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Writer, performer, arts facilitator

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Rachel is a writer, performer, and arts facilitator whose debut novel Bridget Crack (A&U 2017) won the Premier's Literary Prizes, Tasmania Book Award 2019, and the Tasmania Book Award, People's Choice Award 2019 as well as being a finalist in the MUD prize for an Australian debut novel (2018), and highly commended in the Goodest Prize for the best book about a dog (2018).  Her one-woman show 'Everything Must Go' premiered at La Mama (2011) and over the next three years toured regional Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, playing at over 100 venues.  She has published and won awards for a number of pieces of short fiction (Tasmanian Writer’s Prize 2015, winner; The Age Short Story Competition 2011, commendation; Boroondara Literary Awards 2007, runner-up).  Her writing has appeared in publications such as: Southerly, Island, Forty Degrees South Short Story Anthology, and Allnighter.  In 2014 she received a mentorship from the Australian Society of Authors to develop her novel manuscript. Bridget Crack.

            At the University of Tasmania Rachel attained a BSc with honours in Cultural Geography.  Her undergraduate study in natural sciences and her post graduate research into landscape and place has informed her arts practice.  She went on to  training extensively in physical theatre, clown and improvisation.  She also completed RMIT’s Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing.  From 2015-2018 Rachel was contracted by the Arts Health Institute to deliver creative interventions for elders in aged care living with dementia.  


Published by Allen & Unwin, August 2017

Van Diemen’s Land, 1826. When Bridget Crack flees her master’s isolated property to walk back to Hobart Town she has no idea just how far off the road she will go, or how hard it will be to ever get back on it.

Bridget stands on the deck of the ship looking around at the place she has been brought to. She has never seen anything like it. What kind of place is this? In Hobart Town, unable to settle to the life of a domestic servant she is sent from one place to another and then to the ‘Interior’ where the hard cases are sent. When her taciturn and unpredictable new master allows a convict servant to die, Bridget leaves seeking the security of Hobart Town. What she finds instead—what finds her—is Matt Sheedy, a man on the run. Bushrangers. Does she fall in with them? Or take up with them? Either way, their camp is a long way from the road. Surrounded by roaring rivers and towering columns of rock Bridget must negotiate a madman, and survive.

Set against a time of sweeping change in Van Diemen’s Land, a time when the violence between the aboriginals and the colonists is escalating Bridget Crack is a moving story of a woman’s journey through a beautiful and brutal landscape and of the man who goes out to bring her back. In the face of terrible darkness, everyone must find out what they cling to. 

Rachel is represented by

Grace Heifetz @ Leftbank Literary.  

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In 2006 I did a one-day character comedy workshop at Melbourne Fringe, (organized by Nelly Thomas & Tanya Lossano) and Nancy Browne was born.  I performed her at a few comedy venues around Melbourne and then in 2007 was in the Victorian Raw Comedy finals as ‘Nance’.  I began work on a show with the character and then Damian Callinan came on board to help me shape the script and the performance.  The result: ‘Everything Must Go’, had its first season at La Mama in 2011 and then over a four year period went on to tour regional Victoria, regional QLD, and then WA.



Tracksuit.  Trackie.  Trackie Dacks.  An expose of one of Australia's most controversial clothing items.  Part homage, part trackiepedia, the show will follow the tracksuit through time from Olympic glory to Saturday afternoon lawn mowing, gangster symbol and ‘I wouldn’t be seen wearing one outside the house’.  It asks: ‘Who loves trackies, who hates them and why?’

‘Tracksuit’ was performed as part of La Mama’s Exploration series in 2014, as a show in development.  (It will be further developed in the near future!)

In this new work I intend to create a live performance event that uses physical theatre, documentary (including film/audiovisual) and comedy to tell a personal story as well as examining the tracksuit and ‘trackie’ as part of Australian culture, the role that it has played and does play in our lives, the way that our ‘personal trackie wearing behaviours’ are influenced by subculture, prejudice (shame), space and fashion.


‘The apparel oft proclaims the man’ Shakespeare 

‘I think it’s time to reclaim the humble trackie and celebrate its genius.  Trackie pants have given us a lot.  Let’s give something back.’  Myf Warhurst.  



Rachel Leary has been performing professionally for over fifteen years.  She has trained in  physical comedy, clown, improvisation and character comedy and performed roving acts at festivals, community and corporate events nationally and internationally. She has twice been a RAW comedy Victorian state finalist.

Arts Health Institute Play Up Program


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