Sydney Theatre Company has announced Tommy Murphy as the 2015 Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellow, with Neil Levi the recipient of the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award for his play, Kin in a ceremony at the Company’s Wharf Theatre on Friday evening.
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 of $7,500 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.
An award-winning playwright and screen writer, Tommy Murphy’s work includes the stage and screen adaptations of Holding the Man – which won the Australian Writers’ Guild Award and the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Screenplay.
In receiving the award, Tommy said: “John Waters purchased Patrick White’s waste paper basket. I suppose the great U.S. filmmaker reasoned that even the receptacle for White’s discarded ideas would benefit a workplace.”
“I also long for a bit of White’s inspired dust to rub off on me. Gratefully accepting a fellowship that bears his name is probably as close as I’ll ever get – as well as the nourishment I gain when I read the great man’s novels or attend his plays.
“I am particularly excited to be on The Wharf at the outset of Jonathan Church’s Artistic Directorship and to be again working alongside Polly Rowe, the STC Literary Manager, who now has a long history nurturing plays in this city. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity and its inducements to get busy,” added Murphy
Previous Patrick White Fellows include Raimondo Cortese, Patricia Cornelius, Hilary Bell, Kate Mulvany and Angela Betzien – whose new play The Hanging premieres at Sydney Theatre Company in July.
Neil Levi grew up in Western Australia and is currently working on a play about political violence in the 1970s. He studied at UWA, and has a Masters and Doctorate in English and Comparative Literature from New York’s Columbia University. He currently teaches in the English Department at Drew University in New Jersey.
Kin is an absurdist tragedy about who we grieve, how we grieve, and when it might be right to stop. Moving between highly poeticised, rhythmic dialogue and wild, free-flowing monologues, the play tells the story of the tragic collision of two families (from different religions and classes), each of which holds the other responsible for the death of one of their own.
For this year’s Award, 131 scripts were anonymously submitted to readers and judges. Following the announcement of the Awards, a rehearsed reading of Neil Levi’s Kin was presented featuring Danielle Cormack, Yure Covich, Deborah Kennedy, Rebecca Massey and Susan Prior.
For more information about the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and Fellowship, visit: www.sydneytheatre.com.au for details.
Image: STC Artistic Director Jonathan Church, Tommy Murphy, STC Literary Manager Polly Rowe and Neil Levi – photo courtesy of Sydney Theatre Company