Fleur’s standout script, Whale was described by the judges as “having a fascinating voice and being thematically gorgeous.” She will receive a $15,000 cash prize, coupled with a $15,000 contribution towards creative development of the play at Playwriting Australia’s National Script Workshop.
“Whale is a phenomenal piece of writing. It is brimming with imagination and ingenuity,” said Tim Roseman, Artistic Director Playwriting Australia. “The ideas Fleur are exploring are potent, ripe and urgent, but it’s rare to find a piece of theatre that explores climate change with such a compelling mix of playfulness and authority. I’ve no doubt that Whale will be a significant marker in how the arts deals with the great issues of our time.”
The judges of the 2108 award were co-artistic director of Black Honey Company Candy Bowers; award-winning playwright Vanessa Bates; and Helpmann winner director Leticia Cáceres with Tim Roseman, Artistic Director of Playwriting Australia.
Unanimously they judged Whale as “a work that has the skill and imagination to grapple with climate change, something so complex and contested that we thought theatre couldn’t engage with it”. The judges remarked upon Kilpatrick’s impressive skill saying Whale has “beautiful ingenuity and is a wonderful example of why and how theatre can bring people together for urgent global experiences’.
“I am so relieved that the judges read Whale and believed it is important for theatre to speak directly to the world around us,” said Fleur. “I am immensely grateful that the Max Afford Playwrights’ Award exists and that Perpetual is supporting young playwrights. It is the kind of award that helps you stay in the industry; that helps you take that time off to finish that draft and that helps you be brave enough to keep telling big, urgent stories.”
“Whale means so much to me. For years I’ve been wanting to find a way to express my worry about both climate change and theatre’s difficulty with confronting big issues. There is wonderful art out there about climate change but theatremakers can at times be fearful of being too didactic when it comes to climate change or politics so these subjects become metaphors or subtext rather than direct discussions.”
Playwriting Australia has also announced that two other talented young playwrights – Ang Collins and Zoe Cooper – were considered highly commended by the judges for their plays Mate and For Unknown Reasons respectively.
The Max Afford Playwrights’ Award was set up by the will of the late Thelma May Afford (1908-1996), in memory of her husband, Max Afford (1906-1954). Malcolm (Max) Afford was a multiple award-winning Australian playwright and novelist who wrote more than sixty radio and stage plays, and eight crime novels, making him also one of the first Australian playwrights to gain international recognition.
For more information, visit: www.pwa.org.au for details.
Image: Fleur Kilpatrick – photo by Sarah Walker