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Griffin Award for New Australian Playwriting
Subcategory of Awards Australian Awards
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History

The Griffin Award is a national prize recognising an outstanding play that displays an authentic, inventive and contemporary Australian voice. Established by the Griffin Theatre Company in 1985, the award is supported by Copyright Agency Limited.

Shortlists for the following years are currently incomplete and in progress: 1998-2005 inclusive, 2009, 2010.

Winners

2020 winner Way Back When Dylan Van Den Berg , 2019 single work drama

'way back when, set in a fictional post-colonial Tasmania, sees Ghost, a take-no-nonsense apparition, set the scene for the meeting of an unlikely trio of three women. To pass the time (and forget the cold), they re-imagine 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.'

Source: Griffin Theatre.

2019 winner y separately published work icon Superheroes Mark Rogers , 2020 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2020 17190046 2020 single work drama

'In Thirroul, Emily sits on the beach with her sort-of-ex-sort-of-not boyfriend, trying to figure out how to deal with her unwanted pregnancy.

'In Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jana goes out to get groceries and slams into the day-to-day reality of the European refugee crisis.

'Superheroes is a play about two women on opposite sides of the world living small lives in a time of big politics. It’s a play that parallels two very different lives to ask questions about what it means to take responsibility for your actions, and what it means to change your mind.'

Source: Griffin Theatre Company.

2018 winner y separately published work icon Prima Facie Suzie Miller , 2019 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2019 14531585 2019 single work drama

'To win, you just need to believe in the rules. And Tessa loves to win, even when defending clients accused of sexual assault. Her court-ordained duty trumps her feminism. But when she finds herself on the other side of the bar, Tessa is forced into the shadows of doubt she’s so ruthlessly cast over other women.

'Winner of the 2018 Griffin Award, Prima Facie is an indictment of the Australian legal system’s failure to provide reliable pathways to justice for women in rape, sexual assault or harassment cases. It’s a work of fiction, but one that could have been ripped from the headlines of any paper, any day of the week, so common you could cry.

'Turning Sydney’s courts of law into a different kind of stage, Suzie Miller’s (Sunset Strip, Caress/Ache) taut, rapid-fire and gripping one-woman show exposes the shortcomings of a patriarchal justice system where it’s her word against his.

'Maybe we need a new system.'

Source: Griffin Theatre Company.

(as 'On the Face of It').
2017 winner y separately published work icon Kill Climate Deniers David Finnigan , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2018 13952182 2018 single work drama

'“Because revolution is better at night.”

'What would it actually take to stop climate change dead in its tracks? Guns? Revolution? A pumping soundtrack?

'Kill Climate Deniers centres on a militant cell of eco-activists that takes the audience hostage during a concert at Parliament House. Led by charismatic spokeswoman Catch, they demand Australia immediately cease all carbon emissions and coal exports—or they’ll start executing their 1,700 hostages.

'But they’re not the only ones to take the title literally. Between scenes of bloody action and banging ’90s tunes, writer David Finnigan discusses the outrage the play’s title provoked from Andrew Bolt and his cabal of conservative bloggers. The original production was shut down in the ensuing shitstorm, leading Finnigan to eventually fold the scandal into the play.'

Source: Theatre's blurb.

2016 winner The Zen of Table Tennis Melissa Reeves , 2016 single work drama

'‘’I killed them, that’s the game. You kill anybody that might kill you.”

'Arki loves playing war games online. He’s also just beat up his English teacher. A psychologist diagnoses something very serious. Soon Arki’s hanging out with Aaron, a disturbed returned soldier, and both start hanging out with Sayf, who runs the best Afghan restaurant in Dandenong. All have been immersed in war. Everyone around them is desperate to cure their terrible affliction.

'But is there a cure for war?' (Production summary)

2015 winner y separately published work icon The Turquoise Elephant Stephen Carleton , 2015 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2016 8677531 2015 single work drama

The Turquoise Elephant is a bitingly-funny absurdist work, depicting the chaos of a future world rapidly succumbing to climate change. As the environmental disaster unfolds, three generations of women from a privileged political family watch on - from their hermetically sealed, temperature controlled home. But just how safe are they? It's a play about contrasts: grotesque privilege and dispossession, sanity and insanity, hope and fatalism.

Source: ABC Radio National. Interview with Stephen Carleton available here.

2014 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)

2013 winner y separately published work icon Jump for Jordan Donna Abela , 2013 Sydney : Currency Press , 2014 6390303 2013 single work drama (taught in 1 units)

'Aspiring archaeologist Lola left home when she was only 20, much to the shame of her traditional Jordanian mother. Six years later, losing sleep and petrified by the judgement of her visiting ‘mad Arab’ Aunty Azza, Lola is forced to lie about her life, her career and the existence of her Aussie partner. Worst of all is the fear that she’s also lying to herself.

'Looking deep into the heart of Sydney and beyond, 'Jump for Jordan' unpacks the experience common to countless second-generation Australians of being caught between two cultures. Sifting through shifting layers of past and present, farce and fantasy, it’s one woman’s mad, messy excavation of her own history, and her attempt to piece together the broken bits of her identity. ' (Source: Griffin Theatre website)

2012 winner This is Where We Live Vivienne Walshe , 2012 single work drama

'Hardened from a life filled with bullies, dead-beat boyfriends and no sense of hope, Chloe uses her sexuality as her armour and her weapon.

'Chris's sexuality is utterly under-used. Always on the wrong side of cool, he's living a very different version of hell.

'But when 'Odd Boy' Chris meets 'Chloe from the Underworld', an intense connection is formed. Suddenly, a different life seems possible.

'Winner of the 2012 Griffin Award, 'This is Where We Live' is a love story that conjures Orpheus leading his Eurydice out from the underworld of small town hell. Francesca Smith unleashes Vivienne Walshe's unique poetic language in this vivid, dark and inventive new Australian play.' (Source: Griffin Theatre website)

2011 winner y separately published work icon A Hoax Rick Viede , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2012 Z1784860 2012 single work drama humour satire

'Currah, the sensitive, defiant, and once molested indigenous [sic] girl, is now a literary sensation. But Currah isn’t what she appears as race, politics and identity collide in this vicious contemporary satire on the peddling of abuse culture. Hilarious, provocative and troubling, this is incisive theatre at its finest.' Source: www.nationalplayfestival.org.au/ (Sighted 10/06/2011).

2010 winner Brutopia Aidan Fennessy , 2010 single work drama '"Brutopia" traces the diffuse interactions within a city, of six disparate characters over the course of a single day that lead to a horrific crime. It drills down into the everyday dislocation of the atomised life of a big city.' Source: www.aussietheatre.com.au/ (Sighted 20/08/2010).
2009 winner y separately published work icon Silent Disco Lachlan Philpott , 2009 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2011 Z1625682 2009 single work drama

'Tamara and Jasyn are in love. Tamara is fourteen. Jasyn lives with Aunty and his brother Dane is in prison for dealing. Jasyn wants to take Tamara to the formal, but he hasn't got the cash.

'In a world of absent mothers and missing fathers, Mrs Petchell battles to keep another year of students out of the ranks of the vanished. The Outsiders is on the syllabus again, but instead of Socs and Greasers, this is the world of Speds and Skanks - fuelled by Red Bull and powered by iPods. It can be hard to find your own rhythm when everyone is marching to the beat of a different drum.' (From the publisher's website.)

2008 winner Whore Rick Viede , 2009 single work drama

'Young, fearless and full of wanderlust Sara finds herself in London selling cleaning products in a call centre.

'Then she meets Tim, and her path takes an unexpected turn. For these two Aussies living it large in London everything is exhilarating, delightfully dangerous and full of possibility. When a body is discovered in the apartment upstairs the thrill of anonymity gives way to rising horror as Sara finds herself at the very edge of the person she once was.

'With originality and poetic wit, 'Whore" is an unflinching exploration of the price of freedom, ambition and the high-risk ride that is coming-of-age.'

Source: Belvoir Street Theatre website, http://www.belvoir.com.au/
Sighted: 01/06/2009

2007 winner Emergency Sex (and Other Desperate Measures) Damien Millar , 2006 single work drama

'Three United Nations workers meet amid the triumph that was the 1993 Cambodian elections and resolve on further good internationalist works. The fun fields of Somalia, Rwanda Haiti and Bosnia soon follow.' (Abstract from AusStage : https://www.ausstage.edu.au/pages/event/70008 )

2006 winner Australian Gothic Mary Rachel Brown , 2008 single work drama
— Appears in: Collection #7 : 27 New Plays from the Australian Script Centre 2008; (p. 4)
2005 winner The Carnivores Ian Wilding , 2005 single work drama humour
2004 winner y separately published work icon Mr Bailey's Minder Debra Oswald , 2004 (Manuscript version)x401591 Z1309613 2004 single work drama humour Oswald takes on the odd-couple genre by pairing an aged artist with his minder - a young woman fresh out of gaol. Leo Bailey is one of Australia's greatest living artists, whose genius battles to survive the effects of alcohol, cynicism and self-loathing. His daughter Margo finds a willing, if surly, live-in-minder in the ex-con Therese. Added to the dysfunctional duo is the friendly handyman Karl who has been given the task of removing a valuable mural. A feel-good play that doesn't shy away from the bleaker side of life, Mr Bailey's Minder is about friendship, ego and art, and the secret longing for a better life. (Currency Press)
2003 winner Rabbit Brendan Cowell , 2003 single work drama humour
2002 joint winner y separately published work icon Presence Patrick Van der Werf , 2002 Hobart : Australian Script Centre , 2002 Z1026254 2002 single work drama Molly Kaufman is taking in a new boarder, Sam, a young man infected with a lust for life, dreaming of freedom and a car. Molly's son, Jake, has been witness to intense betrayal and horror in his childhood; his mother is still a haunted woman. Penny, who is drawn into their lives, wakes up each morning to evil standing at the foot of her bed. Presence is a contemporary allegory about young people's struggles to overcome their fears in a daunting world. The lives of these intensely flawed but lovable characters cross in the shared confines of the boarding house, but they also inhabit the complex region of each other's inner worlds and fears. Each character crosses riveting dramatic territory in the search for the presence of the loving other. This is a play that will locate, in the midst of darkness, a compelling light... in the heart of 'presence', a glaring absence. -- Libraries Australia
2002 joint winner Songket Noëlle Janaczewska , 2001 single work drama
— Appears in: Songket [and] This Territory : Two Plays 2008; (p. 1-64)
2001 winner Burning Verity Laughton , 2001 single work drama
2000 winner Below Ian Wilding , 2000 single work drama
1999 winner y separately published work icon Alive at Williamstown Pier Neil Cole , 1996 Haymarket : Esson Press , 1999 Z872773 1996 single work drama humour
1998 winner Clark in Sarajevo Catherine Zimdahl , 1998 single work drama
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