Van Badham

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Van Badham
Van Badham raising one arm at a Melbourne protest
Van Badham at a 2014 march in Melbourne
Born1974 (age 49–50)
Occupation(s)Writer and social commentator
Years active2002–present[1]

Vanessa "Van" Badham (born 1974) is an Australian writer and activist. A playwright and novelist, she writes dramas and comedies. She is a regular columnist for the Guardian Australia website.

Early life[edit]

Badham was born in Sydney in 1974.[2] Her parents worked in the New South Wales gaming and track industry, with her father eventually working as a manager in the registered club industry.[3]

She studied creative writing and performance at the University of Wollongong,[1] graduating with Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours) degrees.[4] At university, Badham won the Philip Larkin Poetry Prize in 1997, and the Des Davis Drama Prize and Comedy Prize in 2000.[5] In 2001, she went on an exchange with the University of Sheffield in the UK to study English literature.[6]

At the University of Wollongong, she was drawn into involvement with student politics and left-wing activism,[6] and she was elected editor of the Student Representative Council newspaper, Tertangala. She worked with the Student Union as Media Officer and Women's Officer, and sat on the Academic Senate and University Internationalisation Committee.[7] By 1998, Badham was an avowed anarchist[8] and Small and Regional Campuses Officer and then President of the New South Wales branch of the National Union of Students, caucusing with radical group Non Aligned Left. In 2013, she completed a Master of Arts degree with First Class Honours in Theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.

Writing career[edit]

In 1999, Badham won the Naked Theatre Company's first "Write Now!" play competition and with it a production of her winning play, The Wilderness of Mirrors, at the Sydney Theatre Company's Wharf studio. About secret service infiltration of an activist organisation, the play brought her to public attention and she began to stage more work across Australia.[9] In 2001, she relocated to the United Kingdom.

In the UK, Badham's work was discovered by the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, who staged a collaborative production of Kitchen with Nabokov Theatre in 2001. A play about marriage as a metaphor for capitalism, it then toured to the 2002 Edinburgh Festival Fringe,[10] A 2003 play, Camarilla, was a critical success at the 2003 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, cementing Badham's international reputation as a proponent of radical political theatre.[11] In Australia, her plays have had mainstage seasons at Griffin Theatre,[12] Malthouse Theatre,[13] The Sydney Theatre Company[14] and Black Swan State Theatre Company.[15]

Badham was appointed Literary Manager of London's Finborough Theatre in 2009 and worked there until relocating to Melbourne to become an artistic associate at the Malthouse Theatre from 2011 to 2013.[16][17] Awards for her theatre work include the 2005 Queensland Premier's Literary Award for Black Hands / Dead Section,[18] the 2014 New South Wales Premier's Literary Award for Muff[19][20] and the 2014 Western Australian Premier's Book Awards for The Bull, the Moon and the Coronet of Stars.[21]

In 2009, it was announced that Badham had been signed for a three-book deal by Pan Macmillan Australia.[22] Her first book, Burnt Snow, was released in September 2010. In November 2021 she released her debut non-fiction book with Australian independent publisher Hardie Grant Books, Qanon and On.[23]

Media career[edit]

In 2013, Badham began publishing political commentary and arts criticism for the Guardian Australia website.[24] Her commentary has also appeared in publications The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Irish Times, Der Freitag, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Women's Agenda, Australian Cosmopolitan and Daily Life. As a commentator, she has been a guest of The Drum on ABC Television, Politics HQ on Sky News Australia, Radio National, Sunrise and The Project and in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 was a panellist on the ABC's Q&A programme.[25] Additionally, she has been a featured speaker at the Wheeler Centre, Festival of Dangerous Ideas, All About Women festival, Melbourne Writers Festival and Australian Council of Trade Unions National Congress.

Badham is also an ambassador for the National Secular Lobby.[26]


  1. ^ a b Thompson, Angela (11 September 2013). "Creative arts a degree that will get you a job". Illawarra Mercury. Archived from the original on 18 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Van Badham: (author/organisation) Facebook page". Facebook. 1 December 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  3. ^ Badham, Van (8 August 2013). "Would a bigger tax on cigarettes have saved my father's life?". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2022.
  4. ^ "Arts graduates recognised as women of influence – News & Media @ UOW". 24 September 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Van Badham – Alumni @ UOW". 19 August 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b Huntsdale, Justin (24 August 2015). "How student activism has helped shape the good life – ABC Illawarra NSW – Australian Broadcasting Corporation". Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  7. ^ "UOW student publication the Tertangala celebrates 50 years – News & Media @ UOW". 26 October 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  8. ^ William Verity (14 April 2013). "The truth is out there in Van Badham's productions". Illawarra Mercury. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  9. ^ Rowan Cahill. "Workers Online : Review : 2001 – Issue 111 : Political Theatre". Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Kitchen by Van Badham | 2001 – 2002 – nabokov". 2 May 1997. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Camarilla by Van Badham | 2003 – nabokov". Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  12. ^ "REVIEW: The Bull, the Moon and the Coronet of Stars". 6 July 2013.
  13. ^ "The Bloody Chamber Trailer". 16 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Review: Spiky Feminist Romcom Crackles With Joy". 8 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Animal Farm in the age of Trump". 9 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Van Badham named Malthouse Associate Artist". 26 July 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  17. ^ Robert Reid Making the improbable inevitable: A history of the Malthouse Theatre. Reid, Robert. Australasian Drama Studies; Melbourne, Vic. (April 2012) 170–184.
  18. ^ "UOW News -Van's Black Hands receive prestigious liter". 13 October 2005. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  19. ^ Hayward, Tory (21 May 2014). "The 2014 NSW Premier's Literary Awards |". Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  20. ^ "UOW graduate wins 2014 NSW Premier's Literary Award – News & Media @ UOW". Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  21. ^ "WA Premier's Book Awards 2014 winners announced | Books+Publishing". 23 September 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  22. ^ "PhD student lands amazing book deal – News & Media @ UOW". 21 May 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  23. ^ Badham, Van (2022). Qanon and on : a short and shocking history of internet conspiracy cults. Melbourne. ISBN 978-1-74379-787-7. OCLC 1285976834.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  24. ^ "Van Badham". The Guardian. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  25. ^ Renai LeMay (29 April 2014). "ABC actively censors NBN issue on Q&A". Delimiter. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  26. ^ "Our Ambassadors – Van Badham". National Secular Lobby. Retrieved 26 July 2021.

External links[edit]