8 December, 2021
For the third year running, a playwright has taken home the top prize at the Australian Writers’ Guild’s Annual AWGIE Awards, with Kodie Bedford’s sharp and vibrant play Cursed! winning the 2021 Major Award.
On a night celebrating the creativity, craft and excellence of Australian screen and stage writers, Bedford’s win was one of many moments highlighting the strength of contemporary Australian theatre and the importance of supporting the industry as it responds to challenges wrought by COVID-19. Premiering in 2020 against the backdrop of the pandemic, Cursed! is a hilarious and thoughtful exploration of family, truth and mental health that netted Bedford – already an established screenwriter – her first AWGIE Award in the Stage category.
In response to the impact of COVID-19 on our theatres, $160,000 of prize money for playwrights was announced throughout the evening. Adelaide-based writers Jamie Hornsby and Ellen Graham were awarded the David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre for their cosmic play Claire Della and the Moon, following their AWGIE Award win in the Theatre for Young Audiences category. Like Bedford, Hornsby and Graham’s work champions the poetic and transformational power of theatre to shine a light on mental health and isolation. In receiving the David Williamson Prize, $20,000 will go to the AWG member playwright, while $80,000 goes to the theatre company responsible for developing the work – this year Hornsby and Graham’s independent theatre company Madness of Two.
AWG Executive Director Claire Pullen announced the launch of a new opportunity, the Shane & Cathryn Brennan Prize for Playwrights, which is now open for AWG members to submit an unproduced script for consideration. Winners across two categories (Stage and Theatre for Young Audiences) will receive $10,000 in prize money, while the shortlisted and longlisted writers will share in $40,000. Presented in partnership with Australian Plays Transform, the Prize is made possible by the generous and ongoing philanthropy of Shane and Cathryn Brennan.
The AWGIE Awards also celebrated another knockout year for Australian screen stories, with Shaun Grant taking home his third AWGIE in as many years for Nitram (Feature Film – Original), while Robert Connolly and Harry Cripps won the Feature Film – Adaptation category for the critical and box office hit The Dry. In the television categories, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Tony McNamara won for The Great, and the writing team behind SBS’s beautifully crafted New Gold Mountain (Peter Cox, Yolanda Ramke, Benjamin Law, Greg Waters and Pip Karmel) received the AWGIE for best Telemovie or Miniseries.
Other 2021 AWGIE Award winners:
In the theatre and audio categories, winners were:
Four special awards were presented on the night:
Longstanding Australian Writers’ Guild member Rob George was made a Life Member.
The 2021 AWGIE Awards were presented by some of Australia’s top writers, actors and comedians, including Meyne Wyatt, Eric Bana, Deborah Mailman, Leah Purcell, Rebecca Gibney, Claudia Karvan, Shane Brennan, Celia Pacquola, Luke McGregor, Jimmy Chocolate Chip, Mithila Gupta, Suzie Miller, Adam Zwar, Leah Vandenberg, Charlotte Rose Hamlyn, Christiaan Van Vuuren, Adele Vuko, Jan Sardi AO, Claire Pullen, Jenna Owen, Victoria Zerbst, Dan Ilic, Natalie Tran, Charles Firth and Mark Humphries.
To watch the full 54th Annual AWGIE Awards broadcast, click here.
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