Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the finalists for the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award (QPDA) 2020–21. Artists Anna Loren, Maddie Nixon and Steve Pirie have been selected from the record-breaking field of 221 entries. This marks the largest intake of new dramatic works in the Award’s 17-year history, with entries received from every state and territory in Australia.
“I congratulate Anna Loren, Maddie Nixon and Steve Pirie for this incredible achievement. I wish them well as they continue their development journey working with industry experts and look forward to seeing which script will be the next winning play on our Queensland stage,” said Ms Palaszczuk.
The three finalists are now in the running for the drama award, where the winner receives a professional production of their entry in Queensland Theatre’s 2021 Season.
What’s more is that all three finalists are all from Queensland!
Steve Pirie grew up in Toowoomba (went to school at St Mary’s College) studied Drama at USQ, has lived in New York for a few years and now lives with his wife in Sherwood. Steve and his fiancée took a break from acting when he was 25 and moved back to his hometown of Toowoomba where he somehow ended up working as a funeral director for a year. Steve’s play ‘Return to the Dirt’ is a semi-autobiographical account of his time working in the funeral industry and what that experience taught him about rituals in life and death. Amongst other projects, he is currently knee-deep in researching his new play about semi-professional wrestling!
Maddie Nixon grew up in rural Sunshine Coast where her dad was an actor and Mum is a community paster and runs a bookshop and community garden. Growing up, Maddie’s parents were travelling Christian puppeteers! Maddie is a teacher, writer, director and producer and her QPDA play is about a family living in Australia’s smallest town (based loosely off the real-life town of Cooladdi). She now lives in Paddington.
Anna Loren grew up in Nambour and after 20 years living away from the Sunshine Coast (in various places including Brisbane, Finland and London) returned to Nambour last year with her 18-year-old son. Anna, who has been studying and working as an actor in London for several years, has written a play ‘Comfort’ about her grandmother who was in a Prisoner of War camp during WWII.
The previous winner of the QDPA Award, David Megarrity and his play ‘The Holidays’ will premiere in Brisbane in July 2020, as part of Queensland Theatre’s 50th Anniversary season.
The QPDA was launched in 2002, and through it, Queensland Theatre has developed 31 new Australian plays, employed over 220 actors, writers and directors, and fostered audiences of more than 34,500 to engage with new theatre works.
The QPDA judges – Christine Castley, Deputy Director-General, Department of the Premier and Cabinet; Louise Gough, Head of New Work, Belvoir; Jennifer Medway, Literary Associate, Melbourne Theatre Company; Nadine McDonald-Dowd Executive Producer, Learning and Engagement Program, QPAC; and Sam Strong, Artistic Director, Queensland Theatre – met with the 14 artists who progressed to the shortlist to discuss their projects further. From there, the judges selected the three finalists whose works now undergo creative developments which will culminate in a play-reading in 2020, after which the judges must chose the winner.
The winner of the QPDA will have their project receive a professional world premiere production by Queensland Theatre in 2021.
“Queensland Theatre is the national leader in new stories and new talent and the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award is the foundation stone of this ambition. This award helps us to create the next landmark Australian story, to identify the most distinctive new artists, and to provide pathways for their work and careers,” said Queensland Theatre Artistic Director, Sam Strong.
“This was an intensely competitive round, with a record number of entries from around Australia, and an incredibly impressive long-list that was a snapshot of a very healthy new writing culture. I’m especially pleased that the three plays that rose to the top were all by Queensland artists, and two of them have a regional setting,” he said. “The plays vary widely in their style, tone and the experience they want to create for an audience. But they are united by a kernel of personal experience that sits at the heart of each of them. This gives all three plays a unique authenticity and power. I’m sure incoming Artistic Director Lee Lewis will enjoy the wealth of talent contained in the shortlist and in Queensland as a whole.”
The Queensland Premier’s Drama Award is an initiative of the Queensland Government, delivered in partnership with Queensland Theatre.
Press Release supplied by Queensland Theatre.