World premiere play 37 tackles Australia’s greatest obsession: Footy

A new play about a down-and-out regional football team, set within the era of Adam Goodes’ heartfelt war cry during an AFL Indigenous Round match, will have its world premiere at Southbank Theatre with previews beginning on 2 March.

Deftly written by Nathan Maynard – twice named Tasmanian Aboriginal Artist of the Year – 37 is the fourth collaboration between Maynard and director Isaac Drandic (The Birthday Party, ABC’s Cleverman), and a return to the stage for recent AACTA Award Winner Ngali Shaw (The Twelve) following his acclaimed turn in Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2023 production Jacky.


This production, named after the number Goodes immortalised, 37, follows a disheartened football team as their fortunes start to change when new recruits the Marngrook cousins – named after the Aboriginal game that inspired AFL – join the team, but tensions off the field start to dash any hope of them capturing the flag.

Packed with laughs, this powerhouse production explores the physical and psychological demands that a football team faces under the Friday night lights. Featuring an ensemble of 10 performers, this highly physical play is co-choreographed by the award-winning Waangenga Blanco, who spent 14 years as senior dancer with Bangarra Dance Theatre.

“37 is a searing piece of social commentary and we’re proud to have commissioned this new Australian play through our NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program” says Melbourne Theatre Company’s Artistic Director & CoCEO Anne-Louise Sarks. “Is there a greater national obsession than AFL? From major cities to the regional centres, playing, watching or even avoiding football represents an unparalleled cross-section of Australian life and makes the game the perfect setting for a story of community, identity and reconciliation.”

A co-production with Queensland Theatre Company, directed and Co-Choreographed by Isaac Drandic, 37’s creative team includes Set & Costume Designer Dale Ferguson, Lighting Designer Ben Hughes, Composer & Sound Designer James Henry, Co-Choreographer Waangenga Blanco, Voice & Text Coach Matt Furlani, and Assistant Director Kamarra Bell-Wykes.

37 is currently playing at Southbank Theatre, Melbourne. Tickets via

It then tours to Bille Brown Theatre in South Brisbane from 11 April – 4 May. Tickets via

Header photo by Pia Johnson

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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