In a year spent tending to the dead, a young man learns to live.

A world premiere production and winner of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2020–21.

Steve never imagined he’d end up working in the funeral industry. But when he finds himself living back home in Toowoomba to save up for his wedding, it’s the only job he can get.

The year he spends working among the dead opens his eyes to what awaits us at the end and what it means to live.

With respect, wit and a nod to pop culture, Steve takes us on a journey that celebrates finding your place in the world, the power of personal redemption and humility in the face of the big questions.

Return to the Dirt is a refreshing, honest and surprisingly uplifting invitation to start the conversations we all try to avoid.

Content Warnings: high level, frequent coarse language; adult themes including references to suicide, bereavement, dead bodies, death-related matters and depictions of self-harm.

★★★★ “Funny, moving, and surprisingly informative. RETURN TO THE DIRT draws back the curtain on a notoriously opaque industry”


“This play is sheer genius. It’s bloody brilliant. What a marvellous piece of theatre. I gave the cast a standing ovation on their first curtain call and I stood clapping long after they’d left the stage. I hope everyone gets to see this, young and old. Bravo Steve Pirie and the team at Queensland theatre. Would love to see more works like this.”


“There is so much to love about this show, it definitely leaves one with a sense of pride, that work like this is being created and supported in Queensland. This is a distinctly Australian story told in our voice, with so much of that irreverent, dark, dry Australian sense of humour. It’s also jam packed full of meaning, love, sensitivity, and beauty. It reminds you of what is important in life and in death.”



Greg/Ensemble Chris Baz
Steve Mitchell Bourke
 Sophie Cox
Deb/Ensemble Jeanette Cronin
Lucy/Jess/Ensemble Miyuki Lotz
The Playwright Steve Pirie
Aara Afraz/Cleo Davis

Creative Team

Writer Steve Pirie
 Lee Lewis
Designer Renée Mulder
Lighting Designer 
Ben Hughes
Composer and Sound Designer
 Julian Starr
Associate Lighting Designer 
Christine Felmingham

Stage Manager Kat O’Halloran
Deputy Stage Manager 
Yanni Dubler
Assistant Stage Manager 
Natalie Callaghan
Assistant Stage Manager (Rehearsals) Pip Loth
Production Observation
 Makiko Shibuya

Wedding Dance Choreographer Dale Pengelly
Professional Ballroom Dance
 Instructor Blair Petterd
Ballroom Dance Consultant
 Carol Jelley
Vocal Consultant 
Megan Shorey