Stories of love, mystery and mining win The R E Ross Trust Playwrights’ Script Development Awards 2013

3 July 2013

The State Library of Victoria is proud to announce the 2013 winners of The R E Ross Trust Playwrights’ Script Development Awards. Each of these talented writers will receive funds to help bring their scripts to the stage, adding to Australia’s rich theatrical offering.

Themes of love, mystery, mining and the treatment of indigenous people were presented in the four winning scripts.

The 2013 winners are:

  • Didem Caia for Vile
  • Trudy Hellier for Just perfect
  • Mari Lourey for Dirt Songs
  • Tobias Manderson-Galvin for The unknown man on Somerton Beach

The judging panel highly commend Merrilee Moss for Oriel.

Didem Caia has also been invited to attend a 2014 Playwriting Australia National Script Development Workshop.

The R E Ross Trust Playwrights’ Script Development Awards were created in 2003 to support Victorian writers' script development and foster Victoria's theatre industry. Each successful playwright receives financial support to develop their play script as a work-in-progress. The funds may be used to support further work with a director, dramaturg, script editor and/or actor(s) through workshops.

In addition to the prize money, winners have the opportunity to stage rehearsed readings in front of a live audience in the Flashpoint series at the State Library of Victoria and fortyfivedownstairs.

State Library of Victoria CEO and State Librarian, Sue Roberts, says these important awards are unique in Australia and have helped solidify Victoria’s reputation as a key creative hub.

'The awards are an anticipated part of the Victorian playwriting calendar and since 2003 have helped more than 40 Victorian playwrights develop their works. They fill a gap in the industry and provide a wonderful opportunity for playwrights to develop their craft and offer a rare chance for emerging and established playwrights to showcase their work.'

These annual awards are administered by the State Library of Victoria.
Judges' descriptions of the winning works follows:

Winners of The R E Ross Trust Playwrights’ Script Development Awards 2013

Vile by Didem Caia is a tale of oppression, abuse, love and loyalty that is timely, surprising, challenging and artfully handled. After an electrifying and disorienting opening scene – somewhere between fantasy and horrible violent reality – there is a slow drip-feed release of information that is always intriguing. The dialogue is whip-smart, economical, surprising and fittingly brutal, showing great potential for further development.

Dirt songs by Mari Lourey is an ambitious work, dealing with a number of major contemporary issues: the gross mistreatment of Indigenous peoples, the exploitation of Australia’s natural resources, and the devastating consequences of both. It shows great theatrical sophistication and is bursting with rich imagery, rendering the dark forces of human nature, spirituality and the cosmos in exquisite detail. The characters would seem hewn from this fantastical landscape but are underpinned by a sharply observed realism, in dialogue that is both poetic and harshly true. This is a startling work of genuine promise and excitement.

The unknown man on Somerton Beach by Tobias Manderson-Galvin is a spirited, surreal and occasionally bizarre exploration of post-war Australian society, with a famous unsolved mystery as the instigating incident. Using the voices of both an ‘unknown man’ washed up on an Adelaide beach and of two film noir federal agents assigned to investigate the case, the play skilfully weaves a multi-faceted, mind-bending pastiche of theatrical and cinematic forms. This is intriguing chaos, still wanting in cohesion, but it’s the starting point for a fascinating piece of theatre.

Just perfect by Trudy Hellier is inspired by real-life events surrounding the murder of a Melbourne businessman with a secret life as a swinger. It examines the tragic effects on those left behind. The solo performer takes the audience into her confidence as the performance becomes not only a confessional but a conspiracy between them as she creates a set – literally in front of their eyes. The writing has a very precise, beautiful level of detail that, combined with the self-imposed limitations of the chalk-drawn set and the sound of reportage forcing itself into the audience’s consciousness, allows tragedy to loom right from the start and build its power slowly, step by step.

The judging panel also highly commended Oriel by Merrilee Moss. Her play presents a complex interweaving of the lives of two female Australian playwrights who face some of the same problems despite being separated by half a century.

Note to editors:
The R E Ross Trust is a perpetual charitable trust established in Victoria in 1970 by the will of the late Roy Everard Ross. Since its inception, The R E Ross Trust has distributed over $80 million in grants for charitable purposes in Victoria.

Flashpoint is a dynamic program of play script readings at the State Library of Victoria and fortyfivedownstairs that invites audiences to participate in the process of developing new theatre.

For more information about the The R E Ross Trust Playwrights’ Script Development Awards visit:

Media inquiries

Matthew van Hasselt or Georgina Smart
State Library of Victoria, 03 8664 7263,
328 Swanston Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000