A descendant of the Muruwari people (Bourke and Brewarrina area), Jane Harrison is a playwright, critic, and novelist. Raised by her mother (alongside a sister) in the Victorian Dandenongs, she worked first as a copywriter for advertising agencies before she was commissioned by Ilbijerri Theatre Company to write the play Stolen. The play was included in the VCE English and NSW HSC syllabi and awarded the Kate Challis RAKA Award in 2002. It remains her best-known and most-toured play.
Harrison followed Stolen with a succession of plays about Australian Aboriginal experiences, including Walkabout, Rainbow's End, Blakvelvet, Custody, and First Contact, which was directed by Leah Purcell under the title The Visitors. Harrison's plays are widely performed, studied, and awarded: Rainbow's End (2005) was included in the NSW HSC syllabus between 2009 and 2012, Blakvelvet won the Theatrelab Indigenous Award in 2006, and Custody won the Holmes à Court Indigenous Award in 2007.
Harrison made her debut as a novelist in 2015 with Becoming Kirrali Lewis (which, in manuscript form, won a Kuril Dhagun Indigenous Writing Fellowship), a coming-of-age story of an Aboriginal teenager growing up in the 1980s and coming to an understanding of her parents' life among the turbulent activism of the 1960s.
Harrison also holds a Master of Arts degree from the Queensland University of Technology, for a thesis that examined 'the challenges for non Aboriginal theatre practitioners in accessing and interpreting Aboriginal themes'.
'Set within the explosive cultural shifts of the 1960s and 1980s, Becoming Kirrali Lewis chronicles the journey of a young Aboriginal teenager as she leaves her home town in rural Victoria to take on a law degree in Melbourne in 1985. Adopted at birth by a white family, Kirrali doesn't question her cultural roots until a series of life-changing events force her to face up to her true identity.'
'Two women meet on an Alice Springs-bound plane. Susan’s a successful ex-pat actor, happy to have snared a role in the Law and Order franchise; Inala’s an unsuccessful playwright of dubious heritage. They are both in Alice to handle mysterious “family business”. Thrown together, they stagger through a minefield of political correctness and identity confusion, distracted by an old Kombi called Birra Birra, T-shirts plastered with slogans, a smoking ceremony, Krispy Kreme donuts, topless traditional dancing and the occasional vomit bag…' (Source: Inscription website)