He was drama captain of St Ignatius' College, Riverview in 1964, where, like Gerard Windsor and Justin Fleming, he was taught by Melvyn Morrow. At that school, he won the 1sts Debating Premiership in both 1966 and 1967.
During 1971 and 1972 Enright was a member of Sydney's Genesian Theatre, performing in A Doll's House and Uncle Vanya, and directing London Assurance. Enright received a pass BA from Sydney University in 1972, having decided not to proceed to an honours degree as might have been expected of one so formidably intelligent. He worked as a gofer for Sydney's Nimrod Theatre before being appointed a trainee director at the Melbourne Theatre Company. He won an Australia Council Fellowship to study directing at New York University, graduating in 1977. On his return to Australia, he joined the State Theatre Company of South Australia as actor and director, later becoming Associate Director. He was Head of Acting at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) during the 1980s.
He was encouraged to write plays while at NYU by one of his teachers, the playwright Israel Horovitz. His many plays include: Good Works, Daylight Saving, Mongrels (about the relation between Australian playwrights Jim McNeil and Peter Kenna, the latter a friend), The Female Factory, A Man with Five Children, On the Wallaby, and A Poor Student, many of them published by Currency Press. His plays - which include French and Italian translations and adaptations - have been performed by all major Australian theatre companies, including Sydney Theatre Company, Company B, the Australian Opera (as it then was), Melbourne Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company, State Theatre Company of South Australia, the Ensemble Theatre, Playbox, La Boite Theatre, and the Australian Theatre for Young People. His one-act theatre-in-education play A Property of the Clan was developed into the full-length play, and later film, Blackrock (1997). He wrote the book and lyrics to a number of musical works: three musicals with Terence Clarke - The Venetian Twins; Variations (Winner, NSW Premier's Literary Play Award, 1983); and Summer Rain (commissioned for a graduating class at NIDA) -, and others with Alan John (Orlando Rourke), David King (The Betrothed, The Voyage of Mary Bryant, The Good Fight), and Max Lambert (Miracle City); and an opera with Graham Dudley (The Snow Queen). He was co-nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay of Lorenzo's Oil (1992), co-written with its director George Miller. His many other awards include those from the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards (1998 Individual Winner), the Australian Writers Guild, the Helpmann Awards, the Green Room Awards, and others.
He wrote the book of the original version of The Boy from Oz, which was produced by Ben Gannon with great success around Australia, and, after his death, in New York. His adaptation, with Justin Monjo, of Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton, enjoyed huge critical and box-office success at the Festivals of Sydney and Perth (whose co-production it was), on tour of Australia, at the Festival of Dublin, and in London. He wrote for ABC Radio, including Watching over Israel (1990 AWGIE winner, Best Radio Play). His non-dramatic work includes a book for children, The Maitland and Morpeth String Quartet (illustrated by Victoria Roberts), a set of verses for The Carnival of the Animals, and occasional verse. He edited Holding the Man, a memoir by his former NIDA student, Timothy Conigrave, and, following Conigrave's death, saw it to publication by Penguin Books.
Although Enright was born to a prosperous East Maitland professional family - it was expected that he would follow the law - his plays deal sympathetically and insightfully with mainly lower-class Australians. Two exceptions concern his time at Riverview: S. James Infirmary Blues (he subsequently dropped 'Blues' from the title), and a moving teleplay for the ABC; in addition, his unproduced and unpublished play, Harper's Hill, which deserves to be seen, deals with the sort of prosperous Hunter Valley people among whom he was raised, though significantly distanced by time (the play is set in the early 20th Century). He had a great ease with, and love of, words, which made him an outstanding lyricist - a talent he tended to deprecate. If he is to be ranked with the best Australian playwrights, there is no doubt that the comparison concerning Enright the lyricist must be international. He was a master of the craft of lyric-writing, and raised it to an art higher than any of his countrymen has.
Enright died of cancer on 30 March 2003, at age 52. He had been appointed an Adjunct Professor in the School of Drama at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts; after his death, one of his former WAAPA students, Eddie Perfect, wrote an elegaic song about him ('Someone like that'). In June 2004 he was posthumously made a Member of the Order of Australia for 'service to the performing arts, particularly as a playwright, teacher, actor, director, and as a mentor of emerging talent'.
Nick Enright: An Actor's Playwright by Anne Pender & Susan Lever
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Rodopi (September 30, 2008)
Amazon: Nick Enright: An Actor's Playwright
Nick Enright (1950-2003) was one of Australia's most significant and successful playwrights. As a writer, director, actor and teacher he influenced theatre in Australia for thirty years. Enright wrote more than fifty plays for the stage, film, television and radio, translated and adapted more, and taught acting to students in varied settings, both in Australia and the United States. His writing repertoire included comedy, social realism, farce, fantasy and the musical. In addition to his prodigious contribution to all of these genres, he was a passionate advocate for the actor and the theatre in contemporary society. In this volume Anne Pender and Susan Lever present a set of essays and recollections about Nick Enright's work for students, teachers and scholars. The book offers a comprehensive study of Enright's writing for theatre, film and television. Scholars, acting teachers and theatre directors have contributed to this work each illuminating an aspect of Enright's remarkable career. The discussions cover interpretations of Enright's scripts and productions, detailed analysis of his directing style, substantial background and analysis of his writing for musicals, as well as accounts of his specific approach to acting and to adaptation across genres. The essays and recollections included in this book will inspire theatre practitioners as well as scholars. Most importantly, this book will inform and enlighten students and teachers both at high school and university about an exceptional career in the theatre.
Holding the Man by Timothy Conigrave and adapted by Tommy Murphy
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Nick Hern Books (February 22, 2011)
Amazon: Holding the Man
When Timothy Conigrave falls in love with the captain of the football team, John Caleo, at their Catholic all-boys school in Melbourne, the two embark on a passionate journey of love, betrayal and forgiveness. This bestselling true story is at once sexy, romantic, funny and sad - a masterpiece of authentic emotion that you won't forget.
Now an international hit play by Tommy Murphy (who also wrote the Afterword for the US and Canadian book edition) the stage adaption makes its North American premier at San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre Center on September 21, 2007, proving that Holding the Man is a book for all readers, for all generations.
More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics
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