The Silver Gull Play Award 2023 shortlist announced

NT The Silver Gull by Michael TonkinNew Theatre has announced the shortlist for The Silver Gull Play Award for 2023. The competition attracted a large variety of entries, with an extremely high standard of scripts submitted.

The judging panel has read, assessed and discussed each submission multiple times. The identity of the writers was kept anonymous from the judges, so the shortlist truly reflects a determination made on merit, based solely on the quality of the writing.

After a month of deliberation, a shortlist of five plays has been selected. The judges were impressed by how each writer responded to the brief for plays that speak to New Theatre’s ethos of ‘Plays With a Purpose’ – the merit of scripts demonstrates the amazing strength and diversity of playwriting in this country.

The Silver Gull Play Award 2023 shortlist:

  • Next To Godliness by Alastair Brown
  • Chicken In A Biscuit by Mary Rachel Brown and Jamie Oxenbould
  • Burning by Christopher Bryant
  • The Mews by Joanna Erskine
  • The Dragonfly by Simon Thomson

The curator of the awards is New Theatre’s Artistic Associate, Helen Tonkin, and the judging panel for this year’s award is: Louise Fischer (Artistic Director, New Theatre), Helen Tonkin, New Theatre’s Play Assessors panel (Annie Bilton, Michael Briggs, John Keightley, Doug Cairns, Susan Jordan, Sahn Millington), Saro Lusty Cavallari (freelance director), Joy Minter (sponsor of the award), Patrick Howard (freelance theatre-maker and Arts on Tour Program Manager), Eloise Snape (freelance actor/writer/producer, and Creative Producer, Critical Stages), and Jeremy Waters (freelance actor/producer and Artistic Director, Outhouse Theatre Company).


Alastair Brown
Alastair spent four years studying acting at Flinders University Drama Centre before deciding, the moment that he graduated, that he’d rather be a writer instead. Since then he has written novels, stage plays, screenplays, reviews, and even a couple of songs. His short story Remembrance In Skin recently appeared in issue 150 of Aurealis magazine, he won a Best Writing award for his short play Flat in the Melbourne Short + Sweet play festival, and his comic book reviews appear on the YouTube channel Kapow! (which he also co-hosted for several years). Alastair lives in Sydney, New South Wales with his wife and with several cats who have started to demand he include them in everything he writes.

Mary Rachel Brown
Mary has an Associate Diploma in Performing Arts and is the recipient of the following National Playwriting Awards: the Lysicrates Prize, the Rodney Seaborn Award, the Max Afford Award and the Griffin Award. Her latest work Rosieville, was the runner-up in the 2021 Shane and Cathryn Brennan Prize, and the play will be staged by Canberra Youth Theatre this September.

Mary’s most notable work is The Dapto Chaser, which was commissioned and developed by Merrigong and reproduced by Apocalypse Theatre. The play was screened at Dendy Cinemas as part of Australian Theatre Live’s program. Other works for the stage include Betty Blokk Buster Reimagined (contributing writer, Sydney Festival), Dead Cat Bounce (Griffin Theatre Company), All My Sleep and Waking and Permission to Spin (Apocalypse Theatre), Inside Out (Christine Dunstan Productions), and an adaptation of Die Fledermaus (Sydney Conservatorium of Music).

Mary’s TV credits include sketch writing for The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting for ABC and several episodes of Home and Away for Channel 7. Mary is a proud member of The Australian Writers Guild and a supporter of WITS (Women in Theatre and Screen).

Jamie Oxenbould
Jamie has been an actor for over 30 years and has worked for most of the major theatre companies in Sydney. Recent theatre credits as an actor include Family Values (Griffin); The Miser (Bell Shakespeare); The Literati (Bell Shakespeare & Griffin);  ErnaniLa Traviata (Opera Australia); Trevor (Outhouse Theatre); Eurydice, The Village Bike (Old Fitz); The Dapto Chaser (Apocalypse Theatre); Good WorksThe Hypochondriac (Darlinghurst Theatre); Baby Doll, The Woman in BlackChapter TwoCasanovaFully CommittedLast of the Red Hot LoversNeighbourhood WatchDiary of an Olympic CabbieThe Spear CarrierWhen Dad Married Fury (Ensemble Theatre) The Tempest, Macbeth (STC).

Jamie’s writing credits include The Doug Mulray Show (2MMM); In Melbourne TonightThe James O’Loughlin Show (ABC TV); Love Rules (Screentime); The Spear Carrier (Ensemble Theatre), and his play Gods and Little Fishes, cowritten with Richard Sydenham, won the Silver Gull Play Award in 2020 and had its world premiere production at New Theatre in 2022, in which he also appeared.

Christopher Bryant
Dr. Christopher Bryant is a Griffin Award nominated playwright (Home Invasion, 2015), performer, and NIDA graduate (Master of Fine Arts – Writing for Performance, 2014). He has worked with a range of companies including fortyfivedownstairs, Malthouse Theatre, the State Library of Victoria, Wheeler Centre, ATYP, La Mama, and the Emerging Writers Festival. He has been shortlisted twice for the Silver Gull Play Award, for Disinhibition (2018) and Inside Out (2022).

Recent work includes his “coup of pop culture [and] social satire” Home Invasion (The Buzz from Sydney, 2018), and the “brilliantly engrossing” New Balance (Suzy Goes See, 2023).  He has had plays published through Play Lab and Australian Plays Transform, and is a current participant in Accessible Arts’ NEXT LEVEL Creative Mentorship program, working with Merrigong Theatre Company.

Joanna Erskine
Joanna is an award-winning playwright, creative producer, teacher and arts education specialist. A graduate of NIDA, Joanna is a two-time winner of the Silver Gull Play Award (People Will Think You Don’t Love Me, 2016, and Field of Vision, 2019), a Lysicrates Prize finalist (Illumination, 2023), and founder and director of Storytellers Festival, a showcase and celebration of unproduced Australian writing, held annually in association with Kings Cross Theatre (KXT).

Other plays include K.I.J.E. (Old Fitzroy Theatre), AIR (Old 505 Theatre), and Rosaline (KXT). A former high school teacher, Joanna is passionate about writing for, and working with, young audiences and has written extensively for Bell Shakespeare, Camp Quality and Poetry In Action. Her popular monologue BOOT is performed by Year 12 students each year. It was originally produced by ATYP, published by Currency Press and commissioned for film, screening at film festivals internationally. She is the Head of Education at Bell Shakespeare, where she has worked in education for 15+ years.

Simon Thomson
Simon is an award-winning writer, director and actor. His writing engages real-world issues through the lens of dark comedy, surrealism and magical realism. Having been born in Mauritius and lived in India and Papua New Guinea, Simon is interested in stories that transcend parochial Anglo-centric myths of rural Australia and are more representative of Australian metropolitan and multicultural cities. Simon explores themes of social injustice, the foibles of relationships and mental health. He has written three full length plays, two of which have been produced and performed around Sydney and is currently writing a crime thriller TV series about vampires in Sydney and a play about online ‘Incel’ culture.

Simon has a BA with Honors in Drama and Film from the Australian National University, an Advanced Diploma in Acting from Sydney Theatre School and has just completed a Masters of Writing for Performance at NIDA. His second play, The Park was shortlisted for the Silver Gull Play Award in 2020 and had its world premiere production at New Theatre in January 2021.

Congratulations to the shortlisted writers, who will share in a total prize pool of $7000 courtesy of sponsor Joy Minter. New Theatre will present rehearsed readings of excerpts from the shortlisted plays, directed by Tiffany Wong (Artistic Director, Slanted Theatre), at the awards night on Monday 23 October, when the winner will be announced. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: The Silver Gull by Michael Tonkin