Finalists announced for 2018-19 Queensland Premier’s Drama Award

Three Queensland playwrights are vying for the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2018-19, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing the finalists today.

Hannah Belanszky, David Megarrity and Anna Yen have been selected from the field of 92 entries, with the winner to receive a mainstage production of their play in Queensland Theatre’s (QT) 2019 Season.

“I congratulate Hannah, David and Anna on their hard work and creativity,” the Premier said.

“While only one play can be professionally-produced by Queensland Theatre, each of these writers have developed projects that will spark conversation and enrich our state’s diverse theatre scene.”

Since the award was launched in 2002, Queensland Theatre has developed 28 new Australian plays, employing more than 200 actors, writers and directors.

The Queensland Premier’s Drama Award spans a two-year cycle, with three finalists selected for creative development prior to judging, with a winner announced in July this year.

The second year involves further development of the winning play, followed by the professional world premiere in 2019.

The previous winner, Michele Lee and her play RICE (co-produced with Griffin Theatre Company) premiered in Brisbane to a sell-out season in 2017, before touring to Sydney and the Hothouse Theatre in Albury-Wodonga.

QT Artistic Director Sam Strong said there was intense competition around the 2018-19 award and the chosen finalists reflect a breadth of style, experience and content.

“One work is a timely search for identity, another a fresh insight into Brisbane’s history fusing circus, Cantonese Opera and politics, and the third, a sensory experience for families that captures a young person’s experience of mortality,” Mr Strong said.

“What unites all three finalists is the vividness and authenticity of the characters and journeys they want to share with an audience.”

The Queensland Premier’s Drama Award is an initiative of the Queensland Government, delivered in partnership with Queensland Theatre.

The 2018-19 finalists:

Hannah Belanszky is an actor, writer and theatre-maker based in Brisbane. Hannah was the Young Playwright-In-Residence at Playlab in 2017, mentored by Kathryn Marquet. She also wrote, directed and performed in her cabaret theatre piece, The Wives of Wolfgang (Wonderland Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse). Her performance experience includes roles in Harrow (ABC Studios), Julius Caesar (4MBS) and The Roasting (Short and Sweet Theatre Festival).

Her entry A Cup of Tea is set in a rural Australian town by a river, where Joan, a young twentysomething, is visiting her Indigenous father, Mick, for the first time. Pale-skinned and raised by her non-Indigenous mother, Joan knows little of her Indigenous heritage. Mick, fighting his own demons has developed an obsession with drinking tea since giving up alcohol. Joan finds refuge in Pattie, Mick’s high school sweetheart, who talks of birds…the wind… and the ‘Old People’. As a big storm brews, Joan becomes increasingly drawn to the river and begins to hear birds calling her name. A Cup of Tea is a story of self-discovery and belonging. It explores how a connection with your heritage can be so much more than skin deep.

David Megarrity is a writer, composer, musician and performer creating at the intersection of music, performance and projected image. Recipient of a Lord Mayor’s Performing Arts Fellowship in 1998, his performance inventions include Backseat Drivers, and Show (Queensland Theatre), Ukulele Mekulele (La Boite), The Empty City and Bear with Me for Metro Arts and Windmill. His works have played at the Sydney Opera House, around Australia and abroad.

His entry, The Holidays introduces us to Oliver Holiday and his Mum and Dad who are suddenly on their way to his Grandfather’s beachside cottage. However, as more clouds loom, it’s clear that the Holidays, instead of getting away from it all, have taken rather a lot with them. This visual theatre piece combines live performers, projection, participation and music to explore the impact of dementia, as experienced by one family, focussing on the connections between son, father and grandfather – told through the eyes of a young person.

Anna Yen is a theatre maker, performer and writer. Yen was a writer/performer in The Serpent’s Table (Sydney Festival/Griffin Theatre/Contemporary Asian Australian Performance). She wrote, co-created, and performed Matilda Award Commended Chinese Take Away for Stage X (QPAC/Gum Yi Productions) and toured its film adaptation (SBS commissioned) and performance excerpt to Asia, Europe, and the USA. Chinese Take Away is published in “Three Plays by Asian Australians” Playlab Press.

Her entry, Slow Boat is an epic tale of five men – indentured workers – winding their way from poverty and war in rural China, hard work on the tiny phosphate-rich island of Nauru, terrifying times down underground mines in Central Australia, building boats for General McArthur’s Pacific Campaign in Bulimba, and ultimately to an unknown future. Told through physical theatre, song, dance, circus, improvised Cantonese Opera, music and martial arts, this story of resilience and mateship, demonstrates the power art has to help us all through tough times.

PREVIOUS QPDA WINNERS:

2016-2017: Michele Lee for Rice

2014-2015: Daniel Evans for Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

2012-2013: Maxine Mellor for Trollop

2010-2011: Marcel Dorney for Fractions

2008-2009: Richard Jordan for 25 Down

2006-2007: David Brown for The Estimator

2004-2005: Adam Grossetti for Mano Nera

2002-2003: Sven Swenson for Road to the She-Devil’s Salon

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