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, Black Swan, Deckchair, La Boite, NORPA, The National Theatre of Parramatta, Sydney Opera House, City Recital Hall, 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 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, 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, Andrée Greenwell, Victoria Bond, Douglas Stephen Rae, Elena Katz-Chernin, Ensemble Offspring, Luke Styles 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. Their most recent project is the anthology Sharp Darts: Chamber Plays by 7-ON (Currency Press, 2021).






Coming up next:


By Hilary Bell

A unique co-production between Griffin Theatre and the Australian Design Centre, and part of Sydney Festival 2022.
Accompanying the ADC’s exhibition Happy Objects, Window, Cricket Bat is a chamber piece for a solo actor and a curious audience, who become luncheon guests at the table of one of the 20th century’s greatest British playwrights.

Featuring Lucia Mastrantone, directed by Jennifer Rani.
January 11 – 21.

For further information, visit Sydney Festival, the Australian Design Centre or Griffin.

Current projects

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And also…

Stuff for kids during lockdown


Hilary reads an animated version of the best-selling picture book illustrated by Antonia Pesenti.


For the Sydney Opera House, Hilary has written a series of 6 episodes designed to inspire kids to create theatre at home or school.


8-12 Ann St
Surry Hills
NSW 2010, Australia

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