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A Dramatic Housewarming: Griffin Theatre Company

Since 1978, Griffin Theatre Company has remained an innovative artistic hub dedicated to the development and production of visionary Australian works. To keep its history of creative encouragement and unique aesthetic alive, its home at the unassumingly iconic SBW Stables Theatre is being refurbished, and from August 16-21, we can catch a glimpse of the renovations (while they’re still in process). This Housewarming Week will include a myriad of events for artists, supporters, and admiring members of the public.

New Artistic Director Sam Strong, an award-winning director and legitimate young gun in his own right, explains “Griffin has been fundraising for the theatre to be renovated and Housewarming Week marks the first stage of those renovations being completed. So, it’s also our chance to say a special thank you to a lot of special people who have helped us out.”

The renovations were contracted to the architectural firm TZG, the architects behind the unconventionally elegant Paddington Reservoir, CarriageWorks and Port Arthur. Sam admires the firm’s ability to both appreciate and re-imagine Sydney’s best known historical sites. “The SWB Stables Theatre has such a long and important history with the theatre scene in Sydney that to lose its history and its charm would be a great shame.” While some may miss the theatre foyer’s original ‘shabby chic’ style, Sam has great faith in the renovation’s overall success. “Patrons will be pleased to know that the most important part of the theatre, the bar, is a lot bigger”, while Griffin’s characteristic triangular stage will remain intact to keep performances as powerful, visceral and unique as ever.

Sam admits he is most excited about Housewarming events that the general public can come to. First on that list is the announcement of the 2010 Griffin Award, which is one of the most prestigious awards in Australian writing. Now in its 13th year, the award that offers $10,000 is open to budding and established playwrights nationwide, with previous winners including the who’s who of Australian theatre – Lachlan Philpott, Brendan Cowell, Deborah Oswald and Ian Wilding are just a few who spring to mind. This year, the award has had around 135 entrants, and the winners will be announced, and given a rehearsed reading, on August 17.

Another event to watch out for is ‘The Play Offs’, a reincarnation of the always popular 24 Hour Play Generator, on August 20. The event will see six of NIDA’s talented directing and playwriting students race to write, rehearse and perform six new 10-minute plays in only 24 hours. There will be a junior version of the event starring year 11 and 12 students the following evening.

Alternatively, if the office world is what’s on your mind, keep an eye out for ‘Acting Up’, a specialised and slightly unusual training experience that gives corporate staff teams a chance to live a day in the life of a professional actor (sans red carpets and irrational paparazzi). The ‘Currency Press Launch and Forum’ on August 18 is also designed to expand the performing mind. On the night, Currency Press will launch ‘Damages’, a collection of plays be John Romeril, before discussing a ‘lost’ repertoire in our theatre.

Housewarming Week is designed to embrace Griffin’s unwavering desire to promote Australia’s brightest contemporary playwrights and performers, while bringing a sense of cutting edge adventure back to the national arts scene. Thus, while we may not necessarily understand everything that graces the Griffin stage, it will always be groundbreaking, high quality theatre designed to keep us talking.

Creative director Sam Strong

For more information about Housewarming Week and the much-anticipated renovations visit

words: Liz Schaffer


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