News updates

June 2016


Teaching Resources

Previews begin for this new play adapted from the novel by Tony Davis on 4 June. Resources are being created for teachers including these two:

-What to expect before you bring your students to the play

-Post-show notes for teachers

teacher_notes_1    teacher_notes_2



May 2016


High school students are recommended to read Tony Davis’ haunting novel The Big Dry which is on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge list, then come along to Ensemble Theatre in Kirribilli between 4 June and 2 July to see the stage adaption so they can see and hear the characters brought to life in a 75-minute fully professional production.

Adapted for the stage by Ensemble Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry and directed by Australian Theatre for Young People’s Artistic Director, Fraser Corfield,  The Big Dry contains great themes for discussion for upper primary and secondary school students including survival, separation from family, food security, climate change, foreign aid, isolation, hope and grief.  Take your students back to the classroom after seeing the show and discuss the differences between reading the book and seeing the play live on stage.

Tickets are just $25 for school students with one teacher free (per 10 students).

Or if students want to attend an evening performance, tickets are $32 for a full-time student.

Big Dry Hi Res Image for VIVID


Heat. Drought. Dust. Storms. More people missing every day. The city turning into a ghost town. A world where parents have become a thing of the past, like rain. Food and water have become scarce. Two young boys, George and his younger brother Beeper huddle together in a ragged house waiting for their dad to come home while dust blasters rage outside. Any adults they meet are powerless, struggling or brutal and harsh. They meet a young girl Emily, who becomes their protector and provider.  Set in a post-apocalyptic world in a landscape that is barren, vast and scary.


Download teacher notes here:


On his inspiration for writing the novel, author Tony Davis says “A few years ago I went through a stage of reading everything I could find on the American Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. It was an era of extraordinary drought, dust storms and hardship which caused hundreds of thousands to leave their homes. A simple question stuck with me for a long time: what would happen if the same conditions returned to a modern Western city?  Parallel to that I had planned to write a story about one sibling trying to protect a younger brother or sister against all the odds. Maybe it would be in a civil war, maybe in a time of great poverty…as I started to develop these characters I realised a modern dust bowl could be the perfect backdrop. My characters would not be among those who fled but those left behind. As the novel developed I would see how they changed and found their strengths in these appalling conditions.

Mark Kilmurry says “I read Tony Davis’s exciting book, The Big Dry, in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. The idea of our children surviving the future in a crumbling world was at once shocking and compelling.   ATYP’s Fraser Corfield and I had talked about doing a stage project together for a few years and when I pitched the idea of adapting Tony’s book for the stage he said, ‘That’s it!’   We are very pleased to be  bringing this funny, moving and exciting vision to the stage.”



11am Wednesday 8 June

11am Tuesday 14 June

11am Thursday 16 June

11am Wednesday 22 June

11am Friday 24 June

11am Friday 1 July



FOR BOOKINGS: phone the box office on (02) 9929 0644 or


Reader reviews: 

“A younger version of McCarthy’s The Road

“Oppressive but with a note of hope”

“Futuristic but entirely imaginable”

“Harrowing and haunting”


Reviews for the novel:  

“A cracking yarn.”

The Daily Telegraph

“Dystopian fiction at its very best … intermediate and high school students will devour this novel.”

Bob Docherty: Childrens and Young Adult Book Reviews

“A tale of survival, tenacity and hope.”

The Sun-Herald

“Exciting and evocative … fast-paced, thought-provoking … recommended.”  


“A haunting and exquisitely written story that will leave readers wondering if this could be our future.”

 Kid’s Book Review


Reviews for Mark Kilmurry’s adaptions:

“Mark Kilmurry has adapted a charming, perceptive comedy…funny, truthful, poignantly moving…surprisingly resonant.”

Stagenoise (for You Talkin’ To Me, Diary of an Olympic Cabbie)


Tony Davis, based in Sydney, Australia, is the author of several books for children including the Roland Wright, Future Knight series. He has also written the eccentric literary memoir F. Scott, Ernest and Me and the best-selling Lemon! Sixty Heroic Failures of Motoring. His journalism about popular culture, travel, history, music and motoring appears regularly in newspapers and magazines.


Mark Kilmurry’s recent adaptations are:  What A Piece Of Work, from the novel by Dorothy Porter (Griffin Theatre); Hammerklavier by Yasmina Reza (Griffin Theatre/Susie Parker Productions) Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Studio Co/Riverside Theatres and Ensemble theatre (co-adapted with John Trutwin); You Talking To me –Diary Of An Olympic Cabbie from the novel by Anthony Sharwood (Ensemble Theatre); King Lear by William Shakespeare, Studio Co/Riverside Theatres, (co- adapted with John Trutwin) Casanova adapted from the BBC television script by Russell T Davis (Ensemble theatre); Richard The Third, William Shakespeare (co-adapted with Patrick Dickson), Ensemble Theatre, The Big Dry by Tony Davis.


Original Plays include: One Shot (Belvoir St/Edinburgh Festival/STC/Santa Fe); will the real James Dean Please Stand Up? (Santa Fe Festival/STC) John Wayne Never Slept Here (Santa Fe Festival; )Happy As Larry & Viv (Belvoir St/Susie Parker productions) Mercy Thieves (Darlinghurst, Old Fitz/Studio Co/off Broadway (Outhouse Theatre Company); The Light Comes Up (ABC Radio); The Mime Artist’s Wife (ABC Radio): The Cow Jumped Over The Moon (Ensemble); We’re Going On A Bear Hunt (with Anna Crawford).