Alma De Groen began writing plays in 1968. While in Canada in 1970, Alma won a national playwriting competition with her short work, The Joss Adams Show.
Her first play, The Sweatproof Boy (later shortened into Perfectly All Right) was presented at the Nimrod Street Theatre in 1972. In 1973, The After-Life Of Arthur Cravan was selected by the first Australian National Playwrights’ Conference (ANPC) and had a season the same year at Jane Street Theatre, Sydney. This was followed by Going Home (1976) and Chidley (1977).
Vocations received a workshop at the 1981 ANPC and its premiere at the Melbourne Theatre Company in 1982. Alma De Groen was awarded the 1985 AWGIE award for her television adaptation of Man Of Letters.
She later wrote a telemovie, After Marcuse for ABC TV and has written scripts for the television series Single and Rafferty’s Rules. The Rivers Of China was workshopped at the 1986 ANPC and premiered at the Sydney Theatre Company in 1987, winning the Premier’s Literary Award for Drama in both New South Wales and Victoria.
The Girl Who Saw Everything premiered at the Russell Street Theatre in Melbourne in 1991 and won the 1993 AWGIE for Best Stage Play. Alma worked as co-writer and dramaturge with Legs On the Wall for the performance piece Wildheart in 1994.
Some of her recent work is for radio, Available Light and Stories In The Dark, (with Ian Mackenzie) which was the Australian 1996 Prix Italia entry. Their screenplay Deadly Access is currently in development.
Alma’s next play The Woman In The Window was supported by a grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council. It was workshopped at the 1997 ANPC, produced by the Melbourne Theatre Company the following year and short-listed for the 1999 NSW Premier’s Award for Drama.
In November 1998, Alma De Groen was the first playwright to win the Patrick White Literary Award for her contribution to Australian theatre.
Alma’s most recent play Blood Sisters was workshopped at the ANPC 2001, and premiered at the Griffin Theatre Company in Sydney.
The latest comedy/drama from eminent Australian playwright Alma De Groen brings together Meridee, Judith, Lydia and Hester; four old friends reunited at Meridee’s house in the Blue Mountains after the death of her genius husband Alec. The “fifty-something” women discuss the paths their lives have taken; divorces, lovers, dementia… Meridee describes Alec’s inexorable descent into Alzheimer’s disease, and confronts her friends with the astonishing secrets Alec divulged in his decline.
Wicked Sisters explores the harsh realities of relationships, and the strengths and weaknesses of four wise (but vulnerable) mature women.
This is a witty and honest play with female characters in their fifties, which flirts with but defies stereotypes, and is filled with delicious revelations.
full length play,
4 females (in their mid-fifties)
A one-act play which uses black humour to depict the loneliness of a young mother suffering postnatal depression, and her unsuccessful attempts to garner support and understanding from family and the medical profession.
Uses humour and absurdity as a vehicle for serious issues, including the way the media encourages the public to see stories like Joss’s as morbidly sensationalised entertainment.
A one-act play imaging the frustration of Viv, a housewife whose life is limited to domestic activities and who tries to make her life meaningful by constantly rearranging the furniture in an obsessive-compulsive manner. The arrival of a young visitor, Len, provokes a crisis.
Influenced by Pop Art, minimalism and Claes Oldenberg’s ideas of giving equal weight to people and objects in a theatrical performance.
Presenting the Dadaists’ hero from la belle époque, Arthur Cravan: nephew of Oscar Wilde, poet, boxer, performer at the Folies Bergère, hubristic challenger of Andre Gide, Apollinaire, Delaunay, thought to be one of the greats of the day. A handsome, unpredictable underdog who created his own destiny in defiance of social norms, only to disappear forever in the Gulf of Mexico in 1918 at the age of twenty-eight.
A comedy about homesick Australians in Canada, grappling with a blizzard, feelings of artistic and domestic failure, and a longing to “get back to the technicolour part of the world”. Egos and emotions spill over when a masculinist, exploitative, 70’s artist meets a downtrodden 70’s woman.
Examines the life of Australia’s tragic eccentric William James Chidley and his attempts to reform Australian dress, diet, lifestyle and attitudes to sexual intercourse.
Considered deranged because he refused to stop publishing and preaching his ideas on sexual practices and other matters relating to health, he was incarcerated in Callan Park where he committed suicide in 1916 at the age of fifty-six. Chidley’s vision rises above his flawed theories. He is gifted with moments of metaphysical perception in which he seems to transcend the material world, and these glimpses of something beyond ordinary reality mean everything to him.
4 males 1 female
A comedy of coupledom in which two talented women - Vicki, an actress, and Joy, a writer - seesaw between professional achievement and domestic conditioning as their men, in two very different ways, compete for newly assigned domestic roles.
Challenges the notion that there are some vocations appropriate to one gender and not to another, and explores issues such as marriage and dependency, child-bearing and parenting, belief and integrity in one’s vocation, the relationship between life and art, the silencing and suppression of women, and nuclear and other environmental threats to the planet.
In the early 1920’s, the writer Katherine Mansfield (Prelude, Bliss, The Garden Party) travelled to the compound of Guru G. I. Gurdjieff at Fontainebleu in France, hoping that he might “cure her soul” before she died of Tuberculosis.
In present day Sydney, a young man awakes in a hospital to find a dystopic world dominated by women. As each protagonist struggles to discover their true identity, the stories interweave in an unconventionally structured narrative. The play uses carefully plotted juxtapositions to depict a lone woman’s spiritual journey through psychological territory that (traditionally) is only confronted with a male guide.
Liz Ransom, a forty-seven year old feminist historian, publishes a controversial social history of women which attributes their suppression to biological determinism. Trying to escape the furore she has created, Liz retreats to a cottage in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. Her husband Gaz, driving to join her, stops to help a terrified young woman by the roadside and is horrified when she is suddenly run down by another car. The girl had been multiply raped. Gaz becomes obsessed with her, and is shocked by his own behaviour when he develops a relationship with Carol, the driver of the car that killed the Girl.
The predicaments of Liz and Gaz are contrasted with the opportunistic philosophies of their artist friend Saul, and the unexpected wisdom of his flippant young partner, Edwina. The foundering marriage of Liz and Gaz reaches a reconciliation.perhaps under the steady gaze of the dead Girl, who Carol and Gaz believe is watching everything that happens.
Two monologues which can be performed separately as two one-act plays, or together as a full-length play.
Two artists, a mother and daughter, struggle to make sense of the social realities in which they live.
Rose Shelley has fallen into a pit of total meaning after hailing a taxi on a rainy night and coming in contact with a new age cult. She explains to a dismayed audience of academics at a literary lunch that now that she has the dazzling benefits of “Spontaneous Divination” to explain the tragedies of the world around her, she is no longer a poet.
Rose’s daughter Mary speaks from within a nursing home for the mentally ill. Whilst in Egypt, she entered a tomb that had not been opened in 4000 years and had an experience she can’t rationally explain. Believing that her art can pass beyond the reality observed with the human eye, Rose hits the wall - literally - in her photography, and begins to question her entire existence.
The radio play of Available Light was recorded for ABC radio by Ruth Cracknell and Lynette Curran.
2 x 1 act plays, or 1 x 2 act play
2 females (or 2 one-handers)
In Stalin’s Russia, the great poet Anna Ahkmatova is forbidden to write. Her work is memorised by women friends who for thirty years have risked their lives to preserve her words. In a future, sterile world, where individual creativity is not seen as economically viable, the poetry archives are seldom accessed any more and are about to be switched off.
Rachel, a young Australian woman searching for what is missing in her life, risks her own safety to rescue poetry for future generations. The play’s premise is that when nature as we know it vanishes, then art and creativity will vanish with it.