At the opening of Go East at the Art Gallery of NSW, Gene Sherman spoke of her life as a collector of contemporary art and as an Australian patron of the visual arts. She stood in front of the extraordinary work PUBLIC NOTICE 2 by Jitish Kallat, which she had gifted to the gallery. She highlighted the importance of collections as a gathering of ideas over time. As she spoke, I started to think of Griffin as one of the great Australian collections of plays – every new work we produce adds to the great collection. The ideas hived in the plays will be records of our time as vivid as the ‘bones’ on the wall behind Gene Sherman (Go! You have to see it! And it’s free!) – and every production in the future will be like a great exhibition of us.
This week, as we announce the Griffin Award shortlist, I want to thank the 148 writers who were courageous enough to write their ideas into a play. Thank you for entering them into the award. Your theatrical imaginations are the fire that keeps this industry alight. From you come the ideas that inspire us all to perform, direct, design, produce. From you springs the great collection of work that is becoming Griffin.
Five things you need to know about the Griffin Award for a great new Australian play:
1. It is a national award.
2. Every entry is read anonymously.
3. Every entry is read at least twice.
4. Creating a shortlist of just five is incredibly difficult.
5. This award is the strong beating heart of Griffin Theatre Company.
I also have three wishes for the award:
1. I wish we could give every writer feedback
2. I wish I could live-stream the award so that audiences around the world could see the first readings of these new plays.
3. I wish we could find a big sponsor for this award.
Copyright Agency Limited (a huge supporter of Griffin) gives prizes to the runners up which is great, but I keep thinking that for an award that has such a huge reach around the country, there must be a company or a person who would like to put their name to it. Put your thinking hats on and send me suggestions.
On June 24 we will be announcing the winner of the Griffin Award. Come and watch the collection grow!