Sydney Theatre Company (STC) has announced Sue Smith as the 2017 Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellow, with Kim Ho the recipient of the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award for his play, Mirror’s Edge – which was presented as a rehearsed reading to a sell-out audience at the Richard Wherrett Studio at the Roslyn Packer Theatre last night.
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.
Smith is well known to STC audiences for her play Kryptonite in 2014 which was nominated for Best Play at the 2014 Sydney Theatre Awards, as well as Machu Picchu in 2016 which starred Lisa McCune and Darren Gilshenan.
“I am absolutely rapt to be selected as the STC’s 2018 Patrick White Fellow.,” said Smith. “This is an incredible privilege and an opportunity for which I’m very very grateful. All aspects of this Fellowship represent wonderful learning opportunities.”
“Firstly, to have access to the inner workings of a large and forward looking theatre company is a dream come true to a playwright. This is a chance to be part of the company, to learn how it works, how it thinks, how it makes its choices, how it decides exactly what will speak to its audience, and how it will frame that conversation.”
“And, on a micro level, it’s a chance to watch rehearsals and company runs and to see the nuts and bolts of how successful plays are pieced together. All of which will make a better writer.”
“Secondly, of course, there’s the commission and a chance to develop a new work alongside some of the best theatre minds in the country – the chance to tap them on the shoulder regularly and say ‘hey, what do you think about this?’ A chance any playwright would kill for.”
“And, perhaps most importantly, there’s the opportunity to work with the company’s four emerging playwrights – bright talented thoughtful young people who represent the theatrical voices of the future. I understand that my role with them is mentorship, but I’m in absolutely no doubt that they will teach me a great deal more than I’m likely to teach them! So thank you, STC. I can’t wait to start!”
Previous STC Patrick White Fellows are Andrew Bovell, Tommy Murphy, Kate Mulvany, Angela Betzien, Hilary Bell, Patricia Cornelius and Raimondo Cortese.
126 scripts were submitted anonymously for the 2017 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award, with the prize of $7500 for an original, unproduced script presented to Kim Ho for Mirror’s Edge. The judges applauded the ambition and inventiveness of the play.
Spanning three timelines between 1851 and the present, the play has broad reach but is neatly contained in a single location: Lake Tyrell in Victoria, a destination that in recent years has attracted a massive influx of Chinese tourists. The characters who populate the play are richly and sympathetically drawn. They interact with each other in surprising ways, unfettered by temporal confines.
Each character is distinct in experience and world view; yet each is searching for some peace here and within themselves. The use of liquid time and a series of potentially beautiful motif images give the play a powerful sense of theatricality. Mirror’s Edge allows us to glimpse our past and hints at what our future might be.
The evening culminated in a rehearsed reading of Mirror’s Edge directed by STC’s Directing Associate, Jessica Arthur, and performed by Mathew Cooper, Phoebe Grainer, Eliza Logan, Ivy Mak, Michelle Ny, Ella Prince, Justin Smith and Courtney Stewart.
It was also announced that the STC’s Emerging Writers’ Group participants would continue in the group for another year. Now in its second year, the Emerging Writer’s Group aims to encourage the next generation of Australian playwrights, supporting their professional development, expanding skill sets and helping them discover and hone their own distinctive voices.
Emme Hoy, Julian Larnach, Moreblessing Maturure and Disapol Savetsila will continue to meet regularly throughout the year-long program and will be mentored by STC’s Artistic Director, Literary Manager, Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellow and resident directors.
They also 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. All participants also have the opportunity to develop a commission pitch for STC programming consideration. For more information, visit: www.sydneytheatre.com.au for details.
Image: Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellow Sue Smith, STC Artistic Director Kip Williams, STC Literary Manager Polly Rowe and Patrick White Playwrights’ Award winner Kim Ho – photo by Pedro Greig