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Belvoir St Theatre

Belvoir St Theatre

When the Nimrod Theatre building in Belvoir Street, Surry Hills, was threatened with redevelopment in 1984, more than 600 people – ardent theatre lovers together with arts, entertainment and media professionals – formed a syndicate to buy the building and save this unique performance space in inner-city Sydney.

Thirty years later, under Artistic Director Eamon Flack, Belvoir engages Australia’s most prominent and promising playwrights, directors, actors and designers to realise an annual season of work that is dynamic, challenging and visionary. As well as performing at home, Belvoir regularly takes to the road, touring both nationally and internationally.

Both the Upstairs and Downstairs stages at Belvoir St Theatre have nurtured the talents of many renowned Australian artists: actors including Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchett, Jacqui McKenzie, Toby Schmitz, Robyn Nevin, Deb Mailman and Richard Roxburgh; writers such as Tommy Murphy, Rita Kalnejais, Lally Katz and Kate Mulvany; directors including Simon Stone, Anne-Louise Sarks, Benedict Andrews, Wesley Enoch, Rachael Maza and former Belvoir Artistic Director Neil Armfield.

Belvoir’s position as one of Australia’s most innovative and acclaimed theatre companies has been determined by such landmark productions as The Glass Menagerie, Angels in AmericaThe Wild Duck, The Diary of a MadmanThe Blind Giant is DancingThe Book of EverythingCloudstreetKeating!Parramatta GirlsExit the KingThe AlchemistHamletWaiting for GodotThe SapphiresWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Stuff Happens and Medea.

In 2011, The Balnaves Foundation came on board to fund Belvoir’s Indigenous Theatre Program. Each year since, The Balnaves Foundation has provided the financial underpinning for Belvoir to present a work in the ‘Belvoir St Upstairs Theatre’ that is led by an established Indigenous artist (as writer and/or director) and tells an Indigenous story, and the ‘Belvoir St Downstairs Theatre’ to produce a work led by an emerging Indigenous artist (as writer and/or director) who will be mentored by a senior Company B Belvoir artist. Belvoir offers a range of access programs in conjunction with both productions, including free performances for the unemployed and school matinees.

The Balnaves Foundation strongly believes that theatre has the ability to connect Indigenous culture and history with current social debate in an impactful and relevant way.

In 2012, The Balnaves Foundation also started to support Belvoir’s Indigenous Playwright's Award, a $25,000 award for the creation of a new play by an Indigenous playwright. Recipients of the Award have included, Nakkiah Lui, Jada Alberts, Leah Purcell, Katie Beckett, Ursula Yovich and Megan Wilding.

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Photo Gallery
Indigenous Theatre at Belvoir in 2017/18
Megan Wilding 2017 Balnaves Indigenous Playwright's Award and Hamish Balnaves
Jimi Bani in Title and Deed, directed by Jada Alberts
Video and Audio Gallery

Title : My Name is Jimi - Family keeps fire of culture burning in Torres

Jan 11, 2018

This is an exhilarating and affecting show, simply told with great humour, a splendid sense of mischief and a brilliant feeling for story and theatre. 

Title : Barbara and the Camp Dogs at the Belvoir enriches the heart

Dec 8, 2017

Barbara is a glorious figure - a wild, angry, foul-mouthed, rebellious singer who travels back to Dawrin, then Katherine, with her sister Rene and her band, the Camp Dogs.

Title : Barbara and the Camp Dogs turns pub theatre into an impassioned call to listen to Indigenous Australians

Dec 7, 2017

 Barbara and the Camp Dogs begins the way most pub gigs do - with a sound check.

Title : 2017 AWGIES - Leah Purcell honoured by writing community

Aug 31, 2017

Actor, writer and director Leah Purcell ultimately dominated the Writers' Guild annual awards with her stage play, The Drover's Wife.

Title : Writers in the Spotlight

Aug 30, 2017

Playwright Leah Purcell has capped off an incredible year of recognition for her play The Drover’s Wife, taking home the top two writing honours at the Australian Writers’ Guild’s 50th Annual AWGIE Awards tonight in Sydney. Read more here.


Title : Playwrights recognised with plaudits and $25,000 purses

Jun 2, 2017

Last night Gamilaroi woman Megan Wilding was announced as winner of the Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award at Belvoir St Theatre. Established to encourage the telling of indigenous stories with the aim of fostering understanding and reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, the $25,000 prize includes a $15,000 commission to write a play.

Title : The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright's Award Now Open for Entries

Mar 3, 2017

 Now in its sixth year, Belvoir are accepting entries for The Balnaves Indigenous Playwright's Award.

Title : Which Way Home is Katie Beckett's heartfelt tribute to a much-loved dad - SMH

Dec 18, 2016

 Playwright and actor Katie Beckett wrote her new play Which Way Home in a hurry. It felt urgent. If she didn't get a move on, there was a chance her dad, Les, whose parenting inspired Beckett to write the play, wouldn't live to see it.

Title : A Tarantino Drover's Wife as seen through indigenous eyes

Sep 21, 2016

 Growing up in southwestern Queensland, young Leah Purcell was soothed to sleep by her mother reading Henry Lawson's short story The Drover's Wife.

Title : Leah Purcell pulls no punches in her new show The Drover's Wife

Sep 12, 2016

When Leah Purcell was a kid, she loved westerns. "I grew up on them," she says. "Spaghetti westerns. The Magnificent Seven. John Wayne in Hondo. I'd always be barracking for the Indians."  Forty years later, Purcell, an award-winning actor, writer and director, is drawing on that love of American frontier drama for her very Australian new play The Drover's Wife

Title : Reimagining The Drover's Wife: Leah Purcell weaves Indigenous Australia into classic tale

Sep 12, 2016

 The Aboriginal actor and writer radically retools Henry Lawson's short story into a bush thriller with elements of her own family history.


Jun 15, 2016

 About 2½ years ago, Ursula ­Yovich travelled to Darwin for her mother’s funeral and encountered a different world. As the ­eldest child, many decisions about the funeral fell to her, even though she struggled to comprehend the indigenous traditions ­involved.

Title : The fifth annual Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright's Award is now open for entries - Media Release

Mar 1, 2016

Now in its fifth year The Balnaves Award has become one of the most prestigious playwriting awards in Australia, be it for Indigenous or non-Indigenous writers. The calibre of entries and winners has consistently proven the depth of talent in the Indigenous theatre industry.

Title : New Stolen Generation Play Wins Katie Beckett $20,000 Balnaves Award

May 27, 2015

The high rates of Indigenous children removed from their families and taken into care will be dramatised by this years winner of The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright's Award.

Title : A Scribe, Star and Interrogator - SMH

Feb 20, 2015

Playing at Belvoir, Nakkiah Lui’s second full-length play, confronts on more than one level.

Title : Political becomes personal in sharp, compelling tale of invisibility - The Australian

Feb 20, 2015

Playing at Belvoir, Nakkiah Lui requires your attention and she gets it with theatre’s most basic tools; a story.

Title : Kill the Messenger is deeply tragic and hugely personal - The Daily Telegraph

Feb 20, 2015

There’s a lot more going on with Nakkiah Lui’s Kill The Messenger than first meets the eye.

Title : Belvoir Presents Kill the Messenger - Performing Arts Hub

Feb 10, 2015

Balnaves Foundation’s Indigenous Playwright awardee Nakkiah Lui’s play, Kill the Messenger, spotlights the complex nature of racism in Australia.

Title : Sisters and Secrets - SMH

Jan 2, 2015

Radiance - the play that revolutionised indigenous theatre in Australia

Title : Keeping it real - The Guardian

Aug 21, 2014

Belvoir's ongoing commitment to Indigenous theatre has supported numerous successful and entertaining productions. 

Title : Leah Purcell - A woman on a mission - Australian Woman's Weekly

May 31, 2014

Award-winning stage and television performer Leah Purcell is turning her focus to youth suicide and the ramifications for the family left behind in her latest play, 'Brothers Wreck' at Belvoir.

Title : Leah Purcell wins 2014 Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright's Award - SMH

May 28, 2014

Actor, director and playwright Leah Purcell wins award for her proposed radical new stage adaptation of Henry Lawson's short story The Drover's Wife.

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