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2016 Silver Gull Play Award Shortlist

The Silver Gull Play Award recognizes an outstanding play by a local writer that explores philosophical or political themes.

The award is sponsored by  The Buzz From Sydney

It is administered by subtlenuance

The award is valued at $2000.

This year we received many exciting entries; inspiring plays that offered insight and encouraged action.


We’re proud to announce the shortlist:

People Will Think You Don’t Love Me by Joanna Erskine

A matter of life and death by John AD Fraser

The Ink Trail by Louis Klee

This, This Is Mine by Duncan Ragg

I sat and waited but you were gone too long by Olivia Satchell

The winner will be announced on 22 August.



The 2015 Silver Gull Play Award Shortlist

We are very excited to announce the shortlisted plays for the inaugural Silver Gull Play Award.

The award recognises an outstanding play by a local writer that explores philosophical or political themes.

The award is sponsored by The Buzz From Sydney


The shortlisted plays for 2015 are:

Between the Streetlight and the Moon by Melita Rowston

Furthest West by Michael Collins

The Block Universe (Or So It Goes) by Sam O’Sullivan

The Last Executioner by Mark Swivel

TickTickBoom by Melissa Lee Speyer

In 2015 the award is valued at $2,000.

The winner will be announced on July 9.

Writer’s bios

Melita Rowston

Writer/director/performer. A graduate of VCA (Painting), NIDA (Directing) and UTS (Creative Writing), Melita’s plays include Bread & Butter (ASYLUM) ’15, Canyonlands (subtlenuance) ‘14, The Crash (MayDay Festival) ’13, Crushed, (New Theatre) ’12, The Diver (S&S prize winner) ’08, Sugarbomb, (TRS) ’04, Solitude in Blue, (Griffin) ’02, Swing Girl, (Griffin) ’01, Night Reflections, (NIDA), ‘00. Melita was a resident playwright at Griffin Theatre Company in 2005/06 and shortlisted for The Griffin Award in 2007. Melita’s performances include: Six Degrees of Ned Kelly, (Sydney & Melbourne Fringe) ’15, Hey! Yeah! It’s Molly’s Travelling Worm Show! (Malthouse Theatre) ’13.

Michael Collins

Michael is from Perth and moved to Sydney last year to complete an MFA in Writing for Performance at NIDA. Writing of Michael’s has been featured in Voiceworks (most recent issue #100), dotdotdash, sitelines and vibewire, and has won things from the Fellowship of Australian Writer’s (Vic) and His Majesty’s Theatre Trust. He has had plays produced independently in Western Australia, Adelaide, Sydney, and, through a bit of luck, the Philippines.

Sam O’Sullivan

Since graduating NIDA, Sam has worked extensively as an actor in both independent and professional theatre with the likes of Toby Schmitz, Anthony Skuse, Jane Bodie, Belvoir St. Theatre, MopHead Productions, ATYP, pantsguys, The Rock Surfers, Griffin Independent, The Darlinghurst Theatre Company and the Just for Laughs Comedy Gala. In 2012, he was nominated for a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Actor in an Independent Production for his performance in Punk Rock.  As a writer, Sam’s credits include the short plays Gods and Zombies, which appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe and Simpleton, which was turned into a film and presented at the Cannes Short Film Corner. The Block Universe (Or So It Goes) is his first full-length play.

Mark Swivel

Mark is a writer and lawyer. His last work Water Falling Down premiered at Queensland Theatre Company in Brisbane in 2011 and played at B Street Theatre in the USA in 2012. His first play Struth went on at Griffin Theatre Company in 1990. Mark also performs occasionally. He took Jeremy Boutsakis Thought Leader to the Edinburgh Festival in 2007 and has a new show How Deep Is Your Love? currently doing the rounds. Back in the 90s Mark did plays and shows at the Stables and Belvoir Street after doing the NIDA Playwrights Studio.

Melissa Lee Speyer

Melissa completed NIDA’s playwriting degree in 2011. Writing credits: Decay and Machine, both devised with Eclective Productions (Old 505 Theatre); project 84 devised with Epiphany Now with support from PWA Lab; and And Now To Bed for subtlenuance (Kings Cross Hotel). In 2015 she is a Rock Surfers Associate Artist.

For more information about subtlenuance

Photo credit : Glen Fergus via Wikimedia Commons

Theatre makers are the unacknowledged legislators of the world

The shortlist for the 2015 Silver Gull Play Award will be announced on 23rd June.

Below is a transcript of the speech given by our artistic director Paul Gilchrist at the launch of the award last November:

“Thank you to The Buzz from Sydney for inviting us all to this evening at the beautiful Museum of Contemporary Art. And congratulations to the Buzz on their new look website.

The Buzz is a Sydney institution; an arts website that captures the essence of this city; vibrant and positive.

Thank you to the Buzz for sponsoring the inaugural Silver Gull Play Award; Sydney’s newest literary prize.

The Silver Gull Play Award will recognize an outstanding play by a local writer that explores philosophical or political themes.

Philosophical? Political?

Both these words resist simple definition – which is part of what makes them so ripe for theatrical treatment.

It’s impossible for us to tell you exactly what we want.

We want to be surprised.

To be shown new worlds.

But we’ll offer this as a starting point:

philosophical play consciously invites us to consider how our thoughts make the world.

political play consciously invites us to consider how our actions make the world.

Neither assume the world is unchangeable.

Which might help explain our choice of name.

Why the Silver Gull?

Firstly, the name is playful, and so it’s a pleasing subversion of the concept of prestige.

Secondly, the silver gull is a creature we all know for its extraordinary unity of contrary characteristics:

who better to squawk?

who better to fly?

It seemed an apt symbol of the political and the philosophical.

The theatre makers we admire – and there are many of them in the room tonight (thank you for coming) – are like the Buzz From Sydney. They are vibrant and positive.

The theatre makers we admire are not filling a CV,

they are not building a career.

they are making a culture.

A culture that is richer, and more humane.

To appropriate a quote from Shelley:

Theatre makers are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

What we put on stage,

the stories we choose to tell,

how we respond to each other’s work,

and what we say in day to day conversation,

all matter.

They are where we share Truth,

offer hope,

and build strength

to re-imagine the world.

It’s with this vision in mind,

and with the extraordinary generosity of the Buzz from Sydney,

we launch the inaugural Silver Gull Play Award.

We look forward to reading some beautiful plays.

And to watching them change the world.”

Paul Gilchrist

For more information about subtlenuance and the Silver Gull Play Award please visit our website

And check out The Buzz From Sydney

Photo Attribution:
By Glen Fergus (Own work, Moreton Bay, Australia) [CC-BY-SA-2.5
(, via Wikimedia Commons

Policies for a new work company?

subtlenuance produces only original work. This has both joys and challenges.

When audiences come to a premiere work, they have little knowledge of what’s about to unfold. This is very exciting, but it’s also very different from seeing a recognized classic.

Kit Bennett in 'Joan, Again'.  Photo by Katy Green-Loughrey

Kit Bennett in ‘Joan, Again’
Photo by Katy Green-Loughrey

Produce Hamlet and you can be pretty sure the audience is familiar with the play. Even a work that’s an Australian premiere (rather than a world premiere) is in a similar situation. An audience may not know the new John Patrick Shanley play, but they can Google it, and anyway there’s the strong sense that someone somewhere has given the play their approval.

As a new work company, here are a couple of policies we’re considering.

We have no intention of diminishing the invigorating shock of the unexpected, but we also want the work we produce to be as accessible as possible to audiences.

  1. Though not yet published, the script will be available to read, before and after the production. Simply email us and ask for it. (Remembering, of course, that new work often changes in the rehearsal process; the script a week from first preview might be different from the script after first preview. And also remembering that the usual copyright conditions and performance rights will apply.)
  2. If you’ve seen the show once, then you can come again for free as many times as you like. (Of course, this would be dependent on us having available seats.)
  3. A certain number of giveaway double passes will be available to anyone willing to write a 200 word response to the play. We wouldn’t be asking you to evaluate or review the play, but rather tell us what it made you think about and feel. These responses would be published on our blog.

By implementing these policies, we hope to make new work an even more exciting and stimulating experience.

We’d love to hear your feedback!

Use the contact form or email

Check out more about the company on our website