What is the Patrick White Playwrights Award and Fellowship?
The Patrick White Playwrights Award has been an annual initiative of the Sydney Theatre Company since the year 2000.
The Award is a springboard for recognising and supporting both emerging and mid-career Australian playwrights with a $7,500 prize for original and ambitious unproduced plays. As well as the cash prize, the winning playwright receives a rehearsed reading of their play, which is featured in the Sydney Writers Festival. The Award is prestigious and opens doors for playwrights, seeking to have their work produced by theatre companies in Australia and overseas. Previous Award winners include well known playwrights Wesley Enoch, Brendan Cowell, Anna Barnes, Angus Cerini, Patricia Cornelius, David Milroy and Ningali Lawford
The Patrick White Playwrights Fellowship was later realised in 2010, recognising established Australian playwrights whose work has been produced professionally in Australia. The year-long Fellowship, worth $25,000, includes a cash prize and a commission to write a new play with STC.
STC Literary Manager Polly Rowe was involved in the creation of the Fellowship over ten years ago:
“We created the Fellowship as a way of supporting established playwrights with an honorarium, intended to buy them time to dream without being overly focused on a particular project outcome.”
“Over time it has evolved into a more structured position that includes a commission to write a new play specifically for STC,” says Rowe.
“While the Fellowship offers no guarantee of production, this model gives the writer a great shot at achieving that outcome. They spend the year having creative conversations with STC artistic staff and embark on the commission when they feel ready.”
“Writing a play from within the Company benefits the playwright by familiarising them with the artistic vision, staff and audience. That’s what is so special about the fellowship: it fosters a deep creative connection between playwright and Company.”
What does the recipient of the Patrick White Playwrights Fellowship do?
Each Fellow has a different experience depending on their creative practice and location, as sometimes they live interstate. Polly Rowe has seen first-hand how these playwrights use the year that they are attached to STC:
“Sue Smith chose to be very active in the Company, writing from the administration offices, observing rehearsals, and chatting to staff across the building. By the end of the year she had made friends in every department!”
“Felicia Anchuli King spent her Fellowship year interstate during lockdowns and border closures, which meant she was unable to visit the office. Despite the distance, Felicia found tailored ways to engage with the Emerging Writers Group, reading their plays and providing them with professional guidance.”
“Angus Cerini, our current Fellow, also lives interstate but connects through regular phone calls to members of the artistic team, giving us updates on the progress of his writing and garlic farming.”
How do I enter?
The Patrick White Playwrights Fellowship is an opportunity for the most established playwrights, writers whose work has received multiple professional productions in Australia. It is awarded at the discretion of the Artistic Director, who receives Expressions of Interest from playwrights throughout the year. The 2021 Patrick White Playwrights Fellowship will be announced in May 2022. Find out more.
The Patrick White Playwrights Award is open to any Australian citizen over the age of 18 who has written a full-length unproduced play. It is judged by a team of independent readers and STC artistic staff, in a three stage judging process. The assessors are tasked with seeking plays that are original and artistically ambitious, with great potential for a stage production. Applications for the 2021 Patrick White Playwrights Award will open in October 2021. Find out more.
Over the years, we've seen an incredible amount of talent emerge from the Patrick White initiative. Take a look back at the winners of the Award and Fellowship over the past two decades.
Keziah Warner, Award
Anchuli Felicia King, Fellowship
Kim Ho, Award
Sue Smith, Fellowship
Neil Levi, Award
Tommy Murphy, Fellowship
Chris Summers, Award
Angela Betzien, Fellowship
Phillip Kavanagh, Award
Patricia Cornelius, Fellowship
Mark Rogers, Award
Nakkiah Lui, Fellowship
Lewis Treston, Award
Andrew Bovell, Fellowship
Debra Thomas, Award
Kate Mulvany, Fellowship
Anna Barnes, Award
Hilary Bell, Fellowship
Melissa Bubnic, Award
Raimondo Cortese, Fellowship (inaugural)
Supported by: STC's Artists Program Donors