Jada Alberts in rehearsals for This Heaven. Photo by Brett Boardman.

Jada Alberts received The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award at an event at the Belvoir St Theatre today. She was presented with the award by Neil Balnaves, Director of The Balnaves Foundation, and Wesley Enoch, acclaimed director and playwright and one of the award judges.

‘Receiving this award really just blows my mind,’ Jada said. ‘Thank you to Belvoir and The Balnaves Foundation for this extraordinary opportunity. The excitement, encouragement, and sense of confidence that this award brings is something I know will have a solid and lasting effect on what I hope will be a long career as a playwright.

‘This award is fast becoming an integral part of Australian theatre and pushes the diversity of our storytelling as a nation. As an industry we still have some way to go, but with companies like Belvoir and The Balnaves Foundation continually committing themselves to Indigenous theatre, we can be assured that Indigenous voices can and will be heard.

‘This award not only encourages new work from established Indigenous writers, but it inspires new Indigenous playwrights to write – of which I am one. That in itself has the potential to inspire countless Indigenous stories that, without this award, may not be written. Not more then a year ago I was mid-way through writing the first draft of my first play, and knowing that this award had come into existence gave me inspiration and assurance that playwriting can be a practical and serious career choice.

‘Receiving this award means professional support from some of the country’s leading theatre makers and the financial backing to spend my working days on writing and developing my work, and for both these things, I am extremely grateful. With this commission from Belvoir and their support, I feel almost certain that the stories I write are important, that I can, and should continue writing them.’

The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award is a $20,000 award which is comprised of a $12,500 commission to write a new play and a $7,500 cash prize. Jada will be commissioned to write a play called Me & Jungali, which is based on the relationship between her father and his partner. It is a dark, romantic comedy about two lovers on the run, mostly from themselves. It will be naturalistic with a hint of the absurd.