Gamilaroi woman Megan Wilding will be announced as the winner of The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award 2017 at an event at Belvoir St Theatre on Wednesday 31 May, during National Reconciliation Week. She will win a commission to write a play about an Indigenous woman who takes violent revenge against a man who sexually assaulted her as a child. The award will be presented by Hamish Balnaves, General Manager of The Balnaves Foundation.
Multi-talented Wilding is a graduate of the acclaimed acting program at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts and will appear on stage at Belvoir in The Rover in July. She also coordinates Belvoir’s Writers Group for Women of Colour.
‘Being chosen as the recipient of The Balnaves Award means the world to me,’ said Wilding. ‘I’m so grateful to The Balnaves Foundation and to Belvoir for believing in me and giving me the platform and support to strengthen and explore my voice, just like it has done for all the phenomenal previous winners.
‘I entered The Balnaves Award because I had a story that I really wanted to write. The Award will give me the tools to fully invest in the process of writing. I’m so excited to jump all the way in with the support and guidance of Belvoir.
‘As a young Aboriginal woman who is a survivor of child molestation, I had this question in my head of “what would it be like if we told victims of paedophilia to get over what had happened to them in the past like White Australia tells Aboriginal people to forget what has happened to them?” This is the question that inspired my idea and I’m ready to dig deeper into it.’
On behalf of the judging panel, Anthea Williams (Belvoir’s Associate Director – New Work) said:
‘Megan Wilding is a fierce young theatre maker from Western Sydney who we’re thrilled to have back in NSW after four years in Perth at WAAPA. Megan is a writer and actor and she runs the Writers Group for Women of Colour at Belvoir. She is a force, a unique voice with excellent writing craft and a passion for telling contemporary stories. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with her thanks to The Balnaves Foundation.’
The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award was established to encourage the telling of Indigenous stories with the aim of fostering understanding and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. ‘One of the objectives of the Balnaves Award is to investigate stories of Indigenous experience,’ said Hamish Balnaves. ‘As White Australians we have to accept that much of this will be confronting. It takes brave playwrights like Megan to shine a light on the distressing reality of Indigenous trauma. Megan’s play will make for uncomfortable viewing, but we must understand and acknowledge these Indigenous experiences to move closer to reconciliation.’
The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award is a $25,000 award which is comprised of a $15,000 commission to write a new play and a $10,000 cash prize.
Shortlisted for the 2017 Award was Andrea James, Jon Bell, Kodie Bedford and Sue McPherson.