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Fleur Kilpatrick Wins the 2018 Max Afford Playwrights’ Award

Fleur Kilpatrick from Victoria has been announced as the 2018 winner of the $30,000 Max Afford Playwrights’ Award by Perpetual Trustees. Kilpatrick’s standout script, Whale, was described by judges as ‘having a fascinating voice and being thematically gorgeous.’ Ms Kilpatrick will receive a $15,000 cash prize, coupled with a $15,000 contribution towards creative development of the play at Playwriting Australia’s National Script Workshop .

Perpetual’s General Manager of Philanthropy, Caitriona Fay, said: “The generosity and foresight of the late Thelma May Afford has ensured the legacy of Max Afford, a legendary Australian playwright and novelist, lives on in perpetuity. More than 20 years since the trust was established, the award is another great example of how the vision of one individual can impact the lives of many.”

Commenting on her win, Fleur Kilpatrick said:

I am so relieved that the judges read Whale and believed it is important for theatre to speak directly to the world around us. I am immensely grateful that the Max Afford Award exists and that Perpetual is supporting young playwrights. It is the kind of award that helps you stay in the industry; that helps you take that time off to finish that draft and that helps you be brave enough to keep telling big, urgent stories. Whale means so much to me. For years I’ve been wanting to find a way to express my worry about both climate change and theatre’s difficulty with confronting big issues. There is wonderful art out there about climate change but theatremakers can at times be fearful of being too didactic when it comes to climate change or politics so these subjects become metaphors or subtext rather than direct discussions.’’

Tim Roseman, Artistic Director of Playwriting Australia, commented:

Whale is a phenomenal piece of writing. It is brimming with imagination and ingenuity. The ideas Fleur are exploring are potent, ripe and urgent, but it’s rare to find a piece of theatre that explores climate change with such a compelling mix of playfulness and authority. I’ve no doubt that Whale will be a significant marker in how the arts deals with the great issues of our time.”

The judges of the 2108 award were co-artistic director of Black Honey Company Candy Bowers, award winning playwright Vanessa Bates and Helpmann winner director Leticia Cáceres with Tim Roseman, Artistic Director of Playwriting Australia.

Unanimously they judged Whale as “a work that has the skill and imagination to grapple with climate change, something so complex and contested that we thought theatre couldn’t engage with it’. The judges remarked upon Kilpatrick’s impressive skill saying Whale has “beautiful ingenuity and is a wonderful example of why and how theatre can bring people together for urgent global experiences.”

The works of two other talented young playwrights – Ang Collins’ Mate and Zoe Cooper’s For Unknown Reasons – 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.

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