Winner of the Open Theatre Award
THE ICE SEASON by Verity Laughton
A small town outside of Sydney. Thomas Clarke, a famous novelist aged about 55, has just died, leaving his third wife of three years, the beautiful Catherine. Thomas is buried in the local cemetery by his old friend, Catholic priest and probable alcoholic, Father John Houseman. The gravedigger is ex-soldier, Michael McManus, a Scot. After the burial Father John sends his cleaner, Vicki, around to help Catherine clean up. Vicki has a connection with Michael, Father John has connections with all three. And then Thomas’s unacknowledged son, Jake, comes to town. THE ICE SEASON investigates faith and fate, art, love and damage in the contemporary Western world.
Verity’s work has been produced in Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, the UK and the USA. It includes main-stage adult dramas, a promenade community event, a musical, adaptations, plays for child and family audiences, for dance, for puppets, for theatre of image and a ‘neutral script.’ Among her plays are: THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER (AWGIE for Community Theatre, 2004); BURNING (Griffin Prize 2001); and three separate productions of THE MOURNING AFTER. Verity’s radio play, FOX won the 2004 AWGIE for Best Radio Play. Her latest play, an adaptation of THE NARGUN AND THE STARS was recently hailed at the Sydney Festival, 2009.
Winner of the Open Film Award
THE WITNESS TREE by Jacqueline Cook
After a failed suicide attempt, Faith McQuinn reluctantly relocates her two fatherless sons – resentful teenage runaway, Ethan, and deaf, artistic Jamie – to the decaying bayside house of her dying, estranged grandmother, Imogen. As Faith tries to connect with both her unreachable eldest son and the viper-tongued matriarch, a powerful supernatural force begins to make her presence felt in the brooding house. Faith must confront a shameful family secret – irrevocably linked to the Bay’s tragic past – or ultimately submit to the darkness which threatens to engulf them all in the shadow of the Witness Tree.
Jacqueline attempted her first feature screenplay, the AWGIE-nominated supernatural drama, THE WITNESS TREE after learning of the little-known slave trade history of Queensland’s Moreton Bay. Her romantic comedy feature, SIDETRACKED! was selected for AFC script development funding and her psyche thriller, RAW, was an AWGIE winner in the Monte Miller category. She also contributed to THE SECRET OF MOONACRE script, a children’s fantasy which had its London premiere in January 2009. Jacqueline battles a condition called cacoethes scribendi, which, roughly translated from Latin, means an insatiable urge to write. Sadly, there is no cure.
Winner of the Open TV Award
SOLD by Suzie Miller & Greg Waters
There’s nothing funny about selling your soul slice by slice for a two percent commission minus overheads. So it’s lucky Anthony isn’t a real estate agent! He’s a philosopher and novelist, waiting for the sale that will allow him time to write the book that will change the world. There is nothing funny about approaching forty, married to your job, with a bitter string of failed relationships trailing you. So it’s lucky Hilary is a cougar not a pussy cat. There is a man out there with cojones, and the best way to find him is to drape herself in a negligee across a highway billboard and wait for the calls. There is nothing funny about being incompetent at the career of your dreams. So it is lucky Stan is a red-hot salesman. He’s just having one of those ice-cold streaks. There is nothing funny about a falling real estate market, a boss obsessed with motivational DVDs and a genuine Gen Y receptionist. SOLD is a comedy about things that aren’t funny.
Suzie is a graduate of the NIDA Playwrights Studio (2000), has a Masters in Theatre (UNSW), and in Law (UNSW). Amongst other awards and nominations Suzie has won the 2008 prestigious Kit Denton Scholarship for writing with excellence and courage; Inscription 2006 including a 2-week mentorship with Edward Albee; 2008 NY Fringe Festival Overall Excellence Award Outstanding Playwriting. Suzie will attend the National Theatre of London to develop her work Transparency in 2009. That same play will be produced and tour the UK from August 2009. She is one of Australia’s most exciting new playwrights having been produced at various venues including the Sydney Opera House. In addition to SOLD, Suzie also has a screenplay currently in development.
Greg made a mid-life career shift from politics to writing drama. He completed an MA in Screenwriting at AFTRS and now writes and script edits film, television and theatre. His short films have won awards in Australia and internationally. He has written for TV series FIREFLIES, THE SURGEON, THE ALICE, OUT OF THE BLUE and MY PLACE (currently in production). He script edited TWO TWISTED and DOUBLE THE FIST Series Two and the upcoming Children’s series K9 and DANCE ACADEMY. He has developed three feature films with the support of the AFC and a play at the National Script Workshop.
Winner of the Indigenous Award
NETBALL by Leah Purcell
Netball is an upbeat story of a racially mixed netball team, 5 Aboriginal and 2 white female players. They are the “Maneaters” from Berchgour an Aboriginal mission and Nogrum, a small Queensland country town where our story straddles the two. Our Maneaters: a force to be reckoned with on and off the court! NETBALL is ultimately about a group of women that have band together through the game of netball. Through their respect and loyalty to their team, they stand side by side on the court and off it. It is more than just a game though, it’s about dreams being realised and an opportunity in a time of their lives, where a break from their mundane routines can only be a blessing. No matter how hard and far they have to go, they can live, for just a moment, outside the mentality and constraints of a small town. NETBALL is cheeky, sexy, raw and real.
Leah Purcell is an award winning actor, writer, director and singer. As an actor she has starred in such Australian iconic TV, film and theatre drama as POLICE RESCUE and LOVE MY WAY, LANTANA and THE PROPOSITION. As an actor, writer, producer and director she has been involved in landmark Indigenous productions such as BRAN NUE DAE, BOX THE PONY, BLACK CHICKS TALKING and THE STORY OF THE MIRACLES AT COOKIE’S TABLE. Leah will be performing at the Almeida Theatre in London in 2009 under the direction of Artistic Director, Michael Attenborough. NETBALL is her first foray in the long-form feature film writing where she will also act and direct. Leah is a strong Goa-Gungarri-Wakka Wakka Murri woman from Queensland.
Winner of the Youth Award (play)
BLOODWOOD by Nicki Bloom
Bloodwood examines the idea of utopia through the prism of two very different, although inextricably connected worlds – one historical and one imagined. Each world exists within the sphere of its own rules, boundaries, possibilities, limitations, language and logic. These two worlds exist alongside one another in Bloodwood, each world becoming the other, each world influencing the other, the two worlds and their inhabitants mirroring, shadowing and predicting one another. The two worlds raise up questions: What is faith? What is language? Where beats the heart of a nation?
Nicki is a multi-award winning playwright. Her debut play TENDER (published by Currency Press) was short-listed for several awards, including the 2008 NSW Premier’s Play Award, the 2007 Philip Parsons Playwriting Award and the 2006 Max Afford Playwriting Award. TENDER was the recipient of both the 2006 Adrian Consett Stephen Memorial Prize, and the 2007 Inscription Chairman’s Award for Best Play. Nicki’s other awards include the 2006 Henry Lawson Prize for Prose, for SOMETHING GREATER THAN ALL OF THIS, a fragment of her debut novel AN ARCHIPELAGO. Nicki is co-artistic director of performance company nowyesnow. She is currently under commission from several leading Australian theatre companies.
Winner of the Youth Award (film)
PARALYSIS by Duncan Samarasinghe
It struck at 08:30pm local time – 99.99% of the population is reduced to instant quadriplegics by a plague of paralysis. What follows is a post-apocalyptic horror story that focuses on two immune strangers – a single mother and a fatherless 12 year old girl. They battle alone against unimaginable odds to keep their loved ones alive, eventually meeting by chance and forced to trust each other in a world where the immune have turned into savages.
Duncan studied screenwriting at RMIT and was a winner of the Project Greenlight Short Film Script Competition. He hopes to develop his macabre screenplays and become a major voice in the field of genre films, ever-clinging to his motto that “if it splatters it matters”. Duncan strives hard to ensure even his darkest screenplays have plenty of heart, as well as intestines and livers. He doesn’t yet know why his tastes lean towards the gruesome, but he remembers crying when his parents told him ‘Robocop’ was too violent for him. He was eight and his tears changed their mind.
Winner of the Regional Award (play)
PRECIPICE by Catherine Ryan
Mel is a 40 year old single working mother, struggling but strong, trying to maintain family, job and herself in a harsh world. Al is older, a compulsive reader of Death Notices, and obsessive attender of the funerals of strangers. Their lives converge at Mel’s funeral. PRECIPICE is an evocation of the state of being suggested by the play’s title. Suspension, balanced right on the edge, hovering, held in the moment before inevitable change. PRECIPICE is sparse and poetic, fragmented yet often lyrical – a journey into the mind, the imagination, and the desperate, abiding importance of compassion and love.
Catherine lives in Dja Dja Wurrung country (Central Victoria), just outside a town with a name, but no shop, pub or tennis court (there is, however, a gorgeous river, wedgetailed eagles and a public phone box). Graduating from the VCA in 1996, she has since worked across theatre, radio and doco film. In 2000, she headed bush, starting Castlemaine’s Barking Owl Theatre with three other artists, and continues to create professional productions and community generated pieces. A winner and finalist in several awards, Catherine will be a Resident Playwright with Griffin Theatre in 2009.
Winner of the Regional Award (film)
THE JACARANDA TREE by Alex Broun
“There is no truth, only memory.” The aftermath of a bush fire. A disoriented unknown man is found wandering through the charred landscape, his face covered in ash. Nearby, in the burnt out remains of a rammed earth house, two charred bodies are discovered. Behind the house stand the blackened branches of a once beautiful Jacaranda tree. What is the terrible secret the house and the tree hold? THE JACARANDA TREE is a haunting, lyrical unfolding mystery, with wonderful roles for actors and very strong visual elements, set in a harsh but beautiful landscape.
Born in Sydney, Alex has enjoyed considerable success in theatre, TV and film as a writer, actor and director. As a writer he has had many plays performed in the USA, South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, the UK, Taiwan, the Philippines and Australia. A specialist in ten minute plays, in recent years he has had over 40 short plays produced in over 150 productions across the globe. He is currently the Artistic Co-ordinator of Short & Sweet, the largest ten minute play festival in the world that plays in Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore and Malaysia. He has also recently launched his website – www.alexbroun.com
Winner of the Hopscotch Award (film)
THE WIFE OF BEDLAM by Sean Riley
Tasmania, 1847. Eugenia Bradshaw, a strong-headed free settler, suddenly alone and penniless, is in dire need of a husband. Her prayers are answered in the form of George Huntley, an amateur photographer. She follows him to the rugged south western wilderness, to the home he shares with his brother William, and Rummy, a blind Aboriginal boy. To Eugenia, this land is hell on earth, and it does not take her long to discover the true horror of her husband’s obsession. As Eugenia is pulled further into the abyss, she finds herself with child, and she escapes to freedom through the dense wilderness.
Regarded as one of South Australia’s leading playwrights, Sean has extensive experience in the creation of new works for Adelaide’s key companies & organizations. Winner of the Jill Blewett Playwrights Award, twice short listed for the prestigious Patrick White Playwrights Award, Sean’s epic trilogy, BEAUTIFUL WORDS which also won Adelaide Theatre Guide’s Best Play Award, was recently published by Currency Press. THE ANGEL AND THE RED PRIEST premiered at the 2008 Adelaide Festival of the Arts, and was adapted from his radio play of the same name which received an honourable mention from the 2007 Prix Italia Awards for radio drama. He is Co-Artistic Director of Oddbodies Theatre.
Winner of the Grey Matter Award (film)
BRIDGE OF FLOATING DREAM by Brian Jones
A young Australian heads overseas, he has a poetic spirit, imagines himself a world adventurer, but has no idea of reality. 1965 Japan was an exotic world – traditional relationships were in transition but the exquisite and complex culture, based on centuries of refinement, was still alive. Our young man becomes obsessed with this richly textured world and also an enigmatic Japanese woman who is part of ‘the night world of men’. She becomes integral to his creative and spiritual evolution. But he doesn’t understand the traditional role she has accepted and the new relationship with him has created an ‘impossible’ situation.
Brian has been an adventurer, a successful painter and eclectic entrepreneur, in many countries around the world. In film he’s experienced in documentary and drama as director, producer, cameraman, editor and special effects. As a teacher of film and video he’s ‘produced’ fifty-six short films. He’s also a film critic in print and on radio. As a film writer he’s done fifteen Screenplays and fourteen Treatments and has evolved into a teller of personal and multi layered stories. He now has a significant slate of active projects. He’s a principal, with David Hannay, in Mongans Bridge Movies.
Winner of the Chairman’s Award (play)
EVERY SECOND by Vanessa Bates
Meg, Tim, Bill and Jen are friends. Middle aged, middle class and childless. But not by choice. Infertility has leapt from a politely lurking possibility to a rage-filled, needle-phobic, screaming reality. EVERY SECOND questions the choices we make to achieve our heart’s desire. Can one have too many fertility charms? Is giving your partner a hand during his sperm test sexy? Or just unhygienic? If we fail to reproduce, have we lost the human race? A story about those who recoil from the scent of mortality, the terror of difference and the Bugaboo, EVERY SECOND is a comedy of obsession, forgiveness and love.
AWGIE winner Vanessa Bates received a Varuna Fellowship, Keesing Residency (Paris), and a 2006 Inscription Award. Shortlists include: Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, Griffin, and Patrick White Playwrights Award. Plays include: HUNGER, CHECKLIST FOR AN ARMED ROBBER, ELEPHANT’S ARK, DARLING OSCAR, MATCH, with productions by STC, Vitalstatistix, Theatre@Risk, Griffin, Black Swan, Deckchair, B-Sharp, Tantrum, and ABC Radio. Vanessa wrote LEGS UP AND LAUGHING (Murdoch Books 2007) and received an Australia Council grant to write a second book in 2009. For TV she wrote AWGIE nominated documentary 900 NEIGHBOURS and is a writer on Knapman/Wyld’s award winning series EAST WEST 101.