Fryer Library Creative Writing Fellow 2019

We are pleased to announce Nicky Peelgrane as the Library Creative Writing Fellow for 2019. For her project, Nicky will be writing a play inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and papers held in the Fryer Library. Her mentor is the prize winning author and playwright David Burton.

The Library Creative Writing Fellowship is an amazing opportunity offered with the generous support of the Australian Copyright Agency Cultural Fund and library donors.

About Nicky

Nicky is a teacher, actor and playwright. 

She has been writing plays for around 10 years. Her first play, Whatever Gets You Through The Night, emerged from her experiences as a new mother. She has also co-written a widely used drama textbook.

Nicky teaches drama to students of all ages and has recently lent her vocal talent to two episodes of the hit podcast, The Teacher’s Pet.

Nicky holds a Bacehlor of Arts in Theatre and English from The University of Queensland (UQ). She also earned a Graduate Diploma in Education from Queensland University of Technology.

Simon Farley presenting Nicky Peelgrane with the Creative Writing Fellowship.
Fryer Manager Simon Farley presents Nicky Peelgrane with the Creative Writing Fellowship at the 2018 Awards and Acquisitions Evening in the Fryer Library.

Inspiration and Fryer collections

As a basis for her project, Nicky will be using the Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe collections (F3329) and the papers of playwright, actor and director Paul Sherman (UQFL428).

Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe

Nicky’s interest in the Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe started at an early age. 

Being involved in a Grin and Tonic production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a high school student in Oakey, a town 160 kilometres west of Brisbane, was ‘empowering,’ says Nicky. 

The experience of a professional theatre troupe visiting you ‘out in the sticks makes you feel valued’. The experience changed her life and put her on the path that has led her to Fryer Library and the Creative Writing Fellowship.


Nicky first saw The Tempest, which has partly inspired the project, at La Boite Theatre,  in Brisbane in 1990 when she was an undergraduate student at UQ. 

The themes in the play are, in Nicky’s words, ‘juicy’. The idea of having to learn to be resourceful in a new place is particularly relevant to the actors of a touring theatre troupe like Grin and Tonic. 

One of the questions that Nicky hopes to answer with the project is: are the actors the magicians, like Prospero, or the fools, like Trinculo?

A project update from Nicky (Jan 2019)

‘It’s a little more than a month since I was awarded the Creative Writing Fellowship and I’ve hit the ground running!  I shall be writing a verbatim play, working title Prospero’s Dukedom, using the Grin and Tonic collection and Paul Sherman’s papers, as well as Shakespeare’s The Tempest as inspiration. In addition to using the Fryer collections, since I will be using the words of others, I will be conducting interviews with actors about their experiences touring shows throughout Queensland.

I began with interviewing Bryan Nason who began Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe 50 years ago, and Kellie Lazarus and her husband Jason Klarwein who took over the reins of Grin and Tonic in 2010 when Bryan retired.  During the interview, they suggested organising a reading of Shakespeare’s The Tempest so that we might record our dialogue as well as our conversations about interpretation and meaning. 

With Bryan and Kellie’s help, I contacted actors and even roped my husband in to read a role!  It was a really fun evening reading and discussing Shakespeare and The Tempest.  Our dialogue was rich, the parts beautifully read, with a collective expertise in interpreting and performing Shakespeare that spans many decades.’

The actors seated before the reading began.
The readers from left to right around the table: Kellie Lazarus, Eduardo Pantoja, Ellen Tuffley, Bryan Nason, NJ Price, Nicky Peelgrane, Abraham Sammut.

Interested in knowing more?

If you’re interested in Nicky’s project and forthcoming play, you can visit our blog for updates. 

Change to this fellowship for 2024

The 2024 Creative Writing Fellowship provides an early career Australian author with the opportunity to write a new creative work using the special collections in the Fryer Library.

The fellowship is offered by UQ’s Centre for Critical and Creative Writing in the School of Communication and Arts in conjunction with the Fryer Library and with the support of the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. 

Applications for the 2024 fellowship close at 5pm on Monday 13 November 2023.

The Fellowship is offered with the generous support of the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund and library donors. An additional $90,000 in funding from the Cultural Fund, announced in late 2018, will enable us to continue to offer this fellowship in future years.

Last updated:
20 October 2023