Q&A: Playwright H Lawrence Sumner

Date posted: 20 Sep 2017Author: STC Production: 2018 Pre-season Briefings, The Long Forgotten Dream

H Lawrence Sumner

Australian playwright H Lawrence Sumner makes his STC debut with The Long Forgotten Dream. It's an extraordinary work, developed through STC's Rough Drafts program, and we caught up with him to find out more…


How was the STC Rough Drafts program important to you?

Development opportunities are important because they offer writers a collaborative, professional environment in which to fail and fail big. To question your own writing in a room full of people who aren’t afraid to give you an answer is such a luxury. If you are willing to allow ruthless advice from actors and the director in the room, it can end up being the moment of critical mass for your play. It's the ignition point. The strength of the Rough Drafts process is that it is facilitated by a literary manager/dramaturg who fights for the writing.

How does it feel to have Neil Armfield directing your show?

It’s in good hands. My favorite audience experience involved Neil and his direction of Steve Martin’s Picasso at The Lapin Agile. I feel flattered and honoured that both STC and Neil Armfield regard the piece so highly.

And Wayne Blair acting in it?

I was fairly stoked to receive a phone call from Wayne. I wrote the play imagining Wayne as the male lead. How surreal that this is now the case. Some of the extra grunt in the character came from Rough Drafts cast member Bruce Carter’s powerful voice. So my thanks go to Bruce as well.

Do you think enough is being done in the industry to bring diverse stories to the stage?

No. Not nearly enough. However, STC are making sure that diverse stories come from diverse voices. It’s one thing to write ‘about’ Aboriginal people. A totally different thing to include pieces by Aboriginal writers. With Kip Williams and the rest of STC there is a clear distinction between ‘speaking of’ and ‘speaking as’. Much love for that.

What do you hope audiences take away from your play?

This piece offers an opinion on our brokenness as a nation. It looks at who we are, where we came from and what we did to those who simply wanted to fall in love.

I want the audience to walk out with love and light in their hearts. 



The Long Forgotten Dream, 23 Jul – 25 Aug 2018, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House

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