Recent NIDA graduate wins Patrick White Playwrights’ Award
NIDA is proud to congratulate 2015 Masters of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance) graduate Debra Thomas who was honoured with the Sydney Theatre Company’s Patrick White Playwrights award for her work, The Man’s Bitch earlier this year.
Thomas’ The Man’s Bitch is a fiercely political satire charting the tumultuous career of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and was originally developed for last year’s NIDA graduating Writers season.
This award has been an annual initiative of the STC since 2000 and is held in honour of Patrick White’s contribution to Australian theatre. It aims to foster the development of Australian playwrights, with the judges seeking work that is original and ambitious with great potential for staging.
With a unique and dynamic feminist voice, the play was chosen out of 105 scripts to take out the $7,500 award which was presented by the STC and also saw a rehearsed reading take place at the 2015 Sydney Writers’ Festival.
Thomas was surprised and grateful for this incredible honour.
“I didn’t think I had a chance of winning at all. This was partly because it’s a very competitive award and particularly because of the calibre of the plays my fellow classmates had submitted,” commented Thomas.
“I was actually hesitant to submit my script as this is my first full-length work and I didn’t believe it was ready. Stephen (Sewell, NIDA Head of Writing for Performance), however, was adamant that I must and I’m glad he pushed me.
“NIDA provided some great opportunities, including working with Stephen Sewell – a process I really enjoyed. I think it would be a very different work if I had any other mentor. I also found travelling to the Edinburgh Festival completely exhilarating. It gave me the chance to see so many different works, particularly politically charged works that showcased the level of engagement UK theatre has with politics – and that shone a light on how important and entertaining these works can be when done well, and this unlocked a lot of ideas for my own writing.”
Debra Thomas joins a long line of NIDA graduates who have been recipients of this award in past years including Christopher Summers (2013), Phillip Kavanagh (2011) and Ian Wilding (2009).
Thomas is keeping busy with several projects currently under way including a new play with the working-title, Delirium as well as a 10-part web series, The Matriarchs and has her sights set on a novel and film project.
NIDA wishes Thomas the best of luck in the future.