Tommy Murphy (Australian playwright)

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Tommy Murphy
Born1979 (age 43–44)
Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia
OccupationPlaywright and screen writer
Notable worksTroy's House, Holding the Man, Strangers in Between, Gwen in Purgatory and Mark Colvin's Kidney

Tommy Murphy (born 1979) is an Australian playwright, screenwriter, adaptor and director . He created and was head writer for the 2022 TV series Significant Others. He is best known for his stage and screen adaptation of Timothy Conigrave's memoir Holding the Man. His most recent plays are a stage adaptation of Nevil Shute’s On The Beach, Mark Colvin's Kidney and Packer & Sons.

Early life[edit]

Murphy was born in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia,[1] the seventh of eight children[2] in a Catholic family. Murphy attended St Edmund's College, Canberra.[3] He is a graduate of the University of Sydney (BA 2004)[2] and of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Director's course).[4]


He was a resident writer at Griffin Theatre Company[4] 2004–06, for which he wrote Strangers in Between and Holding the Man. Both plays are published by Currency Press, in one volume. Strangers in Between won the national 2006 NSW Premier's Literary Award for Best Play, and Holding the Man won the same Award in 2007. Murphy is the youngest recipient of the award, and the only playwright to win in successive years.[4]

Holding the Man had an encore season at Griffin before transferring to Sydney Opera House, Belvoir, Melbourne Theatre Company and Brisbane's Powerhouse. It played London's West End from 23 April to 3 July 2010. Guy Edmonds and Matt Zeremes were joined by new cast members Jane Turner and Simon Burke. David Berthold directed and Brian Thomson designed. The Trafalgar Studios season was produced by Daniel Sparrow and Mike Walsh. The play has been produced every year since its premiere with new productions in San Francisco, Auckland, Adelaide and encore productions in Brisbane and Sydney. In 2014 the play was also mounted in Los Angeles by The Australian Theatre Company with Larry Moss directing; Nate Jones, Adam J. Yeend, Cameron Daddo, and Roxanne Wilson were cast for the production.

Saturn's Return was commissioned by Sydney Theatre Company co-artistic directors Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett for STC's Wharf 2 season 2008. In 2009 it transferred to the STC main stage. Saturn's Return is published by Currency Press.

Murphy's award-winning play, Gwen in Purgatory, was co-produced by Belvoir and La Boite Theatre and directed by Neil Armfield in 2010. The cast for this premiere production were Nathaniel Dean, Grant Dodwell, Sue Ingleton, Melissa Jaffer and Pacharo Mzembe. This play is also published by Currency Press.

He was writer-in-residence at Belvoir 2011–2012. His adaptation of Blood Wedding was commissioned for the London 2012 Olympiad[2] and his reworking of Peter Pan for Belvoir transferred to New York in 2013.[5]

After the multi-production international success of the stage play of Holding the Man, Murphy initiated the screen project. He partnered with executive producer Cameron Huang, producer Kylie Du Fresne of Goalpost Pictures, producers of The Sapphires and director Neil Armfield to see the film to fruition in 2015. It opened to strong domestic box office in Australia and is released globally via Netflix after an international cinema release. Murphy wrote the screenplay and worked as associate producer for the film.[6]

Murphy's screen credits include teleplays for Offspring, Spirited, and Matchbox's 2014 Foxtel mini-series Devil's Playground.[2]

Murphy is the recipient of a Centenary Medal and the British Council Realise Your Dream Award.[7] In 2007, he had the title of honorary associate conferred by the Faculty of Education & Social Work, University of Sydney.[7] He also sat on the board of directors of the Australian Theatre for Young People 2005–2010.[7]

Murphy was commissioned to write a play for Black Swan State Theatre Company as recipient (joint) of the Richard Burton Award 2012, which carried $15,000 prizemoney .[8][9] He is also currently writing for Belvoir Theatre as well as developing a number of screen projects. Murphy is the 2016 University of Queensland Drama Creative Fellow.[10]

The Sydney Theatre Company has awarded Murphy the 2015 Patrick White Fellowship, worth $25.000.[11] The gives the playwright a commission and 12 months work at the company. Each year the fellowship is awarded to an established playwright and Murphy said of the fellowship that it, "offers a sense of belonging to a pursuit that is often solitary."[12]

In 2021 ABC Television commissioned Murphy to write a psychological drama series called Significant Others .[13] The series, which was directed by Tony Krawitz, went to air from 16 October 2022.[14]

Murphy won best For Audio – Fiction, for his radio play Call You Back as part of the Untrue Romance series at the AWGIE Awards 2022.[15]


Plays as listed on AusStage [16]


  • Operation Marlowe, Newtown Theatre, Newtown, NSW, 9 March 2001
  • Kinderspiel - Out of Bounds, The Studio (Sydney Opera House), Sydney, NSW, 5 January 2002
  • Two-Up!, Bowlers' Club of NSW, Sydney, NSW, 7 January 2002
  • Bendy, ATYP Studio 1, The Wharf, Walsh Bay, NSW, 5 July 2002; Performance Space, Wollongong, NSW, 11 September 2002
  • 360 Positions In A One Night Stand, Arts House Meat Market, North Melbourne, VIC, 2 October 2002; The Store Room, North Fitzroy, VIC, 29 July 2003; Annexe Theatre, Launceston, TAS, 2004; The Ausdance Studio, Adelaide, SA, 9 March 2004
  • Kings X Stories, Stables Theatre, Darlinghurst, NSW, 9 October 2003
  • Troy's House, Carlton Courthouse, Carlton, VIC, 1 February 2005 (and Director); ATYP Studio 1, The Wharf, Walsh Bay, NSW, 11 October 1999
  • Holding the Man, Stables Theatre, Darlinghurst, NSW, 3 November 2006; StablesTheatre, Darlinghurst, NSW, 8 February 2007; Playhouse (Sydney Opera House), Sydney, NSW, 9 May 2007; Belvoir Street Theatre, Surry Hills, NSW, 22 September 2007; Brisbane Powerhouse, New Farm, QLD, 5 March 2008; Merlyn Theatre, Southbank, VIC, 14 March 2008; Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide, SA, 21 October 2011; Roundhouse Theatre, Kelvin Grove, QLD, 16 February 2013
  • Strangers in Between, The Q, Queanbeyan, NSW, 6 May 2008; Glen Street Theatre, Frenchs Forest, NSW, 13 May 2008; Stables Theatre, Darlinghurst, NSW, 11 February 2005
  • Saturn's Return, Wharf 2 Theatre, Walsh Bay, NSW, 15 August 2008; Wharf 1, Sydney, NSW, 24 July 2009
  • Rough Draft #3, Wharf 2 Theatre, Walsh Bay, NSW, 5 September 2009
  • Gwen In Purgatory, Belvoir Street Theatre, Surry Hills, NSW, 31 July 2010; Roundhouse Theatre, Kelvin Grove, QLD, 29 September 2010
  • Mark Colvin's Kidney, Belvoir Street Theatre, Surry Hills, NSW, 25 February 2017
  • Packer & Sons, Belvoir Street Theatre, Surry Hills, NSW, 20 November 2019


  • The Massacre of Paris, TYP Studio 1, The Wharf, Walsh Bay, NSW, 2001
  • Blood Wedding, Cultural Olympiad's London May 2012 Festival
  • Peter Pan, Belvoir Street Theatre, Surry Hills, NSW, 5 January 2013


  • The Crucible, The Cellar, Camperdown, NSW, 28 March 2001
  • NIDA Directors' Plays 2004 Program A, NIDA Studio, Kensington, NSW, 1 December 2004
  • Speedy Mustard, Stables Theatre, Darlinghurst, NSW, 25 April 2006
  • Three Little Fears, Old Fitzroy Hotel Theatre, Woolloomooloo, NSW, 9 July 2006
  • Double Exposure, Belvoir Street Downstairs Theatre, Surry Hills, NSW, 5 January 2010

Assistant Director

  • Stuff Happens, York Theatre, Chippendale, NSW, 21 July 2005; Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, VIC, 24 August 2005






  1. ^ "An interview with Tommy Murphy" (PDF). Belvoir Theatre. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "Alumni in focus : Tommy Murphy 22 May 2015?". University of Sydney. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  3. ^ Queanbeyan's own Tommy Murphy sees his drama series Significant Others start this weekend on ABC TV Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  4. ^ a b c "Tommy Murphy [profile]". Australian Plays org. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  5. ^ Saltz, Rachel (7 October 2013). "A Magical, Flying Visit From a Magical, Flying Boy 7 Oct 2013". New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Holding the Man". IMDb. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "Tommy Murphy". Australian Theatre for Young People. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Ingle Knight and Tommy Murphy Win the 2012 Richard Burton Award for Playwriting". AWG. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Winners of Richard Burton Award for Playwriting 2012 Announced 31 October 2012". Black Swan. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  10. ^ "School of Communication and Arts - The University of Queensland, Australia". April 2016. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Patrick White Playwrights' Award and Fellowship". Sydney Theatre Company. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Tommy Murphy chosen as Sydney Theatre Company's new Patrick White Fellow". Sydney Morning Herald. 23 May 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  13. ^ "New Australian drama Significant Others coming to ABC in 2022". About the ABC. 26 November 2021. Archived from the original on 26 November 2021. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  14. ^ Doherty, Megan (14 October 2022). "'Grief motivates you': Queanbeyan writer's significant next step". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  15. ^ "Congratulations to our 2022 AWGIE Winners!". Cameron's. Retrieved 4 December 2022.
  16. ^ "Tommy Murphy". AusStage. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  17. ^ Buckmaster, Luke (17 October 2022). "Significant Others review – ABC drama is a class act from beginning to end". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  18. ^ a b "Murphy's lore 11 February 2005". Sydney Morning Herald. 11 February 2005. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  19. ^ "NSW Premier's Literary Awards 2006 winners 24 May 2006". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Sydney Theatre Awards 2006". Sydney Theatre Awards. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  21. ^ "Sydney Theatre Awards 2005". Sydney Theatre Awards. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  22. ^ "Australian Writers' Guild Awards 2006". Australian Writers' Guild. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  23. ^ "2007 NSW Premier's Literary Awards 30 May 2007". Sydney Morning Herald. 30 May 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  24. ^ "AWGIE Stage Awards Past Winners". Australia Plays org. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  25. ^ "Philip Parsons Young Playwrights Award 2007". Australian Plays org. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  26. ^ "Best Play Nominees 2007". Helpmann Awards. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  27. ^ "Graffiti goes 3D 16 March 2013". Financial Review. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  28. ^ "Western Australian Premier's Book Awards - 2010 Winners". State Library of Western Australia. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  29. ^ "NSW Premier's Literary Awards 2021 shortlists announced". Books+Publishing. 24 March 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)