In this year’s Phillip Parsons lecture, award-winning playwright Alana Valentine reflects on her experience of bringing into the theatre the lived experience of diverse, community, regional and local audiences to hear their own stories in the context of the collective gaze. She argues that the unique nature of live theatre for an audience is both the individual and shared experience of ourselves and she explores how contemporary theatre, as well as entertaining, must still be a way to allow audiences to mutually connect with each other, to collectively face ugly and sometimes difficult truths in important and community changing ways.
Using examples from her plays Letters to Lindy, The Sugar House, Barbara and the Camp Dogs, Ladies Day, Run Rabbit Run, Parramatta Girls, Ear To the Edge of Time and Comin’ Home Soon, Alana looks to the engagement of increasingly diverse and eloquent audiences and the sacred trust that artists have with theatre-goers.
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Playwright Alana Valentine and writer Mireille Juchau will each spend a year based at the centre, alongside researchers and clinicians who are looking for integrated solutions to ease the burden of obesity and chronic disease.
Valentine is one of Australia’s most acclaimed playwrights. Her recent work Letters to Lindy draws on letters written to one of Australia’s most iconic figures, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton and another, Ladies Day, is nominated for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2017. Several of her works remain on the NSW HSC curriculum.
Using the Greek myth of Cassandra, whose dire warnings were disastrously ignored, Valentine’s play will draw on the revelations from visionary scientists about their struggle to have their findings about metabolic syndrome, a collection of health conditions that often occur together and increase the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease, heard and believed. Valentine’s project may present an opportunity for scientists themselves to take on theatrical roles.
“Alana and Mireille are two outstanding and acclaimed Australian writers. Both create work which challenges us to closely reflect on, and question, our society,” said Charles Perkins Centre Academic Director Professor Stephen Simpson. “I’m sure their work here at the centre will offer fresh perspective on some of our biggest health challenges and the way we’re tackling them.”
“Ladies Day presents Australia’s foremost verbatim playwright, Alana Valentine, at the height of her powers as she deftly interrogates the boundaries of her preferred form. Surprising and moving, Ladies Day is also confronting and compassionate. Characters that initially seem stereotypical develop into people for whom we feel anguish and outrage, before morphing again and demanding we reconsider the nature of truth-telling and theatre. The complexity of the story and the interrogation of sexuality, identity and violence are masterly.
The BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition is the only global competition for radio playwrights, run by the BBC World Service and the British Council.
Alana Valentine's script for the International Radio Playwriting Competition, called The Ravens, is the winner in the section for writers with English as a first language.
“It’s about a young woman trying to get out of being a sex worker,” Valentine told The Australian.
“She gets a big payout and comes under pressure from all sorts of people as a result.”
Judges considered the 53-minute radio drama superior to other finalists from the US, Ireland, Sweden and Kenya, and it will be produced by the BBC on October 23 and 24 for broadcast on the World Service in either late December or early 2015. The World Service has a potential audience of 40 million.
The competition, which is in its 24th year, seeks submissions from writers outside Britain for a drama with up to six characters. This year it attracted nearly 1000 entries from 86 countries.
The judges said: “An ambitious play, admirably creating an authentic world of addiction, with a naturalism of language and believability of character. The play truthfully captures the brutality and violence, but with an attempt at tenderness, deliciously graphic for radio.”
For more details on the competition, visit bbcworldservice.com/radioplay
Alana Valentine has won the 2014 AWGIE award in the Youth and Community Theatre category for Comin' Home Soon.
Commissioned by the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, Alana worked with inmates at Goulburn Correctional Centre's Aboriginal Art Unit Nura Warra Umer, as well as with the children of prisoners and the Shine For Kids organisation at Silverwater Correctional Centre, and also drew on experiences working at Junee Correctional Centre and the Shine For Kids centre there.
Alana curated an exhibition of art works made by both the inmates and children of inmates and shown at the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery in 2012.
The play was presented at the Lieder Theatre in 2013 to critical acclaim and intense community support. It featured the participation of a large number of both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous performers and was supported by the Pejar Land Council.
The play had a limited publication run in 2013, supported by the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery and Currency Press are currently considering re-publication of the now award-winning work.
Her 2014 AWGIE win follows Alana's 2013 triple AWGIE win in the same category for Grounded including the inaugural David Williamson award for excellence in theatre writing and the major AWGIE for the best overall script of 2013.
It was a fairytale finish for the winners of the Annual AWGIE Awards, which were held on Friday 4 October in the Plaza Ballroom, Melbourne.
Hosted by Sammy J, the awards now in their 46th year, celebrate the integral role of the writer in Australian film, television, theatre radio and interactive media. The AWGIE Awards are the only Australian awards judged solely by writers on the basis of the script – the writer's own vision.
AWG President Jan Sardi said, “The calibre of this year's nominees is testimony to the outstanding achievement of this year's AWGIE Award winners, judged by their peers as being the best in what has been a top shelf year for Australian performance writing”.
The Sydney Morning Herald called it "Valentine's Day" after playwright Alana Valentine was the toast of the evening picking up three awards including the Major AWGIE Award for Most Outstanding Script of 2013 and the inaugural David Williamson Prize. David Williamson AO was in attendance, as Senator the Hon. George Brandis QC, Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts presented Valentine with the $25,000 prize.
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Ear to the Edge of Time, by Australian playwright Alana Valentine, is the winner of the 5th STAGE International Script Competition for the best new play about science and technology. The script was chosen from nearly 200 entries from a dozen countries and announced as the winner live on air on the BBC World Service Science in Action program on August 10th. STAGE will present the award to Alana at a ceremony in Dublin on October 21, 2012.
Valentine's play was selected by a world-class panel of judges: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights Tony Kushner (Angels in America) David Lindsay- Abaire and Donald Margulies; Nobel Laureates Robert C. Richardson and Frank Wilczek; and winner of the U.S. National Medal of Science and the Franklin Medal, Dr. David J. Wineland. The US-based STAGE award, which is designed to bridge the divide between art and science, is admired among playwrights for the opportunities it brings and the rich $10,000 prize. Read the full press release »
Alana Valentine's writing has been nominated for 2011 Queensland Premier's Award for Best Drama Script, 2007 Helpmann Awards for Best New Australian Work and Best Play, awarded the 2004 Queensland Premier's Award for Best Drama Script, the 2003 NSW Writer's Fellowship, the 2002 Rodney Seaborn Playwright's Award and an International Writing Fellowship at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.
She also received a 2001 commendation for the Louis Esson Prize, a 1999 AWGIE Award, a residency at the Banff Playwrights' Conference in Canada, the ANPC/New Dramatists Award in NYC and a Churchill Fellowship, the NSW Premier's Award and a Centenary Medal. Alana is well known for her rigorous use of research within the community she is writing about. This is evident in her popular 2004 play Run Rabbit Run about South Sydney League's Club's fight for survival and 2007's sell-out season of Parramatta Girls at Belvoir Street Theatre about the infamous Girls Training School, Parramatta.