STATE THEATRE COMPANY SOUTH AUSTRALIA AND SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENT
Adapted by Verity Laughton from the novel by Pip Williams
In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered to be missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. The Dictionary of Lost Words is the story of the girl who stole it.
South Australian novelist Pip Williams’ internationally best-selling book, comes to vivid life in this world premiere stage adaptation by South Australian playwright, Verity Laughton.
A best-selling multi-award winner (including the People’s Choice Award at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards) and chosen for the Reese Witherspoon Book Club, the book has been lauded as an “absorbing, quietly revolutionary novel”, “deeply, intrinsically kind (and) a profoundly comforting place to dwell” (The Age) and “a captivating and slyly subversive fictional paean to the real women whose work on the Oxford English Dictionary went largely unheralded.” (New York Times).
Motherless and ever curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium – the “Scrippy”, a converted garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers guided by Dr James Murray are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. She hides beneath the sorting table and catches a word on a “slip” as it falls and soon, she finds other words that have been neglected by the men. Here begins Esme’s collection of her own: the Dictionary of Lost Words.
As the years pass, Esme realises that little importance is placed on recording the words and meanings relating to women’s experiences and as her world expands and her circle of friends grows – actresses, suffragettes, market traders, workers, she realises the power in their silenced voices and decides to lend them hers. And on the way, she comes to understand the many meanings of the word “love”.
“Full of heart and tenderness, heartbreak and joy, love and loss.” The Herald Sun
What a coup for this Company! A hugely popular South Australian novel bursts onto our stage. Verity’s adaptation gets to the rich core of the book while making the story a thing what will sing in the theatre. How equally thrilling to have Jessica Arthur, fresh from her success with Chalkface, return to us to direct this beloved, epic, romantic tale that celebrates language and its power. Sure to be a landmark production. Mitchell
Recommended for ages 16+. Contains strong coarse language and adult themes. More detailed warnings will be available closer to the show.
3 hours (including interval). Subject to change.
A digital show program for THE DICTIONARY OF LOST WORDS can be viewed online:
Or download a PDF version of the program.
To request a copy of THE DICTIONARY OF LOST WORDS printed program, please contact us at email@example.com.
Tickets are selling fast, with restricted view seating only for some performances.
Tickets are also available via Ticketek.
Join our waitlist to receive an SMS or email notification should we have a return season.
Some scenes or sections of the set may have limited visibility from these seats, which is reflected in the discounted price
Bookings via State Theatre Company South Australia ticketing incur a $8.95 transaction fee.
Bookings via Ticketek incur an $9.25 transaction fee.
Visit the Ticket Price page for the full list of subscription and single ticket prices.
Audio Described Performances and Pre-Show Briefing for blind and low-vision patrons
Tuesday 3 October, 5.30pm (briefing), 6.30pm (performance with post-show Q and A)
Saturday 7 October, 1pm (briefing), 2pm (performance)
Visit the Access page for more information on our Access Program.
Get the story behind the story with our Tangent Talk series at the State Library of South Australia. Before you see the show, join us for a drink and panel discussion.
– 4 September
2023 Subscribers are invited to join us for an exclusive Subscriber Briefing to learn more about the creation of the show.
– 18 September
Post Show Q&As
A Date with State
Watch a recording of our Tangent Talk for The Dictionary of Lost Words at the State Library of South Australia, which was held on Monday 4 September 2023. In this special In Conversation discussion event, we’re joined by two of South Australia’s most esteemed writing talents, the author of the bestselling book herself, Pip Williams, and our adapting playwright Verity Laughton. In this fascinating talk, hosted by the play’s Assistant Director Shannon Rush, we unveil the tales behind the adaptation process and the journey to bringing this beloved story to the stage.
State Theatre Company South Australia is offering one school performance as part of our season of The Dictionary of Lost Words. Visit the State Educate resources page for the Study Guide and What to Expect.
Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre
Any enquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This show will be performed at the Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre.
The recommended Dunstan Playhouse and Space Theatre drop off zone is at the northern end of the Riverbank Footbridge on War Memorial Drive (walk across the Footbridge to Dunstan Playhouse) or at the Intercontinental Hotel (walk north between the Intercontinental Hotel and Railway Station along the lane way to the Riverbank). There is also a drop off area and two accessible car spaces on lower Festival Drive, accessible from the west via Montefiore Road.
Getting to the Venue
Adelaide Festival Centre is easily accessible by public transport, including the tram (stop at Railway Station), trains, buses and a free bus service that operates on a loop throughout the city and North Adelaide with stops on the corner of King William Road and North Terrace.
For more information visit https://adelaidemetro.com.au/
For information about parking near the Adelaide Festival Centre, please click here.
Malt Shovel Taphouse
Located at the Adelaide Festival Centre at the end of the Adelaide Oval footbridge
Open Wednesday 3pm-11pm and Thursday – Sunday 11.30am-late
The Strathmore Hotel
Located 5 minutes from the Dunstan Playhouse at 29 North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000
Open 7 days, 11am – 3am