THE quality of the 16 mainly locally written plays that were staged at this year’s Newcastle Micro Theatre Festival was shown in the prizes announced on Sunday, with eight works sharing the judges’ awards and commendations and the people’s choice winners.
The comedy Space Commander Versus the Mud Monsters, was the most honoured work. The story of the communications between a teenage boy and the star of a long-running television that has been cancelled received four mentions.
Written by Frank Leggett and directed by Zac Smith, it was the people’s choice winner at Vinyl Café, one of the festival’s four venues. Smith won the best direction award, and it was highly commended in the new scripts category, with actors Alastair Anderberg and Nicholas Thoroughgood also highly commended.
Grass, by Carl Caulfield and directed by Maurice Silver, won the best actor award for Trent Baines, as a gangster voicing in a monologue his concern about being betrayed, and was the people’s choice at The Press.
Do Not Touch, written by Julia Lewis and directed by Pearl Nunn, with a sceptical policewoman talking about the arrival of a live statue at her station, collected the Curve Gallery people’s choice award, with Lissy Shand highly commended for her performance.
The Water’s Edge, by Michael Lill and directed by Daniel Cottier, the story of a wife who has lost her memory, was the Studio 21 Artspace people’s choice and won the award for best previously performed script.
The Interview, by Sally Davies, which had a lawyer meeting a would-be assistant, won the best new script award. And Elementary, by Tracey Dwyer and Kylie Farrugia, with a policeman searching the audience for a suspect, was highly commended for the script and Lucy Scott’s performance.
In the best direction category, Nola Wallace was highly commended for her work on www.seniourdating.com.
The 2017 Micro Theatre Festival, the third year of the event, attracted 70 scripts, compared to 25 in 2016. The four venues had sell-out audiences for most performances between August 22 and 26, with audience members noting in questionnaires how much they enjoyed the variety of subjects and play styles. And the overall prize money increased to $5000, with the Port of Newcastle as the main sponsor.