Verity Laughton was a late starter as a playwright. Her first publicly produced play – a piece for children produced by South Australia’s Magpie Theatre in 1987 – opened two days after the seemingly catastrophic birth of her third child, when she was thirty-five. The baby survived, and the play – when she finally saw it at its last performance – was okay, if not perfect. But, as she noted at the time, it was a fairly brutal lesson in priorities. A side benefit has been that nothing – not fierce critics, nor acidic interviewers, nor The Wrong Design, nor a meltdown on preview night and the shame of Bad Behaviour has ever felt as tough or as close to the line.
The first actual play Verity wrote, however, was at age eight, when she essayed a fresh version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in rhyming couplets and strictly relating to the fairies. It was produced at her local church concert and starred her two sisters, her best friend, her father announcing the act changes, and her mother playing the piano, with herself as the nearly inaudible narrator of said couplets. The audience was perhaps bemused, but she counted the experience as a success. She saw no live theatre herself until, at the age of nineteen, her boyfriend took her to a production of Peter Brooks’ celebrated presentation of…A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She fell in love with both boyfriend and theatre and hasn’t looked back since.
Her plays have been produced in Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, the UK and the USA. They cover main-stage adult dramas, a promenade community event, a musical, adaptations, plays for child and family audiences, for dance, for puppets, and theatre of image.
They include: Long Tan (2017: Currency Press, 2018); The Red Cross Letters (2016: short-listed for the Rodney Seaborn Award 2013): The Sweetest Thing (2010: short-listed for the NSW Premier’s Prize, amongst others); The Lightkeeper (2003: AWGIE for Community Theatre, 2004); Burning (Griffin Prize, 2001); Carrying Light (SA Critics Circle Award for Best New Play, 1999) and three separate productions of The Mourning After. Fox won the 2004 AWGIE for Best Radio Play. Koala Lou, a musical, toured South Australia and Korea; A World of Paper (with Peter Wilson/Kazenoko Theatre Company) toured Japan, Australia, to the US and the UK. The Nargun and the Stars, played at the Sydney Festival, and the Perth International Festival in 2009. The Snow Queen, in Adelaide and at the STC’s Sydney Theatre in 2003.
Verity was awarded a Literature Board Grant in 2008 to write What Has Been Taken (short-listed for the Patrick White Award, 2015). The Ice Season won the 2009 Inscription Open Award.
POETRY: Verity’s poems have been short-listed for the Blake Poetry Prize in 2011; the Bruce Dawe Prize in 2014 and included in Black Inc’s Best Australian Poems in 2016.Other work includes short literary prose, and articles, and works for television and video.
She is a member of the 7-ON group of playwrights.
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