WINNER – 2017 State Theatre Company Young Playwrights Award


From the South Australian State Theatre Company’s website:

‘CJ McLean and Jack Cummins are the 2017 winners of the Flinders University Young Playwrights Award, State Theatre Company’s major award for the encouragement and support of new writing talent, now in its 17th year.

The Award consists of two categories – the Junior Award and the Senior Award. […]

The Senior Award winner is CJ McLean whose play The River explores the relationship between love, hatred and jealousy, and the poisonous effect of this mix on life decisions.

CJ McLean is an emerging Adelaide writer. His fiction and poetry has appeared in InDaily and Vaein Zine, and he has read and performed at Speakeasy and The Hearth.

In 2015, CJ was mentored by Adelaide-based playwright Nicki Bloom in the Australian Theatre for Young People’s (ATYP) Fresh Ink Mentoring Program. He developed a seven-minute monologue, Changing Room, at ATYP’s National Studio, which was later selected for The Voices Project 2016. Changing Room was reworked and broadcast on ABC Radio National’s Pocketdocs program in late 2016, and published by Currency Press in an anthology of the same name.

In 2017, CJ mounted his first one-man cabaret show for the Adelaide Fringe, Love & Anger, which explored themes of lost love and self-identity.

CJ completed his Honours in Creative Arts (Creative Writing) at Flinders University in 2015. During his degree, he also attended Oxford University’s Creative Writing Summer School, and travelled to Guangzhou, China as part of the AsiaBound project to mentor creative writing students at Sun Yat-sen University.

In 2015, CJ was nominated in the Express Media Awards for Best Piece Published in Buzzcuts, and he has received two Commendations from the State Theatre Company in the Young Playwrights Award.

As the senior young Playwrights Award winner, CJ received $1000 cash prize; a 4-play subscription; script development with Dramaturg and Director Sarah Dunn and cast, culminating in a public reading of his work by actors Annabel Matheson and Matilda Bailey in the Dunstan Playhouse this evening.’

UPDATE: 2018





Hi guys,

Just a quick update; Adelaide Fringe and the Adelaide Festival are both coming up pretty quickly, and this year I’ll be writing reviews for Glam Adelaide. I’m excited to be reviewing for Adelaide Festival as well this year. Both programmes are full of exciting new works, as well as several old favourites (and plenty in between).

I’ll be adding the reviews here as they appear in Glam, as well as to the Portfolio page.

2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year of change for me, as I embark on a new role with an internationally-renowned organisation. There are also several film, theatre and audio adventures coming up later this year, so watch this space!

Much love,

CJ x

PRESS RELEASE: “Love & Anger” Adelaide Fringe 2017



I am very proud to announce that my first show, Love & Anger, will be a part of Adelaide Fringe’s 2017 season. Accompanied on piano by distinguished Adelaide artist and pianist Paul Sinkinson, Love & Anger will be on for two nights only: Saturday February 18th and Sunday February 19th 2017.

Below is the official synopsis:


I am born, and feel to myself I am, a man. I cannot begin to understand what it is to be a woman. And perhaps I shouldn’t even try. But I want to. I want to learn and create from women: because everything I am, I owe to the women who made me.

When life unexpectedly breaks up with you, don’t rebound with Grindr. At least, not straight away. The best thing to do is to turn to the people who know you best. For CJ, that is the women who made him – alongside his friends, there’s Kate Bush. Beside his mother, his sister, there’s Tori Amos, Björk, and Florence Welch.

Memoir and cabaret collide in this tribute to women in music, as CJ McLean journeys through first love, “slutting it up”, waiting, and letting go.’


Tickets can be purchased via Adelaide Fringe’s website ( and retail locations, which will go live in December.

CJ xx

Site Update


Just popping in from out of the cold to say, I’ve added another page onto my site for Reviews. You can find it via the menu above, or here:

It’s a humble offering of very kind words at the moment, but I hope to be able to add to it in future.

Also, I realise in my last post I said I was going to start writing a bit more regularly. It is now August. We can all safely assume I’m a liar.

I can’t say definitively whether or not I’ll be writing another post soon. However, I have been trialling a new method of organisation (observe: a diary. I don’t know if you know about them…), so you may see something here in the not-too-distant future.

Going back outside now. It’s very cold.

All my love,

CJ xx

The Hearth (and an update!)


I have been exceptionally quiet these past few months. I have been pretty quiet on the writing front, it is true. But I read at a lovely event called The Hearth on Thursday evening. It was the first time in a long while I’d read publicly, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so, I want to share some delightful photos (credit to Julia Henning), and officially welcome myself back into the site I set up some months ago (haha… ).

It’s been a funny old time of it recently. After the dizzying high of Sydney, the past few months have seen me take a bit of a beating, and some highfalutin ideas come crashing down to earth. A lot of things I had taken as constants (despite their relative newness) were stripped away, and I found myself back at square one. It is in that square that I am still somewhat situated; and whilst I am gently nudging my way back by creating a more consistent workload for myself, I do feel that this year has not gone on as it began, and it is highly likely it won’t end that way either (though, I do not want to cast speculations. I am, at heart, an optimist and a dreamer).

The Hearth, in many respects, represented a return to form for me. After months of silence, where my work never saw the light of day (and when it did poke out its head, it was rejected; I’m not complaining about that, it is expected, but it’s never nice), I experienced terrible nerves the day of. Like I said before, I had not read publicly in over a year. I did not doubt my ability, but equally, I wasn’t taking any chances. My pride had taken a severe beating, so I could not fail this time.

The feedback on the reading has been, overall, positive, and I want to thank the Hearth Collective – Lauren, Alicia, Mel and Emma – for not only giving me such a wonderful platform to kick myself off from, but also allowing me to share the evening with other such talented writers. There was a lot of love in the room that evening.

So, with a slew of unplanned days ahead of me, I will be doing (or endeavour to do) more semi-regular posts, on plays/films/TV I have seen, opinions I have, or updates on what I am working on. I imagine I’ll start out trying for once a week, probably on a Sunday or Monday, then fall back to bi-weekly, once a month, once every two months, and so into oblivion. But in all honesty, I hope I can keep it regular and plentiful. I have a few posts planned for the next few weeks, so watch this space. I may even have one by tomorrow.

Anyway, enjoy these lovely photos, and I’ll be writing soon.

Much love, CJ xx

Holding an audience rapt by barring the exits and turning all the chairs towards me
‘I don’t know what I want to say. But I’ll say it anyway.’ (I imagine whatever it was I was grasping for amounted to this)
OK but I really like this picture. No scornful comments here. Just love.
Q&A after the readings. It’s hard to hide when you’ve got nothing to say and a mouth that won’t shut up.
Another genuinely lovely picture; sharing a laugh with the superbly talented Grace Chipperfield.

SYD2016: Home

Not my photography: how in hell could I take this?? Credit in picture.



It’s happened, I’ve done it. I’ve become a writer cliché. I’m writing in Starbucks.

It’s Tuesday, 2nd of February, and I’ve been in Sydney all of 20 hours. In that time I have walked to the Quay and back, and watched the second episode of the X-Files revival. As far as holidays go, this one is shaping up to be a doozy.

I don’t know if I can term this a holiday though. Between now and Saturday, most of my time will be spent being a tourist. But this is mostly because I bring in tow with me someone who has never been to this city (not a criticism, just an observation). But I don’t feel like a tourist. I feel quite comfortable. I’ve been in Sydney so many times over the last year (well, three times—in terms of travel, this is the most I’ve visited a place outside South Australia because OF COURSE Moonta doesn’t count, that place is like a second home). So Sydney, too, feels like a second home. A bigger, grosser, more observable home, but home nonetheless. I feel like this is a good thing.

I’m in Sydney to be a part of the rehearsals for ATYP’s Voices Project: All Good Things. Tonight I’m going to their first dress run, and I’m pretty goddamn nervous. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because this is the first time I’ve felt like “imposter syndrome”—like I’m a fraud, like I’ve cheated my way to where I am right now. But I don’t feel like I don’t deserve this; I am very proud of my small achievement. I just can’t shake the feeling that someone’s going to turn around and go ‘Sorry, there was a mistake, you need to go home now’.

Because there’s that word again. Home. There is every chance Sydney could reject me—no matter how much I run towards it, no matter how comfortable I feel here, no matter that I could conceivably call it “home” too. I feel that in the constant thrum of foot traffic on George Street, a huge artery that runs right through the CBD. Nobody’s going to stop for you (not that I’m asking them to), so if you can’t go with the flow get the hell out.

So I guess I feel like a fish out of water. Wow. I must be the first person to feel that way.

Just like I’m the first person to write in a Starbucks.

Hello World…

Hello fan,

If you have found this page, that means you either know who I am or are terribly lost. If the latter, please find your exit to the right and kindly close the door on your way out.

IF, on the other hand, you are here entirely of your own volition, welcome! On here you will find my bio, links to my work and ways to contact me.

I hope you find what you’re looking for on here.

All my love,

CJ xx