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Best New Australian Work
Subcategory of Sydney Theatre Awards
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2019 winner y separately published work icon Counting and Cracking S. Shakthidharan , 2019 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2020 14530930 2019 single work drama

'On the banks of the Georges River, Radha and her son Siddhartha release the ashes of Radha’s mother – their final connection to the past, to Sri Lanka and its struggles. Now they are free to embrace their lives in Australia. Then a phone call from Colombo brings the past spinning back to life, and we are plunged into an epic story of love and political strife, of home and exile, of parents and children

'Counting and Cracking is a big new play about Australia like none we’ve seen before. This is life on a large canvas, so we are leaving Belvoir St and building a Sri Lankan town hall inside Sydney Town Hall. Sixteen actors play four generations of a family, from Colombo to Pendle Hill, in a story about Australia as a land of refuge, about Sri Lanka’s efforts to remain united, about reconciliation within families, across countries, across generations.'

Source: Belvoir St Theatre.

2018 winner y separately published work icon The Harp in the South Trilogy : The Play : Parts One and 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.

2017 winner Shit Patricia Cornelius , 2015 single work drama
— Appears in: Muff [and] MinusOneSister [and] SHIT 2017;

'What of the women and girls who defy gender demarcations, who transgress the boundaries and restraints of social order and expectation?

'When a girl spits, or swears, or screams, or shouts, or pulls down her pants to moon someone from a car, or she laughs too loudly, or she’s too shrill, or she pulls up her t-shirt and flashes her tits, or she fights, really fights, head butts and with her fists, or she fucks too much or cuts her hair too short, and wears too much lipstick or none at all, or tells everyone she’s got a dick and she’s not a girl at all, all we want to do with this girl is lock her up and throw away the key. Out of control girls – angry, nasty girls – are a sight to behold. They’re terrifying, electrifying, they’re everything girls shouldn’t be, and we hate them.

'This is a work about these girls.

'Their names are Billy, Bobby and Sam.

'There’s not a single moment when the three young women transcend their ugliness. There’s no indication of a better, or in fact any, inner life. They don’t believe in anything. They’re mean, foul-mouthed, downtrodden, hard-bitten, utterly damaged women. They’re neither salt of the earth nor sexy. They love no one and no one loves them. They believe the world is shit, that their lives are shit, that they are shit.' (Production summary)

2016 winner y separately published work icon The Drover's Wife Leah Purcell , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2016 11151204 2016 single work drama

'If anyone can write a full-throttle drama of our colonial past, it’s the indomitable Leah Purcell.

'We all know Henry Lawson’s story of the Drover’s Wife. Her stoic silhouette against an unforgiving landscape, her staring down of the serpent; it’s the frontier myth captured in a few pages. In Leah’s new play the old story gets a very fresh rewrite. Once again the Drover’s Wife is confronted by a threat in her yard, but now it’s a man. He’s bleeding, he’s got secrets, and he’s black. She knows there’s a fugitive wanted for killing whites, and the district is thick with troopers, but something’s holding the Drover’s Wife back from turning this fella in…

'A taut thriller of our pioneering past, with a black sting to the tail, The Drover’s Wife reaches from our nation’s infancy into our complicated present. And best of all, Leah’s playing the Wife herself.' (Publication summary)

2015 winner The Bleeding Tree Angus Cerini , 2015 single work drama

'In an isolated farmhouse, outside a small country town – a woman and her daughters have just killed their abusive man of the house. Known throughout the district as a cur and a dog, the women set about disposing of his body. However their task becomes fraught when several of the local villagers choose to pay a visit and grow suspicious at their behaviour – will their act become exposed before they can dispose of the body? A lyrical exploration of family, violence and revenge against a backdrop of a brutal, rural Australian landscape.' (Play summary)

2014 winner y separately published work icon Switzerland Joanna Murray-Smith , 2014 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2016 6433712 2014 single work drama

'Following the success of 'Fury' in 2013, playwright Joanna Murray-Smith, director Andrew Upton and actor Sarah Peirse join forces again for a suspenseful new thriller; a fictional postulation of an episode in the life of Patricia Highsmith. The spiky novelist, best known for her creation of the very talented con artist Tom Ripley, receives an unexpected visitor at her home in Switzerland - a young man sent by her publisher with the purpose of extracting one last Ripley novel from her before she dies. Switzerland cunningly explores what happens when the spark of life that a writer puts into a character has the potential to set off a fire and destroy more than it creates.' (Source: )

2013 winner y separately published work icon The Secret River Andrew Bovell , 2013 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2013 Z1887820 2013 single work drama (taught in 2 units)

'Convict William Thornhill, exiled from the stinking slums of early 19th century London, discovers that the penal colony offers something that he never dared to hope for before: a place of his own. A stretch of land on the Hawkesbury River is Thornhill’s for the taking.

'As he and his family seek to establish themselves in this unfamiliar territory, they find that they are not the only ones to lay a claim to the land. The Hawkesbury is already home to a family of Dharug people, who are reluctant to leave on account of these intruders.

'As Thornhill’s attachment to the place and the dream deepens, he is driven to make a terrible decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.' (Source: Currency Press website)

2012 winner y separately published work icon Medea Kate Mulvany , Anne-Louise Sarks , 2012 Fortitude Valley : Playlab , 2019 Z1894517 2012 single work drama

'Locked in their bedroom, two brothers play games to pass the time, as siblings do. Off-stage, their parents are having a very famous showdown. At an inevitable moment, the children will be drawn away from their games and into their parents' bitter argument. From there, they will enter mythology as the most tragic siblings of all time.'

Source: Black Swan Theatre Company.

2010 winner y separately published work icon Namatjira Scott Rankin , 2010 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2011 Z1627325 2010 single work drama 'Albert Namatjira was a man of firsts: the first successful indigenous artist and the first indigenous man to be made an Australian citizen. At the height of his fame in the 1950s Albert Namatjira's shows sold out within minutes. If you didn't own one of his paintings you probably had a print in your lounge room.

'He also supported over six hundred members of his community, lost two of his ten children to malnutrition, was forbidden to own land, imprisoned for having a drink with his friends, and died a broken man.

'Namatjira is a whole-hearted tribute to a great man. (From the publisher's website.)
For the 2010 Company B Belvoir and Big hART production.
2009 winner y separately published work icon When the Rain Stops Falling Andrew Bovell , 2008 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2009 Z1430823 2008 single work drama (taught in 8 units)

'It begins with a miracle. On a rainy day in Alice Springs in 2039 a fish falls like manna from heaven to bless the reunion of a father with his long lost son. Perhaps it's a sign that the pattern of betrayal and abandonment that began on another rainy day in London in 1959 will come to an end.

'Who'll stop the rain? Andrew Bovell's award-winning When the Rain Stops Falling is powerful storytelling in which the voices of our past echo into our future.' (Publisher's blurb)

Nominated for the 2009 Sydney Theatre Company and Brink Productions production.
2008 winner y separately published work icon The Modern International Dead Damien Millar , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2008 Z1530254 2008 single work drama

'Against a backdrop of miraculous visions and terrible repercussions in Rwanda, secret facilities in Iraq, landmines in Cambodia and political cleansing in East Timor comes the extraordinary stories of some very unique Australians setting out to bring relief and assistance to a troubled world. But when politics impedes progress, and reality shatters aspiration, the only consistency is compromise.

'So what keeps these individuals risking their lives and going back time and time again? And when duty is done, what does it actually mean to do good in the world?'

Source: Griffin Theatre website,
Sighted: 17/09/2008

2007 winner y separately published work icon Toy Symphony Michael Gow , 2007 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2008 Z1440999 2007 single work drama (taught in 4 units)

'Roland Henning has writer's block. When he tries to explain the situation to a therapist, his story begins to tumble back and forth between his childhood in The Shire and his work as a playwright. At the root of it all is that extraordinary day in primary school which shattered his boyhood and plunged him headlong into the dizzy circus of life and art.'

Source: Belvoir Street website,
Sighted: 05/11/2007

Nominated for the 2007 Company B production.
2006 winner Honour Bound Nigel Jamieson , 2006 single work drama

'Since September 11, 2001, Australia's engagement in the 'war on terror' has raised important questions about the balance between the pursuit of our national security and our human rights. 'Honour Bound' is an intensely passionate and confronting new work that explores these issues through an extraordinary combination of dance, film, theatre and aerial performances. This world premiere brings together some of Australia's most exciting creative talent. It's a culturally and artistically ambitious work that focuses on the experiences of Terry Hicks and his son David - held in Guantanamo Bay for four years without trial. It integrates Terry's personal testimony as a father, and draws on letters, internal Pentagon papers and the accounts of former detainees. Set within an eight-metre square cage, the performance and projections take place on the walls, ceiling and floor. A daring and provocative work, 'Honour Bound' is about some of the most important issues we face as a society today: law and order, hatred and love, humanity and human beings pushed to the very edge of their limits.'

Source: Sydney Opera House website,
Sighted: 24/07/2006

For the 2006 Sydney Opera House and Malthouse Theatre production.
2005 winner y separately published work icon Three Furies Stephen Sewell , 2005 Australia : Wutheringink , 2013 10930502 2005 single work drama

'Francis Bacon's work and life continue to fascinate and appall long after his death almost a quarter of a century ago, as it will for centuries to come, and in Three Furies, Australian writer Stephen Sewell examines the sado-masochistic world he inhabited with his friend, model and lover, George Dyer, before Dyer's suicide in 1971, just as Bacon was being celebrated as the greatest figurative artist of the Twentieth Century at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

'Acerbic, selfish and cruelly intelligent, Bacon's unflinching courage nevertheless produced some of the most disturbing images of humanity to come out of that terrible century, and in Three Furies Sewell once again demonstrates his mastery of the epic to produce a terrifying account of solitude and loneliness in the midst of the frenetic celebrity culture of an unhinged world.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (Wutheringink edition).