Young Playwrights' Award 2008 Winners Announced

Tomasz Arkell and Nathalie Jones are the recipients of the Young Playwrights’ Award 2008. More than 100 entries were received from students throughout NSW and the ACT for the annual competition, a joint initiative of the Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Morning Herald. Playwright Tommy Murphy, who won the Award in 1997 and whose latest play Saturn’s Return is a highlight of Sydney Theatre Company’s 2009 Main Stage Season, announced the winners ahead of rehearsed readings of their plays at Sydney Theatre’s Richard Wherrett Studio yesterday.

Tomasz Arkell from Barker College has won in the Senior Category for A Good Man, an insightful and moving play about a family’s devastation as the degenerative disease, Alzheimers, gradually consumes one of the most treasured members of their unit.
A Good Man explores relationships under strain and a young boy’s attempt to imagine the landscape of his grandfather’s chaotic mind. The judges were impressed by the compelling narrative, the quality of characterisation and maturity with which the playwright approached the subject matter.

Nathalie Jones from Santa Sabina College has won the Junior Category for The Failings of Freedom, a beautifully written monologue in which a victim of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa recounts his experiences. The play examines an important historical and political moment, using a single voice to create a terrifyingly vivid depiction of life during the apartheid. The judges commended the playwright’s sophisticated use of language and the ambition of this impressively researched play.

Both Award winners have taken part in a two day workshop of their script at Sydney Theatre Company with professional directors, dramaturg and actors, culminating in the staged readings of their one act plays. Both winners have been awarded $1000.

The plays were judged by Sydney Theatre Company Co Artistic Director Andrew Upton and Literary Manager Polly Rowe and playwrights Hilary Bell and Tommy Murphy.

Andrew Upton said: “What struck us all when judging this year’s Award, was the prescience of the plays entered: a large number of the short listed plays seemed to be responding the current climate of financial instability. We were impressed by the high standard of work entered and excited by the theatricality of the plays. Let’s hope that these promising young artists will continue write for stage.”

The Young Playwrights’ Award was established in 1992 and is the major playwriting competition for young people in NSW and ACT. The Award encourages a new generation of young writers to discover their voices and dramatically explore the world around them.

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