Melbourne writer Michele Lee has won the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award (QPDA) 2016-17 for her play Rice.
Lee’s work won ahead of fellow finalists Kathryn Marquet for Furious Creatures and Suzie Miller for I Looked Up And There You Were.
The award is made through the Queensland Theatre Company which says it’s an important award for Australian theatre in that it guarantees a professional production of the winning entry. The award provides “seed funding” for the play’s development towards production.
Although most states have Premiers’ literary awards that include drama sections, the history of these awards has shown that few winning plays go on to have full productions if they have not previously had one.
Rice is the story of two women – Nisha, the right-hand woman to the CEO of Australian rice company, Golden Fields, who is poised to seal a contract for rice distribution to the Indian government; and Yvette, the company’s cleaner who, late at night, clears the take-away dinner scraps from Nisha’s office.
“Michele’s play Rice is a vivid study of two women discovering what unites them despite social, cultural and generational differences. Through the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of her unforgettable characters, Michele asks how we, as human beings and citizens of the world, take accountability for our choices and actions,” said QTC artistic director Sam Strong today.
“Rice is a sophisticated portrait of contemporary Australia right now, a play that depicts who we are and who we want to be in all its complexity and diversity. It is deliciously theatrical, expertly blends dry humour and sharp insight, and I cannot wait to see it on our stage,” he said.
Michele Lee said her play is: “A fluid two-hander where women topple women, and women rescue women. Rice explores the question of women surviving in corporate CBD Australia, especially women of colour, and aims to talk to this changing face of power. The play forms part of a conversation about who we are as a population, and where our roots are from: the key relationships in Rice include family ties to China, and family and business ties to India.”
Judges for the 2016-17 awards were Louise Litchfield, executive director of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet; Sam Strong, Dr Kate Foy a theatre artist, Lee Lewis artistic director of Griffin Theatre Company and Ian Lawson artistic director/CEO of Playlab.
The play is expected to be includes in the QTC season next year.