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Painting of red daisies coming out of a wooden box.

The Dictionary of Lost Words Adapted by Verity Laughton from the novel by Pip Williams
Directed by Jessica Arthur
World Premiere

26 October – 16 December 2023

Pip Williams’ award-winning New York Times bestseller and book club favourite comes to the stage in a world premiere production.

Discover the secret power of words

Pip Williams’ award-winning New York Times bestseller and book club favourite, The Dictionary of Lost Words, will be brought to vivid life in a new adaptation for the stage by Verity Laughton and directed by one of Australia’s best directors, Jessica Arthur (Grand Horizons, Wonnangatta).

It’s 1886 and the very first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is being compiled. Four-year-old Esme Nicoll has a front row seat. Well, she’s hiding under the sorting table, anyway. As her father and his male colleagues decide which words stay and which go, Esme collects the discarded (often gendered) scraps to compile her own far more radical, far more magical dictionary.

A sweeping historical tale in the spirit of The Harp in the SouthThe Dictionary of Lost Words follows Esme from her childhood in the 1880s, into adulthood at the height of the women’s suffrage movement and the beginning of the First World War.

This novel captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of readers around the globe, and was recommended by book club trendsetters like Reese Witherspoon. In 2023, Verity Laughton’s adaptation will unfurl this beautiful and transportive reflection on the love between a daughter and her father, at a time when the women’s rights movement was first gaining traction, into a delectable and warm night of theatre.

Presented by Sydney Theatre Company and State Theatre Company South Australia

Artist Information

Adaptor 
Verity Laughton

Original Novel by 
Pip Williams

Director 
Jessica Arthur

Set Designer 
Jonathon Oxlade

Costume Designer 
Ailsa Paterson

Lighting Designer 
Trent Suidgeest

With
Brett Archer
Rachel Burke
Tilda Cobham-Hervey
Raj Labade
Ksenja Logos
Angela Mahlatjie
Chris Pitman

Other information

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