Competition History

Noosa Arts Theatre Playwriting Competition History

One of the foundation members of Noosa Arts Theatre, Val Warren, very enthusiastically suggested the inauguration of a One-Act Playwriting Competition for residents of the Sunshine Coast—the three finalist plays to be staged. The year was 1978. The winning author would receive the “Noosa Arts Trophy” awarded to the play chosen by audience vote at each performance. Nancy Cato’s Travellers Through The Night was the first winner and heads the Awards Board in the theatre foyer. In 1979 Nancy Cato donated a $50 award to be added to the Noosa Arts Trophy for the winning playwright. The other two finalists received $25 each from Noosa Arts. In 1981 the Honours Board was made for the theatre foyer and winners were now listed on this board (instead of an individual trophy) and still received the $50 from Nancy Cato.

From 1983 the One-Act Playwriting Competition went ‘National’—one of the conditions imposed by the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the grant of $500 for the winning playwright, along with the Noosa Arts prizes of $75, $50, $25 awarded by Audience Vote over the 3 nights. From this year until the mid 1990s, an independent adjudicator judged the Best Written Play from a short-list decided by a reading panel of theatre members.

The following year the $500 prize money was donated by Noosa Arts Theatre.

From 1986 Noosa Shire Council sponsored the prize money followed by Macquarie Bank for several years and Bendigo Bank, Tewantin.  Subsequently Stellar Conveyancing became the major sponsor offering $3,000 to the author of the Best Play and $2,000 for Second Best Play.  The Third Best Play received $1,000 sponsored by Noosa Arts Theatre.  Current sponsors can be found here.

We would like to acknowledge the work of founding members Val Warren, Marea Brown, Nancy Cato, Joan Cubis, Marjorie Harrold, and Gwen Oswell who had the foresight to instigate this event to support new playwrights.

The 1994 Opening Night of the One-Act Play Festival
Nancy Cato, Ian Austin and Bronnie Norman (Nancy’s daughter) authors of three of the Competition plays published by Playlab Press

Previous Winners – Best Play

1978 Travellers Through the Night – Nancy Cato
1979 Island Sanctuary – George Smith
1980 The Generation Gap – Emma Freeman
1981 That Special Day – Emma Freeman
1982 Up With the Larks – Emma Freeman
1983 A Day in the Life of Norman – Pamela McManus
1984 Nineteen Eighty-Three – Bronley Norman
1985 For Richer for Poorer – Mona Brand
1986 Call of the Gypsy – Ian Austin
1987 We Need Shadows Too – Adrian Zupp
1988 Ingrid’s Kids – Ann Whitehead
1989 A Goat Song – Mary-Ann Baartz
1990 The Inquiry – Heather Jones
1991 Tinsel & Ashes – Anna Maria Dell’oso
1992 F’Lack o’ Felucca – Ian Austin
1993 A Message To Magda – Patricia Harris
1994 Travellers – Bronley Norman
1995 Out on a Limb – John Burls
1996 Actors Equity – Allan Kelley
1997 Five Candles for Danny – Yvonne Old
1998 The Casemoth – Yvonne Old
1999 Welcome Home – Carrolline Rhodes
2000 Tears in the Eye of the Storm – Carrolline Rhodes
2001 Waiting to Happen – Andrea Baldwin
2002 Footsteps In The River – Michael Olsen
2003 Between Floors – Nerina Smith
2004 Three Chairs – Roger Gimblett
2005 Love or Nearest Offer – Hugh O’Brien
2006 Man of Snow – Cerise de Gelder
2007 Love and Other Flushes – Hugh O’Brien
2008 Decline and Hall – Roger Gimblett
2009 Outside the Window – Xavier Toby
2010 God Willing – Bruce Olive
2011 Nothing – Mark Langham
2012 Here’s the Thing… – Debra Chalmers
2013 Distinguished Guest – Richard Harris
2014 The Invitation – Michelle McCormick
2015 Drowning – Ian Robinson
2016 Dead Loss – Richard Harris
2017 The Big Lap – Bruce Olive
2018 Premeditated Misadventure – Richard Harris
2019 Black Matter – Bruce Olive
2020 Look What the Cat Dragged In – Harry Kolotos
2021 Embers – Natalie Burns

Nancy Cato Audience Choice Award

1983 A Day in the Life of Norman – Pamela McManus 
1984 Nineteen Eighty-Three – Bronley Norman 
1985 For Richer for Poorer – Mona Brand 
1986 A Game of Chance – Bronley Norman 
1987 Leap Year – Allan Curtis 
1988 Parting Shot – Dennis Davison 
1989 The Fourth Take – Shirley Friend 
1990 A Visitor – Sharon Guest 
1991 A Message From the Gods – David Stevens 
1992 F’Lack o’ Felucca – Ian Austin 
1993 What We Need is a Golf Course – Ron Drake 
1994 Barney – John Burls 
1995 Out on a Limb – John Burls 
1996 The Thief – Jeff Nolan 
1997 Five Candles for Danny – Yvonne Old 
1998 The Dream – John Bennett 
1999 A Thief in the Night – Ron Drake 
2000 Bombshells – Jane Tara 
2001 Two Women and a Chair – Michael Olsen 
2002 Making Allowances – Carrolline Rhodes 
2003 All My Love, Paul – Alan Mackay 
2004 Three Chairs – Roger Gimblett 
2005 Love Or Nearest Offer – Hugh O’Brien 
2006 Man Of Snow – Cerise de Gelder 
2007 Love and Other Flushes – Hugh O’Brien 
2008 The Euolgy – John Cundill 
2009 Outside the Window – Xavier Toby 
2010 Tudo Ou Nada – Frank Wilkie 
2011 The Knock on the Door – Bruce Olive 
2012 Here’s the Thing… – Debra Chalmers 
2013 Daring Greatly – Rainee Skinner 
2014 Instructions for two or more players – Michiko Parnell 
2015 Dotty’s Inheritance – Debra Chalmers
2016 Dead Loss – Richard Harris
2017 Unforgettable – Cerise de Gelder
2018 An Autumn Romance – Cerise de Gelder
2019 Black Matter – Bruce Olive
2020 No Award – Covid 19
2021 Embers – Natalie Burns