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, The Griffin, Black Swan, Deckchair, La Boite, NORPA, The National Theatre of Parramatta, Sydney Opera House, Arts Centre Melbourne, Vitalstatistix 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 Splinter, Fortune, The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Ruysch, The Falls, Memmie Le Blanc, The Red Balloon, The White Divers of Broome, Victim Sidekick Boyfriend Me, and adaptations of Chekhov’s The Seagull, Moliere’s The Hypochondriac, 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: 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, Andrée Greenwell, Victoria Bond, Douglas Stephen Rae, Elena Katz-Chernin, Ensemble Offspring and Greta Gertler Gold, among her music theatre works are The Red Tree, Mrs President, Starstruck The Stage Musical (with Mitchell Butel) and Seven Stories.

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.

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.  

She is a member of 7-ON Playwrights, a collective of mid-career dramatists who collaborate on multi-voice projects. In 2020, they will publish an anthology of chamber plays.





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