The epic two-part stage adaptation of Tim Winton’s novel Cloudstreethad its world premiere in Berth 9 at Darling Harbour in January 1998, presented by Belvoir (then known as Company B) and the Black Swan State Theatre Company as part of the Sydney Festival.

Cloudstreet, Malthouse Rehearsals for Malthouse Theatre’s production of Cloudstreet. Photo © Pia Johnson

Torrential rain fell during the first part, drowning out some of the dialogue as it thundered onto the tin roof. There were a few mishaps with props, and director Neil Armfield made the last minute decision to stage the ending in a way they had discussed but not rehearsed. But, when the back of the stage opened at the very end and Daniel Wylie, who was playing Fish, ran out and jumped into Sydney Harbour, the audience was on its feet cheering, knowing that they had seen a landmark piece of Australian theatre.

Seasons followed in Perth, Melbourne, London, Dublin, New York, Washington DC, and Sydney’s Theatre Royal. The reviews were ecstatic. Writing in The New York Times, Sheridan Morley described it as “the greatest achievement of all Australian theatre to date”, saying: “ Cloudstreetis brave, weird,...