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Extraordinary First Nations theatre-maker Andrea James wins top honours for women playwrights

Thursday 19 May 2022

Described by the judges as “unruly, delightful and heartbreaking”, the extraordinary playwriting of Yorta Yorta/Gunaikurnai woman Andrea James has earned the theatre-maker Australia’s coveted (and only) prize for women stage and screen writers — the State Library of NSW announced TONIGHT [19 May 2022].

Andrea James was awarded the $30,000 Mona Brand Award for Women Stage and Screen Writers for her exceptional body of work dedicated to sharing historical and contemporary First Nations stories on stage, often collaborating with other First Nations artists, and guided by her own ancestry.

According to the judges: “Whether telling us the heartwarming story of Evonne Goolagong in Sunshine Super Girl or the battle of ‘dog’ versus ‘dingo’ in her newest play Dogged, Andrea’s work speaks of things many of us are too afraid to face. Andrea’s work will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.”

The Mona Brand Award is offered biennially thanks to the generous bequest to the NSW State Library Foundation from the trailblazing Australian playwright Mona Brand (who also wrote under the name Alexis Fox).

Senior judge Helen Bowden said: “The last two years have brought huge challenges to the theatre world, so in this fourth iteration of the Mona Brand Award, it is an honour to also shine the spotlight on emerging writers.”

The $10,000 Early Career Writer Award went to Sukhjit Khalsa for her debut coming of age work Fully Sikh (Barking Gecko and Black Swan Theatre Companies, 2019), described by the judges as “funny, vivid and provocative. Sukhjit’s work is robust and entertaining about Australian identity, feminism and the power of difficult conversations.”

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