Celebrated Playwright and Alumna Suzie Miller Launches Her Novel Prima Facie at NIDA
NIDA, in partnership with Dymocks Booksellers, was delighted to have the internationally celebrated playwright and alumna Suzie Miller launch her novel Prima Facie, with a talk hosted by journalist/lawyer Nicole Abadee in the Parade theatre followed by a book signing where Suzie spent time meeting fans.
Suzie also sat down with NIDA to share about her incredible career, her training at NIDA and why she decided to adapt her Olivier Award winning play Prima Facie into a novel. ‘I'm primarily and predominantly a playwright above anything else. It's my absolute passion, but I just thought it would be an exciting challenge to see if I could write the prose version of Prima Facie and really dig into the main character’s background and bring up the little stories of her contemporary world’.
‘I love writing across different genres, and it was nice to flex that muscle in other areas, so as well as the novel I have also adapted the play to the screen. I've really enjoyed writing for screen. With regard to the novel, what playwrights and prose writers have in common is that they both own copyright of their work. No one else can change any part of it. There’s something really empowering about having complete ownership. Having said that, the new showrunner model for TV, which I've just been to L.A. to study in the WGA Showrunning course, showed me that the showrunner model is more connected to the playwriting model – ultimate control rests with the writer. Playwrights have a unique set of skills that are transferable and offer a new perspective on other forms. I once wrote for opera, accompanied by the director Lindy Hume, which was a lovely side jump from theatre, because there's another writer in the room writing the music, so there's someone else writing with you so it’s a bit less lonely’.
On her training at NIDA Suzie said: ‘I studied at NIDA with a selected group of seven amazing Playwrights, it was a really intense fabulous curated course run by Ken Healy and Francesca Smith. The things I learned about playwriting at NIDA have paved the way for everything I've done since. There was very intense but constructive criticism along the way, the tutors didn't let you get away with anything that wasn't good enough, they expected us to work towards professional standards. We also learnt to work with actors and directors which is a whole other skillset and I noticed that by understanding the protocol of the rehearsal room there are not only really positive outcomes, but also it ensures everyone in the room feel respected. Another great aspect about NIDA is the level of actors a playwright has access to. You started to realise as a writer how important it is to have top level actors when you're developing your work. Playwriting is collaborative by nature, and writing is very much about having a relationship with directors, actors and designers.’
On working with NIDA Alumni: ‘I know that NIDA alumni are always prepared and ready to think outside-the-box, they're ready to improvise, they have a truly professional skillset and a robust nature on how to take criticism, how to deliver criticism, how to look after each other and how to further develop their skillsets so that they have longevity in the industry’.
Some advice for aspiring writers: ‘If you have a passion to write, you should write. Don't listen to all the chatter around you saying, “Oh, it's a hard life”, of course, deadlines always come about, but the fact that I have a set of skills that I can travel anywhere with, and just use them wherever I am, is a very lucky thing to have. Just keep going and believe in yourself and keep writing. It can take you all over the world and be the most stimulating and passionate job there is. Believe in yourself, invest in dramaturgy on your drafts, be open to feedback and true also to your inner voice’.