AustLit logo
Michael Gurr Michael Gurr i(A8886 works by)
Born: Established: 29 Oct 1961 Melbourne, Victoria, ; Died: Ceased: 2 May 2017
Gender: Male
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

BiographyHistory

Dramatist, actor and director.

Michael Gurr grew up in south-east Melbourne, and was educated at Melbourne High School, before entering the National Theatre and Drama School (NTDS) in St Kilda, where he was mentored by director Joan Harris.

Gurr completed his first play at eighteen. While studying NTDS, he wrote several more, including Indoors and The First Church in Hell. These were later sent to Ray Lawler, then Literary Advisor to the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC), by NTDS director Joan Harris. After being invited by Lawler to sit in on rehearsals, Gurr was offered a position as Writer in Residence (1982), which led to the first professional production of one of his plays the following year – Magnetic North (1983). Gurr was then twenty-one years of age.

Michael Gurr's plays often centre around contemporary issues of Australia's political, cultural and trade relations, particularly with Asia, while looking at and questioning moral responsibilities. His works include a trio of one-act plays staged collectively under the title These Days (1988), Victoria Bitter (1990, with Laurence Housman), Sex Diary of an Infidel (1992), Underwear, Perfume and Crash Helmet (1994), Jerusalem (1996), Crazy Heart (2000), Something to Declare (2003), and Mercy (2009).

As well as writing his own plays, Gurr also directed the work of other playwrights, including Shirley Gee's Never In My Lifetime (St Martins Theatre, South Yarra, 1992) and Bruce Thompson's Love and Mushrooms (La Mama, Carlton, 1991). He also collaborated with Lyn Shakespeare on her one-woman show, I Am Venus, Hear Me Roar.

In addition to his plays, Gurr worked as a speech writer for Victorian Labor leader John Brumby (in 1996) and, later, Steve Bracks, during the latter's time as both opposition leader and Victorian Premier.

A number of his plays have either been written or adapted for both radio (including the ABC and BBC) and film. One of his works, A Pair of Claws, first staged by the Melbourne Theatre Company in 1983, has been adapted both forms (notably as the 1986 feature film Departure). Another of his screenplays is Ninety Miles an Hour Down a Dead End Street.

Most Referenced Works

Awards for Works

Days Like These 2006 single work autobiography

'As a playwright and activist, Michael Gurr has been a close observer of Australian politics and culture for more than twenty years. Days Like These is his personal account of a writer's evolution against the backdrop of a changing nation: a clear-eyed, often darkly humorous riff on how the times have come to be so out of joint.' - Back cover.

2007 shortlisted New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction
Jerusalem 1996 single work drama

'Vivien runs a group who visit prisoners. When a young murderer is released into Vivien’s care, public and private moralities clash.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

1997 winner New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Play Award
1997 winner Victorian Premier's Literary Awards Louis Esson Prize for Drama
Sex Diary of an Infidel 1992 single work drama

'A cunning web of truth, lies, self-delusion and depravity, set against the backgrounds of Manila and Melbourne. Jean, an award-winning journalist, travels to the Philippines to write an exposé of Australian sex tours. Blackmail and revolution were not in the original brief, but as the lives of the six infidels mesh together, there are no rules and many surprises.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

1994 winner New South Wales State Literary Awards Play Award
1993 winner Victorian Premier's Literary Awards Louis Esson Prize for Drama
1992 winner Victorian Green Room Awards Best New Australian Play
Last amended 3 May 2017 14:28:04
Other mentions of "" in AustLit:
    X