Sydney Theatre Company (STC) has announced Andrew Bovell as the 2016 Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellow, with Lewis Treston the recipient of the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award for his play, Hot Tub in a ceremony on Friday evening. STC also announced the Emerging Writers’ Group – a new initiative that aims to encourage the next generation of Australian playwrights.
The Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and Fellowship are annual initiatives of Sydney Theatre Company that foster the development of Australian playwrights. The Award offers a cash prize for a full-length unproduced play written by an Australian playwright over 18 years of age. The Fellowship is a position for an established Australian playwright, who receives $12,500 for a year-long Fellowship and a commission, also worth $12,500, to write a new play.
One of Australia’s foremost playwrights, Bovell’s work is well known to STC audiences, with his acclaimed adaptation of Kate Grenville’s The Secret River premiering in 2013 before touring throughout Australia. In 2015, STC staged a hilarious revival of his 1980s play After Dinner Wharf, and Brink’s production of When the Rain Stops Falling was presented by STC in 2009.
“Where the novelist and the poet can exist alone and in isolation, the playwright seeks to work in collaboration with other theatre artists; actors, directors, designers and composers,” said Bovell on receiving the Award. “Great theatre comes out of the relationship between these disciplines and it’s our theatre companies that bring these disciplines together.”
“As a playwright, I want to be as much a part of the companies that produce my work as possible. I want to belong. I want to collaborate. The Patrick White Fellowship offers me the opportunity to be a part of Sydney Theatre Company and its creative team under Kip Williams’ artistic directorship.”
“It is an opportunity to build on the strong and successful relationship between us that led to The Secret River. I’m looking forward to beginning a new work with and for the company of equal ambition and importance.”
“As part of the Fellowship, I also look forward to mentoring and working with STC’s newly announced Emerging Writers’ Group. It’s an important initiative and one that acknowledges the company’s commitment to developing the writers of the next generation.”
“I’d like to thank STC for this recognition and support and to acknowledge the lasting importance of Patrick White’s work. White revealed Australia to itself in a way it had never been seen before. He and Dorothy Hewett captured something deeply truthful about this country. It seems to me that this is central to the task of a playwright.”
Previous Patrick White Fellows include Raimondo Cortese, Patricia Cornelius, Hilary Bell, Angela Betzien, Kate Mulvany and Tommy Murphy.
This year, 106 original, unproduced play scripts were submitted anonymously for this $7500 prize. It was Lewis Treston’s play Hot Tub which most impressed the judges. Treston’s eccentric comedy, set on the Gold Coast, follows the fading fortunes of a dysfunctional family who own and live in a 20-storey high-rise.
When their estranged daughter comes to live with the family she finds herself drawn into a chaotic world of money-making scams and enterprises. She finds herself embroiled in the sex industry, organised crime and the opportunistic underbelly of Australia’s playground.
Hot Tub received a rehearsed reading at Wharf 2 directed by STC’s Richard Wherrett Fellow Jessica Arthur, with the cast of Tony Cogin, Jennifer Hagan, Mark Hill, Patrick Jhanur, Amber McMahon, Susan Prior and Contessa Treffone.
STC’s new Emerging Writers’ Group supports the next generation of Australian playwrights through professional development – expanding their skill sets and helping them discover and hone their own distinctive voices.
The inaugural group of writers are Emme Hoy, Julian Larnach, Moreblessing Maturure and Disapol Savetsila, who will meet regularly throughout the year-long program and be mentored by STC’s Artistic Director, Literary Manager, Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellow and resident directors.
They will attend STC productions, company runs and take part in workshops with STC artists, as well as have opportunities to discuss work they see and their own artistic practice. Each participant will also have the opportunity to develop a commission pitch for STC programming consideration. For more information, visit: www.sydneytheatre.com.au for details.
Image: Back Row – Moreblessing Maturure, Lewis Treston, STC Artistic Director Kip Williams and Disapol Savetsila. Front Row – Emme Hoy, Julian Larnach, Andrew Bovell and STC Literary Manager Polly Rowe – photo courtesy of STC