Queensland Theatre’s Young Playwrights’ Award for 2021 has been awarded to an aspiring playwright from Toowoomba.
Sandra Miller’s coming-of-age narrative, ‘Paradise Dreaming’ took first place in one of the most competitive rounds of competition in almost 20-years.
A Year 12 student from The Glennie School in Toowoomba, Miller was complimented by Queensland Theatre Artistic Director Lee Lewis for ‘Paradise Dreaming’ achieving what all excellent playwrights aspire for — offering a new perspective on who we collectively are.
“The Young Playwrights’ Award is our way of recognising the great young writing talent in this state,” Lewis said. “It is so important to identify and celebrate the voices of our theatre future.
“Young playwrights are fierce. It is a huge undertaking to craft a whole play, and these writers do so in the midst of all the demands of school and family and our fast society. They write because they have something in them that must be said, and I love that they have identified that it must be said live on stage.
“’Paradise Dreaming’, Sandra’s remarkable play, and all the shortlisted plays this year are about things that matter to us all right now. These stories are urgent and moving. They inspire me to work harder as an artist.”
Miller will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Queensland Theatre’s Theatre Residency Week during the September school holidays, which will include dramaturgy sessions to help her improve her screenplay before a professional reading.
‘Paradise Dreaming’ tells the story about family and different memories we have, as Miller explains.
“’Paradise Dreaming’ is about my family,” said Miller. “It tries to capture our first moments in Australia and is special to me because I’m painting a picture we all remember differently.
“I use a broad brush to encapsulate the cocktail of emotions that filled us all — as well as navigating the guilt I feel whenever I miss Africa.
Miller also shared their excitement of winning such a prestigious award.
“Winning the Young Playwrights’ Award just means so much to me, it makes me emotional to have my work recognised at such a high level. It’s deeply validating and humbling.
“I’m looking forward to working with professional artists to improve my work — there is so much life that comes out of a script when it is read aloud. I cannot wait to learn more about playwriting, extend my dramatical knowledge and ask so many questions!”
The Queensland Theatre Young Playwrights’ Award is one of the longest-running prizes for student writers in the country. Past recipients include multi-award-winning playwright and screenwriter Angela Betzien (ABC TV’s ‘Total Control’), who received the Young Playwrights’ Award twice. Her more recent plays (‘The Hanging’, ‘Egg’, ‘Helicopter’) have continued to win awards and be performed in theatres around the world.
Queensland Theatre Young Playwrights’ Award 2021
‘Paradise Dreaming’ – Sandra Miller | The Glennie School, Toowoomba
‘Greek Mythology for Millennials’ – Gabriel Donaldson | Toowoomba Grammar School
‘Neverland’ – Brydie-Rose Peters | Ferny Grove State High School
‘Keeping it Together’ – Suki Wallace | Queensland Academies Creative Industries, Kelvin Grove
‘My Name is Tommy’ – Grace Wilson | Australian Christian College, Caboolture