AustLit logo
Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting
Subcategory of New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


Also known as the Play Award.


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 The Bleeding Tree Angus Cerini , 2015 single work drama

'In an isolated farmhouse, outside a small country town – a woman and her daughters have just killed their abusive man of the house. Known throughout the district as a cur and a dog, the women set about disposing of his body. However their task becomes fraught when several of the local villagers choose to pay a visit and grow suspicious at their behaviour – will their act become exposed before they can dispose of the body? A lyrical exploration of family, violence and revenge against a backdrop of a brutal, rural Australian landscape.' (Play summary)

2015 winner y separately published work icon Black Diggers Tom Wright , 2014 Fortitude Valley : Playlab , 2015 6519092 2014 single work musical theatre war literature

'One hundred years ago, in 1914, a bullet from an assassin’s gun in Sarajevo sparked a war that ignited the globe. Patriotic young men all over the world lined up to join the fight – including hundreds of Indigenous Australians.

Shunned and downtrodden in their own country – and in fact banned by their own government from serving in the military – Aboriginal men stepped up to enlist. Undaunted, these bold souls took up arms to defend the free world in its time of greatest need. For them, facing the horror of war on a Gallipoli beach was an escape from the shackles of racism at home, at a time when Aboriginal people stood by, segregated, unable to vote, unable to act as their children were ripped from them. When the survivors came back from the war, there was no heroes’ welcome – just a shrug, and a return to drudgery and oppression.

Black Diggers is the story of these men – a story of honour and sacrifice that has been covered up and almost forgotten.

Directed by Wesley Enoch and written by Tom Wright, Black Diggers is the culmination of painstaking research into the lives and deaths of the thousand or so Indigenous soldiers who fought for the British Commonwealth in World War I.

Grand in scale and scope, it draws from in-depth interviews with the families of black Diggers who heard the call to arms from all over Australia, as well as conversations with veterans, historians and academics. Young men will step from the blank pages of history to share their compelling stories – and after the curtain falls, we will finally remember them.' (Source: QPAC 'What's On', September 2014)

2014 winner y separately published work icon Muff Vanessa Badham , 2009 (Manuscript version)x402065 Z1577952 2009 single work drama
— Appears in: Muff [and] MinusOneSister [and] SHIT 2017;
2013 winner y separately published work icon The Damned Reg Cribb , 2010 Surry Hills : The Yellow Agency , 2013 Z1683407 2010 single work drama

'250 kilometres apart, two 16 year-old girls walk into two police stations to make a confession. A confession of a crime so unimaginable that the full extent of what they are saying only slowly dawns on the police. And in their hometown, nothing will ever be the same again. What drives two teenage girls to commit a crime that has shaken their home town to the core and shocked the entire country?

Exploring the rural subculture of drugs, alcohol and the alienation of today's youth, Reg Cribb weaves a disquieting tale of crime and inhumanity.' Source: (sighted 14/10/2011).

2012 joint winner The Gift Joanna Murray-Smith , 2011 single work drama (taught in 4 units)

'Sadie and Ed meet Martin and Chloe at a holiday resort and instantly hit it off, despite coming from completely different worlds. When Martin saves Ed's life, everyone knows the debt can never be properly repaid. But Ed is rich and generous, and Martin and Chloe have a need so great it seems divine providence that the two couples should have found each other. So, given time to think, they return to make their wish - but surely it's a wish nobody could possibly grant?'

Source: Melbourne Theatre Company website, (sighted: 29/09/2010)

Joint winner with Vanessa Bates's 'Porn.Cake'.
2012 joint winner Porn.Cake Vanessa Bates , 2011 single work drama 'What do Jamie Oliver, naturopathy, hiccups and the evolution of thumbs have in common? More than you'd think - and not all of it safe for consumption. With 'Porn.Cake' the modern sex comedy is turned on its head and the curious nature of our indulgences and obsessions given an enticingly extra twist. Two Gen X couples sit down at a table for some cake, but from the outset distractions, misunderstandings and contradictory desires put a kitchen knife through any chance at pleasantries. Add fairies at the bottom of the garden, stir through some road rage and binge drinking, sprinkle with perverse nostalgia and serve hot ... '(Malthouse Theatre website) Joint winner with Joanna Murray-Smith's 'The Gift'.
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.
2009 winner y separately published work icon The Serpent's Teeth : Two Plays Daniel Keene , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2008 Z1491078 2008 selected work drama (taught in 2 units)
2008 winner y separately published work icon Stories in the Dark Debra Oswald , 2007 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2008 Z1373018 2007 single work drama young adult

'A terrified 12-year-old boy finds himself separated from his family in the unfamiliar streets of a war torn city. Dodging sniper fire and mortar shells he takes refuge in a bombed-out house and in the total blackness his bravado crumbles into tears.

'Into his life steps Anna - older, street smart and scornful of his crying. As a way of shutting the boy up, she starts to tell him a story that she vaguely remembers from her own childhood. And so begins a journey into the shifting, shimmering world of ogres, princes, singing bones, foolish lads and wolf-mothers.'

Source: Riverside Parramatta website,
Sighted: 10/04/2007

2007 winner Holding the Man Tommy Murphy , 2006 single work drama
— Appears in: Strangers in Between [and] Holding the Man : Two Plays 2006; (p. 65-161)
2006 winner Strangers In Between Tommy Murphy , 2005 single work drama
— Appears in: Strangers in Between [and] Holding the Man : Two Plays 2006; (p. 1-62)

'Forced to flee his family home in Goulburn, Shane ... suddenly finds himself in a strange suburb surrounded by prostitutes, bikies and junkies. The confused teenager is unsure of his sexuality, more unsure of how to find intimacy, and completely thrown by having to choose between laundry liquid and powder. But he soon meets two strangers - the very-Sydney Will who offers brotherhood, sex and something unexpected; and the beguiling Peter a 50-year-old gay man whose mother is dying in a nursing home.'

Source: (Sighted 09/02/2005)

2005 winner y separately published work icon Harbour Katherine Thomson , 2004 Strawberry Hills Sydney : Currency Press Sydney Theatre Company , 2005 Z1091272 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 Half and Half Daniel Keene , Sydney Melbourne : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 2002 Z970007 2002 single work drama (taught in 1 units)
2002 winner y separately published work icon Miss Tanaka John Romeril , Strawberry Hills Melbourne : Currency Press Playbox Theatre Centre, Monash University , 2001 Z819617 2001 single work drama (taught in 1 units)
2001 winner y separately published work icon Milo's Wake Margery Forde , Michael Forde , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2002 Z854521 2002 single work drama
2000 winner Scissors, Paper, Rock Daniel Keene , 1998 single work drama