A shortlist of writers pitched a play synopsis to a group of judges to win funding to write the play in full and have a production staged as part of the 2017 season at the Ensemble Theatre.
Kit Brookman was announced as the esteemed winner, having pitched “The Plant” – a play which sounds like it could shape up to be both witty and insightful. I eagerly await seeing the production when it is staged in 2017 – in the meantime, see below for more details, and to hear from David Williamson in light of his support of the Commission.
The prize competition is a partnership between the Australian Writers’ Guild, Ensemble Theatre and one of Australia’s greatest playwrights, David Williamson.
Ensemble Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry said Brookman’s play “The Plant” is a comedy about the fear of giving life to something and the terror of ending up alone.
“Kit takes this idea into a surreal and touching place with his trademark humour and gentleness,” Kilmurry said. “Kit is an extraordinary new talent and we are looking forward to our future partnership in presenting this highly original new play.”
He said the winning play could be more than a brand new piece of Australian drama and a highlight for the theatre’s 2017 season; it could be a hallmark of things to come for Ensemble, with future partnerships becoming a regular occurrence.
“The theatre needs writers and the development of a writer’s craft is vitally important if we are to produce a vibrant, diverse and exciting future,” he said. “Without the written word there is no actor’s voice.”
The winning entry was announced at a special event at Ensemble Theatre on 4 March.
Williamson, who has donated the prize he received from winning the NSW Premier’s Special Award in early 2015, said words on a page alone don’t help playwrights, but having their plays performed does, so he is happy to gift his Premier’s prize to encourage a commission and performance of a new work. [His full statement is below.]
Williamson is Emeritus President of the AWG and Brookman’s prize also gains him entry into the Guild’s Pathways Program, a professional development initiative that links talent with opportunity and helps to forge relationships between writers, producers and theatre companies.
Statement by David Williamson on Ensemble Theatre New Writing Commission 2016:
“I can well remember my feelings as a young playwright trying to interest theatre companies in two plays I had written called The Removalists and Don’s Party. The major theatre companies were either not interested or sent damning reports on the scripts. After a year I’d almost given up. Then the small La Mama company decided to do The Removalists and the APG [Australian Performing Group] decided to do Don’s Party. I got two productions and my life was transformed. I realised from that moment that words on the page don’t help playwrights at all. It’s only when those words on page come to life on stage that a playwright has a chance. When I was awarded the NSW Premier’s special award this year I was therefore happy to donate my prize money to a commission, but only if that commission actually resulted in a full production. So I was delighted when the Ensemble Theatre and The Australian Writers’ Guild accepted the challenge and Ensemble Theatre’s new writing Commission was born.“
Kit Brookman – Bio
Kit Brookman, the winner of the inaugural Ensemble Theatre New Writing Commission, has already proved himself a rising star in the Australian theatre firmament.
Still only 28 he has won a raft of writing prizes and seen his works produced by some of Australia’s leading theatres.
He wrote and starred in A Rabbit for Kim Jong-il, which premiered at Griffin Theatre in late 2015 to rave reviews. As well as the Ensemble prize, he is currently under commission to write a new work by Sydney’s Belvoir theatre where, in 2013, he wrote and directed Small and Tired. The production was nominated for Best New Work and Best Actor and won Best Supporting Actress at Sydney Theatre Awards. It was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Helpmann Awards as well as being shortlisted for 2012 Griffin Award.
His other playwriting has included: Nora (as co-writer), which premiered at Belvoir; Heaven, which had seasons at the Old 505 Theatre, Sydney, and La Mama, Melbourne, and won Kit the 2012 Philip Parsons Young Playwright’s Fellowship at Belvoir; Night Maybe for Stuck Pigs Squealing; and Close, which was shortlisted for Griffin Award in 2010 as well as the Patrick White Award in 2011.
Recent directing work includes Is This Thing On? (with Zoe Coombs-Marr), which won Best Ensemble Cast at 2014 Sydney Theatre Awards, and Heaven at La Mama. As assistant director, Kit has worked on Belvoir’s productions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Private Lives and Babyteeth.
His writing has been published in numerous Australian journals, including HEAT, Southerly, Harvest and Westerly. Kit studied acting at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), graduating in 2008.
He has performed for Sydney Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare, Sydney Opera House and in numerous independent productions.