In Conversation: Writing in the Age of the Technological Apocalypse

Date/Time: 10 Apr 2019 6:30pm - 8:30pm

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With the rise of technology is creativity in crisis?

Acclaimed playwright Michael Gow, Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Collee, award-winning playwright Alana Valentine (Playwrights Studio, 1989) and NIDA’s Head of Writing for Performance Dr Stephen Sewell will discuss arts in the age of Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) as part of a prestigious writer’s panel. Journalist, filmmaker, performer, director and producer Nell Schofield (Playwrights Studio, 1987), is NIDA’s special guest interviewer and moderator.

'It’s a challenging subject. Without support for the arts there is a crisis in creativity,' said Dr Sewell. 'Torrance Testing of USA school students found a measurable decrease in creativity in a study published in 2011 and this correlates with both the rise of screen technology and the return to more vocational based teaching in schools.'

'With such a profound emphasis on STEM and a decline in funding for the arts it can be confronting for Australian writers working in the performance area. There is a huge impetus to pursue opportunities overseas, as so many of our creatives have. Does Australia actually want creative writers? Is our industry worthy? Appreciated?'

Join us for this unmissable discussion with some of Australia’s leading writers.

$25 standard
$10 NIDA alumni
Free to NIDA Staff and Students

John Collee is a former doctor, novelist and screenwriter whose films, often co-written with their respective directors, have three times been nominated for Oscars. His huge body of work defies classification: from blockbuster action, (Master and Commander), to period drama (Creation), and animated family movies (Happy Feet and Walking with Dinosaurs). His foreign language films include the recent Chinese hit Wolf Totem and the Oscar-nominated Tanna. His ensemble thriller Hotel Mumbai starring Dev Patel and Armie Hammer will open in March, and his revenge movie Monkey Man, co-written with Dev Patel, will start filming in August with Dev Patel starring and directing. He’s currently writing a war movie for director Phil Noyce. Full list of credits and access to screenplays visit

Michael Gow is widely-regarded as one of Australia’s greatest living playwrights. Best known for his bona fide Australian classic Away, his work as writer and director stretches much beyond, spanning theatre, screen and radio across more than three decades.
As a playwright, Gow’s work is both award-winning and critically acclaimed. He has received two NSW Premier’s Literary Awards (Away and Sweet Phoebe); two Sydney Theatre Critics' Circle Awards (Away and Furious); the Australian Writer’s Guild Major Award for Writing and for Best Play (Away), a Green Room Award (Away), an AFI Award for best Mini-Series (Eden’s Lost) and a Helpmann Award for New Australian Writing (Toy Symphony).

Michael began working with STC in 1986, just two years after The Wharf opened. Since then, he has worked on more than thirteen STC productions as both writer and director. A champion of Australian theatre, during his tenure as Associate Director Gow was also the inaugural Artistic Director of New Stages, an STC theatre development program with the aims of experimentation and outrageousness.

NIDA graduate Nell Schofield is a presenter, performer and film maker whose latest films include Guarding the Galilee (2017) and A Mighty Force (2018). Nell has worked on a range of projects with ABC TV, Showtime, CNN International, Channel 9, and ABC Radio National amongst others. She narrates documentaries such as Australia Says Yes, Project Manta, and as well as popular programs like ABC’s Media Watch. She has served as Vice President of the Bondi Girls Surf Riders, and as director of the Sydney Festival, Object: Australian Design Centre and Rock Surfers Theatre Company.

NIDA's Head Writing for Performance Stephen Sewell is one of Australia’s most celebrated and experienced writers. He has won great popular and critical acclaim as a playwright, screenwriter and novelist, as well as directing for both theatre and film over a career that has spanned 30 years. Stephen chaired the Australian National Playwrights Centre for a number of years, is the recipient of numerous awards and his work has been performed in most major Australian theatres and in New Zealand, the US, the UK and Europe.

Stephen is best known for his film and theatre work, including his AFI Award winning screen adaptation of The Boys, his role as script editor on the feature film Chopperand his numerous plays such as The Blind Giant is DancingIt Just Stopped and the highly awarded Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America: A Drama in 30 Scenes.

Alana Valentine is a graduate of NIDA and an award winning playwright. Her AWGIE Award nominated Barbara and the Camp Dogs, co-written with Ursula Yovich will be produced in 2019 at Belvoir Street. First presented in 2017 it was nominated in the Sydney Theatre Awards for Best New Australian work and Best Original score. In 2019 a jazz song cycle, Flight Memory, will be presented at The Street Theatre in Canberra and the Seymour Centre will present Made To Measure, a commission from the Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, where Alana was Writer in Residence in 2018.

Alana’s play, Ear to the Edge of Time, was the winner of the 5th International Playwrighting Award, and she is the recipient of two Tasmanian Theatre Awards 2017 for The Tree Widows, which received the Best Writing in a Professional Production Award and the Judges Award for 'creative integration of community, culture and heritage'.

Alana’s work The Ravens won the 2013 BBC International Radio writing Award and the National Library of Australia published Dear Lindy. Her plays Parramatta Girls and Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah are both currently on the NSW Schools Syllabus in Drama and English respectively. Alana worked with Bangarra Dance Theatre as dramaturg on Dark Emu and Dubboo: Life of a Songman and in 2017 on their Helpmann-Award winning Best New Australian work Bennelong.