Melbourne Festival and National Gallery of Victoria

Shaun Tan & John Marsden

Shaun Tan and John Marsden revisit their iconic book The Rabbits on the opening weekend of the Melbourne premiere of its stage adaptation. Join Tan and Marsden as they retrace the making of the 1998 picture book and reflect on the power the story holds in the public consciousness 17 years later.


John Marsden

After embarking on a teaching career in his late twenties, John Marsden also became more and more interested in writing, and in 1987 succeeded in getting his first book, "So Much to Tell You", published. It was subsequently named Children’s Book Council Book of the Year and won the Christopher Medal in the USA.  A string of huge hits followed, highlighted by the Tomorrow series and Ellie Chronicles. John’s books have now sold more than two and a half million copies in Australia alone, but he is also an internationally bestselling author, with many major awards to his credit. As well as his much loved young adult fiction, John has written an historical novel for adults, South of Darkness, which won the Christina Stead Award for Best Australian Novel in 2014. He has also worked with acclaimed illustrators on picture books including The Rabbits, illustrated by Shaun Tan. As well as being translated into a number of languages including Polish, Arabic, Korean, Italian and Spanish, in 2015, The Rabbits was performed for the first time an opera.

Alongside his writing success, John's interest in education has never waned and in 1998 he bought the Tye Estate, 850 acres of natural bush, on the northern edge of Melbourne, and later added the property next door.  For eight years he ran enormously popular writers' courses and camps at Tye, before starting his own school there, Candlebark, in 2006. He also recently purchased the defunct Macedon Grammar School and will open it as an arts-based high school in 2016.

Shaun Tan

Acclaimed author and illustrator Shaun Tan has also worked as a theatre designer, a concept artist for the films Horton Hears a Who and Pixar’s WALL-E, and as an animator on the short film The Lost Thing, adapted from his book of the same name, and winner of an Academy Award. Shaun himself has won the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and, in 2011, received the Dromkeen Medal for services to children’s literature in Australia. Shaun's books, which include The Rabbits, The Red Tree, The Lost Thing, Tales from Outer Suburbia, The Arrival  and Rules of Summer, have been translated into twenty-five languages and won him prizes and fans around the world. In 2015, The Rabbits, written by John Marsden, was adapted and performed as a critically acclaimed opera.


John Sheedy

John is a multi-award winning Australian Director whose work has been staged extensively throughout Australia. In August 2010 John became the Artistic Director at Barking Gecko Theatre Company, delivering his final season for the company in 2015. Throughout his career, John has directed productions for Belvoir Street, Bell Shakespeare, Parramatta Riverside, Black Swan State Theatre Company, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Theatre Company, Griffin and Opera Australia.  John’s work has been recognized with multiple nominations for Helpmann and Sydney Theatre Awards.

Part of the Artist in Conversation series.