Ryan Enniss reflects on the QPDA experience
Ryan is a playwright, actor, and voice-over artist originally from Tasmania, currently based in Sydney.
How has winning the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award changed your writing or career?
Winning the Queensland Premier's Drama Award was, first of all, incredibly shocking. When working as a writer (any sort of artist, really) you do so many applications, auditions, proofs of concept, and general what-have-you that it's incredibly easy to forget that people are even listening.
I've been writing stories since I was old enough to hold a pencil, but to win one of, if not the largest playwrighting award in the country shocked me back into the world. It gave me the wake-up call that if you have something to say, people are out there who want to listen.
The wonderful prize money from Griffith University also goes a long way into facilitating more of this, for the first time I no longer have to panic about bills being paid. So winning the award just enables me to do more of what I love, and to focus on bringing the next story or stories to the world.
What has been your favourite part of the entire process?
Honestly, my favourite part of the process was easily being able to work alongside such wonderful people. Right from the first development, through to closing night, every member of the Drizzle Boy team came to the work with a sense of play, vast and impressive skill, and a whole lot of love. Those people are absolute angels and I'll be forever grateful that I got to work with them to tell Australia's first mainstage autistic narrative
What was it about your story that convinced you the work had to be performed on a stage – as opposed to a film, or podcast, radio play, novel etc?
To me, this had to be a play first because I feel it's the form of media that is the most magical. The special effects and camera trickery of film are astounding, the scope and depth of a novel are incredible, but the theatre is the only place in the world I can think of where a bunch of people come together to play and pretend in such an open, generous, and impactful way. People always bang on about how theatre is their first love in storytelling, for me that's not the case, I started in novels and poetry. But theatre is truly something unique, and for that reason alone Drizzle Boy had to begin life as a play text. Where he goes from there, however... Well that's all in the stars.
What was the creative development process like for you?
The creative development process was intense, in the best way possible. To bring a new script onto the stage in any amount of time is a huge task, and doubly so considering Drizzle Boy had the tightest turnaround of any Queensland Premier's Drama Award ever. But the process of exploration, listening, drafting, and re-drafting is the real work of the playwright. A first draft has one very simple job: to exist. Every draft after that is where the real hard yards are. Because every draft after the first has the seemingly impossible task of expanding upon what has been written, while simultaneously refining and distilling it. But with a team like we had for this project, a lot of determination, and a pinch of courage to give a piece of yourself to the play, how could it be anything other than the time of your life
Was there anything about the rehearsal/production process or working with a major theatre company that surprised you?
In a funny way, the most surprising thing in the production process was just how connected to Drizzle Boy everyone seemed to be. It was one thing for me as the playwright to feel like I was putting pieces of myself (sometimes more than I realised) into the work, but everyone who came aboard for the process had these profound links to the characters, world, or the text in some way.
What advice would you give yourself if you were to start your Queensland Premier’s Drama Award experience over again?
I'm terrible at taking my own advice, so I doubt past me would listen. But I would say be kinder to myself. When artists work, we often do so because we adore what we're doing. Which means we choose to put extra pressure on ourselves, and sometimes that is the last thing we or a project need. I'd tell myself to take more breaks, go for walks in nature, or just have a few extra cups of tea.
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you came and saw Drizzle Boy, thank you. I hope you enjoyed the rocket ride that it was, I certainly had the time of my life in the making of it. Hopefully, there will be another launch, in whatever shape or form, very soon. And if you have a play to submit for the 2025 award, don't think, just put it in. You have nothing to lose, and a whole galaxy of opportunity to gain.
Entries for the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2025 close on 4 June 2023