“Real and human” play about education and privilege in regional Australia wins Max Afford Playwrights’ Award
Tim Roseman, Artistic Director of Playwriting Australia, and Perpetual as Trustee, today announced Chris Summers as winner of the $30,000 Max Afford Playwrights’ Award 2016, awarded to playwrights aged between 18 and 40. The highly acclaimed national prize is for Mr Summers’ script, Pedagogy.
Chris, 27, receives $15,000 prize money plus a sought‐after creative development opportunity at the forthcoming Playwriting Australia’s National Script Workshop in April in Sydney valued at $15,000.
The judges of the 2016 award were Chris Mead, Literary Manager at Melbourne Theatre Company; playwright Joanna Murray‐Smith; and director and dramaturg, Francesca Smith.
Tim Roseman said: “The Max Afford Award is a rare and significant opportunity for an emerging playwright, affording them time to write and the chance to delve deep into their winning play, to further its ambition and explode its potential. The judging panel was unanimously impressed by Chris’s powerful and very human drama, his wit and verve, and the accuracy and imagination he brought to his depiction of the school environment. Chris brings a warmth and generous soul to the stage, and is most certainly a thrilling emerging voice. I’m thoroughly excited by Chris’s writing and look forward to seeing Pedagogy on the stage in the near future.”
Chris Summers, a Horsham (VIC) based writer and theatre‐maker, said: “Awards are a prized commodity in the new writing ecology of Australia, and I am truly humbled and thankful to be receiving the Max Afford Award. My play, Pedagogy, is a deeply personal story of education and privilege told from the margins of regional Australia. Having the opportunity to develop it with Playwriting Australia, as well as the acknowledgement by the judges and the Trust, is a career highlight. With the support of the Award and a renewed confidence in my own practice, I am excited to get to work on making Pedagogy as strong as it can be, as well as the next play, and the one after that, and the one after that.”
A further young playwright was also highly commended by the judges, Kit Brookman for his play The Bees Are All Dead.
Caitriona Fay, National Manager of Philanthropy & Not for Profit Services, at Perpetual said: “Congratulations to Chris Summers for his outstanding script, Pedagogy. 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.”
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 Chris Summers
Chris Summers graduated from NIDA in 2012 with a Graduate Diploma in Dramatic Arts (Playwriting). In 2013, he was Affiliate Writer with Griffin Theatre Company and part of Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre Writers Programme. Chris won the Sydney Theatre Company Patrick White Playwright’s Award in 2014 and his play, King Arthur, received a reading at the Wharf Theatre for the Sydney Writers’ Festival directed by Sydney Theatre Company Associate Director Kip Williams. He has also won the Sydney Theatre Company Young Playwrights Award, St Martins National Playwriting Award, the Union House Theatre Script Development Award and been highly commended for the Max Afford Playwrights Award. His commissioned plays include No Place Like (Union House Theatre, 2011), Crossed (La Mama, 2011), which was also included in Playwriting Australia’s National Play Festival, and Burnt (atyp, 2011), a monologue published by Currency Press. Rat had a sell-out season at La Mama in March 2012 and Sandstone, developed through an Australia Council for the Arts JUMP Mentorship with Tom Holloway, had a workshop at Sydney Theatre Company in December 2012. In 2013, Chris participated in Canberra’s You Are Here festival with a self-performed piece, Not About You, wrote a monologue, Dessert, performed as part of Rock Surfers’ Bondi Feast at the Bondi Pavilion, and created a short work, Paper Trails, for Manchester’s 24/7 Festival (travelling on an Australia Council ArtStart grant). Chris also worked as Dramaturg on the 2014 Malthouse Theatre / Griffin Theatre Company adaptation Roald Dahl’s The Witches. Chris holds a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours) / Bachelor of Laws from the University of Melbourne, and recently worked as a lawyer for Sydney’s HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (halc). He is currently teaching in Horsham, Victoria, while undertaking a Masters of Secondary Teaching through Deakin University as an Associate of the Teach for Australia program.
The Max Afford Award is offered by Perpetual as Trustee