Recently, whilst hosting a conversation with a group of playwrights for The Riverside Theatres the Writers night (as a part of A View From Moving Windows) I outted my long enduring love of/for Nick Parsons (Australia’s much loved tall-as-a-sky-scraper screen/stage writerly mountains dwelling gent) citing the first time we spoke and our consequent developing friendship.

Afterwards I continued along the line up of writers describing my love of them all… Of course it wasn’t long before Parsons noted “you seem to love a lot of people”… and indeed I do. Playwrights are my rock stars, I adore them. I love them as people, drinking buddies, collaborators, friends, philosophers, coffee dates – collectively and individually.

Somehow – through a brave stroke of luck, or brazen-ness or perhaps my gentle insistence, I have managed to develop relationships with many writers. It’s these relationships which have inspired me to develop, run residencies, festivals, projects. At the centre of my thinking have been the 7-on Playwrights – a collective of multi award-winning, established playwrights whom I am honoured to be working with. This is their 7th year together.

Thyra Samter Winslow said “Platonic love is love from the neck up.”

And that is certainly true of how I feel about the Sevens.

A brief sketch of my love:
Hilary Bell: I met in 2007 at the Griffin Playwriting Course: Instantly in awe of her sweet articulation and grace – she was the one who started my “produce it yourself” ethic… It was her kindness that struck me – her razorsharp ear, her reflective heart and her gumption to go for it. Because of Hilary I produced a suite of 10 emerging works at PACT in 2007 featuring works by Sophie Ross and Lotte St Clair (then-fresh WAAPA grads), Shondelle Pratt (Ensemble grad and dear friend), Nerida Woods (Ex-GM of Shopfront and a classmate of mine via Hilary), Felicity Nicol (NIDA grad), Anne Maree Magi (currently ADing Hamlet at the Q Theatre) Skye Kunstelj (NIDA Indy Program) et al – Out of that was born Brand Spanking New (2008) : which I included Hilary in its first year with her play Three Little Words directed by Melissa Bruder. In 2008 I directed her Wolf Lullaby: to this day a play I adore for it taut and intense examination of behaviour.

Donna Abela: We first met at Buzzzbar in Newtown, pre Stories From the 428 in 2010: I think Noelle tipped her off that I was looking for writers – And yes I leapt at the chance to have her write for the project – and didn’t hesitate to have her on board for A View From Moving Windows. I think she’s remarkable: she was chair of Playworks, founded the Powerhouse Youth Theatre (which just celebrated its 25th Anniversary) and has a mass of produced work behind her. She has often been my cheerleader and my baklava buddy (she knows where to get the good stuff). I DIG her writing – there is something intuitive and poetic – something that is so playful in the way she formulates a nearly choral experience with only two voices.

Ned Manning: Ahhh, “The Silver Fox.” He who counseled me through some of my moments of waivering focus- we were since 2010 – Stories from the 428 (428 to Canterbury) and Brand Spanking New 2010 (Black and White)… I have a personally signed copy of his awesome book Playground Duty (released this year through New South Books) I’m one of the few in the industry who were taught by him at Newtown Performing Arts High… but I’m making up for lost time by being taught by him now… recently when I was hung over in Melbourne he told me to “never lose the country girl that you are, don’t stop standing up and getting excited by what you do.” You can see why I love that man?

Catherine Zimdahl: One of Australia’s most delightfully hilarious writers – inventive, brave and very funny. She’s also a painter and her artwork greets people when they walk into my apartment. We met at Stories from the 428 – then I commissioned her for the final year of Brand Spanking New (2010) … since then, I facilitated a reading of her full length play “Gifted”… You’ll get more of a sense about Cath here

Verity Laughton: We met when I was hosting Off the Shelf at Queen Street. I had selected a play by Kit Brookman for a residency – I didn’t realise at the time Verity was Kit’s mother. She is the epitome of grace and elegance – and since I had approached her for BSN 2009 with A piece directed by Nick Curnow called “Lone Bird” featuring Bruno Xavier, Tim Allen and Fiona Press. We’ve bumped into each other in foyers and in seasons of mixed work. I’m a fan and turn up to readings (recently a play ready at Griffin as a part of Parnassus Den). She’s a marvellous writer – and a sharp SHARP intellect.

Noelle Janaczewska: Changed my life from the age of 20. I was in Honours at USyd Performance Studies and her class on Monologues was my saving grace- I am forever indebted to her wisdom and perspective. In 2008 for BSN I held my breath and approached her – she said YES – which gave me the confidence to ask other heroes of mine. Noelle is prolific and precise. Her work arrives with punctuation maps in PDFs. She joined in on Stories from the 428 and recently on A View From Moving Windows.

Vanessa Bates: I didn’t know who I was talking to in the foyer at the opening night of Matt Cameron’s Poor Boy at Sydney Theatre… I had been reading her plays that day – trying to figure out how I would contact her about writing for Spankers. And there she was – Mutual mate James Waites introduced us.. we had canapes and chatted. She wears the best skirts. I get her writing – because it feels like she gets me. This is the 7th piece we’ve worked on together. And there’s more on the horizon.

These last 6 days I’ve been working on a reading of their latest project they approached me to direct/produce 2 years ago. Due to pressing changes in circumstances – geography, logistical or financial woes the project has been slow in the making (the opposite to my public transport themed adventures) and so this residency at NIDA has provided time, space and deadline.

It’s called PLATONIC and investigates the many shades, types and incantations of love…

So often plays focus on romantic love – but there is a variety of loves that sits outside romance – and for me – who loves a love story and who believes all stories are made out of a desire for or a lack of love, can’t help but investigate this…

And so we were given a residency at NIDA.

So I asked some of my friends to help us: old and new ones, collegiate and Facebook friends to come and read for us: Jeremy Waters, Stephen Wilkinson, Madeleine Jones, Lynden Jones, Maggie Blinco, Tracy Mann, Wendy Strehlow, Shondelle Pratt, Helen O’Leary… actors dedicated to new writing, and who were friends.

It never ceases to amaze me the generosity of artists to help each other – and where funding or resources or venues are sometimes fickle or aloof, it is indeed lovely to know the industry is really a community of friends. On Sunday 11th November at 2pm, We’ll be reading the works to friends and a small invited audience in celebration of all things playwriting, all things collective, all things platonic.

Stella Started It
by Donna Abela
Performed by Wendy Strehlow and Tracy Mann

Todd Prefers Red
by Vanessa Bates
Performed by Helen O’Leary

It’s Platonic, Baby
by Catherine Zimdahl
Performed by Stephen, Shondelle & Lynden Jones

By Noelle Janaczewska
Performed by Wendy Strehlow, Jeremy Waters


by Verity Laughton
Performed by Madeleine Jones, Lynden Jones

Cuckoo Part 1
By Hilary Bell
Performed by Helen O’Leary, Tracy Mann

By Noelle Janaczewska
Performed by Shondelle Pratt

Cuckoo Part 2
by Hilary Bell
Performed by Helen O’Leary, Tracy Mann

by Verity Laughton
Performed by Jeremy Waters, Stephen Wilkinson

A Rose By Any Other Name
By Ned Manning
Performed by Lynden Jones, Maggie Blinco

Two Drifters
By Vanessa Bates
Performed by Jeremy Waters, Madeleine Jones