Melbourne Season for The Dictionary of Lost Words

Melbourne Season for The Dictionary of Lost Words

Sydney Theatre Company and State Theatre Company South Australia today announced their co-production The Dictionary of Lost Words will tour Arts Centre Melbourne in February 2024 for a strictly limited season. Tickets are on sale now via

The world-first stage adaptation of Pip Williams’ New York Times bestseller has proven a hit with theatregoers around the country, with a sold-out premiere run in Adelaide and extra performances just added to its upcoming Sydney season.

Adapted by Verity Laughton and directed by Jessica Arthur (Grand Horizons, Wonnangatta), Melbourne audiences will now have the opportunity to witness this sweeping historical tale brought to vivid life as it follows trailblazer Esme from her childhood in the 1880s, into the height of the women’s suffrage movement and the beginning of the First World War.

STC Artistic Director Kip Williams shared his excitement to tour the original Australian work to a third city: “The Dictionary of Lost Words is an incredible Australian success story; in just three years, Australian author Pip Williams’ debut novel became a New York Times best-seller, commissioned to be adapted for the stage by South Australian playwright Verity Laughton and directed by one of country’s best directors of new Australian work, Jessica Arthur and for STC and STCSA, with seasons in both cities selling out and extending the seasons before opening night.

“We could not be more thrilled to be joining our co-producers State Theatre Company South Australia to bring this beautiful show to the book and theatre-loving audiences of Melbourne.”

STCSA Artistic Director Mitchell Butel concurred, “We are so proud that this incredible co-production between State Theatre Company South Australia and Sydney Theatre Company, borne from a South Australian novelist and adapted by a South Australian playwright, has become one of the great successes of Australian theatre history with a sold-out premiere season in Adelaide and soon-to-be in Sydney. We are similarly excited to see a co-production of this scale, ambition and excellence being supported by Arts Centre Melbourne so more audiences can delight in its power and charm.”\

Pip Williams’ novel first captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of readers around the globe after being recommended by book club trendsetters like Reese Witherspoon and translated into 28 languages.
The full cast for the Melbourne season of The Dictionary of Lost Words will be announced in November 2023.
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.
The creative team includes Jonathon Oxlade (Set Designer), Alisa Paterson (Costume Designer), Trent Suidgeest (Lighting Designer), Max Lyandvert (Composer & Sound Designer) Shannon Rush (Assistant Director), Ruth Fallon (Intimacy & Fight Coordinator) and Jennifer Innes (Accent Coach).

Photographer: Sam Roberts.

The Dictionary of Lost Words plays at Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse from 17 February-10 March.

Tickets available via

Previews: 17-20 February

Opening Night: 21 February

Season until 10 March


Adapted by Verity Laughton from the novel by Pip Williams

Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse

Director: Jessica Arthur

Set Designer: Jonathon Oxlade

Costume Designer: Ailsa Paterson

Lighting Designer: Trent Suidgeest

Composer & Sound Designer: Max Lyandvert

Assistant Director: Shannon Rush

Intimacy & Fight Coordinator: Ruth Fallon

Accent Coach: Jennifer Innes

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