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Long-awaited stage adaption of The Dictionary Of Lost Words opens on Friday

The highly anticipated stage adaptation of Pip Williams’ internationally bestselling novel, The Dictionary of Lost Words, has its world premiere on Friday at the Dunstan Playhouse.

Following its Adelaide season, which is almost sold out, the production then heads to Sydney Opera House from Oct 26 to Dec 16.

Adapted by playwright Verity Laughton (Long Tan) and under the direction of Jessica Arthur (Chalkface, Wonnangatta), the co-production from State Theatre Company South Australia and Sydney Theatre Company stars Tilda Cobham-Hervey (I Am Woman, Hotel Mumbai, Things I Know To Be True) as Esme Nicoll, alongside Ksenja Logos (Gaslight) as Ditte and Mabel, Brett Archer (A View from the Bridge) as Harry Nicoll, Christopher Pitman (That Eye, The Sky) as Dr Murray, Rachel Burke (Macbeth) as Lizzie, Angela Mahlatjie (A Raisin in The Sun) as Tilda, Anthony Yangoyan (Jailbaby) and Raj Labade (Tell Me I’m Here, The Office Australia) as Gareth.

The Dictionary of Lost Words tells the story of Esme, a young girl who takes it upon herself to preserve the ‘women’s words’ being neglected by the male lexicographers creating the first Oxford Dictionary. Set in 1886 and based on true events, the sweeping historical tale takes audiences from Esme’s formative years in the Scriptorium right into adulthood where she navigates love, loss and the power of language.

The Dictionary of Lost Words was an instant hit for Adelaide author Pip Williams in 2020, selling more than 500,000 copies worldwide and going on to become a New York Times bestseller. It was the first Australian work chosen for Academy Award Winner Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club in 2022, has won multiple awards including the MUD Literary Prize, NSW Premier’s Literary Award and the Australian Book Industry Award and is set to be adapted as a TV series.

Bringing Williams’ captivating world to vivid life is AACTA Award-winning set designer Jonathon Oxlade (Dance Nation, Beep and Mort), costume designer Ailsa Paterson (The Goat or, Who is Sylvia), Lighting Designer Trent Suidgeest (Muriel’s Wedding the Musical, Prima Facie) and Composer/Sound Designer Max Lyandvert (Macbeth, The Kettering Incident).

The production’s set has been constructed by State Theatre Company South Australia’s core Workshop team, and around 40 costumes by its Wardrobe team. The production has generously been supported by the Nunn Dimos Foundation and presenting partner ECH.

The Dictionary of Lost Words plays at Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, Sep 22- Oct 14,

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