Patrick White Playwrights Award and Fellowship

Patrick White


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 together have a total prize pool of $32,500.

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 strong theatrical potential. View more info.

The Patrick White Playwrights Fellowship is a position for an Australian playwright whose work has been produced professionally in Australia within the last four years. The winning playwright receives a total prize package of $25,000 which includes a year-long Fellowship in recognition of their excellent body of work, and a commission to write a new play. View more info.

Expressions of interest for the Fellowship are open on a rolling basis: playwrights@sydneytheatre.com.au


Explore the list of winners of the Award and Fellowship from 2000 onwards. More info.


Born in 1912, 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 Sarsaparilla, Night 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. More recently, in 2007 STC produced a critically acclaimed production of The Season of Sarsaparilla performed by the STC Actors Company. The company presented a new production of A Cheery Soul directed by STC Artistic Director Kip Williams in 2018.