We would like to acknowledge the lands of Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the
traditional custodians of the land on which Nimrod Theatre Company made its work. 


The First Iteration

NIMROD 50 Collection – an extensive and exciting collection of previously unpublished, out of print or never published works celebrating 50 years since the founding of the Nimrod Theatre Company in 1970. We will be adding to the first group of plays published below in the future – and in all we hope to add or return nearly 50 works to the canon; some republished, some refurbished and some never before seen. These plays, by hugely significant writers, add to our rich and detailed understanding of ourselves and our theatrical inheritance. 

The Nimrod Legacy

The influence of Nimrod looms large over Australian and especially Sydney theatre, even still. Luminaries from the company go on to found hugely significant endeavours, and the works from that time electrified audiences and spoke boldly, sometimes even crudely, in ‘our’ voice, an Australian voice – not the received pronunciation of a distant coloniser and its apparently staid theatrical institutions. It is easy to forget how radical this was, and how almost nothing of what we are now familiar with as the architecture of new writing and playwriting generally, existed.

There are some excellent studies (and the occasional autopsy) of the final days of Nimrod as the ambitious collectivism of the artistic group, perhaps inevitably, found its end. This Collection is not concerned with politics, power or personalities. This is (and indeed all our work at Australian Plays) about the playwrights – those central crafts-people working to drive the incredible output – especially of the early years of Nimrod. There was no formal training, no playwriting workshops or development structures – this was an industry making itself, consciously and unconsciously crafting an idea of what Australian theatre might be.

Whilst Nimrod is well known for its exciting international premieres or Australianised versions of classics, it is the bawdy, vaudeville-boxing-tent energy of Australia’s theatrical pioneers that drove its sprit – and ultimately that meant the creation of NEW work. Nimrod produced over 100 new Australian plays during its 18 years of existence across multiple venues. Of those, only approximately 50 were ever published and of those, only 20 remain in print. What was published – whilst undoubtedly more often than not the most exciting or impactful works – doesn’t represent the true breadth and boldness of Nimrod’s programming – the place of First Nations work, queer cabaret and female writers. This Collection aims to address the imbalance.

Though ground-breaking when they did happen, the few First Nations works, queer and artists speak to systemic issues still being dealt with by Australian theatre. And this shows in what was published, what was celebrated, what is remembered – an unconscious forgetting of the smaller or pricklier works, things that might not have been able to be published or for myriad reasons have fallen away – out-of-print or never-in-print.

Despite this, the fact that we have such an extraordinary archive of published plays at all is a testament to the tenacity and care of Currency Press, Yackandandah Press and others – who recognised the nascent new writing and to sought it out. We owe them a debt, not just on which we built this collection but in general for the effort and time invested over so many years in keeping the published works alive. Thank you.

It must also be noted that some of the works that seem to be Nimrod world premieres in fact had their first seasons at other exciting, impactful companies like La Mama in Melbourne – and it speaks to the communication and connection between these theatres, the artistic directors and playwrights across the country that this conversation, these multiple productions happened so often. Food for thought for our current landscape.

A Dramaturgical Process?

When I ask writers and directors from the time what the ‘process’ was for new writing, many wince or shift in their seat. There is a discomfort (perhaps uniquely Australian) in the idea of structures or systems, in study or seriousness – and I get an answer roughly like ‘there was no process, scripts were written and read and if we liked them we’d meet for a drink and start rehearsals.’ Despite the understandable discomfort with post-hoc attempts to ascribe a dramaturgy to what was essentially begun as an organic process amongst peers – patterns emerge. This rigorous but relaxed method produced work, at staggering (and perhaps ultimately unsustainable) volume – they MADE plays and TOURED plays – no prizes, no endless developments or commissions without intention to produce – plays made real. And audiences loved it.

It has been a labour of love for us at Australian Plays – taking more than two and a half years and stretching across State archives, dusty attics, private collections and of course the memories, manuscripts and musings of the playwrights and artists themselves. Whilst many are sadly no longer with us – we hope this Collection reminds us all of the strength and impact of this theatrical legacy and the rich and deep nature of our playwriting culture. This is just one corner of the tapestry of our theatre – but we hope by adding a few strands, we can see a bigger and more human picture.


John Kachoyan

Literary Manager, Australian Plays (2018 – 2020)

September 2020

A Message From Katharine Brisbane

This program will prove a major asset to those who work in, study or just enjoy the theatre of this country. It addresses the biggest hurdle to original work, even today: an understanding of, and interest in, our cultural history.

It was the 1920s, in the aftermath of the Great War, when we began to explore for the first time how the concept of being Australian (as opposed to British) might be expressed. And it took another fifty years before the post-World War II baby boomers reached their majority and set about making us a different Australia. The arrival of an Australian-born-and-bred theatre was a part of that.

Nimrod 50 gives a comprehensive picture of the aspiring writers from all states who answered Nimrod’s call; and will be followed by other collections for a similar purpose . Together they will be a vital social way for us to engage today’s minds in the task of building the miscellany into a received store of national drama of the kind on which other countries so gratefully depend.

Currency Press published its first play, Macquarie by Alex Buzo, in 1971. The announcement of a publishing opportunity brought a shower of scripts from tiny theatres like Melbourne’s La Mama. Within eighteen months I was met by a long-haired streak called David Williamson, laden with three unperformed texts, among them The Removalists. It was a historic moment: the words flew off the page and we were on our way.

When a need is met a spark will soon be lit.  I look forward to watching the process fired by this Collection. Of the many texts I read in those early days the main thing I remember that hindered progress was an actors’ workshop edit and a decent period of development. We didn’t know how to do it then but we do now.


Katharine Brisbane

September 2020

Nimrod Timeline

Biggles | Michael Boddy, Marcus Cooney, Ron Blair



Flash Jim Vaux | Ron Blair | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION

The Roy Murphy Show | Alex Buzo

Customs and Excise| Jack Hibberd | PREMIERE PUBLICATION  – NIMROD 50 COLLECTION

The Duke of Edinburgh Assassinated | Bob Ellis & Dick Hall

The Removalists | David Williamson

Hamlet on Ice | Michael Boddy with Rory O’Donoghue & Graham Bond



Shadows of Blood | Helmut Bakaitis

Rooted| Alex Buzo

On Yer Marx: Bigotry V.C. & Housey | John Wood

Sweatproof Boy | Alma De Groen

Basically Black | Bob Maza & Gary Foley

Last Supper Show | Michael Boddy



President Wilson in Paris | Ron Blair | COMING SOON 

The Chocolate Frog | Jim McNeil

Old Familiar Juice | Jim McNeil

Tom | Alex Buzo

A Hard God | Peter Kenna

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll | Ray Lawler

Jesters | Michael Cove

Coralie Lansdowne Says No | Alex Buzo

The Bacchoi | Bryan Nason

Well Hung | Robert Lord (playwright from New Zealand)

Kookaburra | Michael Cove

How Does Your Garden Grow| Jim McNeil



Ginge’s Last Stand | Kenneth Horler

No Man’s Land (Crossfire)| Jennifer Compton

You Want it Billy, Don’t You?| Bill Reed

Perfectly All Right| Alma De Groen | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION

The Joss Adams Show| Alma De Groen | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION

They’re Playing Our Song | Jennifer Compton | COMING SOON 

The Christian Brothers| Ron Blair

Mates | Peter Kenna

The Floating World| John Romeril



Martello Towers | Alex Buzo

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know | Ron Blair | COMING SOON 

A Handful of Friends | David Williamson

The Elocution of Benjamin Franklin| Steve J. Spears | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION



Young Mo (full title: The Resuscitation of the Little Prince Who Couldn’t Laugh as Performed by Young Mo at the Height of the Great Depression of 1929) | Steve J. Spears | PREMIERE PUBLICATION – NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

Going Home | Alma De Groen | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

Jack | Jim McNeil 

The Club | David Williamson

Inner Voices| Louis Nowra

Bananas | Richard Bradshaw

The Coroner’s Report | John Summons

The Flaw | Mil Perrin

I’ll Be In On That| Anne Harvey | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

Stretch of the Imagination| Jack Hibberd

Alitji in Wonderland | Richard Bradshaw

Treasure Island | Kenneth Horler



Rock-Ola | Tim Gooding

A Visit With the Family | Greg Bunbury

Everyman: a Sentence Situation | Rudi Krausman

Stubble and Marxisms | Moya Henderson

Kold Komfort Kaffee | Robyn Archer & Kenneth Horler

There Were Giants in Those Days| Steve J. Spears | PREMIERE PUBLICATION – NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

The Job | Lloyd Suttor


Perfect Strangers | Ron Blair | COMING SOON 



Makassar Reef | Alex Buzo

The Christian Brothers | Ron Blair

Travelling North | David Williamson

Bastard from the Bush | Rodney Fisher & Robin Ramsay

Upside Down at the Bottom of the World| David Allen | PREMIERE PUBLICATION – NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

Potiphar’s Wife| FF Piano (the pen name of Margot Hilton) | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

Vicki Madison Clocks Out | Alex Buzo

Sideshow in Burlesco |  Martin Raphael & Michael Matou

On Our Selection | Steele Rudd



Bullie’s House | Thomas Keneally | COMING SOON

House of the Deaf Man | John King

Inside the Island | Louis Nowra | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

Celluloid Heroes | David Williamson

Traitors | Stephen Sewell

Clowneroonies | Geoffrey Rush

Backyard | Janis Balodis

You & the Night & the House Wine | Robyn Moase

Krazy for You | Jeannie Lewis

Burlesco | Martin Raphael & Michael Matou



The Choir | Errol Bray

Last Days in Woolloomooloo | Ron Blair | COMING SOON

Roses in Due Season | Doreen Clarke

Slice | Tony Strachan & K Carpenter

Pinball | Alison Lyssa | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

Eyes of the Whites | Tony Strachan

Desert Flambe | Chrissie Koltai & Desert Wombats

Cain’s Hand | Allan Mackay & H Bakaitis



Welcome the Bright World | Stephen Sewell

Party Wall | Ken Horler

Tristram Shandy – Gent | Tim Robertson (adaptation)

Flash Jim Vaux | Ron Blair | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

Variations | Nick Enright & Terrence Clarke

Demolition Job | Gordon Graham

New Sky | Judith Anderson

Burn Victim | from idea by Stephen Sewell

Buffaloes Can’t Fly | Simon Hopkins

A Night With The Right | Max Gillies & John Clarke

Cocky of Bungaree | Richard Tulloch



The Kid | Michael Gow

Are You Lonesome Tonight? | Pamela van Amstel

There’s a Ghost on Clark Island | Tony Taylor



The Servant of Two Masters | Ron Blair & Nick Enright (adaptation)

The Boiling Frog | Alison Lyssa | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

A Toast to Melba | Jack Hibberd

The Women of March the First | Lissa Benyon

The Christian Brothers | Ron Blair

Graeme ‘King’ Lear | Barry Dickins | COMING SOON

Il Magnifico | Robyn Archer

The Golden Oldies | Dorothy Hewett | COMING SOON

Performing Seals | Barbara Pepworth | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

Mystery of Mulligan’s Gold | Richard Tulloch



Cheapside | David Allen | NIMROD 50 COLLECTION 

Max Gillies Summit | Max Gillies

A Stretch of the Imagination | Jack Hibberd


Nimrod 50 is an ongoing project – as it develops plays and resources will be added.


50 Years Of Stables


Australian Plays would like to acknowledge Currency Press for their vital support of the Australian Theatre industry and thank them for their help in tracing playwrights, scripts, imagery and their willingness to support this important project. We acknowledge the important work Yackandandah Press and others also played in publishing Australian plays.


We would like to thank the following individuals and organisations that without their support this project would not have happened:

Robyn ArcherHilary Bell | John Bell | Ron Blair | Ross Bruzzese at NIDA Library | Alma De Groen | Ben Ellis | Jennifer Gaschler | the Horler Family | Declan Greene and all at Griffin Theatre | staff of the Mitchell Library | Aarne Neeme | staff of the State Library of New South Wales | Cobie Orger | Susan Wallace | Chris Westwood, and all the brilliant Nimrod playwrights, their agents and estates.


Thank you from all of us at Australian Plays. 


We acknowledge that we live and create on unceded lands. We pay our respects to the First Peoples of Australia, and to their elders past, present and future.

© Australian Plays Transform 2024