Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and Fellowship

Patrick White

Patrick White Playwrights' Award and Fellowship

The Patrick White Playwrights’ Award has been an annual initiative of the Sydney Theatre Company since 2000. It is held in honour of Patrick White’s contribution to Australian theatre and to foster the development of Australian playwrights. In 2010 an additional prize, the Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellowship, was introduced to recognise and support more established Australian playwrights. The awards are designed to benefit both emerging writers and mid-career writers, which together have a total prize pool of $32,500.

2016 entries are now closed

Submissions for the 2017 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award will open in late September 2017, and will be announced in our e-news. Sign up here.

The Patrick White Playwrights’ Award offers a cash prize of $7,500 for a full-length unproduced play of any genre written by an Australian playwright over 18 years of age. The readers and judges assessing the scripts seek a work that is original and ambitious with great potential for staging. 

The Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellowship is a position for an established Australian playwright whose work has been produced professionally in Australia within the last four years. The winning playwright receives $12,500 for a year long Fellowship in recognition of their excellent body of work. They also receive a commission, worth $12,500, to write a new play. 

Winners of both the Award and the Fellowship will be announced at a ceremony as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival 2017 along with a reading of the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award winning play.

Enquiries: (02) 9250 1700 or playwrights@sydneytheatre.com.au

2016 winners

Find out more about the 2016 winners on our online Magazine.


Back Row: Moreblessing Maturure, Lewis Treston, STC Artistic Director Kip Williams and Disapol Savetsila
Front Row: Emme Hoy, Julian Larnach, Andrew Bovell and STC Literary Manager Polly Rowe

Past winners

Neil Levi, Award
Tommy Murphy, Fellowship

Debra Thomas, Award
Kate Mulvany, Fellowship

Chris Summers, Award
Angela Betzien, Fellowship

Anna Barnes, Award
Hilary Bell, Fellowship

Phillip Kavanagh, Award
Patricia Cornelius, Fellowship

Melissa Bubnic, Award
Raimondo Cortese, Fellowship (inaugural)

Ian Wilding

Nicki Bloom

Angus Cerini
Timothy Daly

Patricia Cornelius

Wesley Enoch

Stephen Carleton

David Milroy and Ningali Lawford

Reg Cribb
Ian Wilding

Brendan Cowell
Toby Schmitz
Jackie Smith

Ben Ellis
Bette Guy
Ailsa Piper

Patrick White Biography

Born in 1912, Patrick White received international success with his novel The Tree of Man in 1954 and went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. His body of work for the theatre comprises eight published plays. The first major play, The Ham Funeral, written in 1947, was not performed until 1962 at the Union Theatre in Adelaide, after being rejected for the 1961 Adelaide Festival. It received critical and public acclaim.

His next three plays, The Season at SarsaparillaNight On Bald Mountain and A Cheery Soul, premiered in the 1960s. Mixed critical responses prevented White, to a large extent, from seriously engaging with Australian theatre for a period of 13 years. It was not until 1976 that Jim Sharman's production of The Season at Sarsaparilla for Sydney's Old Tote Theatre Company convinced White to re-emerge as a playwright. Big Toys was written within a year. At the same time, a number of revivals of the early plays renewed audience interest in White's work.

Jim Sharman's production of A Cheery Soul was the first play of the Interim Season of Sydney Theatre Company in January 1979. It opened at the Drama Theatre of the Sydney Opera House with Robyn Nevin in the role of Miss Docker. White went on to write three more plays - Signal Driver (1982), Netherwood (1983) and Shepherd on the Rocks (1987) - establishing a body of work of formidable imagination. Subsequent revivals have included Neil Armfield's productions of The Ham Funeral (1989), Night on Bald Mountain (1996) and, in 2001, A Cheery Soul (an STC production with Company B) in which Robyn Nevin revived the role of Miss Docker. Most recently, in 2007, STC produced a critically acclaimed production of The Season of Sarsaparilla performed by the STC Actors Company.