The work of David Williamson, Australia’s best-known playwright, has encompassed more than 30 plays and numerous film and television productions. Williamson gained a Bachelor of Engineering in 1965 but discovered his true vocation while preparing sketches for student revues at Monash University. He began writing and performing plays with Betty Burstall’s La Mama Theatre Company in Melbourne in 1968, his screenwriting credits beginning with a loose adaptation of his early play The Coming of Stork for Tim Burstall (in 1971), for whom he also prepared the original screenplay of Petersen (1974). The Removalists (1975) and Don’s Party (1976) consolidated his reputation as a major playwright, and his collaborations with film directors Peter Weir (Gallipoli, 1981; The Year of Living Dangerously, 1982), Bruce Beresford (Don’s Party; The Club, 1980), and Simon Wincer (Phar Lap, 1983) enhanced his status as a screenwriter of note as well. Williamson has won four AFI Awards and the Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE Award 11 times. He has received honorary doctorates of Literature from the University of Sydney (1988), Monash University (1990), Swinburne University of Technology (1998), and the University of Queensland (2004). Explore some of David’s work further on australianscreen.
In the following clip from his interview, recorded on 6 December 2011, David Williamson describes his first love as a writer as the way people use language, and how writing for film as a predominantly visual medium can be more confining than writing for the stage, with most film directors determined to put their own stamp on well written scripts.
David Williamson interviewed by Susan Lever (NFSA: 1037155)
A longer segment from this interview can also be viewed on the NFSA YouTube channel. In this segment, David Williamson reveals how local writers were on a mission in the late 1960s and 1970s to put Australian stories on the stage and screen, and how he enjoyed the opportunity to work on scripts for such iconic films as Gallipoli (1981), The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), and Phar Lap (1983).