Steve Pirie has been announced as the winner of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2020-21 (QDPA) with his new play entitled ‘Return to the Dirt’.
The Brisbane writer’s work was selected from over 220 entries for the award, with three finalists announced earlier this year, and will guarantee Pirie a professional production of the winning entry in Queensland Theatre’s 2021 season.
‘Return to the Dirt’ is described as a powerful, and gently humorous, mediation on what it means to die in the 21st century and what a final act of love can do for our healing. The play introduces you to Steve, a struggling artist who — after a long stint of unemployment —finds work as a funeral director. Using Gen-Y wit and pop-culture homage, the story takes you through the realms of the dead and behind the closed doors of the Australian funeral industry.
Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Director, Lee Lewis, was part of the judging panel and described the play as one of the best she’s read in a number of years.
“Steve Pirie’s play Return to the Dirt is a revelation,” Lewis said.
Pirie’s work was selected ahead of fellow finalists Anna Loren for ‘Comfort’ and Maddie Nixon for her work ‘Binnavale’. Delivered through Queensland Theatre, the QPDA is a prestigious and important award for Australian theatre. Lewis noted that the competition is significant and shines a light on the talented creatives in our industry.
“The QPDA is the largest playwriting award in the country,” Lewis said.
“The significance of guaranteeing a production to the winning play cannot be overstated. For every playwright in the country, the QPDA offers a career-changing opportunity. Working with the Queensland Government to shine a huge light on the extraordinary writing talent we have in this country is both inspiring and exciting”, Lewis said.
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. Previous winning works include ‘The Holidays’ by David Megarrity (2018–19), ‘Rice’ by Michele Lee (2016–17), ‘Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’ by Daniel Evans (2014–15), ‘Trollop’ by Maxine Mellor (2012–13) and ‘Fractions’ by Marcel Dorney (2010–11).
Judges for the 2020–21 Awards include Ms Christine Castley, Deputy Director-General in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet; Ms Lee Lewis, Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre; Ms Nadine McDonald-Dowd, Executive Producer, Queensland Performing Arts Centre; and Ms Jennifer Medway, Literary Associate, Melbourne Theatre Company.
The QPDA is an initiative of Queensland Theatre with the support of the Queensland Government.
For more information about Queensland Theatre, visit their website.