Currency Press confirms 50th Anniversary Australian Playwright’s Festival

Katherine-Brisbane-Helpmann-Awards-2012-photo-by-James-MorganTo celebrate its recent 50th birthday, Currency Press, Australia’s foremost publisher of the performing arts, is convening the Australian Playwrights’ Festival.

Showcasing our playwrights and the roles they have played in reflecting our society and defining who we are, the festival will be held from 18 – 20 March 2022 at the Paddington RSL.

Over three days, the program includes sessions on Writing Taboos, Black Theatre Matters, You Can’t Write That (writing other people’s stories), Talking With History, and the place of Comedy and the Politics of Satire.

The Keynote Address will be given by esteemed playwright Patricia Cornelius, and the Festival will culminate with a tribute to publisher Katharine Brisbane and playwright Alma De Groen.

Festival panellists will include Vanessa Bates, Hilary Bell, Jonathan Biggins, Andrew Bovell, Wesley Enoch, Andrea James, Nakkiah Lui, Nathan Maynard, Joanna Murray-Smith, Debra Oswald, Lachlan Philpott, Stephen Sewell, S. Shakthidharan, Katherine Thomson, Alana Valentine and David Williamson.

“There are few opportunities for playwrights from across Australia to gather nationally to discuss and explore their collective work and the issues facing contemporary theatre and society,” said David Berthold, Director-in-Residence at NIDA and board member of Australian Plays Transform. “It’s important that they do so.”

David Williamson, whose plays have been published by Currency Press for most of its 50-year duration, said, “After a pandemic that has all but ended the careers of many writers, we need an event that simply affirms the importance of the playwright, the figure behind the actors and the scenery, whose words may flutter in the memories of many theatregoers, but whose faces they rarely know.”

Currency Press was founded in 1971 by national theatre reviewer Katharine Brisbane and her husband, UNSW drama academic, Dr Philip Parsons. Their aim, in establishing Currency, was to capture the energy of the new wave for the future and make the work of Australian playwrights available to both national and international audiences.

Fifty years on Currency’s plays are studied by secondary and tertiary students in every state and territory of Australia, and in many courses overseas; publication has also helped facilitate international productions and the sale of publishing and translation rights. Today, Currency has 480 plays in print, employs eight people and publishes around 30 titles a year.

The Australian Playwright’s Festival takes place at the Paddington RSL from Friday 18 – Sunday 20 March 2022. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Katherine Brisbane at the Helpmann Awards (2012) – photo by James Morgan