great play, a British critique of colonialism that in its time was a powerful voice for change. But we must find our own voices and plays to speak back to the Empire in ways they cannot imagine, otherwise we remain as bound as we always have been. It is not enough to champion Caryl Churchill, we must search for, support and produce our Australian playwrights so that we have a voice on the world stage speaking from the Republic we can only imagine at the moment.