Holding the Man has become one of the most successful Australian stage productions in recent years.

Holding the Man broke box office records, achieving a total of 4 sell out seasons in Sydney, including a transfer to Sydney Opera House, Company B Belvoir, followed by a national tour to Brisbane’s Powerhouse and Melbourne Theatre Company. A United States and NZ production followed and now, the European premiere will be staged in London’s West End in the Spring of 2010.

The multi award winning play’s accolades include 2007 NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Best Play, the 2007 AWGIE for Best Play and the Philip Parsons Award.

It hails from Griffin Theatre Company, that has provided many of this country’s great stage to screen inspirations including The Heartbreak Kid, The Boys (nominated for 13 AFIs) and winner of the AFI Award for Best Feature Film Lantana (from the stage play Speaking in Tongues).

The term "holding the man" comes from Australian football and refers to a transgression that incurs a penalty.


The course of teenage love rarely runs smooth, but it is a white-water adventure if you are a gay boy in an all-male school in 1970s Melbourne with a crush on the captain of the football team. Still, despite the odds, Tim and John become close and for fifteen years their relationship survives everything life throws at it – the separations, the discriminations, the temptations, the jealousies and the losses – until the only problem that love can’t solve turns up to part them.

For many Australians, Timothy Conigrave’s best selling memoir about his fifteen-year relationship with John Caleo captured better than any book of the period what it was like being young and gay during the eighties AIDS crisis. Those who loved the book will find that this adaptation by Tommy Murphy transfers every ounce of honesty, humour and heart-wrenching irony to the stage.

Tim and John met in high school in the mid-1970s. Tim was in the school production of Romeo & Juliet, and had a crush on John. John was the captain of the football team, and wanted to play for Essendon football club. By the end of high school even their yearbook acknowledged them as the year’s cutest couple.

This story is breathtakingly honest, achingly funny and a completely heart-wrenching account of their relationship. It’s a story and a celebration, that speaks across generations, sexual preference and cultures.

HOLDING THE MAN recreates the true life relationship that Timothy and his partner John shared in 70-80s Melbourne and Sydney, spanning 15 years, a love affair that weathered disapproval, separation and ultimately death.

With honesty, humour and insight, it manages to explore the highs and lows of any partnership: the intimacy, constraints and temptations.

The Book

Holding the Man (published by Penguin Australia) is the best-selling memoir by Australian writer, actor, and activist Timothy Conigrave. Completed in 1994 on his deathbed, Conigrave’s memoir was first published in 1995 and has since been reprinted thirteen times in Australia (most recently in January 2009) with subsequent editions in Spain and North America. Holding the Man won the United Nations Human Rights Award for Non-Fiction in 1995 and was listed in "100 Favourite Australian Books" by the Australian Society of Authors in 2003.

The Awards

Winner, 2007 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Best Play
Winner, 2007 Australian Writers' Guild Award (AWGIE), Best Play
Winner, 2007 Aussietheatre.com Online Awards for Best Play
Nomination, 2007 Helpmann Award for Best Play
Nomination, 2007 Sydney Theatre Awards, Best New Australian Work
Nomination, 2007 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, Best Play