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Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting
Subcategory of New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards
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Also known as the Play Award.


  • Awarded to a play or a work of music drama first performed by a professional theatre company during the eligible period. (For a drama, the prize money is paid to the playwright. In the case of music drama, the money may be shared between the playwright and the composer.)

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2021

winner y separately published work icon Milk Dylan Van Den Berg , 2020 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2021 21417867 2020 single work drama

'Like a smack in the face.  That’s how I’d describe it.

'On the precipice of something life changing, a young Palawa man plunges into an exploration of self and Country. 

'Carried with the winds of a metaphysical Flinders Island, the land of his mob and the place where it all happened, he is drawn back to the dawn of colonization. To a woman who bore the brunt of the oppressors’ violence and then forward to her granddaughter, who buried the truth as a means of survival. Stirring up stories together, with parts both  achingly sad and unexpectedly funny, what unfolds reveals by slow degrees painful but important truths.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon Counting and Cracking S. Shakthidharan , 2019 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2020 14530930 2019 single work drama

'On the banks of the Georges River, Radha and her son Siddhartha release the ashes of Radha’s mother – their final connection to the past, to Sri Lanka and its struggles. Now they are free to embrace their lives in Australia. Then a phone call from Colombo brings the past spinning back to life, and we are plunged into an epic story of love and political strife, of home and exile, of parents and children

'Counting and Cracking is a big new play about Australia like none we’ve seen before. This is life on a large canvas, so we are leaving Belvoir St and building a Sri Lankan town hall inside Sydney Town Hall. Sixteen actors play four generations of a family, from Colombo to Pendle Hill, in a story about Australia as a land of refuge, about Sri Lanka’s efforts to remain united, about reconciliation within families, across countries, across generations.'

Source: Belvoir St Theatre.

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon The Almighty Sometimes Kendall Feaver , 2015 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2018 14128590 2015 single work drama

'Anna is coming of age. Possibilities are unfurling in front of her and she’s ready to take control. But her mother’s been standing guard all these years, taking care, editing the choices.

'When Anna makes a decision that could affect the rest of her life, can Renee stand by and watch?'

Source: Royal Exchange Theatre.

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon Black Is the New White Nakkiah Lui , 2017 Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2019 10395500 2017 single work drama romance

'Charlotte Gibson is a lawyer on the up. She won a landmark Native Title case, she’s making her parents proud, she could have her own TV show tomorrow. As her father Ray says, she could be the next feminist Indigenous Waleed Aly. But she has other ideas. First of all, it’s Christmas. Second of all, she’s in love.

'Charlotte's fiancé, Francis Smith, is not what her family expected. He's an unemployed experimental classical composer… and he's white! Bringing him and his conservative parents to meet her family on their ancestral land is a bold move. Will he stand up to the scrutiny? Or will this romance descend into farce?

'Love is never just black and white. It’s complicated by class, politics, ambition, and too much wine over dinner. But for Charlotte and Francis, it's mostly complicated by family. Secrets are revealed, prejudices outed and old rivalries get sorted through. What can’t be solved through diplomacy can surely be solved by a good old-fashioned dance-off. They’re just that kind of family.'

(Production summary: Sydney Theatre Company: )

Year: 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)

Works About this Award

Performance Anxiety Alison Croggon , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Australian Literary Review , June vol. 5 no. 5 2010; (p. 10-11, 14)
Croggon examines the state of Australian writing for the stage in light of the decision not to award the NSW Premier's Literary Award in this category in 2010.
Sci-Fi Satire Wins Drama Prize Garry Maddox , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 24 May 2010; (p. 18) The Sydney Morning Herald , 24 May 2010; (p. 5)
Playwrights Snubbed by Award Judges Bryce Hallett , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 17 May 2010; (p. 6)
Bryce Hallett reports on the controversy surrounding the decision to not award a Play Award in the 2010 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards.
Losing the Battle Victoria Chance , 2010 single work correspondence
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , May no. 321 2010; (p. 5)
Victoria Chance, publisher with Currency Press, raises some questions about the decision of the judges to not award a Play Award in the 2010 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards.
Playlist for Judges in Search of a Premier Shortlist Marc McEvoy , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 13 April 2010; (p. 9)
Playwright David Williamson and artistic director Nick Marchand comment on the decision of the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award judges to not award a Play Award for 2010. It was the view of the judges that none of the 25 plays submitted warranted shortlisting.