The Shane & Cathryn Brennan Prize for Playwriting Collection was free to read in August 2022.
Selected scripts will soon be published by APT and be available for purchase.
The Zap by Kirsty Marillier
Runner Up – Stage
When Helix Highs’ acclaimed sprinter – Saskia Desilva – is rumoured to have set an entire building on fire, a whole school community is shaken. Exactly three months later, Zoya Peterson aka “Zoya Cheaperson”– has a life average beyond belief. She’s navigating the ins – and outs of teenagedom; whether or not secondhand sport shorts are a look or if left wing activism is dodging your Mums beef curry two weeks in a row?
There is one thing no-ones knows about Zoya … she has a secret; she was near the toilet block that day. And not even her best friend knows.
After an intense overnight recollection, Zoyas’ intrigue for the elusive Saskia is ignited. From soggy ovals to internet wormholes to burnt up toilet blocks she begins to dig up old truths in the name of Saskias legacy.
Will Zoya succeed and get to the bottom of it all? Or will she become collateral damage?
THE ZAP is a play of power and potential, resistance and resilience, ambition and fitting in. A high intensity, radical romp imagining our very near future, intersectional feminism and fake ass news
Way Back When by Dylan Van Den Berg
Runner Up – Stage
CONTENT NOTE: The play includes references to colonisation, racism, racial violence, sexual assault
Somewhere in a fictional post-colonial Tasmania, three women – an unlikely trio – are thrown together by chance. To pass the time (and forget the cold), they recast the colonisation of Tasmania as a Gothic revenge drama. There’s comedy, a play-within-a play and, as their connection to each other strengthens, revelations of personal traumas which steadily undermine the fervour of their collective revisionism.
Their tangled narratives leave us to reflect on the life affirming nature of storytelling, the resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as the lingering, complex effects of colonisation.
Never Closer by Grace Chapple
Highly Commended – Stage
Christmas, 1987. Deirdre is trapped between nations, conflicts, and lives almost lived. She’s getting ready to celebrate the holiday alone, when fate gathers together all her old friends for one more night, and they find a small ember of warmth in the darkest corner of winter. But when Niamh arrives last with her new English boyfriend, the group start down a collision course that will change all of their lives forever. They don’t yet know how good and how bad things can be.
Never Closer is an exploration of love, trauma, and forgiveness in a shitty, beautiful world. By examining the generational trauma and cost of one nation’s battle against hatred, this new play asks whether it is possible to find light in the darkness, and whether it’s worth trying anyway.
Ali in Zombieland by John Armstrong
Winner – Theatre for Young Audience
ALI has been best friends with MIM since they met on the swings as five year olds. For Ali, an anxious perfectionist with social phobia, the exuberant Mim is the one person who ‘gets’ her, and enables her to connect with the world. Ali’s other safe zone is Zombieland, a darkly funny graphic novel she writes secretly, set in a dystopian high school of the undead. But when Mim inexplicably dumps Ali in the last weeks of Year 12, to become friends with the popular ZOE, Ali’s anxiety skyrockets. How will she cope with life without Mim beside
her? And with her anxiety worsening, how will she get through the final exams and achieve the stratospheric ATAR she needs to get into Law, as everyone expects?
Rosieville by Mary Rachel Brown
Runner Up – Theatre for Young Audience
“You have to accept the fact that sometimes you are the pigeon, and sometimes you are the statue.” – Claude Chabrol
It has been five days since Rose’s father left. During this time, Rose has become an expert in disassociation and keeping everyone at arm’s length. It seems to be working, except at night when Rose’s dream life is taken over by a mouthy homing pigeon that claims to be her subconscious. The last thing Rose wants is to be put through a psychological boot camp by a bossy rat with wings, but the bird’s intention is good. It is there to help Rose to prepare for a new world order. It knows her dad is not coming home.
In her waking hours, Rose avoids her difficult Homefront by hanging out with the next-door neighbours and their real-life homing pigeons. When one of the most reliable pigeons does not make it home when expected, everyone in the street feels the ripple effect. The lost bird draws out everyone’s vulnerabilities, and it fast becomes evident that everyone in Button Place is struggling with something.
In many respects, Rosieville is an allegory for the last two years of the pandemic. It looks at the habits and distractions we amass in order to cope with the unknown. It examines the nature of waiting and how we hold ourselves together when looking down the barrel of uncertainty. The bossy hero of the story is a magical realism pigeon who helps Rose take agency over her expectations and come to terms with what she cannot control.
This is a universal story about backing yourself when faced with heartbreak. It is also a homage to the instinct, loyalty, stamina and grit of homing pigeons, who find their way home despite countless obstacles and long distances.
Dirt Cloud by Mari Lourey
Runner Up – Theatre for Young Audience
Twelve year old Spook is more preoccupied with Astrophysics and space travel than noticing what is happening around her on Earth.
Her mother Mannie is exiled from her mining magnate mother Bill, who unbeknown to Mannie, is dying. But Mannie knows in her bones that it’s time for reckoning. Spook’s father Eddie, an Indigenous fisheries scientist is soon to become redundant, and also recognises that it is time to return to the place of his birth, from his own self – imposed exile. All this is compounded by the fact that their southern farm is severely environmentally compromised by gas mining off shore.
A trip across country to Mannie and Eddie’s place of birth in Australia’s north-west with a recalcitrant Spook – on the cusp of being accepted into Australia’s first ever junior space program – will tilt her axis forever.
Events that unfold at Twin Hills, a former pastoral station now eponymous with a global mining company, will redefine their lives after Spook disappears down a sink hole only to discover a long buried water source just as she is about to suffocate in dirt.
By the end Spook – the ancestral child of two conflicted cultures – has to consider anew, where she truly belongs in this country, on this tiny planet hurtling through space, and what responsibilities she will accept. Will she embrace the three dimensional grid of knowledge connecting astronomy and the earth bound world – that has developed, uninterrupted for over sixty thousand years and with it the responsibilities that come with that knowledge? And will it even be offered to her?
“They’re coming back now, but I don’t know if the old ones who belong to the water will teach me how to look after it. Dad says we just have to wait. And we know how to do that….”