Tommy Murphy (Australian playwright)

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Tommy Murphy
Born1979 (age 4142)
Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia
OccupationPlaywright and screen writer
Notable worksTroy's House, Holding the Man , Strangers in Between , Gwen in Purgatory and Mark Colvin's Kidney

Tommy Murphy (born 1979) is an Australian playwright, screenwriter, adaptor and director . He is best known for his stage and screen adaptation of Timothy Conigrave's memoir Holding the Man . His most recent plays are Mark Colvin's Kidney and Packer & Sons .


Early life

Murphy was born in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia, [1] the seventh of eight children [2] in a Catholic family. He is a graduate of the University of Sydney (BA 2004) [2] and of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Director's course). [3]


He was a resident writer at Griffin Theatre Company [3] 2004–06, for which he wrote Strangers in Between and Holding the Man . Both plays are published by Currency Press, in one volume. Strangers in Between won the national 2006 NSW Premier's Literary Award for Best Play, and Holding the Man won the same Award in 2007. Murphy is the youngest recipient of the award, and the only playwright to win in successive years. [3]

Holding the Man had an encore season at Griffin before transferring to Sydney Opera House, Belvoir, Melbourne Theatre Company and Brisbane's Powerhouse. It played London's West End from 23 April to 3 July 2010. Guy Edmonds and Matt Zeremes were joined by new cast members Jane Turner and Simon Burke. David Berthold directed and Brian Thomson designed. The Trafalgar Studios season was produced by Daniel Sparrow and Mike Walsh. The play has been produced every year since its premiere with new productions in San Francisco, Auckland, Adelaide and encore productions in Brisbane and Sydney. In 2014 the play was also mounted in Los Angeles by The Australian Theatre Company with Larry Moss directing; Nate Jones, Adam J. Yeend, Cameron Daddo, and Roxanne Wilson were cast for the production.

Saturn's Return was commissioned by Sydney Theatre Company co-artistic directors Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett for STC's Wharf 2 season 2008. In 2009 it transferred to the STC main stage. Saturn's Return is published by Currency Press.

Murphy's award-winning play, Gwen in Purgatory, was co-produced by Belvoir and La Boite Theatre and directed by Neil Armfield in 2010. The cast for this premiere production were Nathaniel Dean, Grant Dodwell, Sue Ingleton, Melissa Jaffer and Pacharo Mzembe. This play is also published by Currency Press.

He was writer-in-residence at Belvoir 2011–2012. His adaptation of Blood Wedding was commissioned for the London 2012 Olympiad [2] and his reworking of Peter Pan for Belvoir transferred to New York in 2013. [4]

After the multi-production international success of the stage play of Holding the Man, Murphy initiated the screen project. He partnered with executive producer Cameron Huang, producer Kylie Du Fresne of Goalpost Pictures, producers of The Sapphires and director Neil Armfield to see the film to fruition in 2015. It opened to strong domestic box office in Australia and is released globally via Netflix after an international cinema release. Murphy wrote the screenplay and worked as associate producer for the film. [5]

Murphy's screen credits include teleplays for Offspring , Spirited , and Matchbox's 2014 Foxtel mini-series Devil's Playground . [2]

Murphy is the recipient of a Centenary Medal and the British Council Realise Your Dream Award. [6] In 2007, he had the title of honorary associate conferred by the Faculty of Education & Social Work, University of Sydney. [6] He also sat on the board of directors of the Australian Theatre for Young People 2005–2010. [6]

Murphy was commissioned to write a play for Black Swan State Theatre Company as recipient (joint) of the Richard Burton Award 2012 which carried $15,000 prizemoney . [7] [8] He is also currently writing for Belvoir Theatre as well as developing a number of screen projects. Murphy is the 2016 University of Queensland Drama Creative Fellow. [9]

The Sydney Theatre Company has awarded Murphy the 2015 Patrick White Fellow worth $25.000. [10] The gives the playwright a commission and 12 months work at the company. Each year the fellowship is awarded to an established playwright and Murphy said of the fellowship that it, "offers a sense of belonging to a pursuit that is often solitary." [11]


Plays as listed on AusStage [12]




Assistant Director



Spirited (TV Series), Writer 1 episode) 2011

Offspring (TV Series), Writer 1 episode) 2012

Devil's Playground (TV Mini Series), Writer 2 episodes 2014

Holding the Man (Film), Screenplay 2015

Fighting Season, (TV Mini Series), (in post-production) writer 1 episode 2017.


Holding the Man (Film), Associate Producer 2015


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  2. 1 2 3 4 "Alumni in focus : Tommy Murphy 22 May 2015?". University of Sydney. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 "Tommy Murphy [profile]". Australian Plays org. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  4. "A Magical, Flying Visit From a Magical, Flying Boy 7 Oct 2013". New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  5. "Holding the Man". IMDb. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  6. 1 2 3 "Tommy Murphy". Australian Theatre for Young People. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  7. 1 2 "Ingle Knight and Tommy Murphy Win the 2012 Richard Burton Award for Playwriting". AWG. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  8. "Winners of Richard Burton Award for Playwriting 2012 Announced 31 October 2012". Black Swan. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  9. "School of Communication and Arts - The University of Queensland, Australia". Retrieved 24 April 2016.
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  21. "Best Play Nominees 2007". Helpmann Awards. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  22. "Graffiti goes 3D 16 March 2013". Financial Review. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
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  24. "NSW Premier's Literary Awards 2021 shortlists announced". Books+Publishing. 24 March 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2021.