Dramatist, writer, screenwriter, critic.
The winner of numerous awards during his career, Andrew Bovell has utilised a variety of styles and contexts, as well as performance venues, since he began writing professionally in the late 1980s. His works also largely concerned with social and political issues. He has written extensively for film, radio and television, and worked as a critic.
After completing his secondary schooling at Scotch College, Perth, Bovell graduated with a BA from the University of Western Australia and then completed a Diploma in Dramatic Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts. Bovell was the recipient of a Literature Board Fellowship in 1985, and two years later began his long association with the Melbourne Workers Theatre as writer-in-residence. His play State of Defence was staged by the company. Arguably Bovell's best-known play from his early career is After Dinner, which premiered at La Mama (Melbourne) in 1988. By the end of 1991 After Dinner had been produced at least twelve times both in Australia and New Zealand. Another play The Ballad of Lois Ryan also premiered in 1988 under the auspices of the Melbourne Workers Theatre. This play perhaps presents Bovell's clearest socio-political theme - the exploration of the public and private in the lives of trade union activists. He has since turned both The Ballad of Lois Ryan and After Dinner into novels. Another play from this period is Ship of Fools (1988).
In 1989 Bovell became writer-in-residence for the Melbourne Theatre Company. The company staged his adaptation of Gulliver's Travels in association with Handspan Theatre in 1992. He also later undertook the same position with the Darwin Theatre Company (1991), and at the Edith Cowan University in Perth (1994). In 1997 Bovell collaborated with several writers on a music theatre piece devised by Diedre Rubenstein. Confidentially Yours, co-written with Janis Balodis, Nick Enright, Michael Gurr, Daniel Keene, Joanna Murray-Smith, Debra Oswald, Alan John (music) and Alison Croggon (lyrics), was staged the following year by Playbox. He contributed the pieces 'Jane' and 'Paula.'
Among Andrew Bovell's many career achievements are his co-authored screenplays for the Baz Luhrmann film Strictly Ballroom, and Head On (an adaptation of Christos Tsiolakas' 1995 novel dealing with modern urban life from the perspective of a young, gay, Greek man). He also wrote the television screenplay for Piccolo Mondo and episodes for the series Naked and The Seven Deadly Sins). His play Speaking in Tongues saw him awarded a 1997 AWGIE, and was later adapted into a screenplay as Lantana. The film scooped the 20001 AFI awards and Bovell was named 2001 Harpers Bazaar AFI Scriptwriter of the Year. His radio adaptation of Distant Lights from Dark Places won the Gold Medal for drama at the New York Radio and Television Festival in 1996 and a 1997 AWGIE award for best radio adaptation. He also become joint winner of the 1998 Green Room Award for best new play for Who's Afraid of the Working Class. Co-written with Patricia Cornelius, Christos Tsiolkas, Irene Vela and Melissa Reeves, the play shared the Gold AWGIE award in 1999 with Nick Enright's adaptation of Tim Wintoni8)'s Cloudstreet .
Bovell's other screen credits include: The Book of Revelation (2006), Blessed (2009), an adaptation of Whose Afraid of the Working Class?, Edge of Darkness (2010) starring Mel Gibson and the 2014 thriller A Most Wanted Man (starring Philip Seymour Hoffman).