In Conversation: David Williamson & Melanie Tait

7 May, 2020 7:00 PM - 7 May, 2020 8:30 PM

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Join us here:

This Thursday kick back with a glass of your finest and join us as renowned Australian playwright and AWG Emeritus President David Williamson talks to playwright and journalist Melanie Tait about his celebrated 50-year career.

From the comfort of your living room, tune in as they discuss the current theatre landscape, approaching times of difficulty and success as a playwright, and highlights from David’s incredible and enduring career as a playwright and screenwriter.

WHEN: Thursday 7 May 2020, 7pm (AEST)

WHERE: Online via Zoom webinar

RSVP: Essential for all attendees. RSVP via the link above. Attendees will receive a link to the panel one hour before the start time.


Melanie Tait is an award-winning playwright, journalist, author and radio-maker.  

Her plays include The Vegemite TalesThe Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race and A Broadcast Coup. Melanie’s first play, The Vegemite Tales played for seven years in London, including two years on the West End. The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race and A Broadcast Coup will both tour nationally across Australia in 2021.

Melanie worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a journalist for twelve years and has written for Guardian Australia, Guardian UK, The Daily Telegraph, Island Magazine, Mamamia and News.Com.Au. Melanie curated the much-lauded live storytelling series NOW HEAR THIS, which she presented on ABC Radio National for five years. She's now the Executive Producer of Podcasts at Mamamia Women's Network. 

Her first book Fat Chance: My Big Fat Gastric Band Adventure was published in 2010. 


David Williamson's first full-length play, The Coming of Stork, premiered at the La Mama Theatre, Carlton, in 1970 and later became the film Stork, directed by Tim Burstall. 

The Removalists and Don's Party followed in 1971, then Jugglers Three (1972), What If You Died Tomorrow? (1973), The Department (1975), A Handful of Friends (1976), The Club (1977) and Travelling North (1979). In 1972 The Removalists won the Australian Writers' Guild AWGIE Award for best stage play and the best script in any medium. The British production saw Williamson nominated most promising playwright by the London Evening Standard and the play was a co-winner of the coveted George Devine Award, the first time it had been given to a non UK writer.

The 1980s saw his success continue with Celluloid Heroes (1980), The Perfectionist (1982), Sons of Cain (1985), Emerald City (1987) and Top Silk (1989); whilst the 1990s produced Siren (1990), Money and Friends (1991), Brilliant Lies (1993), Sanctuary (1994), Dead White Males (1995), Heretic (1996), Third World Blues (an adaptation of Jugglers Three) and After the Ball (both in 1997), and Corporate Vibes and Face to Face (both in 1999). The Great Man (2000), Up for Grabs, A Conversation, Charitable Intent (2001), Soulmates (2002), Birthrights (2003), Amigos (2004), Operator (2005) Influence (2006), Scarlett O’Hara at the Crimson Parrot, (2008), Let the Sunshine (2009), Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica (2010), Don Parties On, (2011), At Any Cost (Co written with Mohamed Kahdra, 2011) and Nothing Personal (2011), When Dad Married Fury (2012) and Managing Carmen (2012), and TRS theatre company produced a critically acclaimed revival of The Removalists. In 2013 The Melbourne Theatre Company produced Rupert, about our most famous media proprietor, and this highly successful production travelled to the Kennedy Centre in Washington. In the same year the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney produced Happiness. In 2014 the Sydney Theatre Company staged a successful revival of Travelling North, starring Bryan Brown, and the Ensemble produced Cruise Control, one of its most successful productions ever, directed by the playwright himself, and revived all three of the Jack Manning Trilogy, and the Griffin Theatre Company staged a revival of Emerald City. In 2015 Williamson directed his latest play Dream Home for the Ensemble Theatre which broke box office records. In 2016 his play Jack of Hearts at the Ensemble Theatre again broke box office records as did his 2017 play Odd Man Out. His 2018 play Sorting out Rachel at the Ensemble, starring John Howard repeated the box office and critical success of the previous three.

The Queensland Theatre Company premiered to great acclaim in October 2018 his new work Nearer the Gods, a play about how academic rivalries and difficult personalities almost prevented Isaac Newton’s seminal insights into the laws that govern our Universe, and his latest play The Big Time, premiered in January 2019 at the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney and proved a box office smash.

In 2020 his play Family Values opened at the Griffin Theatre in Sydney to critical acclaim and quickly sold out its season, as did Crunch Time at the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney, which had all but sold out before it opened.

To celebrate his fiftieth year as a playwright the Melbourne Theatre company, which has produced over twenty of his plays, mounted a very successful revival of his 1987 comedy, Emerald City, in conjunction with Queensland Theatre where it opened to acclaim in February 2020.

Film Director Bruce Beresford is currently in pre-production to film his play Nearer the Gods, and Film Director Roger Donaldson is slated to direct Williamson’s own adaptation of his 2014 hit Cruise Control, re-titled Bon Voyage. 

Williamson is widely recognised as Australia's most successful playwright and over the last forty-eight years his plays have been performed throughout Australia and produced in Britain, United States, Canada and many European and Asian countries. His play Travelling North had a successful production in Vietnam and The Club ran for a lengthy season in Beijing, where its depiction of back room committee politicking obviously struck a chord with the Chinese.

A number of his stage works have been adapted for the screen, including The Removalists, Don's Party, The Club. Travelling North. Emerald City, Sanctuary and Brilliant Lies, and six of them have been made into quality Telemovies in Poland.

David Williamson has won the Australian Film Institute film script award five times, for Petersen (1974), Don's Party (1976), Gallipoli (1981) Travelling North ( 1987) and Balibo (2009) and has won twelve Australian Writers' Guild AWGIE Awards. He also wrote the screenplay for Pharlap (1981), The Year of Living Dangerously, (1983) receiving a nomination for best screenplay from the Writer’s Guild of America. He wrote the screenplay for Showtime’s On the Beach which won the Australian AFI award for best miniseries and was nominated for the Golden Globe awards in the US. He also wrote the screenplay for the HBO miniseries A Dangerous Life, about the fall of the Marcos regime in the Philippines which made the critics' top ten list of the year in both New York and Los Angeles.

Altogether he has written twelve screenplays and five miniseries, including The Four Minute Mile for the BBC and The Last Bastion about General McArthur’s arrival in Australia in WWII, which was sold all over the world.

In 1983 he became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

He has been awarded four honorary doctorates from the Universities of Sydney, Monash, Swinburne and Brisbane.

In 1997 the National Trust named him one of our National Living Treasures.

In 2005 he was awarded the J.C. Williamson lifetime achievement award at the Annual Helpmann awards, and became inducted as a National Living Treasure.

In 2011 he was given the lifetime achievement award by the Sydney Critics Circle.

In 2015 he was awarded the NSW Premier's Literary Awards special achievement award.

He lives on Queensland's Sunshine Coast with his writer wife, Kristin Williamson.

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