AustLit logo
Best Mainstage Production
Subcategory of Sydney Theatre Awards
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.


2018 winner y separately published work icon The Harp in the South Trilogy : The Play : Parts One and Two Kate Mulvany , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2018 11940858 2018 single work drama

'A great Australian novel. A landmark theatre event. A portrait of Sydney as it once was.

'The world premieres of The Harp in the South: Part One and The Harp in the South: Part Two are designed to be enjoyed as one unforgettable, epic theatrical experience.

'This major new work is one of the most ambitious productions STC has ever created. Celebrated playwright Kate Mulvany has adapted novelist Ruth Park’s revered Australian trilogy – Missus, The Harp in the South and Poor Man’s Orange – and spread these beloved stories across two equally ambitious plays.

'The two parts stand alone, but together they offer over five hours of monumental, exuberant theatre. It’s a moving family saga and a celebration of Sydney in all its funny, gritty glory.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2016 winner y separately published work icon The Drover's Wife Leah Purcell , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2016 11151204 2016 single work drama

'If anyone can write a full-throttle drama of our colonial past, it’s the indomitable Leah Purcell.

'We all know Henry Lawson’s story of the Drover’s Wife. Her stoic silhouette against an unforgiving landscape, her staring down of the serpent; it’s the frontier myth captured in a few pages. In Leah’s new play the old story gets a very fresh rewrite. Once again the Drover’s Wife is confronted by a threat in her yard, but now it’s a man. He’s bleeding, he’s got secrets, and he’s black. She knows there’s a fugitive wanted for killing whites, and the district is thick with troopers, but something’s holding the Drover’s Wife back from turning this fella in…

'A taut thriller of our pioneering past, with a black sting to the tail, The Drover’s Wife reaches from our nation’s infancy into our complicated present. And best of all, Leah’s playing the Wife herself.' (Publication summary)

2015 winner y separately published work icon Ivanov Eamon Flack , 2015 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2015 8917788 2015 single work drama

'It could be subtitled: ‘How to Find Faith in Humanity – or Not’. This early Chekhov is a glorious ensemble comedy about the fact that the future is looking bleak. Here it gets its first Australian mainstage production. What a fantastic mix of rage and silliness; its characters all torn between making money and getting in on something bigger and more meaningful than themselves. How apt.

'Nikolai Ivanov is going mad. His life used to be full of possibility, but now he’s moneyless on an old farm with his mendicant uncle and his inexplicably happy if slightly criminal cousin. He’s in debt to his neighbours, he has the hots for their daughter, and nothing much makes any sense to him anymore. Oh, and his wife is dying. Life’s all healthcare and making payments. What’s the alternative? There must be an alternative. There must be an alternative!' (Publication summary)

2012 winner y separately published work icon Medea Kate Mulvany , Anne-Louise Sarks , 2012 Fortitude Valley : Playlab , 2019 Z1894517 2012 single work drama

'Locked in their bedroom, two brothers play games to pass the time, as siblings do. Off-stage, their parents are having a very famous showdown. At an inevitable moment, the children will be drawn away from their games and into their parents' bitter argument. From there, they will enter mythology as the most tragic siblings of all time.'

Source: Black Swan Theatre Company.

2008 winner The Women of Troy Tom Wright , 2008 single work drama historical fiction

'Troy is a ruin. The men are dead, most of the children are dead and the surviving women are herded behind wire, awaiting transportation or (hopefully) death. Hecuba, their Queen, awaits her uncertain future haunted by memories, visions and prophecies.

'In a series of hallucinogenic episodes she is visited by her mad, blind daughter Cassandra; her grieving daughter-in-law Andromache and the woman who triggered the whole catastrophe, Helen.

'One of the most powerful and compelling anti-war plays ever written, Euripides' tragedy reels with the consequences of destruction.'

Sydney Theatre Company website,
Sighted: 25/03/2009

2007 winner y separately published work icon Toy Symphony Michael Gow , 2007 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2008 Z1440999 2007 single work drama (taught in 4 units)

'Roland Henning has writer's block. When he tries to explain the situation to a therapist, his story begins to tumble back and forth between his childhood in The Shire and his work as a playwright. At the root of it all is that extraordinary day in primary school which shattered his boyhood and plunged him headlong into the dizzy circus of life and art.'

Source: Belvoir Street website,
Sighted: 05/11/2007

Nominated for the 2007 Company B production.
2006 winner Honour Bound Nigel Jamieson , 2006 single work drama

'Since September 11, 2001, Australia's engagement in the 'war on terror' has raised important questions about the balance between the pursuit of our national security and our human rights. 'Honour Bound' is an intensely passionate and confronting new work that explores these issues through an extraordinary combination of dance, film, theatre and aerial performances. This world premiere brings together some of Australia's most exciting creative talent. It's a culturally and artistically ambitious work that focuses on the experiences of Terry Hicks and his son David - held in Guantanamo Bay for four years without trial. It integrates Terry's personal testimony as a father, and draws on letters, internal Pentagon papers and the accounts of former detainees. Set within an eight-metre square cage, the performance and projections take place on the walls, ceiling and floor. A daring and provocative work, 'Honour Bound' is about some of the most important issues we face as a society today: law and order, hatred and love, humanity and human beings pushed to the very edge of their limits.'

Source: Sydney Opera House website,
Sighted: 24/07/2006

For the 2006 Sydney Opera House and Malthouse Theatre production.
2005 winner y separately published work icon Three Furies Stephen Sewell , 2005 Australia : Wutheringink , 2013 10930502 2005 single work drama

'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.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (Wutheringink edition).

Nominated for the 2005 Performing Lines production.