Friday was a stunning Sydney day. Three things- The Writer’s Festival, a series of absurdly ill-timed computer crashes and one of my best ever/long-time friends lured me down to the Wharf on Hickson Bay to sit among the readers and writers and listen to some talks. I had been schedule to see Delia Falconer’s talk on Sydney – but the line up was such we were relegated to listening to each other talk about Delia Falconer a(nd other writers) over astronomically priced caffeine. But it was a beautiful day, crisp and bright – blue sky and silver sparkling water. I do love Sydney.

In the evening I returned to the Wharf to see the play which received the Patrick White Award – delighted to see that Kit Brookman’s play “Close” was shortlisted (it was also shortlisted for Griffin 2010…wasn’t it?) amongst so many amazing playwrights. In addition to the Patrick White Award, the STC announced a new Fellowship – yes it seems the thing at the moment – I think Sarah Giles is the inaugural Richard Wherrett Fellow -and the STC is reaching out to have local emerging affiliates walk amongst the established STC stars.
This new fellowship makes the Patrick White Award itself no longer the $20,000 prize of yester-year but a $7,500 prize. Still, an award is an award – and a cheque is a cheque – and the STC are making moves to support more playwrights – so these are all good things.

The Shortlist (my favourite thing about Awards) was as follows:
Every Breath – Benedict Andrews
War Crimes – Angela Betzien
Close – Kit Brookman
Beached – Melissa Bubnic
1975 – Stephen Carleton

And of course I was very delighted that Melissa Bubnic was announced as the recipient of the Patrick White Award… She’s been on my radar for a while – since I had read a very early draft of a play called “Shedding.” In what seems eons ago, but which was only 5 years ago, I had freshly returned to Oz and had arranged a panel talk of Emerging Playwrights for TINA (This is Not Art Festival in Newcastle)… I was hosting a panel to discuss matters of opportunities for young playwrights that had caught my eye – Melanie Tait, Ian Meadows, Lally Katz and Melissa Bubnic. To my profound disappointment is was not the most popular session of the day – a 10 am on a Saturday is a tough slot… but we ended up having a really naaaaaaaaasty burger in a grimy diner in Newy… the best bit of the whole festival…

And for the SMH take on things click this link

Bubnic’s play, Beached, is a poignant and funny portrait of a morbidly obese teenager, affectionately known as Moon. He is much loved (and well fed) by his mother Jo Jo, but it is not until a crusading Centrelink representative enters his life until everything changes – for everyone.

The play asks the question – “how much is enough” of everything – love, food, fantasy, familial need, contribution to the world and is a sharp examination of contemporary consumerism and insatiable emptiness. It’s a story about hope and work and love – and asks tricky questions -leaving us feeling ambivalent about who is right, who is wrong, who is evil, who has control and who doesn’t.

The Fellowship was awarded to Raimondo Cortese who, with his luggage in tow, addressed the audience with a profound gratitude at being awarded such a fellowship – and the sizable cheque. He spoke of a feeling of loneliness, of the desire for validation. He spoke of the financial insecurity, the worry playwrights have -and what a relief such a fellowship gave to him -in buying time to write.

I look forward to seeing the wonderful ripple effects of this new fellowship – As i believe stable and supported writers write better plays… and I look forward to watching Bubnic’s continuing success as it flourishes…