STC’s landmark production of The Secret River heads to Melbourne

Kate Grenville’s award-winning novel The Secret River was adapted by Andrew Bovell (Lantana, When The Rain Stops Falling) into a landmark stage production as part of the Sydney Festival 2013, presented by Sydney Theatre Company.

Nathaniel Dean in The Secret River by Kate Grenville. Image by Heidrun Lohr for Sydney Theatre Company, 2013Winner of six Helpmann Awards, including Best Play, Best Direction and Best New Australian Work, The Secret River was lauded by AussieTheatre’s Cassie Tongue as perhaps “the most important work STC produced this decade; it’s certainly the best thing they have produced in years.” (Read full review here)

Three years after its debut season in Sydney, Melbourne audiences will finally have the chance to see the incredible production at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse from 10 – 19 March, 2016. The Sydney season of this epic masterpiece received standing ovations from sold out audiences in 2013. Tickets for the limited Melbourne season on sale from today and are expected to fly our the door.

Directed by Neil Armfield, and featuring Shaka Cook, Nathaniel Dean, Trevor Jamieson, Ningali Lawford-Wolf, Madeleine Madden, Colin Moody, Richard Piper, Bruce Spence and Matthew Sunderland The Secret River is a story of two families divided by culture and land. William Thornhill arrives in New South Wales a convict from the slums of London. His family’s new home offers him something he hadn’t dare dream of: a place to call his own. On the banks of the Hawkesbury River, he plants a crop and lays claim to the soil in which it grows.

But the Hawkesbury is already home to another family. A family from the Dharug people. A family whose existence depends on that land. As Thornhill’s attachment to the land deepens, he is driven to a terrible decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Grenville’s story confronts the brutality which ensued with this collision of cultures, and the stage adaptation expands the emphasis to the experiences of both the Dharug people and the European settlers. The staging also gives a voice to the land and the river, demonstrating how human stories are uniquely shaped by their environment.

The Secret River depicts a turning point in the development of Australia; a fork in the road with the chosen path resulting in consequences we all live with today.

The encore season of The Secret River commences at the Roslyn Packer Theatre Sydney from February 4, 2016 and will tour to QPAC’s Playhouse from February 25 – 5 March and Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse from 10 – 19 March.

The Secret River

By Kate Grenville

An adaptation for the stage by Andrew Bowell

10 – 19 March 2016

Tickets on sale Monday 28 September 2015 – visit for details



Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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