From the Desk – February 2021

Yes, this is a Celebration! And we’d love you to join us. 


The Best, The Fairest, The First is a theatrical celebration created especially by MWT for International Women’s Day, and we’d love to share it with you. It will run from 3rd – 6th March in the expansive and recently refurbished Gasworks Theatre, and you can buy a ticket here.  Surprising, inspiring, humorous; intriguing, joyful and life-affirming – this collection of original short plays about Women who never gave up not only promises to be enjoyable viewing, but could well be the theatrical tonic we need right now, in the state that Never Gives Up.

Early Australian swimmer Mina Wylie (pictured) inspired the image for The Best, The Fairest, The First and in Adele Shelley’s play ‘Swimming Champions’, which humorously captures the challenges faced by ambitious young women in early 20th century Australia, you will learn more about this relatively unknown yet highly deserving champion. Against all odds, Mina Wiley and Fanny Durack travelled to the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, and in so doing became the first Australian sportswomen to compete in an Olympic swimming event.

In ‘The Shoemaker’s Daughter’ we are drawn into the world of the late, great Melbourne-born cricketer Betty Wilson, who in her day was referred to as the Female Bradman and whose achievement of scoring century and taking 10 wickets in one test (and right here, at St Kilda’s Junction Oval) earned her the broader title of the Best Women’s Cricketer of all time. A focused and driven athlete, Betty rose from humble beginnings in Collingwood to become a household name across cricket-mad England in the 1950s. Her lack of recognition within Australian cricketing circles was humorously noted in this 2018 song by artist Bobby Macumber Betty in Bronze and this short play, which spans three decades of Betty’s life including her stint as an office assistant in WW2, aims to bring further awareness of Betty’s extraordinary achievements to Gasworks audiences.

In ‘This Way, That Way, My Way’, written by Mazz Ryan, you will find out what it takes to become Sinead Diver – the Irish-born marathon runner who only took up running in her thirties yet has achieved, in the space of a few years, the international success that others spend their lives working towards. In interviews with Diver, she modestly attributes her success to her uncompromising work ethic, and this is an unwavering theme in Mazz Ryan’s solidly researched script, which also explores the influence that a role model such as Diver can exert on younger, aspiring athletes rising through the ranks.

The show is rounded off by local marathon runner and fitness advocate for 60+ women, Monica Wong; an inspiring young Calistenics performer who has faced her own challenges; and a vision-impaired Paralympian whose passion can be felt between breaths in this show, and whose identity will be revealed in the final moments. This remarkable Summer and Winter Paralympian is omnipresent through every performance of The Best, The Fairest, The First and she will be present at the final performance – participating in a Q&A on stage after the show on Saturday 6th March. It will be an inspiring note on which to end the Season, and you are all welcome to attend that special performance.

The Best, The Fairest, The First  marks the culmination of a two-part theatrical project that began with the one-night IWD celebration The Best and Fairest at Gasworks in March 2020; it was then intended that this Theatrical Season would follow in July 2020, to coincide with the Olympics, but the Olympics didn’t occur and our Season was also rescheduled. It was rescheduled twice more before coming to land in the present time – which, as fate would have it, is once again International Women’s Day.

This is therefore a Celebration on a number of levels – and yes, we’d love you to join us.


Thanking you,


Clare Mendes
Producer, The Best, The Fairest, The First
Company Manager
Melbourne Writers’ Theatre