I n 2005, Australia’s most produced playwright David Williamson announced his retirement. The reason, it transpired, was cardiac arrhythmia, a serious heart condition that saw him hospitalised several times. Brought on by stress, he determined it was time to down the pen. But after an operation and the arrival of some new drugs, he felt fighting fit again and decided that he would keep writing plays after all.

David Williamson. Photo © Jonno Searle

As his wife, Kristin Williamson, quipped in her biography David Williamson: Behind the Scenes: “Even Dame Nellie had the decency to remain retired for longer than David.”

So, are we to believe his retirement plans now? With 2020 marking his 50th year as a playwright, Williamson is calling it quits and says that the plays being staged at the start of next year by Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre and Griffin Theatre Company are his final two new scripts.

Meanwhile Queensland Theatre (also celebrating 50 years in 2020) and Melbourne Theatre Company are honouring his half-century milestone with a co-production of his 1987 satirical comedy Emerald City.

Meeting up for an interview...