Stephen Carleton wins the 2015 Griffin Award for new Australian Playwriting

Stephen CarletonGriffin Theatre Company has announced that Brisbane playwright Stephen Carleton is the recipient of the 2015 Griffin Award for new Australian Playwriting for his work, The Turquoise Elephant.

The Turquoise Elephant is a shockingly funny and black, black, black farce. It is an accomplished political comedy from a very clever, very wicked playwright who sees all our hypocrisies about climate change and the environment and turns them into his weapons in the fight for the planet,” said Griffin Artistic Director, Lee Lewis.

“At a time when excellence in the arts is a focus of conversations, the Griffin Award is proving to be a beacon in the industry for the discovery of great talent, extraordinary plays and the source of excellent theatrical experiences on our Main Stage.”

“Griffin Theatre Company is making an extraordinary contribution to the building of the Australian canon with successful productions of award-winning plays – bringing great plays to the audiences they are written for. This year we are thrilled to discover The Turquoise Elephant – we are sure you will be too.”

Carleton was awarded $10,000, while all shortlisted plays received a $1,000 cash prize, supported by Copyright Agency Limited. The prize was announced after five actors (Fayssal Bazzi, Jeanette Cronin Meredith Penman, Govinda Roser-Finch and Georgia Wilde) read excerpts of work from the five shortlisted plays:  Home Invasion by Christopher Bryant (Melbourne) Looking Glass by Louris van de Geer (Melbourne)  Ozymandias by Julian Larnach (Sydney) The Almighty Sometimes by Kendall Feaver (Sydney) and The Turquoise Elephant by Stephen Carleton (Brisbane).

148 new plays were entered in the competition this year and were read by the 2015 Griffin Studio Artists, facilitated by Griffin Artistic staff, Lee Lewis and Ben Winspear. The 2015 judges include John McCallum, Theatre Critic, Academic and creator of Griffin’s Script Club,  Hilary Bell, playwright, teacher and author, and director Andrea Moor.

For nearly forty years Griffin Theatre Company has been Australia’s new writing theatre. Griffin exists to bring new writing for the stage to national and international attention.  Now in its eighteenth year, the prestigious national Griffin Award recognises an outstanding play that displays an authentic, inventive and contemporary Australian voice, and has a long history of unearthing new talent and building the careers of Australian writers.

Brendan Cowell’s first play Rabbit won the Award in 2003. Debra Oswald’s Mr Bailey’s Minder won in 2004 and successfully toured the country – she is also the creator of Offspring. Aidan Fennessy won with Brutopia in 2010 – the production of his play The House on the Lake ended an incredibly successful season at Griffin last week.

Past winner Mary Rachel Brown’s play The Dapto Chaser comes to Griffin next week as part of Griffin Independent, and the 2014 Griffin Award winner, Angus Cerini is in rehearsal for the production of his winning play The Bleeding Tree, which starts previewing from 31 July.

Stephen Carleton is an award-winning playwright and theatre academic. He won the 2004/5 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award with Constance Drinkwater and the Final Days of Somerset. The play was produced by QTC in 2006, and was also shortlisted for an AWGIE, the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award and a Queensland Premier’s Literary (Drama) Award in 2007.

His play The Narcissist was shortlisted for the same award, and was produced by La Boite Theatre Company and then Sydney Theatre Company in 2008. It won a Matilda Award for best new production in 2008. His most recent work is Bastard Territory, shortlisted for both the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award (2011) and QPDA (2012), and premiere production in 2014 with JUTE.

He has also written a number of plays and political cabarets for Knock-em-Down Theatre and Darwin Theatre Company in the NT, and JUTE in Cairns. Recent musical theatre commissions include Madame Carandini’s Travelling Musical Curiosity Show (produced by Metro Arts), an adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters for the Kransky Sisters at La Boite, and a Queensland Music Festival production The Road We’re On in Charleville in 2009.

For more information, visit: www.griffintheatre.com.au for details.

Image: Stephen Carleton

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