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On the first day of National Reconciliation Week we are delighted to announce that Leah Purcell has won The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award 2014. Leah was presented with the award by Neil Balnaves AO and judge Wesley Enoch.

‘I am so very thrilled to be the winner of the 2014 Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award!’ said Leah. ‘I want to thank Belvoir and the Balnaves family for their support to Indigenous artists. This truly is an amazing opportunity to be able to write a play of my choice, with the possibility of bringing it to performance at Belvoir.  I’m very grateful that this award can go to ‘first time writers’ and to those of us with experience, this really is an amazing opportunity.’

‘Leah Purcell is a true woman of the theatre and a consummate professional,’ said Anthea Williams, Belvoir’s Literary Manager and a member of the judging panel for the Balnaves Award. ‘She directs, she acts, she sings – and she most certainly writes.  Leah co-wrote Belvoir’s Don’t Take Your Love to Town and Box the Pony, both of which she also stared in. She’s also written for film and TV including the award winning Redfern Now (ABC1).

‘Leah’s pitch for the Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award was a radical adaptation of Henry Lawson’s The Drover’s Wife.  Leah has re-imagined the wife as an Aboriginal woman estranged from her culture.  Quick witted, fast and theatrical, this pitch promises a surprising adaptation full of exciting twists.’

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. ‘Most non-Indigenous Australians are largely sheltered from the lives of Indigenous Australians,’ said Hamish Balnaves. ‘For many, they only see news reports of the Indigenous community’s interactions with police and justice, and motherhood statement from governments. This award is about creating the opportunity for Indigenous playwrights to tell their own stories directly to an audience that needs to hear the unfiltered reality of Indigenous experiences.’

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.