by Katherine Thomson
On the Wednesday before Easter, 1998, a few hundred metres away from the site of the new Sydney Theatre, one of the most dramatic events in recent Australian history took place. It was the culmination of a tightly planned scheme between the Federal Government and a stevedoring company. An attempt to smash the Maritime Union of Australia — the wharfies.
This play is set against the backdrop of this explosive industrial dispute. Sandy – a retired wharfie – comes home after a six year absence to find his family divided. His kids have moved on — and up. They're on opposite sides of the political divide. His wife doesn't want to be in the same room as him.
The world has changed, and it seems he no longer has a place in it. But he's a battler, with a burning desire to unite his family and set the past to rights. A past full of explosive secrets that threaten to blow them apart forever.
Katherine Thomson began her career in the theatre as an actor working with Sidetrack, Sydney Theatre Company and Theatre South. Her first play, A Change in the Weather, was presented at the 1982 Women and Arts Festival. Later, under commission from Des Davis at Theatre South she wrote Tonight We Anchor in Twofold Bay, which premiered in Eden played a season at STC's Wharf Studio and toured the South Coast. From there, Katherine’s writing career never looked back.
In 1987 she wrote A Sporting Chance for State Theatre Company of South Australia and then Darlinghurst Nights – a musical play based on the light verse of Kenneth Slessor and written with composer Max Lambert which opened Sydney Theatre Company’s season in 1988 and was broadcast on ABC's Radio National.
Katherine’s other theatre credits include : Diving for Pearls (premiered at Melbourne Theatre Company 1991), Barmaids (premiered at Deckchair Theatre 1991), Fragments of Hong Kong (1995), Navigating (premiered at Queensland Theatre Company and MTC 1997 and played at STC 1998), This Hospital is My Country and Mavis Goes to Timor (for Deckchair Theatre in 1999 and 2002 respectively – the latter toured through regional Australia in 2003).
In 2001, as part of their Borderline project, Griffin Theatre Company commissioned Katherine to write Kayak. More recently her commissions have included Wonderlands for Hot House Theatre and Griffin Theatre and Harbour for Sydney Theatre Company to open the new Sydney Theatre in January 2004.
Katherine's extensive television screenwriting credits include Blackjack, Young Lions, All Saints, McLeods Daughters, Wildside, Grass Roots, Halifax fp, Fallen Angels, Snowy and GP. She is the Australian co-writer of Answered By Fire a two part series in production for Beyond Simpson Le Mesurier, the ABC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She is the writer of the Becker Entertainment/Film Australia feature documentary A Colourful Life based on the life of Florence Broadhurst, directed by Gillian Armstrong.
Katherine’s many industry awards include the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Diving for Pearls; five nominations for the NSW Literary Awards for Wonderlands, Diving for Pearls, Barmaids, This Hospital is My Country and GP (Close to Her Chest); a nomination for the 2002 WA Premier’s Book Award for Best Script for Mavis Goes to Timor; Australian Writers' Guild Awards (AWGIE) for Barmaids and Mavis Goes to Timor; an AWGIE for Best Single Script in a Series for GP (Shaking Hands with Time); and a 2002 AFI nomination for Halifax fp (Cradle and All).
Katherine received the 2003 Rodney Seaborn Playwrights’ Award for Wonderlands. For her play Harbour, she received the 2005 NSW Premier’s Literary Award and was named a finalist for the internationally prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.