Joanna Murray-Smith

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Joanna Murray-Smith, 2012

Joanna Murray-Smith (born 17 April 1962) is a Melbourne based Australian playwright, screenwriter, novelist, librettist and newspaper columnist.


Murray-Smith was born in Mount Eliza, Victoria; her father was the literary editor and academic Stephen Murray-Smith (1922–1988). She attended Toorak College[1] and graduated with a BA (Hons) from the University of Melbourne.[2] On a Rotary International Scholarship in 1995, Murray-Smith attended the writing program at Columbia University, New York.[3] In 2003, she took a sabbatical in Italy.[4] She is married to husband Raymond Gill and has two sons.[5][6]

Notable productions[edit]

Many of Murray-Smith's plays have been performed around the world. Honour has been produced in more than three dozen countries, including productions on Broadway and at the Royal National Theatre in London.[5]

Honour was created in 1995 when Murray-Smith was studying in the writing program at Columbia University in New York. There, the play's first public appearance was in a reading with Meryl Streep, Sam Waterston and Kyra Sedgwick.[3][7] The play was then performed at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway in 1998 with Jane Alexander, Robert Foxworth, Laura Linney and Enid Graham;[8] it earned Tony Award nominations for Alexander and Graham. It was performed at London's Royal National Theatre with Eileen Atkins who won best actress in the Laurence Olivier Awards for the role. Its West End performance took place at Wyndham's Theatre in 2006 with Diana Rigg, Martin Jarvis and Natascha McElhone.[9]

Ridge's Lovers was performed in New York under the direction of Brian Leahy Doyle.[10] Honour, Nightfall, Rapture, Ninety and Day One, a Hotel, Evening have all had staged readings or productions at the annual New York Stage and Film Festival at Vassar College.[citation needed]

Scenes from a Marriage was performed in January 2008 at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, directed by Trevor Nunn, with Iain Glen and Imogen Stubbs.[11]

The Female of the Species, based on events in the life of Germaine Greer,[12] opened in the West End at the Vaudeville Theatre in July 2008, directed by Roger Michell and starring Eileen Atkins. A Broadway production, originally planned for 2008 with Annette Bening was postponed.[13][14] It was nominated for Best New Comedy in the 2009 Olivier Awards. In February and March 2010, the play was staged at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles with David Arquette and Bening. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times wrote about this production: "The Female of the Species is not just antifeminist. In its depiction of women as variously pompous, deluded, self-obsessed, hypocritical, sexually obsequious or just plain crazy, it comes closer to being antifemale."[15]


The plays and novels of Murray-Smith have been translated and performed widely around the world.[7][16] According to the Australia Council, Joanna Murray-Smith and Daniel Keene account for half of all foreign productions of Australian plays.[17] However, Murray-Smith feels that within Australia, and especially at the Sydney Theatre Company, her work and that of other Australian writers, e.g., David Williamson's, is insufficiently supported.[18][19]






  1. ^ "Famous alumni on Latham's hit list". Crikey. 30 March 2005. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2008. 
  2. ^ "Prominent Alumni". University of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 19 February 2008. Retrieved 17 February 2008. 
  3. ^ a b A. Dunlap-Smith (12 June 1998). "Homework in Writing Program Becomes a Play on Broadway". Columbia University Record, Vol. 23, No. 24. Columbia University in the City of New York. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  4. ^ Murray-Smith, Joanna (11 May 2003). "(Column for The Age)". The Age. Archived from the original on 23 October 2006. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Murray-Smith, Joanna (7 August 2006). "Life, love and betrayal". The Age. Archived from the original on 3 September 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  6. ^ Sullivan, Jane (16 August 2008). "Scenes from a survivor". The Age. Retrieved 6 September 2008. 
  7. ^ a b Fourteen of the plays have been published by Currency Press (Australia) and others have been published by Nick Hern Books (UK) and Dramatist Play Service (US).
    "Murray-Smith, Joanna". AustLit. 27 June 2006. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  8. ^ "Honour". Internet Broadway Database. 1998. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  9. ^ "Honour". The Society of London Theatre. 2006. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  10. ^ "Brian Doyle". St. Cloud State University. 27 September 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  11. ^ "Scenes from a Marriage". The Belgrade Theatre. 2008. Archived from the original on 20 February 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  12. ^ "Greer mad at 'insane' writer's play", The Sunday Times reprinted in The Australian, 14 July 2008
  13. ^ Gans, Andrew (31 January 2008). "Broadway Engagement of Female of the Species Postponed". Playbill. Archived from the original on 7 September 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2008. 
  14. ^ Vaudeville Theatre listing
  15. ^ Isherwood, Charles (1 March 2010). "She's So Under the Gun, She Can't Leave Her Desk". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  16. ^ "AusStage - Joanna Murray-Smith". Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  17. ^ "Female of the Species to Star Annette Bening on Broadway". Australian Stage Online. 14 June 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  18. ^ Leach, Pier (26 April 2007). "Perth to meet bombshell". The West Australian. Retrieved 18 February 2008. [dead link]
  19. ^ Croggon, Alison (8 February 2008). "More bubble bath than kitchen sink". The Australian. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  20. ^ "Ninety". Melbourne Theatre Company. 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008. [permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Neil, Rosemary (12 November 2011). "The play's the thing for Australian writer Joanna Murray-Smith". The Australian. 
  22. ^ Meares, Joel (18 April 2013). "Joanna Murray-Smith on Fury". Time Out Sydney. Archived from the original on April 23, 2014. 
  23. ^ Murray-Smith, Joanna (2015). "Switzerland". Dramatists Play Service. Retrieved March 28, 2017. 
  24. ^ Sydney Theatre Company (November–December 2014). "Switzerland". Retrieved March 28, 2017. 
  25. ^ O'Brien, Kerrie (2017-04-07). "Joanna Murray-Smith's latest play mines the aftermath of marital breakdown". The Age. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  26. ^ Middleton, Carol (December 2002). "Interview". Archived from the original on 16 November 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  27. ^ Aronowicz, Andrew (1 December 2015). "The Divorce: Putting the Opera into the Soap". Limelight. 
  28. ^ "The 2004 Award". Dublin City Public Libraries. 2004. Archived from the original on 19 November 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  29. ^ "Joanna Murray-Smith Winner, 2016 Mona Brand Award". State Library of New South Wales. Retrieved 8 June 2018. 

External links[edit]