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Emilie Collyer, who had an awesome piece in the latest Torpedo, has a creative, thoughtful and immediate kind of blog, between the cracks

- Literary Minded


World Premiere

25 July - 4 August 2018

Presented by Darebin Arts Speakeasy in association with New Working Group and Bureau of Works

Come to play, come to win or don't come at all.

Review Quotes


"Collyer patterns wide-ranging dialogue – we get everything from frank sex confessions to stories of bodily betrayal, from surreal elegy to piteous intimations of domestic violence – into a kind of dream play that, underneath the surface comedy, offers a jarring lens onto gendered experience ... Prue Clark directs a strong ensemble performance. Emily Tomlins has radioactive presence as Cass ... An unsettling tragicomic vision from a talented local playwright, brought to life with buckets of grunt and style."

 Cameron Woodhead, The Sydney Morning Herald

"Collyer’s writing arcs from brutally unromantic to gruffly ­poetic with some exquisitely confessional exchanges along the way. Jousting dialogue unravels into contemplative soliloquies ... the design sharply — and magically — counterpoints the narrative reality ... production elements resolve and coalesce into something remarkable, even ecstatic."

Chris Boyd, The Australian

"Netball as Homeric battlefield: In Contest, now on at Darebin Arts Speakeasy, the world created by writer Emilie Collyer and director Prue Clark is remarkable: an epic battle worthy of Homer that spills out of, and perfectly captures, formalised physical contest."

Robert Reid, Witness Performance

"Contest is a sweaty, no-regrets play [that] delights in the small moments. Emily Tomlins is a force."

The Herald Sun

"Contest (the very title open to multiple interpretations) is a highly intelligent, perceptive and deeply felt work, performed by an excellent cast. They bring out all the buried or repressed fears and emotions of their characters, layered into them by the playwright.  I hope I won’t put anyone off by saying this is genuinely feminist play which makes its convincing case by being so believable."

Michael Brindley, Stage Whispers

"The performances were stellar, in particular by Alice Ansara who captured the personality that must talk to fill the silence; and Emily Tomlins, who captured the darkness, bitterness and pain of lead role Cassandra ... The show is running until Saturday August 4 and is worth checking out: it leaves a deep impression."

Sam Richards, Weekend Notes

"It is simply spellbinding."

Olga Tolkacheva, Bohemian Rhapsody Club 


"Emilie Collyer’s ‘Contest’, playing at Northcote Town Hall, is an incisive and moving portrait of five women on a netball team ... The real strength of ‘Contest’ is its physicality. There is something cathartic but also unsettling in seeing women’s sweat pour down their faces, and their muscles shake with effort. This, combined with Collyer’s writing, makes for a dynamic conversation between mind and body, language and motion ... The performers work brilliantly together as an ensemble."

Laura Hartnell Theatre People

"Contest points to the artificial rigidity of the structures that many of us live within; structures that we can work on escaping and unlearning, even if there is some sense in which this unlearning makes the “normal” of life impossible. The game can’t go on. But perhaps something much more beautiful – and difficult, and honest – can begin."

Long form response from Georgia Symons, commissioned by New Working Group

I don’t know when I first saw it / In a memory, a premonition, or a dream.

It was a house and it was on fire / I was the house and I was on fire.

A suburban netball team. A new player. Cass says she wants to fit in but if she won’t play by their rules why does she bother coming at all? She claims to see something they cannot, a warning of sorts. All the other women want to do is play. But this player will push each of them to a point of furious revelation. Nothing will be left on the court once these women are done with their reckoning.

A sweaty play about the petty and the profound, the mundane and the mythic, Contest asks how we might be with each other if we don’t have to win.

Contest is presented in association with New Working Group and Bureau of Works

Written by Emilie Collyer

Directed by Prue Clark

Movement Direction: Nat Cursio and Alice Dixon

Set and Costume Design: Romanie Harper

Lighting Design: Amelia Lever-Davidson

Sound Design: Emah Fox

Script Dramaturg: Mark Pritchard

Producer: Erin Milne (Bureau of Works)

Cast: Alice Ansara, Natasha Herbert, Kate Hood, Sonya Suares, Emily Tomlins

Production and Stage Manager: Adelaide Harney

Assistant Stage Manager: Harriet Wallace-Mead

Stage Assistant: Alaina Bodley

Promo and production images: Sarah Walker

Video: Cobie Orger

Relaxed Performance: 2pm, Saturday 4 August

Auslan Interpreted Performance: 8pm, Thursday 2 August

Contest was originally commissioned by Malthouse Theatre through the support of the Malcolm Robertson Foundation. It was seeded through Malthouse Theatre’s Besen Family Artist Program, and developed through the City of Yarra Performance Investigations Program. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. The production is supported by the Besen Family Foundation. This project has received funds from Creative Partnerships Australia through the Australia Cultural Fund.


25 July - 4 August, 2018


Wed - Sat 8pm, Sunday 6pm, Sat matinee 2pm (Sat 4 August)


Main Hall, Northcote Town Hall


70 mins