I’ve had my head down the last few weeks in rehearsal for WOMEN POWER CULTURE season (A festival designed by Louise Fischer to celebrate women playwrights and directors) – and I’m also busy reading plays right now for Playwriting Australia… so apologies for the delay IN MY OUTRAGE!!!


“No outstanding work could be identified this year that they felt was deserving of this major award.”

I am absolutely… I am… I am completely… (shakes head slowly in wonder, mouth open staring into the middle distance)

If this award is to, as it claims it wants to “develop new work by rewarding our most unique and gifted playwrights.” It has a funny way of showing it and I don’t think declaring that there will be no award for 2011 really sends a message of support or re-enforce the idea that “The Award will encourage our great storytellers from all over Australia.”

I know for a fact that there are some brilliant playwrights living, breathing, working in Australia. I know FOR A FACT there are plays floating about out there that deserve a production. That deserve money. That deserve recognition and encouragement. I would like to say that such a message to our playwrights – who already do it tough in an industry that favours curriculum-friendly programming and the classics adapted by actors, an industry that seems to think a “development” or residency is “near enough” to being “good enough” for the development of plays, and playwrights – is absolutely… (opens and closes mouth like a goldfish slowly shaking her head)

Plays are hard to read and assess. Many are blueprints for space and sound and light and the true experience of seeing a script transform can sometimes only happen in production. If anyone knows how hard it is , it’s me. But really, I think the panel show an aching lack of imagination if they can’t find writing worthy of supporting and encouragement.

Judging art is hard. In fact I think it’s a bit pointless – but if you are ballsy enough to have a prize or a competition to see which bit of art is better – have the balls to make a decision, take a punt. Back your taste. The playwrights of this country don’t need yet ANOTHER residency/development program… they also don’t need more prize money thrown at the ever-perennial “emerging” sector.

Our playwrights need support. Our playwrights need production. Our playwrights need money. Come on, now. Is this really the best we can offer them? We say we’ll nurture them and then claim that they’re not good enough to be nurtured or celebrated? Come on, now.

The judging panel for the second annual Richard Burton Award for New Plays has announced that this major national award for Australian playwriting will not be awarded in 2011.

The Richard Burton Award for New Plays was established to celebrate the career of Richard Burton, one of the great actors of stage and screen, and to encourage great storytellers from all over Australia to develop new work. The competition is open to full length, unproduced plays which have been written in the 12 months leading up to the closing date of the Award.

As in 2010, over 100 submissions were received for the Award in 2011. However, the judging panel was unanimous in stating that no outstanding work could be identified this year that they felt was deserving of this major award.

Sally Burton said, “I was extremely proud of the plays that came out of the 2010 Richard Burton Award for New Plays and I am disappointed that the panel was unable to identify an outstanding entry in 2011. I am committed to the Richard Burton Award for New Plays as an annual award into the future. I am currently considering how this year’s funds might best be used towards a development program for playwrights and will also work with Black Swan to review the Award guidelines prior opening the 2012 Award for submissions.”

Kate Cherry, Black Swan State Theatre Company’s Artistic Director commented, “I am disappointed that the Richard Burton Award for New Plays will not be awarded in 2011. New Australian work is at the core of my creative agenda for Black Swan, and the establishment of the Richard Burton Award for New Plays is a wonderful initiative by Sally Burton to support playwriting in Australia. The fact that there will be no winner of the Award this year highlights the ongoing need to support emerging playwrights in Australia, and Black Swan is committed to doing so through our ongoing commissioning program and work with emerging artists.”