Peta Murray

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Peta Murray

Peta Murray is an Australian writer, born in Sydney in 1958. Best known as a playwright, she also writes short stories and is a freelance dramaturg, director and occasional performer. She has led a parallel life as a teacher of creative writing, mostly in Melbourne, in the TAFE and university sectors.[1]

Early life[edit]

Peta graduated from Killara High School, Sydney in 1975.[2] In 1979 she graduated from the University of New South Wales NSW with a Bachelor of Arts, and Honours in Drama, and went on to complete her Diploma of Education at the University of Sydney in 1980. She then began work as a high-school teacher of English and History, but remained involved in fringe and community theatre throughout her teaching career. In 1989 she began writing full-time. Several of her plays were subsequently published by Currency Press. Her short stories have been published by Sleepers, and Scribe.


Murray's first play The Procrastinator was produced by the Griffin Theatre Company in 1981. Her best-known play, Wallflowering,[3] was workshopped at the Australian National Playwrights' Conference in 1988, and went on to have numerous productions in Australia and overseas. Other works include Salt, Spitting Chips, [3] an adaptation of Tim Winton’s novella Blueback, The Procedure, and The Keys to the Animal Room produced by Junction Theatre Company in South Australia.[4]

Community theatre works include This Dying Business produced by Junction Theatre Company and The Law of Large Numbers by Mainstreet Theatre company in Mount Gambier. In 2006, she wrote Room, for Playworks and the Melbourne Writers Festival. In 2010 two ‘micro-plays’ featured in Finucane & Smith’s The Carnival of Mysteries at the Melbourne International Arts Festival. She has since developed and produced an epic new work for performance entitled Things That Fall Over: an (anti-)musical of a novel inside a reading of a play, with footnotes, and oratorio-as-coda. This was presented as a marathon of an extravaganza over five hours at Footscray Community Arts Centre on 1 March 2014 to mark International Women's Day. It featured a women's community choir working alongside well known artists and performers including Caroline Lee, Margaret Dobson, Liz Welch, Lisa Maza, and, as Verity in the musical coda, the legendary Margret RoadKnight. Music was composed by Peta Williams, choreography was by Robin Laurie and musical direction was by Jo Trevathan.

Other activities[edit]

Peta Murray has taught writing at the University of Western Australia Extension Service, and spent eight weeks as Writer in the Community at Araluen Centre for Arts and Entertainment in Alice Springs in 1991. She also works as a freelance dramaturg and director, and has taught playwriting at the University of Melbourne, at RMIT University, at Melbourne's CAE, and as co-facilitator of The Blak Writers Lab for Ilbijerri Theatre.

She is co-founder and Creative Director of not for profit arts-and-health organisation The GroundSwell Project.

Since 2010 she has completed postgraduate degrees, including a Master of Arts in playwriting through QUT, and a creative practice-based PhD through RMIT University, where she is a member of the non/fictionLab in the School of Media & Communication. As part of her PhD project she produced a triptych of new works, linked by the title Ware With A Translucent Body. The final work in the triptych, Missa Pro Venerabilibus: A Mass for the Ageing, an immersive and participatory live art experience was presented at Footscray Community Arts Centre in 2016 as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Her research focus continues to be on challenging ageism and changing cultural narratives around elder hood by reimagining ageing as a creative act.


Her play Salt won the 2001 Louis Esson Prize for Drama in the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards.[5]

Murray has won Australian Writers' Guild awards for Spitting Chips (Theatre in Education/Community Theatre Category, 1990), The Keys to the Animal Room, (Theatre in Education/Community Theatre Category and Major Award Winner, 1994) and Blueback (Theatre for Young People, 2000).

In 2003, Murray was awarded an Australian Government Centenary Medal for Services to Society and Literature.


  1. ^ "Biography of Peta Murray". Currency Press. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Playing With Words". 
  3. ^ a b "Scripts" (PDF). 
  4. ^ "AusStage Online"
  5. ^ "Victorian Premier's Awards". 

External links[edit]