AustLit logo
Major Award
Subcategory of AWGIE Awards
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

Winners

2019 winner y separately published work icon The Harp in the South : Part One and Part Two Kate Mulvany , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2018 11940858 2018 single work drama

'A great Australian novel. A landmark theatre event. A portrait of Sydney as it once was.

'The world premieres of The Harp in the South: Part One and The Harp in the South: Part Two are designed to be enjoyed as one unforgettable, epic theatrical experience.

'This major new work is one of the most ambitious productions STC has ever created. Celebrated playwright Kate Mulvany has adapted novelist Ruth Park’s revered Australian trilogy – Missus, The Harp in the South and Poor Man’s Orange – and spread these beloved stories across two equally ambitious plays.

'The two parts stand alone, but together they offer over five hours of monumental, exuberant theatre. It’s a moving family saga and a celebration of Sydney in all its funny, gritty glory.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2016 winner form y separately published work icon The Code Shelley Birse , Blake Ayshford , Justin Monjo , ( dir. Shawn Seet ) Australia : ABC Television Playmaker Media , 2013 Z1912246 2013 series - publisher film/TV thriller

The Code is a fictional thriller set between the remote Australian desert and the corridors of power in Canberra. A murder in the Outback thrusts two unlikely brothers into an international political conspiracy.

For series two.
2015 winner form y separately published work icon The Water Diviner Andrew Knight , Andrew Anastasios , ( dir. Russell Crowe ) Australia : Fear of God Films Hopscotch Features , 2014 6978350 2014 single work film/TV

An Australian man travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli to try and locate his three missing sons.

2014 winner form y separately published work icon The Code Shelley Birse , Blake Ayshford , Justin Monjo , ( dir. Shawn Seet ) Australia : ABC Television Playmaker Media , 2013 Z1912246 2013 series - publisher film/TV thriller

The Code is a fictional thriller set between the remote Australian desert and the corridors of power in Canberra. A murder in the Outback thrusts two unlikely brothers into an international political conspiracy.

2013 winner Alana Valentine
2012 winner form y separately published work icon The Sapphires Keith Thompson , Tony Briggs , ( dir. Wayne Blair ) Australia : Goalpost Pictures , 2012 Z1809626 2012 single work film/TV (taught in 1 units) 'Gail, Cynthia, Julie and Kay are sexy, black, young and talented - and they've never set foot outside Australia. Until, in the chaos of 1968, they're plucked from the obscurity of a remote Aboriginal mission, branded as Australia's answer to The Supremes, and - grasping the chance of a lifetime - dropped into the jungles of Vietnam to entertain the troops.' Source: www.encoremagazine.com.au/ (Sighted 26/09/2011).
2011 winner Do Not Go Gentle... Patricia Cornelius , 2006 single work drama humour
— Appears in: Do Not Go Gentle and The Berry Man : Two Plays 2011; (p. 1-63)
This play juxtaposes the journeys towards death of members of Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic expedition with that of residents in an Australian nursing home.
2010 winner form y separately published work icon Animal Kingdom David Michôd , ( dir. David Michôd ) Australia : Porchlight Films , 2010 Z1686698 2010 single work film/TV crime (taught in 2 units)

Inspired in part by Melbourne's 1988 Walsh Street murders, Animal Kingdom is a story about the battle between Melbourne's underworld and the police. The story tracks seventeen-year-old Joshua 'J' Cody, a troubled teenager perilously caught between his own criminal family and Detective Leckie, a compromised cop who thinks that he can save 'J'. 'J' comes to realise that in order to survive, he must determine how the game is played. This involves not only writing his own rule book but also choosing his place in the cunning and brutal animal kingdom in which his family lives.

2009 winner form y separately published work icon Samson and Delilah Warwick Thornton , ( dir. Warwick Thornton ) Scarlett Pictures CAAMA Productions , 2009 Z1561915 2009 single work film/TV (taught in 9 units)

'Samson and Delilah tells the story of two Aboriginal teenagers in a remote community. They live in a sparse environment but one that absorbs all manner of cultural influences, where dot painting and country music exist side by side. Samson gets through his days by sniffing, while Delilah is the caregiver for her nana before taking a moment for herself to listen to Latino music. Their journey ranges across many of the most urgent issues concerning Indigenous people in Australia, homelessness, poverty, domestic violence and substance abuse, but it does so with tenderness, dignity, and even humour.'

Source: Adelaide Film Festival website, www.adelaidefilmfestival.org/ Sighted: 23/02/2009

2007 winner form y separately published work icon Clubland Introducing the Dwights Keith Thompson , ( dir. Cherie Nowlan ) Australia : Goalpost Pictures Shaftsbury Films , 2006 Z1399798 2006 single work film/TV

'Life can be tough when you’re 21-years-old, and still a virgin. Just ask Tim. The girl of his dreams has just walked into his life, and things should be looking up, except a few small problems stand between him and the perfect romance: his mum, his dad and the family business… show business. Welcome to CLUBLAND. A family love story that will defy your expectations.'

Source: Screen Australia. (Sighted: 4/2/2014)

2006 winner form y separately published work icon Answered by Fire Katherine Thomson , Barbara Samuels , ( dir. Jessica Hobbs ) Australia Canada : Beyond Simpson Le Mesurier Terra Rossa Pictures Muse Entertainment Enterprises ABC Television Canadian Broadcasting Commission , 2006 Z1301883 2006 single work film/TV 'In 1999, after 24 years of forced occupation, East Timor won the right to vote for independence from Indonesia. The ballot would be supervised by the United Nations. The UN promised the East Timorese that they would stay after the vote, regardless of the outcome. It was a promise they couldn't keep. Australian policeman Mark Waldman, Canadian police officer and a young East Timorese translator named Ismenio Soares are brought together by the UN's fateful effort to give the Timorese a voice in their own future.' (Libraries Australia)
2005 winner y separately published work icon The Spook Melissa Reeves , 2004 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2005 Z1154111 2004 single work drama
2004 winner form y separately published work icon Somersault More Than Scarlet Cate Shortland , ( dir. Cate Shortland ) Australia : Red Carpet Productions , 2004 Z1153215 2004 single work film/TV (taught in 2 units)

'A visually haunting story of an adolescent girl's discovery of the difference between sex and love in the winter landscape of an Australian ski resort town.'

Source: Screen Australia.

2003 winner form y separately published work icon The Rage in Placid Lake Tony McNamara , ( dir. Tony McNamara ) Australia : Rapacious Pictures , 2003 Z1061504 2003 single work film/TV humour

'Placid Lake is a kid who follows his instincts; follows them so far they lead him to convalescing in a full body cast and pondering whether following your heart is good for your health. Deciding it isn't, he must take the road more travelled. Be normal, fit in. Even if it kills you.'

Source: Screen Australia. (Sighted: 4/12/2013)

2001 winner form y separately published work icon One Night the Moon John Romeril , Rachel Perkins , ( dir. Rachel Perkins ) Australia : Music Arts Dance Films Australian Broadcasting Corporation , 2001 Z935161 2001 single work film/TV (taught in 1 units)

A young girl goes missing within the Australian landscape and her father refuses to let an Aboriginal man, Albert, be included in the search party and utilise his 'tracking' skills. It is a decision that proves fatal. Months later, the child's mother approaches Albert to begin the tracking process that eventually leads her to her lost child.

1999 winner y separately published work icon Cloudstreet Nick Enright , Justin Monjo , 1998 Sydney Perth : Currency Press Company B Belvoir Black Swan Theatre Company , 1999 Z396116 1998 single work drama (taught in 2 units) Tim Winton's quintessential Australian yarn of the spirited child Fish, his family and unlikely neighbours - sharing determination, faith, pain, and laughter is a story of love and the bonds that tie us to our sense of place. Hailed as one of the most acclaimed theatrical events of the decade, it is a five hour epic. (Source: Libraries Australia)
1998 winner Rodeo Noir Andrea Lemon , 1996 single work drama young adult humour Mickey is a cowgirl...a rodeo rider...and the best son her dad ever had. Now she wants to ride the broncs, but the Ladies Bronc Ride was outlawed thirty years ago. Mickey's mum Nel, died when she was six. But when Mickey finds a photo of her mother in the arms of a handsome cowboy, she starts stirring up the bulldust. In to the arena rides Starr, a 60-year-old yodelling cowgirl of dubious gender. Eadie lives her life like she's the star of an old Western. With hair bigger than Texas, and toting more hairspray than talent, Eadie and her band the Starrlets, blow Mickey's tight knit world off rodeo wide apart. (The Australian Script Centre, http://www.ozscript.org/index.htm)
1997 winner form y separately published work icon Blackrock Nick Enright , ( dir. Steven Vidler ) Sydney : Palm Beach Pictures , 1996 Z80151 1996 single work film/TV mystery crime During a welcome home party for a local surfing legend, a fifteen-year-old girl is gang-raped and beaten to death. When morning breaks and news of the murder circulates, the community is splintered by shame, deceit, and mistrust.
1994 winner The Keys to the Animal Room Peta Murray , 1993 single work drama
1993 winner y separately published work icon A Property of the Clan Nick Enright , 1992 Paddington : Currency Press , 1994 Z366157 1992 single work drama

'When a young girl is murdered at the hands of one of her male contemporaries, what is the aftermath? How will her friends cope? How can such violence be understood?'

Source: Australian Plays (https://australianplays.org/script/CP-366/). (Sighted: 22/02/2018)

1990 winner y separately published work icon Daylight Saving Nick Enright , 1989 Sydney : Currency Press , 1990 Z329251 1989 single work drama humour
1987 winner y separately published work icon Away Michael Gow , Sydney : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 1986 Z130562 1986 single work drama
— Appears in: ラブ・チャイルド : アウェイ 2006;

'Commencing with a school performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Shakespearean themes of suffering and reconciliation persist as three families on separate holidays are united during a fierce storm.

'Immigrants Harry and Vic love their adopted country but are faced with their son Tom’s terminal illness. Jim and Gwen fret over their daughter Meg’s blossoming independence and her friendship with the socially unsuitable Tom. Roy is unable to console a grief-stricken Coral over the death of their only son in Vietnam.

'But with the help of some Shakespearean fairies and a spectacular storm, these families are reconciled and face the future anew.

'For two decades audiences have been enthralled by this story about the coming of age of both a group of individuals and the country in which they live. Despite being set almost 40 years ago, this multi-award winning play is as relevant as ever with its themes of reconciliation and loss.

'Away is sharply observed, clever, funny and yet very moving. Out of the familiar family ingredients, Gow has constructed a magical play that every Australian can relate to. It depicts the hopes of a new generation, prompting us to consider what is ultimately most important in our lives.' (Publication summary)

1984 winner form y separately published work icon Scales of Justice Robert Caswell , ( dir. Michael Jenkins ) Australia : ABC Television , 1983 Z143128 1983 series - publisher film/TV crime

Set in the world of law enforcement, vice, drugs, politics, and organised crime, Scales of Justice is a quasi-documentary comprising three self-contained stories. The first concerns a young probationary constable who finds himself torn between his moral obligations and loyalty. The second follows two drug squad detectives who allow themselves to be compromised to achieve ambition and power. The third story examines a young and ambitious attorney-general who finds himself in conflict with corrupt senior policemen and some major crime bosses.

1983 winner form y separately published work icon Women of the Sun Sonia Borg , Hyllus Maris , ( dir. James Ricketson et. al. )agent 1982 St Kilda : Generation Films , 1982 Z1684559 1982 series - publisher film/TV historical fiction

A ground-breaking television series, Women of the Sun was, according to Moran in his Guide to Australian TV Series, born out of co-writer Sonia Borg's desire for a more balanced televisual representation of Indigenous Australians: 'Angry at the plight of Aborigines, she was concerned that many scriptwriters could conceive of Aboriginal women only as prostitutes.' To counter this tendency, she contemplated a series that showed Australian history from the perspective of Aboriginal women, a project for which she sought the colloboration of sociologist and social worker Hyllus Maris.

Because, as Moran notes, it 'portrayed the history of Aboriginal people since the incursion of the whites, focusing on the relations between blacks and whites over the previous 200 years', Women of the Sun 'was a direct counter to the various official histories in preparation for the Bicentennial celebrations in 1988'.

Women of the Sun is divided into four parts, each of which focuses on a different woman in a different period of history.

'Alinta the Flame' (set in the 1820s) shows the interaction between the two cultures as an Indigenous Australian tribe (the Nyari) nurse back to health two English convicts whom they find washed up on the beach, only to find the new settlers increasingly encroaching on Nyari lands--a process that ends in the annihilation of the entire tribe, barring Alinta and her young daughter.

'Maydina the Shadow' (set in the 1890s) follows Maydina, abducted and abused by a group of seal-hunters, from whom she eventually escapes with her daughter Biri (who is of mixed Indigenous Australian and European heritage). Taken in by Mrs McPhee, head of a church mission, Maydina is separated from her child and sent into service for the church. When she falls in love with an Indigenous Australian man and attempts to leave with him and Biri to return to a traditional lifestyle, Mrs McPhee has them pursued by troopers, who kill Maydina's lover and remove Biri from her care.

'Nerida Anderson' (set in 1939) focuses on the Cumeroongunga Walkout, showing the deterioration in conditions on the reserve through the eyes of Nerida Anderson, raised on the reserve and returning there after a period working in the city as a book-keeper. Her attempts to foster improvement on the reserve are greeted angrily by the reserve manager, who attempts to have Nerida and her family tried for treason; ultimately, Nerida incites a successful walkout.

'Lo-Arna' (set in the 1980s) focuses on 18-year-old Ann Cutler's discovery that she is not of French Polynesian descent as she believed, but actually the biological daughter of her adoptive father and Alice Wilson, an Indigenous Australian woman from a nearby town, prompting her to reconsider her relationship with her adoptive parents and with her own identity.

Moran notes of the series as a whole that 'Although each of the four episodes of Women of the Sun is self-contained, nevertheless, taken together the episodes powerfully suggest what 200 years of white contact has done to Aboriginal society'.

1982 winner y separately published work icon Einstein Ron Elisha , 1980 (Manuscript version)x401096 Z151582 1980 single work drama
1978 winner y separately published work icon The Club David Williamson , 1976 (Manuscript version)x402003 Z1506538 1976 single work drama (taught in 14 units)
1977 winner y separately published work icon The Elocution of Benjamin Franklin Steve J. Spears , 1975 (Manuscript version)x400851 Z481058 1975 single work drama

'The elocution lessons of a boy named Benjamin Franklin bring about the destruction of his teacher, a timid transvestite whose only sexual activity takes place in the world of fantasy.'

Source: 'Noble Technique', Canberra Times, 19 March 1977, p.15.

1975 winner y separately published work icon How Does Your Garden Grow : A Play Jim McNeil , Sydney : Currency Press , 1974 Z49063 1974 single work drama
1972 winner y separately published work icon The Removalists David Williamson , 1971 Sydney : Currency Press , 1972 Z365225 1971 single work drama (taught in 12 units)

A young policeman’s first day on duty becomes a violent and highly charged initiation into law enforcement. Remarkable for its blend of boisterous humour and horrifying violence, the play has acquired a reputation as a classic statement on Australian authoritarianism and is a key work in the study of Australian drama.

(Publication Synopsis)

1971 winner y separately published work icon The Legend of King O'Malley Michael Boddy , Bob Ellis , 1970 (Manuscript version)x400882 Z247318 1970 single work musical theatre humour

A music theatre burlesque based on the real life King O'Malley, a Texan born banker, real estate salesman, insurance agent, and founder of a religious movement, who came to Australia in 1893 under the belief that he was dying of consumption. After arriving at Emu Bay, Queensland, O'Malley spent some two years living in a cave before eventually walking from Rockhampton, seemingly cured of the disease, all the way to Adelaide. He became the MHA of Encounter Bay (South Australia) up until 1899, then a member of the House of Representatives (1901-17), in addition to undertaking the position of Minister for Home Affairs (1910-13, 1915-16). He retired from politics in 1917. O'Malley is also recognised for his role in opening the trans-continental railway and for his significant input into Labour reform and social legislation during the early decades of the twentieth century.

Ellis and Boddy portray O'Malley as a doubtful, though likeable/heroic, character whose early schemes are seen to mock several social institutions. In the first part of the play we encounter the loud-mouthed O'Malley leaving for Australia (accompanied by Mr Angel, a devil who acts as his spirit of conscience). In line with the real historical account O'Malley is also seen befriending the aborigines and standing for parliament. In the second part a debate begins between O'Malley and Billy Hughes, with the visionary O'Malley battling for several future initiatives, while Hughes argues for conscription. At this point the ensemble of actors take on a variety of roles, notably embers of parliament, as they satirise the image of these 'honourable representatives of government'.

The Legend Of King O'Malley has been described by Leonard Radic as : 'a rumbustious piece of musical theatre... [drawing] consciously on the traditions of panto, music hall, revue and vaudeville. The script [includes] hymns, songs, a revivalist meeting and a pageant or two... the result was a piece of pastiche theatre which explored its subject with larrikin abandon, and without concessions to good taste or manners' (State of Play 1991, p70). The musical element of the play, according to its authors, is 'a bit of a grab-bag. This is not a musical,' they write in the 1974 Angus and Robertson edition, ' it is a play with music.... use as few or as many of the [songs] as you like; and put in your own favourites if you wish. "Happy Land," "In the Service of the King," and "Hold the Fort," should be used where marked" (xxii). Other songs suggested, and which were used in the original Jane Street production include: 'I Surrender All', 'Go Little Pennies', 'Wonderful Words of Life', 'Lead on King Eternal', 'I've Found a Friend', 'Go Tell it to Jesus', 'What a Friend', 'Hey There! You're an Australian', and 'Onward Christian Soldiers'.

1969 winner form y separately published work icon The Cheerful Cuckold Alan Hopgood , ( dir. Oscar Whitbread ) 1969 Melbourne : ABC Television , 1969 Z851943 1969 single work film/TV 'The cuckold is a young university lecturer whose academic career is headed for brilliant success as surely as his marital relationship with a lovely, sexual wife is headed for disaster.
What makes for comedy is first the husband's inversion of his academic and marital duties and finally their equation in a sophisticated battle of the sexes.'
Source: Mayhead, Gerald. 'Chance of a Winner'. The Age 27/12/1968: p.2

1968 joint winner form y separately published work icon You Can't See Round Corners Richard Lane , ( dir. David Cahill ) Sydney : Australian Television Network , 1967 Z1037551 1967 series - publisher film/TV crime

A drama series set during the height of the Vietnam War, You Can't See Round Corners revolves around Frankie McCoy, a lonely, somewhat aggressive non-conformist who has spent all his life living in the inner-city suburb of Newtown. As the series progresses, McCoy is called up for National Service and although he initially fulfils his duty, he later deserts and heads back home to hide with friends. Other main characters include his girlfriend Margie and enemy Terry Howlett, the twenty-year-old leader of a small gang of thugs.

The television adaptation was contemporised by producer John Walters and screenwriter Richard Lane. Cleary's original novel is set in the Sydney suburb of Paddington during World War II. After deciding to bring the temporal setting forward to the (then) current Vietnam era, they also had to change the physical setting. Although Paddington had been a working-class suburb in the 1940s, the demographic had changed considerably by the 1960s. Newtown was subsequently considered the most appropriate location for a narrative set in a working-class suburb. Richard Lane records in Take One (1972) that he and Walters also deliberately introduced other contemporary issues into the narrative, notably the inclusion of the Greek community, which by the late 1960s had had an enormous impact on the Newtown district (p. 52).

Joint winner with 'Cage a Tame Tiger'.
1968 joint winner form y separately published work icon Cage a Tame Tiger Colin Free , ( dir. Eric Tayler ) Sydney : ABC Television , 1967 Z1817471 1967 single work film/TV detective crime
— Appears in: Take One : A Selection of Award-winning Australian Radio and Television Scripts 1972; (p. 1-50)

'Convicting Martin "Tiger' Fly, a known Kings Cross drug pedlar, is a personal challenge to Chief Inspector Ted Hallam. While the Customs Special Branch are convinced that Fly is obtaining drugs from merchant seamen, their frequent raids have never actually found him in possession of any drugs. Mardi Shiel is used as part of the investigation that leads to an exotic Chinese dancer, a well-endowed prostitute, and a frightened Melbourne businessman.'

Source: Storey, Don. Classic Australian Television. http://www.classicaustraliantv.com/contrab1.htm (Sighted 13/9/11)

Joint winner with the serial You Can't See 'Round Corners.
X