Hannie Rayson is a graduate of the University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of Arts. She has been a freelance journalist, editor, playwright and script-writer, and she co-founded the community theatre group Theatreworks in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. It employed her for four years and gave her the time to write. Rayson has been writer-in-residence at the Mill Theatre, Playbox Theatre, La Trobe University (from which institution she holds an Honorary Doctorate of Letters), Monash University, and the Victorian College of the Arts. Her theatre credits include Please Return to Sender (1980), Mary, (1981), Room to Move (1985), Hotel Sorrento (1990), Scenes from a Separation (1996) and Life After George (2000), the latter a perceptive and moving insight into social change across three decades, told through individual experiences.
Her best-known play, Hotel Sorrento, is concerned with the issues of cultural belonging, loyalty and betrayal in a story about the reunion of three sisters in the Victorian seaside town of their childhood, Sorrento. The homecoming is marred by the success of one of the sister's first novel, which is a thinly disguised picture of her family. Hotel Sorrento has been performed numerous times and has also been produced in Germany, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and France. The play was made into a feature film in 1995 and was nominated for ten Australian Film Institute Awards. In 1999, Rayson received the Magazine Publishers' Society of Australia's Columnist of the Year Award for her regular contributions to HQ magazine.
Hannie Rayson is considered to be an outstanding feminist playwright in Australia. She has been a professional writer since she was twenty-four, writing primarily about middle-class Australia in a literate, witty dialogue that explores topical social issues. In her own words Rayson likes to 'tap into things that are very particular sociological phenomena, that are happening right now, but with the filter that they are things that [she] is connected to'. She has also written for television including two episodes for the popular ABC Seachange drama series. Rayson is the daughter-in-law of Bruce Grant.
'Class Action: Dramaturg Hilary Glow Talks to Playwright Hannie Rayson.(Interview)', Meanjin 64.1-2 (2005): 326-335;
Rachel Fensham and Denise Varney The Dolls' Revolution : Australian Theatre andCultural Imagination (2005): 285-328)
Inheritance2003single work drama Inheritance is a story of two families battling it out in the unforgiving terrain of Victoria's Mallee region. The elderly twin sisters, Dibs Hamilton and Girlie Delaney, represent two kinds of rural family story. Dibs inherited the family farm and has prospered; her children, Julia and William, are well educated city folk, and her adopted Aboriginal son, Nugget, is a successful farmer managing the family farm. Girlie, on the other hand, has had a rougher ride. Her son Lyle and his wife maureen are embittered by their experience of life on the farm as one of endless struggle and never getting an even break. (x). 'Speaking the Truth to Power: Hannie Rayson's 'Inheritance'.
Life after George2000single work drama Peter George, charismatic academic, idealist, lover of life, is dead. His wife, two ex-wives and daughter gather for his funeral. As the true nature of the man and his life unfolds, so these women discover much about themselves and the lives they have lived both within and outside his shadow. (Publisher's blurb, back cover).