Playwright takes top prize at 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

Mary Anne Butler Mary Anne Butler has become the first playwright to win Australia’s richest literary award, the Victorian Prize for Literature, for her emotionally charged play Broken.

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley announced the win, worth $125,000, at the 2016 Premier’s Literary Awards in Melbourne on Thursday night. The Darwin-based writer also took out the Drama category. A three-time winner of the Northern Territory Literary Award for scriptwriting, Mary Anne is also co-Artistic Director of Darwin’s Knock-em-Down Theatre Company.

Selected from a strong field of 21 finalists across five categories, the judges described Broken as an extremely well-crafted work that brings alive Australia’s top end – the land and its people – with tension, sadness and humour, and tells the story of three complex lives as they unfold on a single fateful night in the heart of the Northern Territory’s desert country. The play wrestles with matters of chance, choice, hope and fate.

The other category winners included: Mireille Juchau (Fiction) for The World Without Us; Gerald Murnane (Non-Fiction) for Something for the Pain; Alan Loney (Poetry) for Crankhandle; and Marlee Jane Ward (Writing for Young Adults) for Welcome to Orphancorp. They each receive $25,000. Miles Allinson, who won the 2014 award for an Unpublished Manuscript, was announced as winner of the People’s Choice Award for Fever of Animals.

“This year’s winners reflect the richness and diversity of contemporary Australian writing – from sharp edged storytelling to spellbinding memoir, evocative theatre and dazzling poetry,” said Minister Foley. “At a challenging time for our local literary and publishing industries, these winners demonstrate that local writers and writing are worth celebrating and protecting.”

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards were established in 1985 to honour literary achievement by Australian writers. They are administered by The Wheeler Centre on behalf of the Premier of Victoria.

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Image: Mary Anne Butler