Sewell studied science at the University of Sydney before embarking on a career as a playwright. While at university during the early 1970s he was involved in fringe theatre in King's Cross and had his first plays performed there in 1975.
He moved to Brisbane in 1975 where he worked as a scriptwriter for children's radio and became associated with the La Boîte Theatre Company which staged The Father We Loved on a Beach by the Sea in 1978. This play dramatises one family's interactions with the 'system', showing the division between generations and the destructiveness of each stance. Sewell is often described as a political writer, drawing inspiration from Catholicism and Marxism, but the author sees his work as an attempt to broadly represent the many interactions between powerful historical forces and powerless individuals. In addition to strong political themes, Sewell's plays offer actors and audiences a challenging Brechtian environment that often mixes naturalistic and expressionistic modes.
Sewell returned to Sydney in the 1980s after a brief period in Melbourne with the Australian Performing Group. His many plays are widely and regularly performed, and have attracted numerous awards. Sewell has also written scripts for television and cinema, and has been writer-in-residence at several theatre companies and institutions. In 2008-2009 Sewell was Literary Fellow at the University of New South Wales.
'A battle-weary Australian war correspondent named Frank meets a darkly fascinating woman on his way home. The two retire to his hotel suite where Frank finds his match in a frightening and erotic game of truth or dare that takes both to the edge, and over.' (Production summary)
'Francis Bacon's work and life continue to fascinate and appall long after his death almost a quarter of a century ago, as it will for centuries to come, and in Three Furies, Australian writer Stephen Sewell examines the sado-masochistic world he inhabited with his friend, model and lover, George Dyer, before Dyer's suicide in 1971, just as Bacon was being celebrated as the greatest figurative artist of the Twentieth Century at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
'Acerbic, selfish and cruelly intelligent, Bacon's unflinching courage nevertheless produced some of the most disturbing images of humanity to come out of that terrible century, and in Three Furies Sewell once again demonstrates his mastery of the epic to produce a terrifying account of solitude and loneliness in the midst of the frenetic celebrity culture of an unhinged world.'