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Young Playwrights' Award

Queensland Theatre’s Young Playwrights’ Award is one of Australia’s longest running annual playwriting competitions for young writers.

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About the Young Playwrights' Award

Each year, high school-aged writers (Years 9–12) are encouraged to submit an original play, which is read by a panel of industry professionals.

Applicants are invited to submit an original play, written for the stage. The script can be of any length and genre. Applicants must also provide a rationale of up to 150 words describing themselves as a writer and also the inspiration for the work.

2021 Winner announced

A deeply moving, coming-of-age story has won Queensland Theatre’s 2021 Young Playwrights’ Award.

Sandra Miller’s Paradise Dreaming received the top prize in one of the strongest pools of entries seen in the almost 20-year history of the award.

Queensland Theatre Artistic Director, Lee Lewis praised Year 12 student Sandra for achieving with Paradise Dreaming what all good playwrights strive to do — offering a new perspective on who we are, collectively — with a voice that’s full of warmth and authenticity.

Sandra receives an all-expenses-paid trip to Theatre Residency Week at Queensland Theatre during the September school holidays, including dramaturgy sessions to develop her script before a professional reading of her work.

Winner
Paradise Dreaming – Sandra Miller

Shortlist
Greek Mythology for Millennials – Gabriel Donaldson
Neverland – Brydie-Rose Peters
Keeping it Together – Suki Wallace
My Name is Tommy – Grace Wilson

2021 Young Playwrights' Award winner
Lee Lewis congratulates Sandra Miller

Q&A with Sandra Miller

What does winning the 2021 Young Playwrights' Award mean to you?

It means so much to me. I don’t even know how to express it in words. I think about it, and it makes me emotional because having my work recognised at such a high level is deeply validating and humbling. I’ve never thought of myself as a writer, let alone one good enough to be acknowledged at such a standard. I’m filled with the purest forms of joy and appreciation because this is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.

What are you looking forward to with the dramaturgical sessions and play reading?

Everything. The whole process is so enthralling. There is so much life that comes out of a script when it is read aloud, and I think that's what I will gain. My work will be actualised in a sense because it will be read from someone else's lips and not my own. Additionally, throughout the dramaturgical sessions, I am looking forward to working with professional artists to improve my work. I cannot wait to learn about scriptwriting, extend my dramatical knowledge, to ask so many questions about the process of writing and how one can convey complex emotions through words. So yes, I am looking forward to everything :)

Are you excited about attending Theatre Residency Week?

I had the honour of coming to TRW when I was in Year 10, and ever since, I’ve considered it one of the highlights of my youth. I get to relieve that highlight. What I am looking forward to is being fully engulfed in the arts, being surrounded by people who feel the same passion towards theatre as I do, and then being mentored by notable artists, who, throughout the whole process, put the camp participants first. I am looking forward to experimenting creatively with great guidance and continually being inspired by my fellow participants.

Why is Paradise Dreaming so special for you?

This play is about my family. It tries to capture our first few moments in Australia, although this is fragmentally presented because I was only four when we moved. It's special to me as it's like I'm trying to paint a picture that we all remember differently, so I use a board brush, trying to encapsulate the cocktail of emotions that filled us all. For me, however, it's a way to navigate the guilt I feel whenever I miss Africa.

2021 Young Playwrights' Award winner
Lee Lewis chats with Sandra Miller about her winning play

Q&A with Lee Lewis

Why is this award so important to Queensland Theatre?

The Young Playwrights’ Award is our way of recognising the great young writing talent in this state. It is so important to identify and celebrate young people with a gift for writing stories for the stage. They are our voices of our theatre future.

What excites you about young writers’ voices?

Young playwrights are fierce. It is so hard to craft a whole play and they do that in the midst of all the demands of school and family and our fast society. They write because they have something in them that must be said, and I love that they have identified that it must be said LIVE on a stage.

What stood out to you about this year’s entries?

Each one of our shortlisted plays would be right at home in the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award. They are all writing about things that matter to us all right now. Their stories are urgent and moving. They inspired me to work harder as an artist.

What advice do you have for next year’s entrants?

Keep writing. You have the capacity, and so you have an obligation to speak. Take that talent and run as far and as fast as you can… don’t waste a bit of it. We need you to keep writing.

CONTACT US

For more information about the Young Playwrights' Award contact Alana Dunn, Project Officer for Education, Youth and Regional Engagement
adunn@queenslandtheatre.com.au or 07 3010 7653