Hilary Bell: Playwright

“The story Bell has woven into a particularly strong and intriguing narrative is almost a statement of belief in the power and magic of theatre.”

Hilary Bell writes for stage, radio, screen and music theatre.

Hilary’s plays have been produced nationally around Australia, by The Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir, Griffin, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Black Swan, Deckchair, La Boite, NORPA, The National Theatre of Parramatta, Sydney Opera House, City Recital Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, Vitalstatistix, NIDA and The Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Internationally she’s been produced in Europe, in the USA by companies including Atlantic and Steppenwolf, and in the UK by The National’s Connections programme.

Wolf Lullaby, written in 1995 won her the inaugural Philip Parsons Young Playwrights Award. Other plays include Fortune, The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Ruysch, The Falls, Splinter, The Bloody Bride, Memmie Le Blanc, The Red Balloon, The White Divers of Broome, Victim Sidekick Boyfriend Me, Perfect Stranger, Summer of Harold, and adaptations of Chekhov’s The Seagull, Moliere’s The Hypochondriac, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors. Collaborations include The Mysteries: Genesis (with Lally Katz), and she was associate writer on Paul Capsis’ play Angela’s Kitchen, which won Best New Australian Work at the Helpmann Awards 2010. Other awards include the Jill Blewitt, Bug’n’Bub (USA), Aurealis Fiction, the Eric Kocher (USA), Inscription and two Australian Writers Guild Awards.  

She also writes lyrics and libretti for opera, musicals and song cycles. Collaborating with composers including Phillip Johnston, Greta Gertler Gold, Andrée Greenwell, Victoria Bond, Douglas Stephen Rae, Elena Katz-Chernin, Maria Alfonsine, Luke Styles and Ensemble Offspring, among her music theatre works are The Wedding Song, The Red Tree, Mrs President, Starstruck The Stage Musical (with Mitchell Butel), Alphabetical Sydney: All Aboard! and Seven Stories. With Gertler Gold, she is writing a musical adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock. She is also collaborating with composer Jacob Collier and director Michael Gracey on a musical about Pavarotti, for production company Scenario Two.

Hilary is the creator, with illustrator Antonia Pesenti, of several picture books, including the best-selling Alphabetical Sydney. The Museum of Sydney mounted an exhibition inspired by the book. With Matthew Martin, she created The Marvellous Funambulist of Middle Harbour.

She has written audio scripts for the State Library of NSW exhibitions Dead Central and Quick March!, and for the Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibition, David Goldblatt: Photographs 1948-2018. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at the SLNSW.

She is a member of 7-ON Playwrights, a collective of mid-career dramatists who collaborate on multi-voice projects. Their most recent project is the anthology ‘Sharp Darts: Chamber Plays by 7-ON’ (Currency Press, 2021).

Hilary is a graduate of the Juilliard Playwrights’ Studio, NIDA, and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS). She was the 2003-04 Tennessee Williams Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of the South, Tennessee, and in 2013 the Patrick White Playwriting Fellow at the Sydney Theatre Company.  





Coming up next


Inspired by Hilary Bell and Antonia Pesenti’s best-selling picture book, this immersive musical will take audiences of all ages on a journey around the world’s most famous harbour city. Combining puppetry, theatre, songs and creative play with irresistible music by Greta Gertler Gold, Alphabetical Sydney: All Aboard! is a celebration of all that makes a city unique.

Concourse Theatre: June 19
Sydney Opera House: Sep 19-26
Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Ctr: Sep 27-30
For more information, click here.


Current projects


Summer of Harold is an evening of three short plays about the power objects exert over us, for good or ill. From Harold Pinter’s coffee mug to an ancient piece of cheese, these objects have set the course of three lives. Commissioned by The Ensemble Theatre. For tickets and more info, click here.


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Headshot by Hugh Stewart.
Top image: THE WHITE DIVERS OF BROOME, Black Swan State Theatre Co. Photo by Gary Marsh 2012.