At an event at Belvoir on Tuesday, actor, singer and writer Ursula Yovich was announced as the winner of The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award 2016. The award was presented by Hamish Balnaves, General Manager of the Foundation who said “if real reconciliation is to happen we need to know our history and we need to hear Indigenous stories. Theatre can change hearts, minds and attitudes – that’s why we support these awards.”
The $20,000 award is comprised of a $12,500 commission to write a new play and a $7,500 cash prize.
Accepting the award, Ursula said, “Writing this play will be my first major solo writing experience. I’ll be writing about a very personal story so I’m very pleased that I will have excellent people to support me through the process. I’ve wanted to pursue this writing project for some time and it is so affirming to have people say ‘Yes, we want to hear your story’ ’’.
On behalf of the judging panel, Anthea Williams (Belvoir’s Associate Director – New Work) said, “Ursula is an artist who is well known to Belvoir and our community as one of the country’s finest actors and singers, her talent also extends to her writing ability – both for theatre and music. Ursula’s application highlighted her strong, authentic and important voice and her unique understanding of dialogue, character and theatrical form”.
The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award was established five years ago to encourage the telling of Indigenous stories with the aim of fostering understanding and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The 2014 Balnaves award winner, Leah Purcell, will have her play The Drover’s Wife presented on Belvoir’s mainstage later this year.