Australia needs both common ground and a greater capacity for understanding difference right now, riven as the nation has been by division. In 2024, our theatres again become sites of pilgrimage where audiences can immerse themselves in acts of empathy.

Somehow, after pandemic lockouts, #MeToo and Black Lives Matter marches and the rejected Voice referendum, the opportunity to breathe the same air as performers and engage with complex human experience has never seemed more important, the alchemy of live storytelling and audience response a rich antidote to social media shouting and online disinformation. 

Our stages this year offer an array of feminist, Indigenous, migrant, queer and disability stories, and for those of us who believe that survival on a planet overheated with dogma and machismo lies with a female future, over half of these productions have women playwrights, adapters and/or directors at the helm. 

Black Swan State Theatre Company’s The Pool. Photo © Simon Westlake

Significantly, three of Australia’s main state theatre companies are under the artistic direction of women. At Queensland Theatre, Lee Lewis begins her season by directing Gaslight, for which Canadian adapters Patty Jamieson and Johnna Wright have infused Patrick...