Belvoir is pleased to announce Kamilaroi man Thomas Weatherall as the 2021 Balnaves Foundation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellow. A $25,000 paid residency, the Balnaves Fellowship gives the Fellow the opportunity to work at Belvoir as a resident artist to create a work for the stage.
The Fellowship seeks to be deeply collaborative, offering an invitation to have a voice in Belvoir’s artistic decision-making processes and the opportunity to support other Indigenous artists through Belvoir’s creative development and programming.
The Fellowship (previously the Balnaves Award) has long been recognised as one of the most prestigious playwriting awards in Australia, attracting entrants of the highest calibre.
Previous recipients (including Leah Purcell, Nakkiah Lui, Kodie Bedford and Nathan Maynard) have submitted exceptional works that consistently affirm the depth of talent amongst our nation’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theatre-makers.
“We believe that supporting the next generation of artists and funding new Australian work at the creative development stage is extremely important,” said Hamish Balnaves, CEO of The Balnaves Foundation.
“Philanthropy provides the opportunity to bring new Indigenous works to new audiences; engaging, challenging and educating them. These stories play a vital role in truth telling, treaty and reconciliation.”
“We are excited to congratulate Thomas on the award and to see how he will use the fellowship to further develop his writing and directorial talent,” said Mr Balnaves.
Weatherall’s new play Blue (working title) is a delicate and personal work, intimate in delivery but epic in its visual and linguistic virtuosity. Blue follows Mark, a 20-year-old man, in and out of memories and the present as he works through personal and familial grief.
Examining the damaging and segregating ways youthful masculinity can push us away from facing the taboo topics like mental health, loss and falling in love, Mark grows and begins to find a more hopeful and honest way forward.
With the ocean a constant backdrop, turbulent and inevitable, both literal and metaphorical, Blue’s inherent poetry demands an exhilarating theatrical inventiveness.
Weatherall is a 21-year old Kamilaroi man, based in Brisbane. He is an actor, writer and dancer, best known for his work in Channel 7’s RFDS and ABC’s All My Friends Are Racist.
In 2020 Weatherall was named as one of Casting Guild Australia’s “Rising Stars” and since then has continued to solidify his standing in the industry across stage and screen, making his theatre debut this year with ATYP’s Follow Me Home at the SBW Stables Theatre.
It was announced recently that he will be starring in Netflix’s Heartbreak High in 2022. Weatherall is currently developing a number of works, branching out into other creative fields and exploring more personal stories.
“First Nations artists are always thinking in new ways about the stories they want to tell and how they want to tell them,” said Eamon Flack, Belvoir Artistic Director. “The Balnaves Fellowship is a way for us to support those artists and ideas.”
“This Fellowship doesn’t just support Thomas’s work, it gives Thomas a say in Belvoir’s work, and invites him to work alongside Kodie Bedford as a resident artist inside the company.”
“It’s exciting for us say yes to Thomas’ work, and we’re glad to accept the responsibility of supporting him to carry his story to the stage,” said Mr Flack.
“I’m beyond thrilled that Thomas has been awarded the Balnaves Fellowship. Not only is he multi-talented as a dancer and actor, but also an incredible emerging talent as a writer,” said Kodie Bedford, Belvoir Artistic Associate and 2018 Balnaves Fellow.
“His pitch literally took my breath away and I cannot wait until he shares it with the rest of the world. Welcome to the Belvoir family, Thomas!”
For more information about the Balnaves Foundation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellowship, visit: www.belvoir.com.au for details.
Image: Thomas Weatherall – photo by Kate Williams