Playwriting Australia announces $370,000 in commissions and support

Playwriting Australia (PWA) has announced more than $370,000 in commissions and assistance that will go directly to playwrights and their collaborators.

You can find a detailed summary of these commissions and support here

The announcement comes after the remarkable success of PWA’s huge Dear Australia event. Sunday 5 July saw the final episode of the project, in which 50 playwrights were commissioned to write postcards to Dear Australia exploring where our nation is and where it might go. The monologues, recorded by 50 actors mostly in their own homes, were streamed by many organisations across Australia, including Arts Centre Melbourne, Sydney Opera House, and Queensland Performing Arts Centre between 2-5 July. More than 30 organisations took part.

Dear Australia will remain available for viewing on PWA’s YouTube channel until 1 September. The works are published by Australian Plays and are available on their website

Six further programs and prizes have been announced, involving more than 40 playwrights.

Right now, our theatres are, at best, needing to operate like skeletons or, at worst, staring at insolvency. The best thing PWA can do is to help ensure that there is a rich, diverse array of outstanding new works available when these theatres are once again able to open to audiences. In recent years, some of the greatest successes of the Australian theatre have been new plays by Australian playwrights and that momentum mustn’t be lost.

More than 300 submissions were made across these programs. Combined with the national view offered by Dear Australia, it’s clear that there is a wealth of work being written in voices that are fresh and resolute.

The Ignition program will make seven major commissions worth $25,000 each, with significant additional investment in ongoing creative development from partnering theatre companies. Ignition aims to enhance the ambition and diversity of Australian playwriting in partnership with producing companies, by investing in landmark works. You can find details of the seven works here

The First Nations Retreat, one of PWA’s most successful ongoing programs, will this year see ten First Nations playwrights supported by five dramaturgs over two separate 15-day virtual ‘retreat’ periods in July and August. You can learn more about the playwrights and their projects here

The $30,000 Max Afford Playwrights Award, offered by Perpetual in association with PWA, is an initiative of the late Thelma May Afford, whose will established a fund to offer a prize in memory of her husband. The winner of the 2020 Max Afford Playwrights Award is Kirsty Marillier (VIC) for her play THE ZAP. You can find out more here

The Erin Thomas Playwright Fund commemorates playwright Erin Thomas’ optimism, her creative talent and furthers her generous contribution to the arts by helping emerging regional writers to pursue their dreams. This year, six emerging playwrights from regional or remote areas will be supported to work with a dramaturg or director on the beginnings of a new work. You can find out more here

Rapid Fire is this year specifically for writers of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and will see nine playwrights involved in separate one-day workshops of their new plays, involving a team of artists of the playwright’s choice. Find out about the playwrights here

Duologue will support eight new work developments for mid-career and established playwrights working with a collaborator of their choice. Find out about the eight duos here

PWA and Australian Plays continue to work assiduously towards the creation of a new national entity, with the enthusiastic help of many. It’s clear that there is a common goal: the best possible environment for the nurturing and positioning of exceptional playwriting that reflects, refracts and refreshes the society in which we live. We expect this new entity to be operational by the beginning of 2021.

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