28 September, 2020
Wayne Blair (left) and Hugo Weaving in Wonnangatta. Credit: Prudence Upton
Steeped in mystery and terror, Angus Cerini's new play centres around the unsolved murders at Wonnangatta Station in rural Victoria in 1918. Two men unravel a grim trail of violence while searching for their friend and farm manager, Jim Barclay, and embark on a journey, looking for answers.
In Wonnangatta, Cerini evokes a harsh landscape, using haunting lyricism and rhythmic poetry. John Shand says of the production in the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Angus Cerini's new play may ostensibly be a two-hander, with Hugo Weaving as Harry and Wayne Blair as Riggall, but this bush – together with the mountainsides to which it clings and the surrounding fickle weather – is a fully fledged third entity – and hostile.’
Sydney Theatre Company commissioned, developed and produced Wonnangatta with the assistance of the David Williamson Prize, following the success of Cerini’s sensational play The Bleeding Tree, and for which Cerini was awarded the Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre at the 2016 AWGIE Awards. STC received $40,000 for dramaturgical and development support to nurture a new Australian work to the stage, while Cerini received $20,000. The fund significantly contributed to the programming of Wonnangatta in 2020.
Kip Williams, Artistic Director, Sydney Theatre Company says, ‘Wonnangatta is a sublime production. Angus Cerini is an immensely talented and unique writer and it’s been wonderful working with him to bring his lyrical, haunting script to the stage. The development and staging of the work was generously supported by the David Williamson Prize awarded to Angus and we are so grateful for the vital role this played in our being able to bring this exceptional new Australian work to life.’
Presented since 2013, the David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre has been made possible by the generous donation of David and Kristin Williamson and Shane and Cathryn Brennan. The prize is awarded by the Australian Writers’ Guild each year to the most outstanding script selected from the winners of each of the theatre categories at the AWGIE Awards. The express purpose of the fund is to encourage theatre companies to commission, develop and program a new Australian work.
Previous recipients of the prize include Alana Valentine for Grounded (2013), Andrew Bovell for The Secret River (2014), Finegan Kruckemeyer for The Boy at the Edge of Everything (2015), Angus Cerini for The Bleeding Tree (2016), Leah Purcell for The Drover’s Wife (2017), P.J. Hogan with Kate Miller-Heidke & Keir Nuttall for Muriel’s Wedding the Musical (2018) and Kate Mulvany for The Harp in the South (2019).
Wonnangatta runs from 21 September – 31 October at Roslyn Packer Theatre with a reduced audience capacity to comply with current social distancing requirements.