Queensland Premier’s Drama Award finalists announced

Three Queensland-based playwrights are vying for the nationally-coveted 2020–21 Queensland Premier’s Drama Award.

Anna Loren, Maddie Nixon and Steve Pirie were selected as finalists from a record 221 entries representing every state and territory in Australia, the largest intake of dramatic works in the award’s 17-year history.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the winner, to be announced in April 2020, would have their play professionally produced and performed on stage during Queensland Theatre’s 2021 season.

“I congratulate Anna, Maddie and Steve for their outstanding efforts, and wish them well as they continue their development journey working with industry experts,” she said.

“I am delighted there are three Queenslanders on the finalist list, a clear indication of our State’s artistic strengths and the vitality of our theatre industry.

“Following on from the success of Brisbane writer David Megarrity as the recipient of the 2019–20 Drama Award, I look forward to seeing which of their scripts is turned into Queensland Theatre’s next world premiere.”

David Megarrity’s play, The Holidays, will premiere in Brisbane in July 2020 as part of Queensland Theatre’s 50th anniversary season.

Since 2002, the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award, an initiative of the Queensland Government, has seen Queensland Theatre develop 31 new Australian plays, employ more than 220 actors, writers and directors, and entertain more than 34,500 audience members.

“I commend Queensland Theatre for continuing to get behind burgeoning Australian talent and helping to bring their original stories to life and their professional careers to fruition,” the Premier said.


The 2020–21 finalists:

Anna Loren:

Anna Loren is an actor and theatre maker. She is one of eight emerging playwrights, chosen to participate in Playlab’s 2019, Incubator Program and, was recently supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund, to attend a residency in Finland, under the mentorship of theatre professional, Dr. Margi Brown Ash. Anna studied at The Actors Workshop (Brisbane), and later at the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance (London), supported by an international bursary. Also a drama facilitator, Anna has taught for The Actors Workshop and NIDA Open (Brisbane), as well as The Rose Bruford Youth Theatre, NCS The Challenge and the Drama Club (London).

Her entry Comfort:

Comfort: a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint (Oxford Dictionary). Sitting between British-Indian colonial rule and Japanese occupation, Burma is a country torn apart by war. It has been cut open, segmented, dissected and blown apart. Battling armies open lasting wounds across the land, leaving scars not only on the earth, but also on the bodies of the women they seek to colonize. COMFORT is a semi-autobiographical work that responds to my own grandmother’s experience as a ‘Comfort Woman’ in 1940s Japan-Occupied Burma. In blaring juxtaposition, my memories of her exist in a 1980s Australian childhood. Afternoons spent in a suburban Perth backyard, playing around the hills hoist; holidays sweating in a musty, sand-filled caravan; Expo ’88. But just below the surface, one ever-present unspoken rule journeyed with us; we don’t talk about the past. Moving between past and present, personal and political, GRANDDAUGHTER wades through official military records, rumour and euphemism as she gently unpicks the threads in search of her GRANDMOTHER’s truth.

Maddie Nixon:

Maddie Nixon is a Brisbane based writer, director and youth arts practitioner. Her artistic practice focuses on the development of new contemporary work, Australian comedy and theatre for young people. Maddie is the Youth and Participation Producer at La Boite Theatre Company. Credits include, as Playwright: The Parable People (Alpha Processing – Playlab), Cooladdi (HWY Festival – La Boite Theatre Company, 18-26 Year Old Playwright Program – Queensland Theatre and Fresh Ink – ATYP), Food Fight (Fresh Ink – ATYP).

Her entry Binnavale:

The Big Pineapple, The Big Banana, The Big Merino. Australian tourists love big things. But what about the small things? Binnavale is the smallest town in Australia. For now. Once a bustling hub in the orange dessert of central Queensland, Binnavale is entirely isolated and solely occupied by one family, the Mullers. Mum, Dad, Levi and Sam, run the town’s crown jewel and only remaining business, The Bin Hotel. Business at The Bin isn’t exactly booming, but it’s going well enough, and the Mullers honestly believe that that they are the gate holders of the greatest place on Earth. That is until the young hotshot Federal MP Mr Brett Pryce, proposes the Postcode Hybridisation Scheme, a bill which if passed will conjoin a series of small population postcodes in remote and regional Australia. If the Mullers lose their postcode, they lose their smallest town status, and they lose their business. If the family don’t have tourists passing through, The Bin Hotel will be shut down, and they will have to abandon the only place they have ever called home. Binnavale is a comedy about family, grief and growing up.

Steve Pirie:

Steve Pirie is a writer, theatre maker and youth arts worker currently based in Brisbane. A graduate of the University of Southern Queensland, he is also the co-Artistic Director of Mixtape Theatre Collective, a regional independent theatre company based in Toowoomba, Queensland. His first play, Escape from the Breakup Forest, has since been published by Playlab following statewide seasons, and in 2014, Steve’s work 3 O’Clock, Flagpole was selected for development as part of the Lab Rats initiative. In 2017, he was an independent artist with Queensland Theatre where he developed his work, Return to the Dirt as part of his residency, which was presented at La Boite’s HWY Festival in 2018.

His entry Return to the Dirt:

In 2014, Steve Pirie returned to his hometown in regional Queensland with no job, money or goals. After a series of dead ends, he finally found work in a local funeral home, where he spent the next year living and working among the dead, the dying and the families left behind. Join Steve, your tour guide, as he takes you through the realms of the dead and behind the closed doors of the Australian funeral industry in this powerful meditation on what it means to die in the 21st century, to lose the ones we love, what a twenty-something learned about what awaits us at the end, and what a final act of love can do for our healing. Return to the Dirt is a celebration of finding your place in the world, the power of personal redemption and humility at the end of all things. Most importantly, it is a stepping stone to one of the most important conversations you need to have.


2018-2019 David Megarrity for The Holidays

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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