Potchnagoola (2018)

What do an 81 year-old Communist writer and an 18 year-old emerging concert pianist have in common? Potchnagoola attempts to answer this question by bringing to life the unlikely but firm friendship between two iconic Australian artists: writer, Katharine Susannah Prichard and concert pianist, David Helfgott. Set in Katharine’s house in Greenmount in the mid 1960s, the action of the script takes place over six scenes covering the period of a year in which David, aged 18, visited Katharine, aged 81, every Friday night. Katharine was one of Australia’s leading internationally recognized and Nobel Prize-nominated writers who was also a founding member of the Communist Party in Australia while David’s prodigious musical talent was depicted in the Oscar nominated movie, Shine. When they first meet, David is at the beginning of his career, ambivalent about future directions and whether he should take up an offer of a scholarship to study at the Royal Schools of Music in London while Katharine is at the end of her career, reliving and reminiscing about past successes and recurring tragedies, after losing both her father and husband, Captain Hugo Throssell VC, to suicide.

Potchnagoola is a character study of two fascinating and complex personalities whose lives are enhanced by their encounter at a Communist Party event. One of the outcomes of their friendship is that David gains confidence to move to London where he has been offered a scholarship to study at the Royal Schools of Music and Katharine begins to heal as she comes to term with past losses and tragedies.

  • Style:  Drama
  • Length:  60 minutes
  • Cast: 1 female, 1 male
  • Casting age:  17 to 19, 65 to 75
  • Audience age, young adult, adult
  • Production rights held by the Katharine Susannah Prichard Centre in Greenmount, Western Australia

In the media: 

Whispering Leaves (2015)

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Whispering Leaves is a theatre production which was part of a series of artistic and cultural events to commemorate and honour the life of Yaburgurt (George Winjan), a prominent Noongar elder in the Peel region of Western Australia. Whispering Leaves was written by Louise Helfgott in consultation with George Walley and Barbara Pickett, directed by Karen Francis, and was originally performed by Theo Kearing Snr (TK) and Theo Kearing Jnr. This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is namnlos-2.png

The performance aimed to encourage audiences to foster an interest and expand their knowledge of the history of Yaburgurt, the city of Mandurah and of the Aboriginal people in the Peel region. The performances simultaneously encouraged the audiences’ support of reconciliation in Mandurah, and to demonstrate the impact of European colonisation on Aboriginal people in Mandurah. A recording of this production and other aspects of the Yaburgurt project is accessible on the link:

  • Style:  Drama
  • Length: 30 – 40 minutes
  • Cast: 2 male
  • Cast age: 12 – 16, 60 +
  • Audience age:  Young adult, adult

Frames (2014)

Available for purchase via Australian Plays.

framesWhat do we see when we look in the mirror? When Elizabeth looks in the mirror, she sees someone who is fat and ugly, even though her boyfriend, Ben, consistently tells her how attractive she looks. Elizabeth starts dieting but this soon spirals into an out-of-control journey into anorexia. She no longer knows who she is anymore: Lizzie as her family call her, Beth as she calls herself when she is admitted to hospital, or Elisabetta, her medieval persona, that she creates for her oracy project. The turning point comes when her family sign up for therapy and secrets that Elizabeth has held close to her heart for many years are finally revealed, leading to life-altering consequences. This new play uses innovative visual images and set design as well as a blend of humour and drama to question how people form personal constructs and perceptions of themselves.

  • Style: Drama
  • Length: 110 minutes
  • Cast: 3 female, 2 male
  • Casting notes: One of the actors can double up to play multiple roles.
  • Cast age: 16 to 18, 18+
  • Audience age: young adult, adult
  • Publisher: Australian Plays Transform


The Bridge (1997, 2006)

Julie Coulter is a runaway who is swept into the brutal reality of life on the streets. Taking refuge with a gang of displaced youths, Julie is immersed in a culture that challenges her very existence. Set under a bridge, we see the haunting symbolism that intertwines the lives and loves of each emerging character.

This is a moving story of a family that has fallen victim to our fast-paced modern society. In striving to succeed, much has been sacrificed, and a child has been lost to an underworld of hopelessness and despair.

The Bridge is a powerfully absorbing musical that will make you laugh and cry – a fusion of heartfelt drama, quirky comedy, impassioned music and song with energetic dance. The original musical score was created by Boyd Wilson and Louise Helfgott.

Winner of the 1998 Australia Day Award for community events. Finalist the New Musicals Australia 2011.

A professionally recorded audio file is available on request.

  • Style: Naturalistic musical drama with elements of surrealism
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Cast: 3 female, 6 male
  • Cast age: 12 to 16, 16 to 18, 18+
  • Audience age: teen, young adult, adult
  • Publisher: Australian Plays Transform

A Closer Sky (1999, 2004)

Available for purchase via Australian Plays

Originally conceived as a trilogy of scripts that were linked by character, theme and plot, these scripts were melded together to form the 2004 production. Mandy is a young Indigenous girl grappling with identity, employment and housing problems. Just when she seems to be sorting things out, a new problem emerges, and she is torn between family loyalty on the one hand, and responsibility to herself and her partner on the other. Her efforts to resolve this conflict lead to unforeseen consequences.

The play was requested and supported by members of the Peel Indigenous community of Western Australia, in particular Sandra Hill and Lesley Morrison, who Louise consulted with in the creation of this play. It contains humour and surrealistic spirit voices, as well as Indigenous dance. It was shortlisted for the 2005 AWGIE Awards for Community and Youth Theatre.

  • Style: Drama
  • Length: 80 minutes
  • Cast: 6 female, 5 male
  • Cast age: 16 to 18, 18+
  • Audience age: young adult, adult
  • Publisher: Australian Plays Transform

Estuary Dream (2002)

Available for purchase via Australian Plays

BThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is namnlos-4.pngased on the lives of the Tuckeys, a famous fishing family of Mandurah, Western Australia. Through the memories and daydreams of Arch Tuckey, history comes to life from the 1920s to the present. On a deeper level, the play examines the effects of change on the individual and broader community, as, through Arch’s eyes, we see Mandurah unfold from a small fishing village to a thriving tourist mecca complete with canals, nightclubs and all the trappings of a modern city. Arch, the quintessential opponent of change, fears its effects, but finds himself unable to resist its force on his life.

  • Style: Naturalistic comedy drama
  • Length: 120 minutes
  • Cast: 6 female, 14 male
  • Casting notes: Variable cast – can be smaller or larger with the possibility of actors playing multiple roles
  • Cast age: 3 to 8, 8 to 12, 12 to 16, 16 to 18, 18+
  • Audience age: all ages, children, teen, young adult, adult
  • Publisher: Australian Plays Transform

Available for purchase via Australian Plays Transform