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Louis Esson Prize for Drama
Subcategory of Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
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2021 winner Wonnangatta Angus Cerini , 2020 single work drama

'Wonnangatta Station, 1918. Two men arrive at a dark and empty farmhouse looking for the manager, their friend Jim Barclay. No one’s heard from him for more than a month. Something’s amiss. Then a grim discovery sets the men off on a journey across the harsh Australian terrain, looking for answers, maybe for revenge.'

Source: Sydney Theatre Company.

2018 winner y separately published work icon Rice Michele Lee , 2014 Fortitude Valley : Playlab , 2016 9703058 2014 single work drama

'Rice explores the business of global food production, namely rice, and women in business. There are two main characters. The central character is Nisha. She’s 28, a young and precocious corporate hotshot working as the Executive Officer of Golden Fields, Australia’s biggest rice company. She’s a second generation Indian. Yvette is 61, Chinese; she’s a cleaner in the Golden Fields building. Golden Fields is in Melbourne; Nisha and Yvette play all the other characters.

'Nisha is close to sealing a confidential contract with the Indian government, which would see Golden Fields taking over India’s public food distribution systems – rice is a major staple distributed through this system. This secret contract is worth billions. When a flood in one of the southern states in India looks to distract the government and delay the deal, Nisha decides that she needs to go to India to finalise the contract in person, taking with her Graeme, the CEO, and Tom, the marketing manager that Nisha has romantic feelings for.

'Yvette’s daughter, Sheree, is facing charges for a protest that resulted in the assault of the CEO of Coles.'

Source: Author's website ( (Sighted: 12/07/2016)

2017 winner y separately published work icon The Drover's Wife Leah Purcell , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2016 11151204 2016 single work drama

'If anyone can write a full-throttle drama of our colonial past, it’s the indomitable Leah Purcell.

'We all know Henry Lawson’s story of the Drover’s Wife. Her stoic silhouette against an unforgiving landscape, her staring down of the serpent; it’s the frontier myth captured in a few pages. In Leah’s new play the old story gets a very fresh rewrite. Once again the Drover’s Wife is confronted by a threat in her yard, but now it’s a man. He’s bleeding, he’s got secrets, and he’s black. She knows there’s a fugitive wanted for killing whites, and the district is thick with troopers, but something’s holding the Drover’s Wife back from turning this fella in…

'A taut thriller of our pioneering past, with a black sting to the tail, The Drover’s Wife reaches from our nation’s infancy into our complicated present. And best of all, Leah’s playing the Wife herself.' (Publication summary)

2016 winner y separately published work icon Broken Mary Anne Butler , 2015 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2016 9118571 2015 single work drama

'A car crash in the Central Desert. A broken man, about to leave his wife, who has a deep, dark secret of her own. Broken entwines the stories of three complex lives as they unfold on a single fateful night in the heart of the NT’s desert country.'

Source: Brown's Mart Theatre website. (Sighted: 7/12/2015)

2015 winner Resplendence Angus Cerini , 2014 single work drama

'A man sits alone in a room assailed by the world around him. He does not know how to act, nor what impact his actions could possibly have. When he is faced with a situation that forces him to respond, what will it reveal?

'Angus Cerini is utterly unique and very exciting. Following the success of multi-award winning Save for Crying and Wretch, angus cerini / doubletap’s latest offering promises to be compelling, energetic and beautiful.

'An expressionistic response to the world in which we live, and the very nature of existence – powerful, nonsensical and beyond our control.' (Publication summary)

2012 winner A Golem Story Lally Katz , 2011 single work drama

'On the cobble-stone streets of medieval Prague: dead children, drained of blood, are piling up; an invisible emperor decrees a purging of the ghetto; and a Rabbi works through the dark night to fashion an avenging monster, a creature of absolute and terrifying power.

Into this world steps a woman robbed of memory. Soon she'll see things she wished she could forget. Whatever its source, desire burns.

What happens if we free ourselves from our stories? If God has turned His back on the world, who has the right to take His place?'

(Malthouse Theatre website)
2011 winner Do Not Go Gentle... Patricia Cornelius , 2006 single work drama humour
— Appears in: Do Not Go Gentle and The Berry Man : Two Plays 2011; (p. 1-63)
This play juxtaposes the journeys towards death of members of Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic expedition with that of residents in an Australian nursing home.
2010 winner y separately published work icon And No More Shall We Part Tom Holloway , 2008 (Manuscript version)x402175 Z1827273 2008 single work drama

'After a long and successful marriage, Pam and Don are still very much in love. But Pam is ill and has to make a heartbreaking decision that will transform both their lives. She does so in the only way she knows how - quickly, pragmatically, and resolutely. Don behaves in the only way he knows how - struggling to keep up but desperate not to lose touch.

'And No More Shall We Part follows Pam and Don's halting, humorous and devastating attempt at the impossible - to begin to say goodbye to each other after a lifetime together.' (From the publisher's website.)

2009 winner Goodbye Vaudeville Charlie Mudd Lally Katz , Chris Kohn , 2009 single work drama
— Appears in: Goodbye Vaudeville Charlie Mudd & Return to Earth 2012; (p. 1-75)
2008 winner y separately published work icon When the Rain Stops Falling Andrew Bovell , 2008 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2009 Z1430823 2008 single work drama (taught in 8 units)

'It begins with a miracle. On a rainy day in Alice Springs in 2039 a fish falls like manna from heaven to bless the reunion of a father with his long lost son. Perhaps it's a sign that the pattern of betrayal and abandonment that began on another rainy day in London in 1959 will come to an end.

'Who'll stop the rain? Andrew Bovell's award-winning When the Rain Stops Falling is powerful storytelling in which the voices of our past echo into our future.' (Publisher's blurb)

2007 winner A Single Act Jane Bodie , 2005 single work drama
2006 winner y separately published work icon Three Furies Stephen Sewell , 2005 Australia : Wutheringink , 2013 10930502 2005 single work drama

'Francis Bacon's work and life continue to fascinate and appall long after his death almost a quarter of a century ago, as it will for centuries to come, and in Three Furies, Australian writer Stephen Sewell examines the sado-masochistic world he inhabited with his friend, model and lover, George Dyer, before Dyer's suicide in 1971, just as Bacon was being celebrated as the greatest figurative artist of the Twentieth Century at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

'Acerbic, selfish and cruelly intelligent, Bacon's unflinching courage nevertheless produced some of the most disturbing images of humanity to come out of that terrible century, and in Three Furies Sewell once again demonstrates his mastery of the epic to produce a terrifying account of solitude and loneliness in the midst of the frenetic celebrity culture of an unhinged world.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (Wutheringink edition).

2005 winner y separately published work icon The Spook Melissa Reeves , 2004 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2005 Z1154111 2004 single work drama
2004 winner y separately published work icon Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America : A Drama in 30 Scenes Stephen Sewell , Sydney Melbourne : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 2003 Z1037273 2003 single work drama (taught in 3 units)
2003 winner y separately published work icon Rapture Joanna Murray-Smith , Sydney : Currency Press , 2002 Z994071 2002 single work drama
2002 winner y separately published work icon Holy Day The Red Sea Andrew Bovell , Sydney : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 2001 Z900872 2001 single work drama (taught in 2 units)

'On the white frontier in mid-nineteenth century Australia, a lone, bloodied woman arrives at a traveller's rest in the midst of a violent desert storm with a shocking story to tell. Aborigines have allegedly murdered her husband and stolen her infant child. But an Aboriginal woman has a different story to tell. What would cause a missionary's wife to lie? What chance does the word of an Aboriginal woman have against hers? A chilling mystery that draws together the lives of four extraordinary women and their men, all struggling to survive in a hostile and misunderstood landscape. (1 act, 4 male, 4 female).' (Publication summary)

2001 winner y separately published work icon Salt : A Play in Five Helpings Peta Murray , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 2001 Z856011 2001 single work drama
2000 winner y separately published work icon Life after George Hannie Rayson , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2000 Z344453 2000 single work drama (taught in 1 units) Peter George, charismatic academic, idealist, lover of life, is dead. His wife, two ex-wives and daughter gather for his funeral. As the true nature of the man and his life unfolds, so these women discover much about themselves and the lives they have lived both within and outside his shadow. (Publisher's blurb, back cover).
1999 winner Clark in Sarajevo Catherine Zimdahl , 1998 single work drama
1998 winner Every Minute, Every Hour, Every Day : Five Plays Daniel Keene , 1998 single work drama "Every Minute, Every Hour, Every Day by Daniel Keene exhibits a striking union of theatrical skill and passion. In this quintet of plays, Keene often deals with characters who are stigmatised as being on the margins of society. He honours their individuality, bringing the audience into their difficult lives without compromising the complexities of the situations they find themselves in." --1998 The Louis Esson Prize for Drama Judges' Report
1997 winner y separately published work icon Jerusalem Michael Gurr , Paddington : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 1996 Z572136 1996 single work drama

'Vivien runs a group who visit prisoners. When a young murderer is released into Vivien’s care, public and private moralities clash.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

1996 winner y separately published work icon Honour Joanna Murray-Smith , Paddington Melbourne : Currency Press Playbox Theatre Centre, Monash University , 1995 Z422400 1995 single work drama (taught in 3 units)

'An unsettling play about infidelity seen from the perspective of the three women involved: the wife, the lover and the daughter.

'George and Honor have been happily married for thirty-two years. She is a successful writer, he is a revered columnist. They have a perfect understanding of each other. Until a pushy young female journalist - on an assignment to 'profile' George - quite deliberately seeks to undermine that understanding. The fallout is dreadful - but beautifully and convincingly portrayed in all its painful consequences.' (Publication summary)

1995 winner y separately published work icon Remember Ronald Ryan Barry Dickins , Paddington : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 1994 Z571400 1994 single work drama

'The human and political story of the last man to be executed in Australia, Remember Ronald Ryan won the 1995 Victorian Premiers Literary Award. Dickins portrays the man behind the legend as lovable, cheeky, courageous, and wretched. This edition includes Ryan, a new monodrama spoken from Ryans perspective that speaks to a new audience from his poor and unmarked grave. (Barry Dickins)' (Publication summary)

1994 winner y separately published work icon The Temple Louis Nowra , Paddington : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 1993 Z263216 1993 single work drama satire humour
1993 winner y separately published work icon Sex Diary of an Infidel Michael Gurr , Sydney Melbourne : Currency Press Playbox Theatre Centre, Monash University , 1992 Z88977 1992 single work drama

'A cunning web of truth, lies, self-delusion and depravity, set against the backgrounds of Manila and Melbourne. Jean, an award-winning journalist, travels to the Philippines to write an exposé of Australian sex tours. Blackmail and revolution were not in the original brief, but as the lives of the six infidels mesh together, there are no rules and many surprises.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

1992 winner form y separately published work icon Proof Jocelyn Moorhouse , ( dir. Jocelyn Moorhouse ) Melbourne : House and Moorhouse Films , 1991 Z183986 1991 single work film/TV

Blind since birth, Martin has never trusted anyone. He takes photographs as proof that the world he imagines is the same as that seen by sighted people. He relies on his young housekeeper, who is in love with him. But when he makes a new friend, the housekeeper's jealousy turns to vindictive rage.

1991 winner y separately published work icon Diving for Pearls Katherine Thomson , 1991 Sydney : Currency Press , 1992 Z369414 1991 single work drama (taught in 2 units) 'Set in Wollongong during the economic rationalism of the 1980s, Diving for Pearls remains startlingly relevant–the political decisions of that time planted the seeds of divide we continue to witness between those with opportunity, and those without.

'With the town she grew up in changing all around her, Barbara is determined to change with it. Dreaming of a way out, she sets her sights on landing a job at one of the new resorts popping up all over town. Meanwhile, her partner Den is having change forced upon him. The steelworks he’s worked at his whole life has been sold and Den must reinvent himself to survive. The arrival of Barbara’s daughter, Verge, just might be the thing that tips Barbara and Den over the edge.' 

 (Publication summary)

1990 winner The Hive Sam Sejavka , 1997 single work drama
— Appears in: The La Mama Collection : Six Plays for the 1990s 1997; (p. 1-83)
1989 winner Silent Partner Daniel Keene , 1989 single work drama humour
— Appears in: Silence Complice / Terminus 1999; (p. 7-87)

— Appears in: サイレント・パートナー : フューリアス 2003;
1988 winner y separately published work icon The Rivers of China Alma De Groen , 1987 Sydney : Currency Press , 1988 Z284226 1987 single work drama (taught in 1 units) Based on the life of New Zealand author, Katherine Mansfield.
1986 winner y separately published work icon Too Young for Ghosts Janis Balodis , Sydney : Currency Press Stage Company , 1985 Z27945 1985 single work drama (taught in 2 units)
1985 winner form y separately published work icon Cheapside David Allen , Sydney Adelaide : Currency Press Nimrod Theatre Company Stage Company , 1985 Z555973 1985 single work drama radio play