John Romeril wins Green Room Lifetime Achievement Award

Congratulations to playwright John Romeril, who is this year’s recipient of the Green Room Lifetime Achievement Award. As one of Australia’s leading and most prolific contemporary writers for theatre, Romeril is recognised for his plays focusing on political and social issues. His work has also been performed internationally and translated into Japanese, Vietnamese and Italian.

Poster for 'Carboni' by John Romeril. Australian Performing Group, 1980. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection.
Poster for ‘Carboni’ by John Romeril. Australian Performing Group, 1980. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection.

John Romeril was born in Melbourne in 1945 and graduated from Monash University. Following his early work as a performance poet, he began writing plays when La Mama Theatre opened in 1967. He was a founding member of the Australian Performing Group and between 1970 and 1981 wrote more than 20 plays for the company including Marvellous Melbourne (1970) with Jack Hibberd, Bastardy (1972) and Carboni (1980). His most enduring play from this period was The Floating World (1974), which addresses Australian-Japanese relations and instigated Romeril’s on-going interest in Japanese theatre and society. As well as revival productions by leading Australian theatre companies, the play was staged in Canada in 1978 and Japan in 1995.

Throughout his career, Romeril has continued to actively collaborate with community theatre companies and the education sector across Australia. Working both as a playwright and dramaturge, he has collaborated with organisations including Jigsaw Theatre Company in Canberra, Troupe and Magpie Theatre in Adelaide, Salamanca Theatre Company in Hobart, and Melbourne Workers Theatre, the Victorian College of the Arts and Arena Theatre Company in Melbourne. He has also been writer-in-residence at several universities, has held positions on many literary boards and is a regular guest speaker at conferences and events.

John Romeril’s works have been presented by Australian state theatre companies including the musical Jonah Jones (1985) written with composer Alan John, Lost Weekend (1989), Top End (1989) and XPO: The Human Factor (1998). His play Love Suicides was co-produced by Playbox Theatre Company and Company Skylark in 1997 and his stage adaptation of Miss Tanaka, jointly staged by Handspan Visual Theatre and Playbox, won the NSW Premiers Play Prize in 2001.

Programme for ‘Miss Tanaka’ by John Romeril, Handspan and Playbox, Melbourne, 2000. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection.

Romeril has also written for film and television, including collaborating on the award-winning One Night the Moon (2001) with Paul Kelly, Kev Carmody, Mairead Hannan and Rachel Perkins. In 2009 he adapted this work as a stage version for Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne. His most recent play is Jack Charles V The Crown, co-authored with Jack Charles for the Ilbijeri Theatre Company. This premiered at the Melbourne International Arts Festival in 2010 and has since been staged in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

John Romeril’s work is represented in the Performing Arts Collection through archives relating to the Australian Performing Group, Handspan Theatre and Playbox Theatre Company.