12/05/2010 at 1:47 pm 6 comments

I am informed by the venerable Van Badham that the collective noun is ‘a rivalry of playwrights’, which is to my mind an appropriate term, given writerly tendencies to immediately dislike anyone more successful or talented than us without ever having met them. Or is it just me? Either way. I’m in favour of a little healthy competition, robust debate or gentle ribbing (that sounds dirtier than I meant it) between peers. Of course, competition is much more interesting when there’s an actual prize at stake, like, say hard cash to bring out the best in us.

It’s not news that The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards left playwrights off the cut this year with some meagre platitudes by way of explanation. The story brought on some terrific debate a few weeks back at Theatre Notes and it’s heartening that it hasn’t died off – far from it. Next Monday May 17th there’s a get together in protest at the exclusion of theatre from the award at the MacQuarie Hotel. Details are at Cluster where you can RSVP or show support (if you haven’t already).

So if you care about new Australian theatre I’d check it out (or even if you don’t and just wonder what a rivalry of playwrights looks like) – it’s so rare that we get together in numbers, you can expect a few fireworks, or at least the occasional spark. If you think rivalry between playwrights is bad, try being a government bureaucracy denying us recognition. Trust me, I’ve hung out with some of these folks. They know how to talk – you don’t want to be on our bad side when we get our collective backs up.

Since Playwriting Australia is now in charge of the prizemoney, I’m hoping someone from there will be in attendance to consult with us about how it might best be spent. $30,000 is not a lot of money for an organisation, but it’s a hell of a lot to an individual. It’s not like I had a play on last year but for one am really indignant that the Government copped out on a prestigious award (well it was once – not anymore), and passed the buck(s). That money is rightfully ours!

see you there

Entry filed under: Criticism FAIL, Marketing, Sydney THEATRE. Tags: , , , .


6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. James Waites  |  12/05/2010 at 2:11 pm

    I believe I created the phrase … ‘ a bludge of journalists’…

  • 2. anvildrops  |  12/05/2010 at 2:43 pm

    that was you??? hmmm some people might call that ‘enabling behaviour’

    what about ‘an ineptitude of subeditors’…?

  • 3. Augusta  |  15/05/2010 at 1:15 pm

    I must respectfully disagree with Ms Badham- In my experience working with /for playwrights it is not a “rivalry.” Proof is the collegiate posses which have been forming in the last few years (7-on is a great example as is Write Club)I think my point will be further enforced on Monday night…
    This is because no two playwrights are the same, nor even similar… and most of them meet and chat and caffeinate together- infact I think playwrights are much more collegiate than directors are…
    See you on Monday.

  • 4. anvildrops  |  15/05/2010 at 1:51 pm

    indeed they are, but ‘a backpat of playwrights’ doesn’t have quite the same ring…

    what a conundrum!

  • 5. Van Badham  |  19/05/2010 at 2:40 am

    Oh, Ms Supple! If only you knew.

    I fear it’s your lovely and famously kind temperament that is the reason you disagree with me. You just haven’t been exposed to the behaviour of playwrights in their native state. You, who work so tirelessly to provide us with opportunities, only ever receive us on our best behaviour. Amongst playwrights all over the world there are cohorts of the charming, factions of the sharp and dumb collectives. I am a member of several simultaneously.

    But to say our fraternity eschews rivalry is wrong, wrong, wrong – for one need only leave one’s faction behind in a room to be dissected. There is much competition in this business for very little favour – and I say that from the theatrical capital of the world, where my own theatre receives 400 plays a year, out of which we take a mere four (4) into production.

    Yes, there should be awards and accolades, if only we can all be restored to a proper and rightful indignity that “that” playwright has won it, not us.

    xx The Venerable (I like it) Ms B

  • […] in a post by 5th Wall, he refers to playwrights as a “rivalry of playwrights”… The truth of the matter is that Australian playwrights I have worked with/for are generally very […]


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