Andrew Bovell, one of Australia’s foremost playwrights, is the new STC Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellow, it was announced yesterday evening at a special event at Sydney Theatre Company (STC) as part of the Sydney Writers Festival. It was also announced that this year’s Patrick White Playwrights’ Award recipient is Lewis Treston for his play Hot Tub, which was presented as a rehearsed reading to a sell-out audience at Wharf 2 Theatre. The members of STC’s inaugural Emerging Writers’ Group were also named at the event as Emme Hoy, Julian Larnach, Moreblessing Maturure and Disapol Savetsila.

PatrickWhite 2017 by Christine Messinesi

Back Row: Moreblessing Maturure, Lewis Treston, STC Artistic Director Kip Williams and Disapol Savetsila. Front Row: Emme Hoy, Julian Larnach, Andrew Bovell and STC Literary Manager Polly Rowe. (Photo by Christine Messinesi)

The Fellow

Andrew Bovell, STC’s new Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellow, said: “Where the novelist and the poet can exist alone and in isolation, the playwright seeks to work in collaboration with other theatre artists; actors, directors, designers and composers. Great theatre comes out of the relationship between these disciplines and it’s our theatre companies that bring these disciplines together. As a playwright I want to be as much a part of the companies that produce my work as possible. I want to belong. I want to collaborate. The Patrick White Fellowship offers me the opportunity to be a part of STC and its creative team under Kip Williams’ artistic directorship. As part of the Fellowship I look forward to mentoring and working with the STC’s newly announced Emerging Writers’ Group. It’s an important initiative and one that acknowledges the company’s commitment to developing the writers of the next generation.”

Bovell is well known to STC audiences for his acclaimed adaptation of Kate Grenville’s The Secret River which premiered in 2013 before touring throughout Australia, the hilarious revival of his 1980’s play After Dinner in 2015 at The Wharf, and Brink’s production of When the Rain Stops Falling which was presented by STC in 2009.

Now in its seventh year, the $25,000 Fellowship is awarded annually to an established playwright in recognition of their excellent body of work and achievements. As well as including a commission from STC, which each Fellow develops during their year-long engagement, the tenure provides opportunities for the playwright to share their skills with other playwrights and artists. Previous STC Patrick White Fellows are Tommy Murphy, Kate Mulvany, Angela Betzien, Hilary Bell, Patricia Cornelius and Raimondo Cortese.

The Award winner

106 scripts were submitted anonymously for the 2016 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award, a prize of $7500 for an original, unproduced play, with Lewis Treston’s play Hot Tub most impressing the judges. Treston’s eccentric comedy, set in the Gold Coast’s Surfers Paradise, follows the fading fortunes of the Whites, a dysfunctional family who own and live in a 20 storey high-rise. When estranged daughter, Dido, comes to live with the family she finds herself drawn into a chaotic world of money-making scams and enterprises. She discovers a surprising solution to her body image issues but also finds herself embroiled in the sex industry, organised crime and the opportunistic underbelly of Australia’s playground.

Hot Tub received a rehearsed reading directed by STC’s Richard Wherrett Fellow, Jessica Arthur, and performed by Tony Cogin, Jennifer Hagan, Mark Hill, Patrick Jhanur, Amber McMahon, Susan Prior and Contessa Treffone.

The Emerging Writers’ Group

A new initiative, STC’s Emerging Writers’ Group aims to encourage the next generation of Australian playwrights, supporting their professional development, expanding skill sets and helping them discover and hone their own distinctive voices.

Emme Hoy, Julian Larnach, Moreblessing Maturure and Disapol Savetsila will meet regularly throughout the year-long program and will be mentored by STC’s Artistic Director, Literary Manager, Patrick White Playwrights’ Fellow and resident directors. They will attend STC productions, company runs and take part in workshops with STC artists, as well as have opportunities to discuss work they see and their own artistic practice. Each participant will also have the opportunity to develop a commission pitch for STC programming consideration.