by Beatrix Christian
Set in New South Wales’ Government House at the turn of the 20th Century, the Governor’s family functions as a metaphor for, or microcosm of, the incipient nation. The emerging federation of Australia is in danger of sabotage by the secrets buried within its political system, as well as the pressure of political contradiction tearing at it from the outside. The play revolves around the enigmatic members of the Governor’s family: the Governor, his Aboriginal maid and his repressed Hapsburg wife. The Governor's Family tackles large political issues through individual conflicts in works which are on the edge of theatrical conventions, exploring worlds whose structures are becoming fractured and chaotic. The play is based on a case from 1887 when six men were hanged for the rape of an Aboriginal girl, on the word of the Governor of NSW who refused to exercise the Queen’s prerogative of mercy.
Beatrix Christian graduated from the NIDA playwright’s studio in 1991. Her first play Spumante Romantica had its premier production at Griffin Theatre Company in 1992. From there she became an Affiliate Writer and then Writer-in-Residence with the Sydney Theatre Company’s New Stages. Her second play Blue Murder was produced at Belvoir Street Theatre in 1994 and Eureka Theatre Company in 1996, and was winner of Best New Play (Sydney Theatre Critics Circle) and shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. The Governor’s Family premiered at Belvoir Street Theatre in 1997, and was selected as the one Australian play to be read at Teesri Duniya (Montreal) and nominated for an AWGIE and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. In 1998 Beatrix was awarded The ANPC/New Dramatists Award to travel to New York. Her comedy, Fred .was produced by STC, MTC, QTC and shortlisted for both the NSW and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. Her play Old Masters was produced by STC and won the 2002 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for drama. Other playwriting credits include Faust’s House, then the mountain comes, The Promised Land (Australian Museum); Mad, Bad & Spooky (Theatre of Image) and Ten Things Not To Do On A First Date (QTC). For the STC, Beatrix has adapted A Doll’s House (Ibsen) and Life Is A Dream (Calderon), and co-adapted (with Benedict Andrews) Chekhov’s Three Sisters.