Queensland Premier's Drama Award | Queensland Theatre

Congratulations to the three finalists of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2020-21

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the finalists for the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award (QPDA) 2020–21. Artists Anna Loren, Maddie Nixon and Steve Pirie have been selected from the record-breaking field of 221 entries. This marks the largest intake of new dramatic works in the Award’s 17-year history, with entries received from every state and territory in Australia.

The three finalists are now in the running for the award, where the winner receives a professional production of their entry in Queensland Theatre’s 2021 Season.


Anna Loren:

Anna Loren is an actor and theatre maker. She is one of eight emerging playwrights, chosen to participate in Playlab’s 2019, Incubator Program and, was recently supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund, to attend a residency in Finland, under the mentorship of theatre professional, Dr. Margi Brown Ash. Anna studied at The Actors Workshop (Brisbane), and later at the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance (London), supported by an international bursary. Also a drama facilitator, Anna has taught for The Actors Workshop and NIDA Open (Brisbane), as well as The Rose Bruford Youth Theatre, NCS The Challenge and the Drama Club (London).

Her entry, Comfort:
Comfort: a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint. Sitting between British-Indian colonial rule and Japanese occupation, Burma is a country torn apart by war. It has been cut open, segmented, dissected and blown apart. Battling armies open lasting wounds across the land, leaving scars not only on the earth, but also on the bodies of the women they seek to colonize. Comfort is a semi-autobiographical work that responding to the whispers that my own grandmother may have been a ‘Comfort Woman’ in 1940s Japan-Occupied Burma. In blaring juxtaposition, my memories of her exist in a 1980s Australian childhood. Afternoons spent in a suburban Perth backyard, playing around the hills hoist; holidays sweating in a musty, sand-filled caravan; Expo ’88. But just below the surface, one ever-present unspoken rule journeyed with us; we don’t talk about the past. Moving between past and present, personal and political, Grandaughter wades through official military records, rumour and euphemism as she gently unpicks the threads in search of her Grandmother’s truth.

Maddie Nixon:
Maddie Nixon is a Brisbane based writer, director and youth arts practitioner. Her artistic practice focuses on the development of new contemporary work, Australian comedy and theatre for young people. Maddie is the Youth and Participation Producer at La Boite Theatre Company. Credits include, as Playwright: The Parable People (Alpha Processing – Playlab), Cooladdi (HWY Festival – La Boite Theatre Company, 18-26 Year Old Playwright Program – Queensland Theatre and Fresh Ink – ATYP), Food Fight (Fresh Ink – ATYP).

Her entry, Binnavale:
The Big Pineapple, The Big Banana, The Big Merino. Australian tourists love big things. But what about the small things? Binnavale is the smallest town in Australia. For now.

Once a bustling hub in the orange desert of central Queensland, Binnavale is entirely isolated and solely occupied by one family, the Mullers. Mum, Dad, Levi and Sam, run the town’s crown jewel and only remaining business, The Bin Hotel. Business at The Bin isn’t exactly booming, but it’s going well enough, and the Mullers honestly believe that that they are the gate holders of the greatest place on Earth. That is until the young hotshot Federal MP Mr Brett Pryce, proposes the Postcode Hybridisation Scheme, a bill which if passed will conjoin a series of small population postcodes in remote and regional Australia. If the Mullers lose their postcode, they lose their smallest town status, and they lose their business.

If the family don’t have tourists passing through, The Bin Hotel will be shut down, and they will have to abandon the only place they’ve ever called home. Binnavale is a comedy about family, grief and growing up.

Steve Pirie:
Steve Pirie is a writer, theatre maker and youth arts worker currently based in Brisbane. A graduate of the University of Southern Queensland, he is also the co-Artistic Director of Mixtape Theatre Collective, a regional independent theatre company based in Toowoomba, Queensland. His first play, Escape from the Breakup Forest, has since been published by Playlab following statewide seasons, and in 2014, Steve’s work 3 O’Clock, Flagpole was selected for development as part of the Lab Rats initiative. In 2017, he was an independent artist with Queensland Theatre where he developed his work, Return to the Dirt as part of his residency, which was presented at La Boite’s HWY Festival in 2018.

His entry, Return to the Dirt:
In 2014, Steve Pirie returned to his hometown in regional Queensland with no job, money or goals. After a series of dead ends, he finally found work in a local funeral home, where he spent the next year living and working among the dead, the dying and the families left behind. Join Steve, your tour guide, as he takes you through the realms of the dead and behind the closed doors of the Australian funeral industry in this powerful meditation on what it means to die in the 21st century, to lose the ones we love, what a twenty-something learned about what awaits us at the end, and what a final act of love can do for our healing.

Return to the Dirt is a celebration of finding your place in the world, the power of personal redemption and humility at the end of all things. Most importantly, it is a stepping stone to one of the most important conversations you need to have.

A panel of industry professionals review the entries, leading to a shortlist. The shortlisted artists meet the award judges in October 2019, where three finalists are selected. The finalists receive paid development leading to a presentation of their work for the judges in April 2020. Following the presentation, the judging panel will select a winner to receive further development of their work throughout 2020 and 2021. Queensland Theatre will then program the winner’s work in the 2021 Season. 


The goals of this Award are:

To produce a platform for Australian theatre makers and playwrights to develop new works that are an artistic response to, or reflection of, ‘Australian Society’ and expose audiences to this work

To promote the creation of high quality, original, artistic work

To recognise and develop creative artists, their work and their standing within our society

To enhance the employment of Queensland actors, creative teams and production artists

Interviews with past QPDA winners


David MegarrityThe Holidays (winner)
Hannah Belanszky, don’t ask what the bird look like
Anna Yen, Slow Boat

Michele Lee, Rice (winner)
Kathryn Marquet, Furious Creatures
Suzie Miller, I Looked Up and There You Were

Daniel Evans, Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (winner)
Tim Benzie, The Overflow
Megan Shorey, One in Seven (music-theatre)

Maxine Mellor, Trollop (winner)
Stephen Carleton, 
Bastard Territory
David Megarrity (for The Human Company), The Empty City

Marcel Dorney, Fractions (winner) 
Rebecca Clarke, 
Philip Dean, Unreliable Bodies

Richard Jordan, 25 Down (winner)
Katherine Lyall-Watson, Tinder
Sven Swenson, Dangerfield Park

David Brown,  The Estimator (winner)
Anthony Funnell,  The Tram
Michael Riordan,  String

Adam Grossetti, Mano Nera (winner) 
Stephen Carleton, Constance Drinkwater and the Last Days of Somerset
Philip Chappell, Welcome to Dreamland

Sven Swenson, Road to the She-Devil’s Salon (winner)
Kathryn Ash,  Flutter
Bruce Clark, The Kaufman Letter
Simon Ratcliffe, Conurb
Hugh Watson,  The Valley
Gayle Wilkinson,  Goat Head Burs