The Library is open on the King's Birthday public holiday, Monday 12 June 2023. View the public holiday opening hours.

History Now: performing history

History Now: performing history

History Now

Playwright Alana Valentine and writer Sheila Ngoc Pham reflect on the writing of Sydney histories on the stage.

a stage of actors
1 / 5 events in this History Now series
5 July 2023 5pm to 6pm


General Admission: Free


Maps Room, First Floor
Mitchell Building
Sydney NSW 2000


Playwright Alana Valentine, known for her rigorous use of research and community consultation, will speak about writing the history of Sydney institutions including the Parramatta Girls Home in her play Parramatta Girls, the Pyrmont CSR Sugar refinery in The Sugar House and the Kings Cross Wayside Chapel in Wayside Bride, all produced at Sydney Belvoir Theatre. She will also talk about writing Letters To Lindy based on the 20,000 letters written to Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton held in the National Library of Australia for Merrigong Theatre.

Sheila Ngọc Phạm will talk about a play she is currently working on which will bring Vietnam's musical past to life on stage, introducing the 1960s Saigon music scene – in which she discovered her mother was involved – to a new generation.

Alana Valentine is a Helpmann Award winning dramatist working in stage and screen. In 2022 she was co-writer with Stephen Page for Bangarra’s dance opera Wudjang: Not the Past and co-writer with Christos Tsiolkas for Adelaide Festival 22 oratorio Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan. Belvoir presented her work Wayside Bride in repertory in April/May 2022 and in September she was writer on Erth Visual and Physical Theatre’s arc at the Sydney Opera House. She has a Graduate Diploma in Museum Studies from the University of Sydney and has two plays on the HSC syllabus in NSW, Parramatta Girls and Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah. In May 2023, as part of the Library’s Pride (R)evolution exhibition, Alana will curate an evening of storytelling and music inspired by 1930s singer Nellie Small.

Sheila Ngọc Phạm is a writer, editor and producer working across public health, media and the arts. She writes for literary and mainstream publications, as well as for cultural institutions such as the Powerhouse Museum, Fairfield City Museum and Gallery, and the State Library of NSW. Sheila has held digital and editorial roles at the ABC and her features for Radio National include The Lost Cinema of Tan Hiep (2016) and Saigon’s Wartime Beat (2012). Sheila lives on Dharug land with her husband and two children.

Laila Ellmoos (Chair) is a professional historian who is passionate about communicating history to a wide range of audiences through exhibitions, talks and the written word. She is a historian at the City of Sydney and a long-standing member of the Professional Historians Association of NSW and ACT.


More events in this series

More events that may be of interest to you