The recent past can sometimes seem a lifetime ago, and in the case of The Griffin Theatre Co. that is literally true as some founding/early members have already sadly passed on, taking their stories with them. Griffin is a vibrant, successful theatre company but its early days are not well recorded, something that many of us who were involved in creating and/or nurturing the company through those times would like to see addressed.
John Senczuk, an early member and designer of many Griffin shows, has compiled a history of Griffin from first-hand accounts and extensive research. The book, titled Griffin Rising, was launched at The Stables Theatre on the morning of the First of December. Later that day there was a reunion of those who worked at Griffin in any capacity during the formative first ten years. The book launch of a collection of Grant Fraser’s Griffin plays, also compiled and published by John Senczuk, was held at that reunion. If anyone is interested in either of the books they can be ordered via firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant Fraser: Five Griffin Plays
Contents: Love and the Single Teenager: or, Ten Variations on Romance and Reality (1981), Cheap Thrills(1982), Street Level (1983), Summertime Blues (1984), Backbeat (1988)
Playwright Grant Fraser’s early writing career was synonymous with the evolving theatrical style and audacity of the fledgling Griffin Theatre Company; his plays built the brand, encouraging a young and vibrant audience.
From the break-out success of his debut production at the Stables in 1981 – Love and the Single Teenager – a new ‘ Grant Fraser play’ was an annual fixture to launch the Company’s season (a highlight of the Festival of Sydney). Sun-Herald Theatre Critic Mick Barnes championed Grant Fraser as ‘Sydney’s chronicler of teenage love’ who had ‘his finger on the responses of teenagers to each other and to their parents.’
This anthology of five plays – their first time in print – represents his work over the first ten years of the Griffin Theatre Company, and is redolent of the Company and its culture at this time.
Early History: A summary of the beginnings of the Company can be found on the Griffin Wikipedia entry.
In 1999, The Sun Herald described Griffin as Australia’s ‘Theatre of the Decade’.
The films Lantana, The Boys, and The Heartbreak Kid (which later spun off into the television series Heartbreak High) were based on plays first produced by Griffin. Away, Australia’s most produced contemporary play, also premiered at the company.