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Ra Chapman, Polly Rowe, Kip Williams and Angus Cerini. Photo: Daniel Boud Download images

5 May 2021
Angus Cerini is the new STC Patrick White Playwrights Fellow
Ra Chapman wins the Patrick White Playwrights Award
Emerging Writers Group 2021-23
Monikka Eliah
Michael Louis Kennedy
Kirsty Marillier
Dylan Van Den Berg 

Angus Cerini has been appointed Sydney Theatre Company’s new Patrick White Playwrights Fellow, just six months after his gothic two-hander Wonnangatta starring Hugo Weaving and Wayne Blair marked the Company’s return to the stage following last year’s industry shutdown. 

The recipient of this year’s Patrick White Playwrights Award is Ra Chapman for her play K-BOX, which was last night presented as a rehearsed reading to a buzzing crowd in the Richard Wherrett Studio at the Roslyn Packer Theatre. 

STC has also announced a new cohort of Emerging Writers, with four talented up-and-coming playwrights - Monikka Eliah, Michael Louis Kennedy, Kirsty Marillier and Dylan Van Den Berg - appointed to the two-year program which aims to support professional development, expand skill sets and encourage the carving out of distinctive voices.

Artistic Director Kip Williams said he had “great respect and creative admiration” for Cerini - who he commissioned to write Wonnangatta - and was excited to work alongside him to produce more theatre that would challenge, inspire and delight audiences. 

“Angus has an indelible talent for unpacking Australian masculinity and the effects it has on both individuals and our broader society,” Williams said. “He produces poetic, riveting and masterful work and I am delighted about his appointment as STC’s new Patrick White Playwrights Fellow.”

STC’s Literary Manager Polly Rowe said the last few months of considering applications for the numerous playwright opportunities on offer had been an “absolute joy”. 

“2020 was a devastating year for our industry so it’s exciting to see the amazing writing that incubated during theatre’s year off,” Rowe said. 

“At every stage of the judging process, readers agreed that Ra Chapman’s writing dazzled with wit, insight and originality. The new cohort of Emerging Writers are already very accomplished, having collectively racked up some impressive accolades. STC will provide a creative home for them for them for the next two years as they continue to develop their playwriting skills and advance their careers.”  

The Fellow

Cerini, well known to STC audiences for his plays The Bleeding Tree (2017) and Wonnangatta (2020), said he was “thrilled” to be the recipient of this year’s Fellowship. 

“I am looking forward to spending time with the high quality humans at STC in the single minded pursuit of high quality theatre,” Cerini said. 

Now in its 11th year, the $25,000 Fellowship is awarded annually to an established playwright in recognition of their excellent body of work and achievements. As well as including a commission from STC, which each Fellow develops during their year-long engagement, the tenure provides opportunities for the playwright to share their skills with other playwrights and artists including the STC Emerging Writers Group. 

Previous STC Patrick White Fellows include Andrew Bovell, Anchuli Felicia King, Tommy Murphy, Kate Mulvany, Sue Smith, Angela Betzien, Hilary Bell, Patricia Cornelius and Raimondo Cortese.

The Award winner

There were 148 scripts submitted anonymously for STC's 21st Patrick White Playwrights Award, with the prize of $7,500 for an original, unproduced script going to Ra Chapman for K-BOX.

The play is a surreal comedy that follows a young woman, Lucy Thomas, who flees her collapsing life in Melbourne to stay with her adoptive baby boomer parents in country Victoria. In her old room, Lucy discovers an empty cardboard box—one she thought was full of childhood memories - is now completely empty. What happened to her stuff? Who threw it out? What was in there anyway? 

K-BOX would have marked Chapman’s mainstage debut at Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre in 2020 but the production was cancelled due to COVID. It was performed as a rehearsed, staged reading at the announcement ceremony last night, directed by STC’s Associate Director Paige Rattray and starring Drew Forsythe, Tina Bursill and Michelle Lim Davidson and Jeffrey Liu.

“I am absolutely thrilled to accept this award and that my play K-BOX has been given this new lease of life,” Chapman said.

“Over the last five years this work has been on quite the rollercoaster journey and it holds a very special place in my heart. K-BOX gives voice to the adult adoptee experience, and explores the complexity of family and belonging. It’s an honour to be the 2021 Patrick White Playwright Award recipient and to join the alumni of exceptional and progressive shortlisted and winning playwrights.”

The Patrick White Playwrights Award offers a cash prize of $7,500 for a full length, unproduced play of any genre written by an Australian playwright over 18 years of age. The readers and judges - who this year were Michelle Lim Davidson, Megan Wilding, Nick Schlieper and Paige Rattray - assessed the scripts in search of a work that is original and ambitious with great potential for staging. 

Previous winners of the Patrick White Playwrights Award include Keziah Warner (2019), Mark Rogers (2018), Kim Ho (2017), Lewis Treston, (2016), Anna Barnes (2012), Melissa Bubnic (2010), and Angus Cerini (2007).

Emerging Writers Group

The new cohort of Emerging Writers - Monikka Eliah, Michael Louis Kennedy, Kirsty Marillier and Dylan Van Den Berg - will meet regularly over the course of two years under the guidance and mentorship of Kip Williams, Polly Rowe, Patrick White Playwrights Fellow Angus Cerini and resident directors. They will also attend performances of STC shows, observe rehearsals, read plays together and have a hot desk at STC’s offices at Walsh Bay.

The program is structured into three blocks: 

- Skills and Craft Block (9 months): workshops and master classes with STC staff and industry professionals
- Script Development Block (1 year): develop a script with STC Literary Manager and Resident Artists 
- Showcase Block (3 months): industry showcase, observership on an STC production 

Monikka Eliah is an Assyrian-Australian writer who has participated in National Theatre of Parramatta’s Page to Stage program and whose work has been presented in STC’s Rough Drafts program and through the NTofP’s True West program. 

Michael Louis Kelly is a playwright and writer based in Sydney. In 2019 he was a member of ATYP’s Fresh Ink program for emerging theatre voices and is currently undertaking a mentorship through Kill Your Darlings to develop a new Australian novel.

Kirsty Marillier is both a playwright and actor whose play Orange Thrower was presented as STC’s Rough Draft 44 and is now programmed at Griffin Theatre Company for a production later in 2021. Marillier is currently performing in STC’s Home, I’m Darling at the Sydney Opera House’s Drama Theatre. 

Dylan Van Den Berg is Palawa writer and dramaturg whose play Milk was recognised at this year's prestigious NSW Premier’s Literary Awards - taking out the Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting.


Media Enquiries:

Helene Fox, PR Manager (02) 9250 1705
Emily Ritchie, Publicist (02) 9250 1703


Angus Cerini 

Angus Cerini is a multi-award-winning writer, performer and theatre maker. Angus’ plays have been produced by companies including Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre, Arena Theatre Company, and widely within the independent sector.

Angus is the winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, a Helpmann Award for Best Play, an AWGIE Award for Best Play, a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Play, multiple Green Room Awards including Best Play, the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award, the Griffin Play Prize, the David Williamson Prize and RE Ross Trust Awards, and has received numerous award nominations.

His plays include: Wonnangatta, The Bleeding Tree, Caravan (co-writer), Fuck This Love, The Curling Ribbon, Resplendence, Save for Crying, Drill Down, 19 Trains, Wretch, and Normal.Surburban.Planetary.Meltdown.

His play, The Bleeding Tree, won an AWGIE Award for Best Play, a Helpmann Award for Best Play, multiple Green Room Awards including Best Play, a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Play, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Drama, as well as the Griffin Award and the David Williamson Prize. The world premiere production of The Bleeding Tree by Griffin Theatre Company won three Helpmann Awards and four Green Room Awards. The production was remounted by Sydney Theatre Company and then toured to Canberra and Melbourne to critical acclaim. The Bleeding Tree is published by Currency Press.

Save for Crying, which Angus wrote and directed at La Mama Theatre, won multiple Green Room Awards including Best New Writing for the Australian Stage. His play, Resplendence was presented at NEON Festival for Melbourne Theatre Company, was nominated for multiple Green Room Awards and won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Drama.

Angus creates theatre projects through his company Doubletap and has toured this work throughout Australia and in Ireland, England, Hong Kong and Germany.

Ra Chapman

Ra is a Korean-Australian writer and actor. She is an alumni of the Besen Writers Group at Malthouse Theatre, and was awarded the Wheeler Centre 2018 Hot Desk Fellowship. Her play K-BOX will premiere on the mainstage at Malthouse in 2022, where she is currently an Artist in Residence. Ra has worked across various projects in a dramaturgical capacity including with Playwrighting Australia and Arts House, and recently has received ABC Fresh Start funding support for her digital series WHITE FEVER and is in development with a TV comedy series based on her experiences as a Korean-Australian adoptee.

Ra won the Best Actress Award at the 2011 Newport Beach Film Festival, U.S. for her role as Therese in David Williamson’s film adaptation of Face to Face, and was also nominated for an IF Award for Best Actress award for the same performance. She has filmed 5 seasons of the award winning Foxtel series Wentworth, reprising her role as prisoner, Kim Chang.

Emerging Writers Group

Monikka Eliah is an Assyrian-Australian writer from Fairfield. She is a member of Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement. She has participated in National Theatre of Parramatta’s Page to Stage program, Playwrights of Parramatta, CuriousWorks Breakthrough Screen Writing Program and STC’s Rough Draft. Her work has been published in The Big Black Thing, SBS Voices, Sweatshop Women, Runway Journal, Southerly, Kill Your Darlings, The Lifted Brow and The Saturday Paper. She received Southlands Breakthrough Award 2018 and Wheeler Centre Playwright Hot Desk Fellowship 2020. She has presented work at the NSW Writers Centre, Studio Stories, Wollongong Writers Festival, Sydney Writers Festival, NYW Festival, National Play Festival, WITS Festival Fatale and Sydney Festival. She is currently developing her debut novel as a recipient of an Australia Council Resilience grant. 

Michael Louis Kennedy is a playwright and writer based in Sydney. He has previously worked for the Sydney Fringe, Summerhall (Edinburgh Fringe) and Belvoir Street Theatre. His work has been featured in Overland, Voiceworks, Brag, Going Down Swinging, Transportation Press, Baby Teeth, Sydney Morning Herald and more. As a playwright he has had readings and productions on the Sydney Fringe Festival, at the Old 505, Sydney Mardi Gras’s Playlist playreading festival, and Queer Theory in Glasgow, Scotland. In 2019 he was a member of ATYP’s Fresh Ink program for emerging theatre voices, and is currently undertaking a mentorship through Kill Your Darlings to develop a new Australian novel.

Kirsty Marillier is a South African / Australian actor and award winning playwright currently based in Sydney. Kirsty’s theatre credits include Home, I’m Darling (Sydney Theatre Co), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Michael Cassel Group), Shabbat Dinner (Griffin Theatre Co), Coma Land (Black Swan State Theatre), Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest (Sport For Jove Theatre Co). Kirsty was the 2020 winner of the Max Afford Playwrights Award for The Zap, which was developed by Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s Next in Line program in association with Belvoir St Theatre. She was also the 2019 winner of the Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award for her debut play – Orange Thrower, which will have its 2021 premiere with Griffin Theatre Company and National Theatre of Parramatta. In 2020, Kirsty was the resident studio artist at Griffin Theatre Company and was a part of the Besen Writers Group with Malthouse Theatre in 2018. Kirsty studied at WAAPA and gained a Bachelor of Arts from Curtin University.

Dylan Van Den Berg is a Palawa writer from the northeast of Lutrawita/Tasmania. His plays include Milk (The Street Theatre, 2021), Whitefella Yella Tree (Cybec Electric: Melbourne Theatre Company, 2021), Way Back When (Next-in-Line: Darlinghurst Theatre Company, 2020), The Camel (Fringe at the Edge, 2020), and Dig (Island Magazine, 2020). Dylan is currently in residence as a Studio Artist with Griffin Theatre Company, and a participant in ILBIJERRI Theatre Company’s BlackWrights program. He is under commission at the National Theatre of Paramatta and the Belconnen Arts Centre. Along with wining the 2021 Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting and the 2020 Griffin Award, Dylan has also been shortlisted for STC’s Patrick White Playwrights Award (twice), the Queensland Premiers Drama Award, and was Highly Commended for the Max Afford Award. Dylan studied drama at the ANU and the State University of New York.

Australia Council for the Arts       NSW Government