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Alan Seymour OAM

Alan Seymour HLA


Alan Seymour (6 June 1927 – 23 March 2015) was an Australian playwright and author. He is best known for the 1958 play THE ONE DAY OF THE YEAR, and was one of the first Australian writers to write for television in the late 1950s and early 1960s, writing TV adaptations of U.S.and U.K.stage plays for the ABC.

THE ONE DAY OF THE YEAR met with huge controversy on its release. Initially it was rejected by the Adelaide Festival of Arts Board of Governors in 1960, but was first performed on 20 July 1960 as an amateur production by the Adelaide Theatre Group. In April 1961, at the first professional season at the Palace Theatre in Sydney, a bomb scare during a dress rehearsal forced police to clear the theatre. Later that year the production was staged at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, in London. Since then it has been staged regularly throughout Australia and internationally. It is also studied in various school curricula. A novelisation of the play was published in 1967 by A&R Playtexts.

In 1960, Alan was commissioned by Channel 7 to write THE RUNNER, one of the first original Australian dramas presented on Australian TV. It dealt with a young runner’s ambitions to break every possible record and how his obsession led to the loss of his fiancee and the friendship of his trainer and mentor. The theme of the play was about the challenge of working hard to achieve success in sport but keeping a balance in life. Channel 7’s lawyers thought the most prominent athlete of that time, Herb Elliott, might take exception to the “message” of the play and sent him the script. Herb wrote back that he thoroughly approved of what the script was saying and thought it needed to be said. Alan then spent over twenty-five years in London working in television drama as a TV playwright, series writer and commissioning editor. In six years with BBC TV he commissioned approximately a hundred original television dramas. Alan¹s adaptation of THE BOX OF DELIGHT won a BAFTA Award. He was nominated for another BAFTA Award for THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA series. His adaptation of L. P. Hartley¹s trilogy of novels EUSTACE AND HILDA received the Royal Television Society’s Special Award for Creativity, a Special Commendation at the annual Monte Carlo TV Festival and a Emmy Award nomination in New York. In 1969, his novelTHE COMING SELF-DESTRUCTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA was published in by Souvenir Press).

In 1995, Alan moved back to Sydney and returned to Channel 7 to write the screenplay adaptation of Bryce Courtenay’s best-seller THE POTATO FACTORY. In recent years he had been working on a novel on conflicts during the early European settlement in the Swan Valley in his home state of Western Australia.

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