Eleven years after coming to power, John Howard suddenly notices a crisis in Aboriginal health...

ALISON: Howard’s-

HAMISH: I heard.

ALISON: And you’re not outraged?!

HAMISH: Sounded quite sensible to me. Sit everyone down, point out we’re worried about the kids, warn of the dangers, offer some advice-

ALISON: You know it’s not that kind of intervention!

About the Play


Lines in the Sand looks at the difficulties and complexities of some Indigenous/ non-Indigenous working partnerships. Having spent much time in my own working relationships and in listening to (mostly well-intentioned) people at conferences, in seminars and in private discussions, I realised there were a number of themes and ideals surrounding such working partnerships which were contemporary, thought provoking and often challenging. In short, they were ideal for dramatic exploration. As such, the play is a literary amalgam, an attempt to create entertainment and insight from an often contentious and emotionally-charged cultural landscape.


Hamish: an economist working in a university, early 40s.

Alison: his wife, undertaking a Master’s degree, late 30s.

Gail: ex-student and current assistant of Hamish, identifies as Aboriginal, early 20s.

Barney: artist, identifies as Aboriginal, early 50s.


Ninety minutes, one interval.

Production History

Lines in the Sand was selected for a Merrigong Theatre Company development initiative.

Lines in the Sand had a rehearsed reading at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre on Saturday 31 May as part of the Merrigong Mix Rough New Works in Progress program. (See pictures below.)

Lines in the Sand was shortlisted for the 2008 Griffin Award.

Lines in the Sand was produced by ABC Radio National. I directed the play which featured a talented group of actors: Kylie Coolwell, Anni Finisterer, Billy McPherson and David Roberts. See the pictures below.

Lines in the Sand was broadcast on ABC Radio National on Sunday 1 November at 3pm, repeated on Thursday 5 November at 7pm.


Congratulations on the shortlisting of Lines in the Sand for the 2008 Griffin Award.

Readers at all stages of the judging process admired your play as an interesting study on white guilt and black responsibility in modern Australia. Structurally it works as a comedy of manners presenting well-meaning people trying to do the right thing and more often than not getting it wrong. We were impressed by the avoidance of simple answers to complex and often emotional issues. The play sheds new light on familiar issues while refraining from overt didacticism.

As the play progresses the characters transcend their structural purpose, growing in depth and complexity as we see them fall on the sword of their own ideologies. We also admired your ability to silence your authorial voice to allow the audience to make up its own mind on the issues involved after considering the characters’ own divergent strongly held beliefs.

It was fantastic to see a playwright attempting to capture the indigenous/non indigenous relationship in Australia in an honest and real way, showing the faults of both sides. Your tactic of creating two characters (in Hamish and Alison) with a high level of audience identification, and then challenging their points of view and confronting the potential hypocrisy of their position – is strong and well executed. It’s rare and refreshing to find a play that is actually about something that is designed to challenge an audience’s preconceptions...

Christopher Hurrell
Literary Manager
Griffin Theatre Company


The full cast, from left to right: Simon Hapea, Laurie Foell, Andy James, Simon Hinton (director), Kylie Coolwell and Neisha Murphy (stage manager).

Kylie Coolwell, Neisha Murphy, Simon Hapea, Laurie Foell (obscured), Andy James and Simon Hinton

Simon Hapea, Laurie Foell and Andy James.

Simon Hinton, Kylie Coolwell and Neisha Murphy.

Simon Hapea at the IPAC Rehearsed Reading

Andy James at the IPAC Rehearsed Reading.

Andy James and Laurie Foell at the IPAC Rehearsed Reading.

Andy James, Laurie Foell and Kylie Coolwell at the IPAC Rehearsed Reading.

Laurie Foell, Kylie Coolwell, Andy James and Simon Hapea at the IPAC Rehearsed Reading.

Simon Hapea, Kylie Coolwell, Laurie Foell and Andy James at the IPAC Rehearsed Reading.

David Roberts

Billy McPherson

Anni Finsterer

Kylie Coolwell

Kylie Coolwell

Anni Finsterer

Billy McPherson

David Roberts

David Roberts, Anni Finsterer, Billy McPherson and Kylie Coolwell

Billy McPherson


Click the You Tube link below to view a 'Making Of' mini-documentary of the development process Lines in the Sand underwent before becoming a radio play.