by Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Christos Tsiolkas & Irine Vela

Anthem Heath Ledger Theatre Heath Ledger Theatre $25 - $89 + BF
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Heath Ledger Theatre, from $25 - $89 + BF

'Energising, clear-eyed, superbly acted and magnificently staged.'


A Perth Festival Commission

The long-awaited follow-up to one of Australian theatre’s most acclaimed collaborations asks a bold question: does Australia share a dream and do we really sing with one voice?

Twenty-one years ago four playwrights and a composer came together to create Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?, a series of powerful interwoven vignettes that captured the zeitgeist of Australia in the 1990s. Now the same team reunites to take the pulse of our nation today in Anthem.

What emerges is a funny and ferocious portrait of a country unable to reconcile its past, uncertain of its future and political vision. The colliding voices that make up this anthem might not always be in harmony, but they cannot be silenced.

Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? was an ode to tiny struggles writ large; Anthem turns up the volume on the everyday injustices we choose not to hear. Susie Dee directs an extraordinary ensemble of performers and musicians to give voice to this work.


Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Christos Tsiolkas, Irine Vela
Susie Dee
Marg Horwell
Lighting Designer
Paul Jackson
Composer, Music Director & Sound Designer
Irine Vela
Movement Consultant
Natalie Cursio
Assistant Director
Sapidah Kian
Aboriginal Cultural Dramaturg
Bryan Andy
Creative Producer (2016-March 2019)
Daniel Clarke
Maude Davey
Reef Ireland
Ruthy Kaisila
Thuso Lekwape
Amanda Ma
Maria Mercedes
Tony Nikolakopoulos
Eryn Jean Norvill
Sahil Saluja
Osamah Sami
Eva Seymour
Carly Sheppard
Jenny M. Thomas
Dan Witton

Susie Dee
Susie Dee has worked extensively in the theatre as a performer, devisor and director in Australia and overseas for the past 30 years. She has been the Artistic Director of three theatre companies: Melbourne Workers Theatre (MWT), Union House Theatre (UHT) and Institute of Complex Entertainment (ICE), whose projects went on to win various awards and received many accolades for their ground-breaking site-specific work. In 2011 Dee was the recipient of the Australia Council residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. She has directed works for MTC, Malthouse Theatre and many independent theatre companies and has been nominated for and won numerous awards. She recently directed Patricia Cornelius’ plays, SHIT and Love, both touring to the 2019 Venice Biennale Theatre Festival.

Andrew Bovell
Andrew Bovell is the writer of the plays Things I Know to be True and When the Rain Stops Falling. His adaptation of The Secret River was seen at the Edinburgh Festival and the National Theatre in London in 2019. Other plays include Holy Day, Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?, Speaking in Tongues, Ship of Fools and After Dinner. He is the writer of the films Lantana, Head On, Blessed, A Most Wanted Man and Edge of Darkness among others.

Patricia Cornelius
Patricia Cornelius is a playwright, screenwriter and novelist who has written over 25 plays, including The House of Bernadette, adapted from Lorca, In The Club, Big Heart, Shit, Caravan (co-writer), Savages, Do Not Go Gentle, The Call, Love, Fever, Boy Overboard, Slut and Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? (co-written with Andrew Bovell, Christos Tsiolkas, Melissa Reeves and Irine Vela). Her prizes for stage work include the 2019 Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the 2011 Victorian and NSW Premiers’ Literary Awards, the Patrick White Playwright’s Award, the Richard Wherrett Prize, the Wal Cherry Award and eleven AWGIES for stage, community theatre, theatre for young people. Cornelius co-wrote the feature film Blessed, based on the play Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? (for which she won an AWGIE).


Melissa Reeves
Melissa Reeves is a Melbourne playwright whose most recent play is an adaptation of An Enemy Of The People for Belvoir St, directed by Anne Louise Sarks. Other plays include Caravan, which premiered at the 2017 Melbourne Festival, co-written with Angus Cerini, Patricia Cornelius, and Wayne Macauley, Happy Ending, Furious Mattress, The Spook – which premiered at Belvoir and was awarded the 2005 Louis Esson Prize for Drama in the Victorian Premiers Awards and two AWGIES for best new play, Sweetown – awarded the Jill Blewitt Memorial Playwrights Award in 1993, In Cahoots, and Road Movie. She has co-written a number of plays including Magpie, (with Richard Frankland) and Who’s Afraid Of The Working Class? and Fever (both with Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius and Christos Tsiolkas and composer Irine Vela) – the former of which won best play in the Queensland Literary Awards, two AWGIES for best new play and the Jill Blewitt Playwrights Award in 1999.


Christos Tsiolkas
Christos Tsiolkas is the author of five novels: Loaded, The Jesus Man, Dead Europe, The Slap and Barracuda. His other writing work include the short story collection Merciless Gods, the dialogue Jump Cuts: An Autobiography, co-authored with Sasha Soldatow, and a monograph on The Devil’s Playground for the Australian Screen Classics series. His most recent book is On Patrick White for the Writers on Writers series. Tsiolkas is also a playwright, essayist and film critic, and many of his novels and stories have been adapted for the stage and screen. He lives in Melbourne. His latest novel, Damascus, will be published in November 2019.

Irine Vela
Irine Vela
is a composer, librettist, creative producer and director whose work emphasises the validity, necessity and excitement that diverse voices and forms bring to the Australian arts. She has collaborated with many of Australia’s finest performers, writers, directors and theatre companies. She works as producer and Artistic Director for Outer Urban Projects on projects including suBurBan exchange, Melbourne Recital Centre (2011); Urban Chamber – Beyond, Melbourne Festival (2013); Poetic License, Melbourne Writers Festival (2014, 2015 & 2017); and Grand DiVisions, Arts Centre Melbourne (2015). Her film and TV credits include Head On, Remembering Country and The Slap. Awards inlude APRA Screen Music Award – Best Soundtrack Album; Australian Music Centre – Best Composition by an Australian Composer; Tropfest – Best Original Score. Other notable collaborations include  Who's Afraid of the Working Class?; Do Not Go Gentle, 1975-A Populist Opera, Little City, and Australia in Danger- a slide night. She performs with the Sevdah Sephardic ensemble Saray Iluminado and is founding member of the haBiBis (winner - ARIA Best World Music Album).

  • Premium

    • Adult: $89
    • Friend: $80
  • A Reserve

    • Adult: $79
    • Concession: $75
    • Friend: $71
  • B Reserve

    • Adult: $59
    • Concession: $56
    • Friend: $53
    • Student: $25
  • C Reserve

    • Adult: $39
    • Concession: $37
    • Friend: $35
    • Student: $25

Eligible for package discount

Buy tickets to 3 or more events and save 10%

  • Auslan interpreted performance Thu 13 Feb
  • Audio described & captioned performance and tactile tour Fri 14 Feb

Contains coarse language and adult themes
Suitable for ages 15+

Event Program

Discover more about the show and its creation in the event program. Download it here

Connect Events

Post Show Q&A

Thu 13 Feb

Stay in your seats after the performance to hear from creators and artists in a Q&A session.

Community Partner

Thank You


  • Produced by Performing Lines in association with Arts Centre Melbourne.
  • This project was initiated by Arts Centre Melbourne.
  • This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festivals Initiative, managed by the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals Inc., commissioned by Melbourne International Arts Festival, Arts Centre Melbourne, Sydney Festival and Perth Festival. Produced by Performing Lines in association with Arts Centre Melbourne. Script commissioned by Arts Centre Melbourne.
  • Script commissioned by Arts Centre Melbourne and generously supported by Linda Herd Mr Derek Young AM and Mrs Caroline Young.


  • Pier Carthew

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