Hunter School of the Performing Arts students shine on stage

HUNTER School of the Performing Arts students have won all five awards in the secondary schools section in the final of the annual Sharp Short Theatre competition at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre.

The competition is for 10-minute plays written and staged by people under 18 and, while it is open to schools and youth theatre training groups throughout NSW, it generally attracts only Sydney organisations.

Hunter School of the Performing Arts (HSPA) was the only regional school to enter this year, with two of the four plays it staged at a heat being among the 10 chosen by professional theatre workers for inclusion in the finals, staged on Friday night at the theatre.

Pimp It Up Jeff, written and directed by Georgia Vaughan, won the awards for best production, best script, and its principal actor, Joshua Hilton, was announced as best male performer.

And The One That Saves Me collected the best direction prize for Paul Battaglia, who also wrote the play and appeared in it, with the best female performer trophy going to its other lead actor, Kate Wooden. 

The play has two young adults meeting on a train. He helps her when she loses her ticket, and the pair are romantically attracted. But incidents lead to the story becoming darker.

This is the fourth year that HSPA has entered plays in the Sharp Short Theatre competition, and it has won an increasing number of awards each year, with the 2017 participants amazed and delighted to collect four trophies.

WINNERS: The staging teams of the two Hunter School of the Performing Arts winning plays in the Sharp Short Theatre Festival with the five awards.

WINNERS: The staging teams of the two Hunter School of the Performing Arts winning plays in the Sharp Short Theatre Festival with the five awards.

As well as being given a golden metal trophy that has smiling and serious faces side by side, the award recipients won a place in a five-day National Institute of Dramatic Arts open program course and two tickets to see a new play at Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre.

Andrew O’Callaghan, the HSPA English and drama teacher who supervises the school’s Sharp Short entries, said this was the first time one ensemble had won all the awards for its age group.

Georgia Vaughan was delighted by the awards Pimp It Up Jeff won.

She said she was inspired to write the play, which has an autistic boy as its central character, by a family friend who had autism and a love for the Wiggles and convertibles.

The autistic boy’s mother showed how amazing mums could be when they cared for a child with developmental disorders, she said.   

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