Maxine Mellor has been announced as the 2014 winner of the $30,000 Max Afford Playwrights’ Award by The Trust Company, part of Perpetual, as trustee.
Mellor’s standout script, The Silver Alps, was described by judges as “an evocative, sharp, mordant and moving portrait of young people stuck at the bottom of the heap in Australia”.
Ms Mellor, who has penned more than 20 plays, will receive a $15,000 cash prize for the win, coupled with a $15,000 contribution towards Playwriting Australia’s National Script Workshop to further develop her play.
Perpetual’s General Manager of Philanthropy, Andrew Thomas, said: “Congratulations to Maxine Mellor for her outstanding script, The Silver Alps, and her prolific and ongoing contribution to Australian playwriting”.
“This bequest was established by the late Thelma May Afford in memory of her eminent husband, playwright and novelist Max and is a great example of the valuable role that philanthropy plays in the arts community. As trustee of this award, Perpetual is proud to be keeping Max’s legacy alive by managing the award and distributing the funding which supports talented Australian playwrights.”
The Max Afford Playwrights’ Award was created “to promote interest in Australian drama and to encourage the writing of plays in Australia, to help and give incentive to young writers of plays for stage, TV or films”.
The judges of the 2014 award were Dr Chris Mead, Literary Director, Melbourne Theatre Company, Mark Pritchard, Resident Dramaturg, Malthouse Theatre and Katrina Foster, actor, writer and teacher, with Tim Roseman, Artistic Director, PWA assisting in an advisory capacity.
Unanimously they judged The Silver Alps as “an outstanding addition to the repertoire of Australian plays and a work which brims with ambition, life and insight”
The judges remarked upon Mellor’s impressive skill in giving The Silver Alps a “sinuously plotted storyline which keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, as the characters claw away at each other, trapped in cars and hotel rooms…seemingly helping each other out, but often to quite destructive effect”.
The works of two other talented young playwrights – Tom Holloway’s Sunshine and David Finnigan’s Kill Climate Deniers – were also highly commended by the judges.
Commenting on her win, Maxine Mellor said: “I’m incredibly grateful to the Trust for managing this fantastic opportunity, the judges, and of course to Max and Thelma May Afford. It’s kind of uplifting to think that by establishing this award, Max and Thelma are able to remain involved in the creation of new work even now. What a legacy. What a great idea.
“The prize will go a long way in helping develop not only my submitted play, but another piece that’s been calling.”