Hilary BellAmateur License Form

Playwright

Hilary Bell writes for stage, radio, screen and musical theatre. Plays include Wolf Lullaby (Atlantic, Steppenwolf, Griffin Theatre), Fortune, The Falls (Griffin), The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Ruysch (Vitalstatistix; The University of the South in Tennessee), Shot While Dancing (shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award), Memmie Le Blanc (Vitalstatistix, Deckchair), Open-Cut (WAAPA), and for the Sydney Theatre Company, The Mysteries: Genesis and The Splinter. In 2012, Black Swan’s production of The White Divers of Broome premiered at the Perth International Arts Festival; Hilary wrote Victim Sidekick Boyfriend Me for the National Theatre’s Connections program in the UK; and her opera, Mrs. President, was premiered by Anchorage Opera. In 2015, Hilary’s stage adaptation of The Red Balloon will be performed at the Black Swan Theatre Company. Hilary is currently in development on a number of commissioned projects with companies including the Sydney Theatre Company and Black Swan Theatre Company.

She has written libretti for musicals (Do Good And You Will Be Happy, comp. Phillip Johnston; and The Wedding Song, comp. Douglas Stephen Rae), song cycles (Talk Show, comp. Elena Katz-Chernin, for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir; After Julia and Gothic, comp. Andrée Greenwell), opera (Mrs. President, comp. Victoria Bond), and for Phillip Johnston’s score to Murnau’s silent film Faust, which premiered at the New York Film Festival and performed internationally.

Hilary has been resident at the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference in the US, the Russian Playwrights’ Conference, and the Australian National Playwrights’ Conference. She is a member of playwrights’ company 7-On, and a recipient of the Philip Parsons Young Playwrights’ Award, Jill Blewitt Playwrights’ Award, Bug’n’Bub Award, Aurealis Award for Fiction, the Eric Kocher Playwrights’ Award, the 2007 Inscription Award and an AWGIE for Music Theatre. She is a graduate of the Juilliard Playwrights’ Studio, NIDA, and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. She was the 2003-04 Tennessee Williams Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of the South in Tennessee and was the 2013 winner of the Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellowship.

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Plays

The Splinter

When their young daughter returns as mysteriously as she disappeared, her parents are overjoyed. But the father’s relief is soon undercut by questions and doubt, to the point where he begins to wonder if this is really Laura, or a changeling.

1 act (75 mins)
1 male
1 female
2 puppeteers (optional)

The Seagull

An adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s play. The play follows the conflicts between four characters: the famous middlebrow writer Boris Trigorin, the ingénue Nina Zarechnaya, the fading actress Irina Arkadina, and her son the symbolist playwright Konstantin Tréplev. The cat is set among the pigeons when Arkadina brings her lover Trigorin home for the summer, inciting her son’s jealousy, both romantic and artistic.

4 acts (2 hrs 20 mins)
6 male
4 female

Fortune

Cold Bath Creek, 1861. 11-year-old Chang is a giant, and the property of a brutal souvenir portrait photographer on the goldfields. Kathleen, an ex-convict, lures Chang from this miserable existence with promises of a better life, but she too exploits him, touring him as a freak. Driven to desperate measures by Kathleen’s jealous lover, Duck, Chang is forced to discover his own superior strength. The tale is in counterpoint with the story of Iris, an anglophilic Chinese hotelier, and her Chinese-operatic descent into madness.

2 acts
3 males
2 females

Wolf Lullaby

A baby is murdered in a remote town. Evidence points to Lizzie, a bright nine-year-old. Her young parents are faced with a terrible dilemma: to imagine nothing happened, and live with the suspicion and guilt all their lives, or to take her to the police and force a confession of what happened on Christmas Eve.

1 act (75 minutes)
2 males
2 females

The Wedding Song

(Musical. Composer: Douglas Stephen Rae)

A story of first contact between mainlanders and islanders.
Newly-weds Michael and Rose venture to an island for their honeymoon, where their pursuit of rumoured gold takes them to the unexplored highlands. There, they are assumed to be sky-gods, and Michael is presented with a gift: the chief’s daughter Mia. Michael and Mia’s love transcends Rose’s murder of the chief, Mia’s sacrificial burning, and Michael’s climactic walk on water.

2 acts
principals: 3 males, 2 females
ensemble: as many as affordable

The Frog Prince

The telling of the well-known fairy tale by two frogs, in verse. A play for children, it was commissioned by the Australian Museum to accompany their ‘Frogs’ exhibition.1 act (15 minutes) 1 male 1 female

They Eye of the Storm

A Shipwreck Tetralogy

(The following plays may be performed individually)

Wreckage

On a tempestuous night in 1857, after months at sea, a ship misjudges the entrance to Port Jackson and is decimated against the cliffs. Next morning, three people pick over the debris for signs of their loved ones, valuable loot, or an explanation. Then they discover a man tied to a plank, the only survivor.

1 act (30 minutes)
2 males
2 females
1 either sex

The Bog Queen

(Composer: Judith Sainte Croix)

A fairy tale in verse, with songs.

A young couple inherit a worthless bog. They exhume the thousand-year-old body of a woman, who clings to them, leech-like, enslaving them and tricking them out of the one thing they love.

1 act (30 minutes)
2 males
3 females
original songs

Orilla Del Mundo

A short baroque fantasy, charting the voyage of an anti-heroine conquistadora and her encounters with pirates, sea monsters, mermen, singing figureheads, and transsexual sailors in her determination to discover whatever lies beyond the edge of the world, accompanied in song by three plaintive guitarros.

1 act (35 minutes)
8 or more actors
original songs

Tom and Eva

On a midnight ocean, surrounded by icebergs and the last cries of the drowning, two lovers are reunited in a lifeboat. However, Eva is fast slipping from the state of living into that of a ghost. Tom has committed a dreadful act, but Eva gives him the chance to redeem himself through the ultimate sacrifice: joining her in death, to wander the sea forever.

1 act (30 minutes)
1 male
1 female

Shot While Dancing

At her mother’s funeral, Greta meets her father for the first time in 25 years. She is now 35, and married, as is Tony - to a much younger woman. Greta is bitter and resentful, while he is anxious for reconciliation. At the urging of her husband, Greta agrees to take a weekend trip with her father. Their spiky relationship, bristling with emotional landmines and old recriminations, takes a strange turn: they find themselves falling inexorably into a passionate love affair.

2 acts
2 males
2 females

Cheering Up Mother

A comedy in verse.

Feeling sorry for their widowed mum, her kids buy her a cat. This seductive feline not only succeeds in easing her sorrow, but in helping her discover that she’s still an attractive woman - to the horror of her kids.

1 act (10 minutes)
2 males
2 females

Crumbs from the Table of Love

(An opera. Composer: Charles B. Griffin)

A frantic ten-minute opera, during which a wonderful cake is baked by the lascivious cook and his droopy assistant. The aphrodisiac which the cook pours liberally into the mixture, intended to win the heart of the mistress, has its way with all concerned, though not, of course, in the way he’d planned.

1 act (10 minutes)
3 males
1 female

Mrs President

(An opera. Composer: Victoria Bond)

The story of real-life 19th-century spiritualist, socialite, Wall Street banker, Marxist, free lover and presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull. The opera focuses on her confrontation with Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, and her ensuing demise.

2 acts
principals: 3 males, 3 females
ensemble: as many as affordable

The Falls

(Composer: Phillip Johnston)

Sydney, 1895. Meet three Great Liars: Alberta the polygamist; Jack and his plans to hoodwink the world with an outrageous hoax; and Alberta’s long-lost sister Nellie, a false memoirist. There is also Praise-God, the bathchair-ridden, mute, bearded six-year-old. There’s melancholic Pigeon, reborn through the conviction of Jack’s lie. And there’s Doctor Rachel Sylvester, seduced by Alberta, little knowing the truth about her…

The Falls is a Victorian melodrama, part-musical, part-ghost story, part-love story, an exploration of deceit and self-delusion.

3 acts
3 males
3 females
original songs

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Ruysch

Professional rights not available in SA.

A highly theatrical play with songs, set in 17th century Amsterdam. Dr. Ruysch is a renowned anatomist who, assisted by his daughter, creates a cabinet of wonders from body parts. But overwhelmed by the wonders of science, he overlooks the wonders of his own child.

Phillip Johnston’s baroque-inspired, carnivalesque score is the ideal complement for the play.

1 act
2 males
3 females

Memmie Le Blanc

In 1731, in the woods of France, a savage girl is captured, and baptised Memmie Le Blanc. At 14, she is taken in by a widow, whose aim is to eradicate the girl’s vestigial wildness. But she is challenged in this by a young French doctor, who wants to study Memmie in her natural state. He’s accompanied by Robert, an orangutan, whom he is training.

3 acts (75 minutes)
2 females
2 males

Shelter

Kate discovers her 85-year-old mother has gambled away her life’s savings and sold Kate’ s flat out from under her. Unable to agree on anything, Kate suggests an alarming solution to the problem of where Mother should live.

1 act (10 minutes)
2 females

Three Little Words

Commissioned by Atlantic Theatre, New York

Two women, in a stolen moment of what ought to be romantic collusion, bicker over who told what to whose spouse, and question whether the thrill is worth the trouble.

1 act (10 minutes)
2 females

The Claimant (Radio Play)

In 1854, Roger Tichborne set sail from England and was never seen again. Unless it’s true that the butcher from Wagga Wagga is, as he claims eleven years later, the long-lost aristocratic heir to the Tichborne fortune. Based on a true story of greed, gullibility, and self-delusion, the three-part radio play is a rollicking romp, spanning decades and oceans, entirely in rhyming couplets.

3 half-hour parts
(Can be done with) 6 males
(Can be done with) 2 females

Is it You? (Radio play)

Inspired by a true story, a dying boy’s brave struggle attracts media attention. A television producer becomes so enamored of Scott that she adopts him, and marries his physiotherapist, without ever actually meeting either of them. She refuses to countenance the growing suspicion about Scott’s real identity.

1 hour
2 males
3 females

Faust

The libretto to Phillip Johnston’s silent-film score for F.W. Murnau’s 1926 film.
Please contact RGM for performance details.

Talk Show

A song-cycle. Composer: Elena Kats-Chernin

Commissioned by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir, it tells in eight songs the story of obsession, humiliation and murder.

Love’s Delightful Labours (Radio play)

The story of Achilles Rizzoli, to the outside world an unremarkable draftsman, but in the city of his imagination, an architect of impossible beauty. So grateful is he for any sign of kindness, the reclusive bachelor renders people’s souls as fantastical buildings. He is anointed as architect to God’s vision of heaven, but his transports of joy soon become onerous, as the Sainted Spirits hold his mother’s soul hostage.

1 hour
3-4 males
3-4 females

The Stronger

Translation of August Strindberg’s play

Two women meet in a café, and through the silence of one, the other discovers a devastating secret.

1 act (10 minutes)
2 females

The White Divers of Broome

Broome 1912, and it’s boom-time. Sydney Pigott is a wealthy pearling master looking for a way around the White Australia Policy, anxious to keep his cheap Asian workers – and his high profits.

Webber, Sanders and Beasily are the cream of the British Navy’s divers. They arrive in Broome naïvely convinced they’ll prove their skills when they hit the hazardous seas and collect the precious mother-of-pearl. But desperate Asian crews, shadowy alliances and the ruthless environment of Broome are against the white divers from the beginning. From the brothels to the ballrooms to the deep seas, it’s a cutthroat world and trust is hard to find.

Inspired by the book of the same name by John Bailey, The White Divers of Broome is a celebration of Broome and its exotic clash of cultures.

Two acts (2.5 hours)
Six female
Eight male

Victim Sidekick Boyfriend Me

A young girl appears to get away with the worst crime of all. She is thrilled when her victim’s boyfriend, and then their whole group of friends, not only forgive her but also welcome her into their circle. At first she takes this for granted, however as she’s affected by their kindness her conscience is aroused - to the point where she craves a chance to atone.

But what are they really doing? If it’s not as simple as mercy, if they’re not using her to fill the victim’s place, then perhaps they’re exacting a punishment far more intimate.

One act (45 mins)
Cast size 10+
Age suitability 13-19

Ugly Beauty

Patience has beauty, wit, kindness and wisdom – and a birthmark. At her birth, an uninvited guest proclaims that when Patience reaches sixteen, this mark will become hideous to all who behold it. Her best friend Harriet is prepared to go to any length to get rid of it for her.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘The Birthmark’ meets ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in a play for young actors.

One act (45 mins)
Cast size 10+
Age suitability 10 – 19

Connectivity

Best friends Abby and Alicia play a cyber-prank on a local politician. The event snowballs, turning into a major scandal, forcing them to run away together. They find themselves in the waiting room of Lithgow Station, surrounded by bizarre teenagers who, it turns out, are all fake identities. What they reveal to the girls shatters their friendship and their lives.

One act (1 hour)
2 girls
10 teenagers (negotiable)

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