In Plays

“Mordant and moving” portrayal of young Australians wins Max Afford Playwrights’ Award

Maxine Mellor has been announced as the 2014 winner of the $30,000 Max Afford Playwrights’ Award by The Trust Company, part of Perpetual, as trustee. Mellor’s standout script, The Silver Alps, was described by judges as “an evocative, sharp, mordant and moving portrait of young people stuck at the bottom of the heap in Australia”. Ms Mellor will receive a $15,000 cash prize for the win, coupled with a $15,000 contribution towards Playwriting Australia’s National Script Workshop to further develop her play.

Perpetual’s General Manager of Philanthropy, Andrew Thomas, said:

Congratulations to Maxine Mellor for her outstanding script, The Silver Alps, and her prolific and ongoing contribution to Australian playwriting”. “This bequest was established by the late Thelma May Afford in memory of her eminent husband, playwright and novelist Max and is a great example of the valuable role that philanthropy plays in the arts community. As trustee of this award, Perpetual is proud to be keeping Max’s legacy alive by managing the award and distributing the funding which supports talented Australian playwrights.”

Commenting on her win, Maxine Mellor said:

I’m incredibly grateful to the Trust for managing this fantastic opportunity, the judges, and of course to Max and Thelma May Afford. It’s kind of uplifting to think that by establishing this award, Max and Thelma are able to remain involved in the creation of new work even now. What a legacy. What a great idea. The prize will go a long way in helping develop not only my submitted play, but another piece that’s been calling.”

The judges of the 2014 award were Dr Chris Mead, Literary Director, Melbourne Theatre Company, Mark Pritchard, Resident Dramaturg, Malthouse Theatre and Katrina Foster, actor, writer and teacher, with Tim Roseman, Artistic Director, PWA assisting in an advisory capacity.

Unanimously they judged The Silver Alps as “an outstanding addition to the repertoire of Australian plays and a work which brims with ambition, life and insight”. The judges remarked upon Mellor’s impressive skill in giving The Silver Alps a “sinuously plotted storyline which keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, as the characters claw away at each other, trapped in cars and hotel rooms…seemingly helping each other out, but often to quite destructive effect”.

The works of two other talented young playwrights – Tom Holloway’s Sunshine and David Finnigan’s Kill Climate Deniers – were also highly commended by the judges.


About The Max Afford Playwrights’ Award

The Max Afford Playwrights’ Award was set up by the will of the late Thelma May Afford (1908-1996), in memory of her husband, Max Afford (1906-1954). Malcolm (Max) Afford was a multiple award-winning Australian playwright and novelist who wrote more than sixty radio and stage plays, and eight crime novels, making him also one of the first Australian playwrights to gain international recognition. He worked with broadcasters such as ABC, 2GB and 2UE during the 1930s and 1940s, and in 1944, J.C. Williamson produced Max’s comedy-thriller Lady in Dancer which was presented at Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre in New York City. In 1947, he won the Adelaide Advertiser’s first prize for a play to celebrate the centenary of South Australia in 1936. The Max Afford Playwrights’ Award was created “to promote interest in Australian drama and to encourage the writing of plays in Australia, to help and give incentive to young writers of plays for stage, TV or films”.

The total value of the biennial award is $30,000 which includes $15,000 cash and up to $15,000 towards expenses for the Playwriting Australia’s National Script Workshop  offering two weeks of intensive script development with a director, dramaturg and a cast of actors.  Applicants must be aged between 18 and 40 years old.


About Maxine Mellor

Maxine Mellor Maxine Mellor has authored over 20 plays and had work produced throughout Australia. Her awards include the Queensland Theatre Company’s Young Playwright’s Award (2001, 2002, 2003), the QTC George Landen Dann Award (2004), and a Matilda Award for best new independent work for Performance (2005) for Magda’s Fascination with Wax Cats. In 2012 she won Inscription’s Edward Albee New York City Residency Scholarship, and the 2012/2013 Queensland Premier’s Drama Award. She recently toured the USA with Inscription’s Screenwriting and Playwriting tour, and is currently developing her play Remains.  Her work has been performed nationally and is published by Playlab Press and the Australian Script Centre. She tutors creative writing privately and through organisations, including Playwriting Australia’s Lotus salon. 


The Max Afford Award is offered by the Trust Company part of Perpetual



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