Fluctuations cannot stop the currency rising

Playwright Joanna Murray-Smith believes the plays help capture the character of the nation at any given time. “What Katharine Brisbane has done so wonderfully and rather courageously is to entrust our dramatic writing to these archives for posterity,” she says. “Without her, I think the overall morale of Australian playwrights would be low. “

“Katharine has always been such a strong advocate for the performing arts in general and their importance in our lives.”

Deborah Franco

Joanna Murray Smith.Credit:

Nick Parsons’ childhood included countless theater trips with his parents. “My form of teenage rebellion was to take an interest in cinema,” he says. Indeed, film and television made up a large part of his later career, although he never strayed too far from the company his mother ran until 20 years ago and which he chairs. since the death of his father in 1993.

Along the way, reforms such as printing ashore came along, which made it easier to start the Current Theater Series in the 1980s, where texts for new plays were included in theater programs. Remarkably, Currency could turn manuscripts into printed documents in six weeks. “No other publisher in the country could do something like this,” Parsons says. “It usually took them about six months to publish a book. “

The current theater series can create headaches for writers, however, who must submit a text before it is finalized in rehearsal, and are hoping there will be a later edition for updates. Nowra tampered with The summer of aliens and Cosi between editions.

Joanna Murray-Smith's Berlin cover.

Joanna Murray-Smith’s Berlin cover.Credit:Press currencies

He was acting in Aliens in Melbourne while Cosi, located in a mental institution, was rehearsing in Sydney and had a shock on opening night. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I made a big mistake here,'” Nowra recalls. “I had scenes outside the asylum and I could feel the audience’s attention wane. Nowra cut these scenes for the standard edition. “The audience told me that was the way they wanted to look at it, and they were right.” He also made changes to The language of the gods after a much longer period of time, and I regretted it. “You just can’t go back,” he says. “You were a different person, then.”

Murray-Smith is more inclined to continue tinkering. “When Honor was recently performed at the Sydney Ensemble, ”she says,“ I made changes to the piece that touched on things that had bothered me since the days of the original. [1995] production… Of course, as soon as you solve a problem, you desperately want it to be part of the printed script, because that’s often how foreign companies approach your parts, and you obviously want them to read the optimal version. So because a play is never finished, the script of the play really captures a moment in time in the evolution of the play, but not really the play itself.

“I suppose you could say that there is a philosophical question at play here, namely: should you accept the play at the time it was written as a permanent representation of who you were as a writer?” at that time ? It is complicated.”

Louis Nowra.

Louis Nowra.Credit:Adam knott

By the time Deborah Franco, who is in charge of marketing, joined Currency in 1984, they had moved to appropriate offices in Paddington, before moving to larger premises in Redfern in 1998. With 80 percent of sales being educational (mostly high schools), a key part of Franco’s job is to deal directly with teachers and program planners.

They have recently resumed distribution, having a warehouse in Canberra, with nearly 500 books printed. Beyond plays, these include works on theater, cinema, music and dance. “Katharine has always been such a strong advocate for the performing arts in general and their importance in our lives,” says Franco.

Left to right: Robert Menzies, Glenn Hazeldine, Sean Keenan, Bessie Holland, Katherine Tonkin and Esther Hannaford in the 2019 STC / MTC revival of Cosi.

Left to right: Robert Menzies, Glenn Hazeldine, Sean Keenan, Bessie Holland, Katherine Tonkin and Esther Hannaford in the 2019 STC / MTC revival of Cosi.Credit:Jeff Busby

Brisbane helped establish the National Playwrights’ Conference and the annual Philip Parsons Memorial. She founded Currency House, a nonprofit performing arts advocacy project that publishes the Platform documents testing.

Another extracurricular activity in currency is the Australian Playwright Festival next March, an idea of ​​Franco, after 15 years of absence of such an event. “The Sydney Writers’ Festival pretty much ignores playwrights,” Parsons says.

“We thought we needed to do something for our authors and for the industry in general. It’s part of the Currency Press philosophy that we don’t just do the business that is before us; we try to get things back into the industry whenever we can.


Murray-Smith saw it from the inside. “They are true passionate champions of Australian drama writing,” she says. “Katharine belongs to a generation of true believers in Australian literature, including my parents, and I know them well: they are tenacious, courageous, determined and ready to put an ideological imperative before commercial profit.

“I just think it’s a shame that in Australia there isn’t more recognition for people like Katharine. Knowledgeable people, of course, admire her and what she has accomplished tremendously, but she is a national treasure, and everyone should know her.

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