Playwrights Honoured at Sydney Theatre Company
The first ever recipient of The Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellowship was announced at a special event at Sydney Theatre Company on Friday 20 May at 8pm. Playwright Raimondo Cortese was honoured with the $25,000 year-long Fellowship, a new position for an established playwright that will see him participate in a range of activities at STC including leading playwriting workshops and participating in a mentoring programme for two emerging playwrights.
It was also announced that Melissa Bubnic is the winner of The 2010 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award, a $7,500 prize for a full-length unproduced play, for her play Beached. After the announcements, a rehearsed reading of Beached was presented to a full house at The Wharf as part of the Sydney Writers Festival.
The Award and the Fellowship are initiatives of Sydney Theatre Company and The Sydney Morning Herald to foster the development of Australian playwrights while honouring Patrick White’s contribution to theatre.
Raimondo Cortese’s most recent works are Holiday, which won a 2007 Green Room Award for Best Australian Writing, The Dream Life of Butterflies for MTC and Intimacy, which premiered at the 2010 Melbourne International Festival of the Arts. He is a founding member of Ranters Theatre, serving as Artistic Director from 1994 - 2000, and has written over thirty texts for theatre, including Features of Blown Youth, Roulette and St Kilda Tales. He was the recipient of a 2010 Australian Leadership Award, teaches dramaturgy and script writing both in Australia and overseas and is a lecturer at VCA Centre for Ideas, Melbourne University.
Raimondo Cortese said: “I feel tremendously privileged to be awarded the inaugural fellowship. Acknowledgment in this way gives me a very real sense of responsibility to strive harder in my work, especially when I consider that the vast majority of writers around the world would never have such an opportunity, or even hope to work within a professional environment at all.”
STC Co Artistic Director Andrew Upton, speaking on behalf of the selection panel which also included playwrights Tahli Corin, Duncan Graham and Matthew Whittet, said: ‘The quality of applications was extremely high. We chose Raimondo because of his determination to constantly reinvent and push the form. He has never been afraid to take risks and we applaud him for that. The Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellowship is about acknowledging excellence, artistic invention and courage, while also investing in the development of new, emerging writers, who will benefit from Raimondo’s guidance”
Winning The Patrick White Playwrights’ Award, Melissa Bubnic’s Beached is a comic drama about a morbidly obese young man whose battle to lose weight is filmed and televised by a parasitic production company.
Melissa Bubnic recently completed a Masters in Writing for Performance at Goldsmiths College in London. Her other plays include Shedding, Sick, Emoticon and Stop. Rewind which was produced by Red Stitch Theatre in 2010.
On winning the Award she said: “I so often feel like throwing in the towel with the whole writing thing, when I'm disappointed in the work, or worry that no one will like it. An award like this is wonderfully affirming, and makes me feel like I'm not entirely barking up the wrong tree!”
The judges for the Award were Sarah Goodes (director), Clare Morgan (Arts Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald), Tommy Murphy (playwright) and Andrew Upton (Co Artistic Director, Sydney Theatre Company). Upton said: ‘We all agreed that the author of this play deserves to be encouraged. Beached presents an irresistible provocation to a director as well as some enormous and exciting creative challenges. Melissa’s use of language is restrained and the contemporaneity of her voice is refreshing. "We were excited to read a play that demonstrated a singular understanding of theatre and has such obvious potential for production."