Welcome to Griffin

Griffin Theatre Company is Australia’s new writing theatre. In residence at Sydney’s historic SBW Stables Theatre, we lead the country in developing and producing great Australian stories, and are dedicated to supporting Australian artists.

  • Grab a ticket – Audience decides at The Lysicrates Prize

    Join us for the second annual Lysicrates Prize - a staged reading of the first act of three brand new Australian plays. Tickets are free, you just need to register.


    Grab a glass of bubbles, watch the readings and to vote for your favourite play on 29 January 2016 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Last year’s winner was Steve Rodgers, and Justin Fleming’s The Literati (our 2016 co-pro with Bell Shakespeare) was a finalist. It’s your chance to see the next big thing in theatre. Get tickets here.



    Tickets to Ladies Day are now on sale, as we celebrate the launch of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras program!


    Ladies Day playwright, Alana Valentine spent months interviewing the GLBTQI community of Broome to create a play that asks questions about tolerance, isolation, love, hope and the right to have your story told.


    To see the world premiere this February purchase tickets now from $35 – $55 or as part of a 2016 subscription.


  • In conversation with Lee Lewis

    Want to learn a little more about our 2016 season? Ever wondered about the artistic rationale of stories that premiere on the Stables stage? We sat down with Lee Lewis, our Artistic Director, and talked about “the somewhat mysterious process” and the search to find “a hopeful voice” that, through Griffin, may become an ”important document of our time”. If you’re thinking about buying a subscription but would like to hear a little more then watch this video


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17 November 4:00 pm

A Riff On Keef: The Human Myth – The Writing Process (AKA The Author Talking about Himself into Siri at 5am)

My pieces, for what it’s worth, are about finding the voice. Structurally they’re very simple, archetypal journeys that have been used in mythology and other storytelling for generations. The complexity is in the imagery, which grows out of voice. It all grows out of voice. Did I mention voice?

I create the character by discovering their voice, and then I let the character create the imagery for me, to write the song, tell the story. As Keef would say –

“It’s wrong in all the right ways, by far the laziest solution, very Jimmy Reed and all.”

A Riff On Keef: The Human Myth grew that way, like some wild sinsemilla weed in the back of my subconscious. In 2011 I read the autobiography ‘Life’, then with that voice fresh in my head I wrote a parody-synopsis of it, a piss-take, called One Day In The Life of Keef: The Human Riff. I then developed this into a 15-minute monologue that was eventually performed at a Griffringe showcase in 2012 (directed by Regina Botros and starring Andrew Henry). Sam Strong, then Artistic Director of Griffin, asked if I had a full-length version of it. I lied and said, Yes. Then I went home and wrote it (well, via the Kings Cross Hotel.) Then, after dramaturgical advice from several quarters, Lucinda Gleeson and I redrafted and redrafted and eventually successfully pitched it to Griffin Independent. Then you bought stacks of tickets and loved it (at least that’s the plan.)

I should mention that it’s the third in a trilogy of plays written by myself and directed by Lucinda. The first (written in much the same way) was The Chronic Ills of Robert Zimmerman, AKA Bob Dylan (A Lie). The next (adapted from a book by Damian Kringas) was Lenny Bruce: 13 Daze Un-Dug In Sydney 1962. A Riff On Keef: The Human Myth is the third. It has the shortest title. But what does it mean as a trilogy? You could say if Bob was God, and Lenny was Man, then Keef is the Devil. Or you could say Bob was poetry, Lenny was comedy, and finally Keef is music. Or you could just say they came out that way, like a baby with an extra limb, but back to this show.

There are things trainspotters will find missing, misconstrued, or just plain untrue. Good. You might say, Brian did this, or, Where is Mick Taylor? etc. Let me be clear, this is not a biography, this is not a telemovie, this is not the truth, this is mythology – the realm of subconscious imagery related to conscious fact, but not it. This is not so much ‘Walk The Line’ as it is ‘the Rutles’. This is the ‘feel’ of the truth, which you only get by fucking with it. It’s not rock solid, it rolls. It swings in the wind. But it is all based on something real, sort of… Did I mention voice? And feel…

To put it bluntly, this is not a biography of the Rolling Stones, or even Keith Richards, this is a mythical character – Keef. A fiction created by a combination of my subconscious and my readings on the real thing. It’s a riff on the idea of this ancient creature. A comic riff, a mythical riff, and hopefully a musical riff. Poetry is a form of music, and theatre was originally a form of epic poetry, of storytelling. Tall-story telling in this case, and the fine Australian tradition of taking the piss.

So Keef, the mythical Keef, wrote this story, not Benito Di Fonzo (whatever he is). I (Di Fonzo) don’t necessarily agree with the route he took, but you have to trust the song knows where it’s going, like a wino’s pony. Do you know about that? In the olden days, you could get as hammered as you liked on mead and fermented yak turds, then just stumble onto your pony and kip out – the pony knew the way home, and he or she was usually sober. The point being, please address all correspondence and complaints to ‘Keef’. Not that he’ll read it…

Experiencing these shows to their full potential is like the process of learning an instrument or art form – you learn all the rules, the facts, the accepted myths, and then you immediately ignore them, ideally forget them (in a conscious sense) completely. But you have to know the rules before you can try and forget them. Not that you need to know anything about Keef to enjoy this. That would be for ‘fans only’, and hence pointless. But if you do know, there’s things you’ll pick, and that will annoy you. Does that make sense? Probably not. Good.

Anyway, here’s a few things folks might want to listen to get an idea of Keef’s voice and feel outside of the more mainstream Rolling Stones setting.

Here’s Keef’s solo LPs – https://open.spotify.com/artist/08avsqaGIlK2x3i2Cu7rKH

Here are his band with Ronnie Wood, The First Barbarians https://open.spotify.com/album/2iRk2fmDtg8gUvowUxjc1u

and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-IpB_SDC3U

later they reformed as The New Barbarians – https://open.spotify.com/artist/4fhMKdCS2MroK5nDwE5x0J

This is the group Keef produces and jams with in Jamaica, The Wingless Angels – https://open.spotify.com/artist/1MvVxXTg0OiFfB10exIbzh

And speaking of Keef in Jamaica, here he is with Toots & The Maytals –

It’s the B-side to his infamous first single, a cover of Chuck Berry’s Run Rudolph Run -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDMDMLF2j1A

Dig some Howlin’ Wolf while you’re at it – https://open.spotify.com/artist/0Wxy5Qka8BN9crcFkiAxSR

Actually, speaking of musical influences, which we attempt to echo in the show, here’s a playlist of songs covered by the Stones (some of which many think are Stones originals) – https://play.spotify.com/album/2z7qnFscqLydd8kZu6r4K6

Here’s hoping you enjoy the show/riff/gig, and thanks in advance for buying tickets for all your friends and relatives…

3:35 pm

A Message from Lee 18 November

A Rabbit For Kim Jong-il asks the question ‘is it possible to forgive great crimes?’ And if it is not, ‘how then can we live?’ Sitting in the matinee on Saturday as details of the attacks in Paris were flooding news sources, forgiveness felt further away than ever, and ever more necessary.

The season at the Stables finishes this Saturday and we move out to Riverside Theatres, Parramatta for a week. So Kit Brookman’s text will be clanging around in my head as, like everyone else, I digest the reportings of actions and reactions around the world. The words of a fictional world are wrapping themselves around the words of a real world. The power of writers, be they playwright or journalist to shape our stories, to provoke our politics, to analyse our past and imagine our futures, to record ideas, is never more apparent than in weeks like these, and yes, there are far too many weeks like these. Aftermath weeks.

As I hear President Hollande declare “France is at war” I also hear Mark Twain’s voice “History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.” Now I know Twain is not an Australian writer, but the quote came across my desk last week on the cover of a play by a young Australian playwright trying to write about Afghanistan. I want you to know that I am reading the works of so many playwrights wrestling with the big questions of our times. Our playwriting community faces the hardest of all challenges – to understand the world we live in now and transmit that understanding to us in a story that can be told on a stage.

I want you to know that playwrights are not avoiding the times we are in, but that the process of reflecting our times is hard and long – I am receiving ideas, I am reading drafts, I am hearing readings, there are workshops happening. The plays will come to the stage when they are ready. When we talk about developing plays that is the process we are referring to. Thank you for all your responses to our season of plays this year – your responses are part of the process of forming the next season and the season after that. From Caress/Ache, to The House on the Lake, to The Bleeding Tree, to A Rabbit for Kim Jong-il, 2015 has been a great conversation between Australian playwrights and the audience they are speaking to – you.  If forgiveness seems impossible this week, hope does not, as long as this conversation continues.

Love Lee

4 November 12:15 pm

A message from Lee 4 November

There is a jacaranda at the end of my street that tells me it is November.

(Our 2016 season brochure is jacaranda purple – coincidence)

The window in the foyer is making such a huge difference. From my office window last night, I saw  people in the foyer happily having a drink after A Rabbit For Kim Jong-il. Wandering over and joining their conversation, I heard the play provoking big questions about forgiveness, generosity, acceptance of difference and the complexities of your own ambitions in raising children.

I was in the office late because I am working on our application to the Australia Council for 4 year funding. We face a massive cut to our core funding and are trying to figure out how to keep Griffin functioning as successfully as it has been in the last few years without the resources to do it. With five brand new works on the Griffin mainstage next year, we are producing more new Australian plays than any other company in the country. The opportunities for playwrights to have their work produced are so rare that the thought of dropping back to four or three plays in 2017 is devastating for our national new play company.

It is not only about the stories that will not be told, it is about the conversations that will not be provoked by our playwright philosophers who nudge/push/cudgel us into thinking more deeply about who we are and who we want to be. Conversations like the one in the foyer last night.

The project of Griffin is so much bigger than just making plays which is why so many people have supported the company over the years. It is why we will survive. We will think outside all of the boxes so that we can continue to be a home for Australian stories, for uniquely Australian conversations.

As you race through all the work of November, take a look at our jacaranda 2016 brochure. It’s your theatre, the plays are about you and for you. See which conversations you would like to be a part of. Bring friends.

Love Lee


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