Wesley Enoch appointed Patrick White Fellow and playwright Aran Thangaratnam wins Patrick White Award

STC-Kip-Williams-Wesley-Enoch-and-Aran-ThangaratnamWriter, director, and Quandamooka man, Wesley Enoch has been appointed STC’s Patrick White Playwrights Fellow.

Announcing the appointment, STC Artistic Director Kip Williams said that Enoch’s extraordinary artistry, generosity of spirit and fearless advocacy has changed the landscape of Australian theatre for the better.

“Wesley is one of Australia’s most respected theatre makers, having maintained parallel careers as both a director and playwright for over 30 years,” he said.

His plays are generous, open-hearted, and searingly honest and their lasting and ongoing cultural impact has made him one of our greatest writers. We were thrilled when he returned to directing at STC recently, with A Raisin in the Sun (2022) and Appropriate (2021).

“Later this year he will helm Jane Harrison’s The Visitors, as part of the Sydney Opera House 50th anniversary. It is a privilege to continue Wesley’s creative relationship with the Company and our artists in such a deep and meaningful way,” said Mr Williams.

Enoch – who is both a previous winner of the Patrick White Playwrights Award and a former STC Resident Director – says he is “honoured” to be named the Patrick White Fellow and he is looking forward to adding his voice to “the chorus of support” for lasting recognition of First Nations Australians through the telling of our stories.

“Patrick White wrote in his Will his desire to support Indigenous causes through his eventual gifting to NAISDA and the Aboriginal Education Council of NSW. This giant of Australian literature knew the power of storytelling and knew Indigenous causes needed more stories to be told to educate and celebrate,” he said.

This year we will be asked to vote on a referendum that will further acknowledge our voice. Writing has the potential to live beyond us and assist in an intergenerational conversation of where we came from and what we wished for,” said Mr Enoch.

Since it was established in 2010, the Patrick White Fellowship is for an outstanding playwright who will contribute to the fabric of the Company, advancing the artistic conversation and advocating for playwrights.

The annual $25,000 Fellowship includes a commission from STC, which each Fellow develops during their year-long engagement, and the tenure provides opportunities for the playwright to share their skills with other playwrights and artists.

Previous STC Patrick White Fellows are Emme Hoy (the outgoing Fellow), Angus Cerini, Anchuli Felicia King, Nakkiah Lui, Sue Smith, Andrew Bovell, Tommy Murphy, Kate Mulvany, Angela Betzien, Hilary Bell, Patricia Cornelius and Raimondo Cortese.

The 2023 Patrick White Playwrights Award has been awarded to Melbourne-based playwright, Aran Thangaratnam for his play love MAD GLITCH.

The announcement of the award by STC Artistic Director Kip Wiliams was followed by a reading, directed by recently appointed STC Resident Director Kenneth Moraleda with actors Kristy Best, Nicholas Brown, Michelle Ny and Alex Pinder.

With complexity and plenty of humour, love MAD GLITCH explores parental expectations and control within a second-generation Sri Lankan family, the unrealistic notions of love and marriage, and our ever-evolving relationship technology and artificial intelligence.

Williams said the judges were impressed with Tharangartam’s “fresh, contemporary, and unique” writing: “Aran’s hilarious and relatable play builds a believable and cohesive future world with high theatrical potential, housing vibrant characters that are nuanced with clear voices. We are delighted to award this year’s Award to this accomplished piece of writing.”

Thangaratnam, who was unable to attend the event, says winning the award makes him feel positive about the theatre industry: “It makes me feel so excited about the state of Australian theatre that a silly sci-fi comedy about second-generation Sri Lankan Tamils grappling with AI can be awarded a prize as prestigious as this one,” he said.

“And though I’m clearly terrified at the future of artificial intelligence technology, I can’t wait to see what the future of theatre holds, and the shows Sydney Theatre Company programs in their upcoming seasons,” said Thangaratnam.

The judges for this year’s Award were Wesley Enoch, Jane Harrison, Emme Hoy, STC Associate Artist Ruth Little, and Zindzi Okenyo.

The Patrick White Playwrights Award has been an annual initiative of the Sydney Theatre Company since 2000. It is held in honour of Patrick White’s contribution to Australian theatre and to foster the development of Australian playwrights. In 2010 an additional prize, the Patrick White Playwrights Fellowship, was introduced to recognise and support more established Australian playwrights.

For more information about the Patrick White Playwrights Award and Fellowship, visit: www.sydneytheatre.com.au for details.

Images: Kip Williams and Wesley Enoch – photo by Daniel Boud | Aran Thangaratnam – photo by Joanna Shuen