Griffin Theatre Company on the Go – GTC and Carriageworks Present ‘swim’

by | Jun 19, 2024

Griffin Theatre Company will present one of Australia’s finest writers, Mununjali poet Ellen van Neerven’s (Throat, Heat and Light) debut work for the stage swim at Carriageworks from 10th – 27th July.

swim marks Griffin’s first production on the go while the Stables Theatre undergoes a major redevelopment, heralding an era of creative partnerships and opportunities for the company.

Sizzling hot concrete. Rainbow towels on half-dead grass. On a hot summer’s day, bodies of all shapes, colours and sizes journey to the public pool longing to do one thing…swim.

Genderfluid protagonist E negotiates the space between the men’s and women’s change rooms. They flex in front of the cute pool attendant wearing the funny shark socks and finally braves the exposing brightness of the public swimming pool. When they step onto the diving blocks, the words of their Aunty come to them and the crystalline blue tiles give way to much deeper water. As E sinks to the bottom and memories come flooding back, who and what will come to their rescue?

Delivered with cheek and heart by Baad/Yawuru performer Dani Sibosado (Bran Nue Dae) alongside Gumbaynggir performer and multi-award-winning actor Sandy Greenwood (Dogged, Belvoir’s At What Cost), van Neerven’s new work muses on everything from the sovereignty of water to gender identity and the binding strength of culture and family.

Griffin’s Associate Artistic Director and director of swim, Andrea James says, “Ellen’s play swim offers an antidote to the colonial clash of one of Australia’s most revered sites—the municipal swimming pool. A seemingly benign and enjoyable place that many Australians take for granted, can be a very dangerous place if you’re Blak—and that danger is multiplied ten-fold when you’re Blak and Gender Queer. Ellen’s exquisite poetry, deep thinking and fluid storytelling challenges this colonial battleground through an ultimate celebration of Blak Queer resilience and the most sacred of elements on country—water.”

Described by The Guardian as “one of the most important emerging writers in Australia…a prodigious talent”, van Neerven is the winner of several distinguished awards including the 2024 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non Fiction (Personal Score), three NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2021 including Book of the Year (Throat) and the 2016 Indigenous Writers Prize (Heat and Light). swim will be van Neerven’s first produced play.

Don your goggles and get ready to hit the fast lane. Don’t miss this honest and achingly beautiful play on Gadigal Land at Carriageworks before it floats along to Yugambeh Land (Gold Coast) for a season on Country at BLEACH* Festival followed by an exciting season with HotHouse Theatre.


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