Bovell, Andrew (John) 1962-

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BOVELL, Andrew (John) 1962-

PERSONAL: Born November 23, 1962, in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Australia; married Eugenia Fragos, 1988; children: two sons, one daughter. Education: University of Perth, B.A., 1983; Victorian College of the Arts, B.A. (dramatic arts), 1986.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Kate Richter, c/o Hilary Linstead and Associates, Level 18/Plaza II, 500 Oxford St., Bondi Junction, New South Wales 2022, Australia.

CAREER: Playwright and screenwriter. Writer-in-residence for Ensemble Theatre Project, 1986, Jigsaw Theatre Company, 1987, Melbourne Workers Theatre, 1987-88, and Melbourne Theatre Company, 1989-90.

AWARDS, HONORS: Gold Medal for Drama, 1997, for Distant Lights from Dark Places; AWGIE awards, Australian Writers' Guild, for Scenes from a Separation, Speaking in Tongues, Who's Afraid of the Working Class, Holy Day, and Lantana (film version of Speaking in Tongues); Lantana received multiple AWGIE awards across categories; Australian Film Institute awards, 1992, 1999, 2001, and 2002.



An Ocean out My Window, produced in Canberra, New South Wales, Australia, 1986.

State of Defence, produced in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1987.

Ship of Fools, produced in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1987.

The Ballad of Lois Ryan, produced in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1988.

After Dinner (produced 1988), Currency Press (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1997.

Gulliver's Travels (adaptation of the novel byJonathan Swift), produced in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1992.

Like Whiskey on the Breath of a Drunk You Love, produced in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1992.

Distant Lights from Dark Places, produced in New York, NY, 1994.

(With Hannie Rayson) Scenes from a Separation (produced in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1995), Currency Press (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1997.

Shades of Blue, produced in New York, NY, 1996.

Speaking in Tongues (produced in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1996), Currency Press (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

Confidentially Yours—Jane and Paula (produced 1998), Currency Press (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

Who's Afraid of the Working Class, produced in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1998.

Holy Day, Currency Press (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.

Coauthor of young-adult play Fever. Original radio plays include The Legend of Dogwoman; adapted radio plays include The Ballad of Lois Ryan, 1989, After Dinner, 1993, Distant Lights from Dark Places, 1996, and The Fisherman's Wake.


(With Baz Lurhmann and Craig Pearce) Strictly Ballroom, Miramax Films, 1992.

"Lust," Seven Deadly Sins, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1993.

(With others) Head On (adaptation of Loaded by Christos Tsiolkasvel), Great Scott Productions, 1997.
Lantana (adaptation of Speaking in Tongues; produced by John Chapman Films, 2001), Currency Press (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.

Also author of Piccolo Mondo, 1992; The Fisherman's Wake, 1995; The Riders (adaptation of the novel by Tim Winton), 1997; and of screenplay for film adaptation of British Broadcasting Corporation television miniseries Edge of Darkness.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A film adaptation of Arthur Miller's View from the Bridge and an adaptation of Nikki Gemmell's novel The Bride Stripped Bare.

SIDELIGHTS: Australian playwright Andrew Bovell was born in the Western Australia mining town of Kalgoorlie and later studied drama in Melbourne. Many of his plays, including State of Defence, The Ballad of Lois Ryan, and Who's Afraid of the Working Class, focus on the lives of blue-collar workers and marginalized individuals. Others, such as After Dinner, Shades of Blue, and Speaking in Tongues, explore the social, spiritual, and relationship deficiencies of contemporary culture.

After Dinner finds five office workers getting together on a Friday night at a singles bar. Through their characters Bovell explores the issues of isolation and pain. In an interview with Manchester Guardian contributor Michael Billington, Bovell described Speaking in Tongues as "part thriller, part conundrum about the nature of commitment, betrayal, the loss of trust between men and women. The audience is confronted by nine parallel stories and is left to fit the pieces together. If theatre is going to separate itself from film, it has to find new forms." The play uses four actors playing nine parts, including those of four couples. Jessica Winter wrote in the Village Voice that "the loaded but realistically banal conversations clash with the play's overtly schematic architecture," but added that the play "does offer flashes of inflammatory insight" because "it posits that miserable husbands and wives often stay together simply via resentful defiance of the other's cellar-dwelling expectations."

Chicago Tribune critic Chris Jones described Speaking in Tongues as "a very bizarre play, not least because it has two halves so distinct that act two feels like one suddenly wandered into another theater doing an entirely different play. Bovell . . . fixed that problem when he turned this play into the screenplay to the movie Lantana."

The cast of Lantana, directed by Ray Lawrence, includes Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey, Kerry Armstrong, Rachael Blake, Leah Purcell, Vince Colosimo, Daniela Farinacci, and Peter Phelps. LaPaglia plays Leon, a police detective who is cheating on his wife and takes out his guilt on his suspects, in particular John Sommers (Rush), whose psychiatrist wife (Hershey) has gone missing on an Australian road. Richard Schickel wrote in Time that the story, "so alert to mischance and dreams that don't quite work out as they should, has a good soul, a heart yearning for decency." Erin Fee reviewed Lantana for Hollywood Reporter Online, calling it a "slick, stylish drama that seethes with dark, passionate undertones." By examining modern notions of love and marriage, it "skillfully paints a picture that bristles not only with paranoia and betrayal but also with hope and compassion."

Bovell wrote the screenplay for Head On, an adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas' novel Loaded. Alex Dimitriades plays Ari, the nineteen-year-old son of a proud Greek father. Ari is unsuccessful in life and is working through his homosexual tendencies. He uses drugs and alcohol to escape from his family's pressures to conform and experiments with a variety of men as he attempts to establish more permanent friendships and relationships. Elias Savada reviewed the film for Nitrate Online, saying that Head On "crashes right into your gay expectations and drags them down into the gutter. Powerful forces are at work here. You won't go home laughing."

On the lighter side, Bovell wrote an adaptation of Jonathan Swift's classic novel Gulliver's Travels that employed thirteen actors playing more than sixty characters as well as requiring a large number of puppets. Angus Strathie, who designed the puppets, also designed the elaborate gowns for the popular film Strictly Ballroom, for which Bovell wrote the screenplay with Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. In the film, an award-winning male ballroom dancer finds a new partner in a local girl whose talent he refines until they are ready for the national championships.



Contemporary Dramatists, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.


Antipodes, June, 1999, Dennis Carroll, review of Speaking in Tongues, p. 57.

Chicago Tribune, March 17, 2004, Chris Jones, review of Speaking in Tongues, Tempo section, p. 1.

Daily Variety, January 30, 2003, Michael Fleming, "BBC Films on 'Edge' with Campbell, Bovell," p. 2.

Guardian (Manchester, England), June 7, 2000, Michael Billington, "Andrew Bovell, co-writer of Strictly Ballroom, Tells Michael Billington Why He Loves British Theatre."

Hollywood Reporter, December 14, 2001, Frank Scheck, review of Speaking in Tongues, p. 29; June 11, 2002, Lawrie Zion, "Under Writer Wanted: Aussie Scribe Gets Hollywood's Attention," p. 12.

Journal of Australian Studies, December 15, 2001, Lars Ahlstrom, review of Who's Afraid of the Working Class, p. 135.

Spectator (London, England), July 1, 2000, Sheridan Morley, review of Speaking in Tongues, p. 42.

Stage Directions, May, 2004, Stephen Peithman, review of Speaking in Tongues, p. 70.

TCI, October, 1992, Jo Litson, review of Gulliver'sTravels, p. 9.

Time, January 14, 2002, Richard Schickel, review of Lantana, p. 59.

Variety, November 26, 2001, Charles Isherwood, review of Speaking in Tongues, p. 32.

Village Voice, December 4, 2001, Jessica Winter, review of Speaking in Tongues, p. 70.


Culture Vulture Online, (September 29, 2004), review of Speaking in Tongues.

Hollywood Reporter Online, (August 28, 2001), Erin Fee, review of Lantana.

Nitrate Online, (May 5, 2000), Elias Savada, review of Head On.

Playbill Online, (December 9, 2001), Eric Grode, interview with Bovell.*

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Bovell, Andrew (John) 1962-

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