Above image : Winning playwright Connery Brown

The inaugural season of the SAGE TO STAGE playwrights festival, a national competition for Australian playwrights 60 years and over, the brainchild of artist, playwright and journalist Carol Dance and produced by Scene Theatre Sydney, proved to be a great success.

The Festival received a remarkable 164 entries. The culmination of the Festival took place on Sunday 24th March in the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs Hall, Wharf 4/5, Walsh Bay Arts Precinct with a moved reading of eight of the finest plays, before a very engaged audience of 160 people

The script assessors were two of Australia’s premier playwrights, Justin Fleming  and Stephen Sewell, who assessed each of the scripts without charge.

The eight plays were Connery Brown’s BEND IT LIKE BECKETT, Paul Clarke’s THE TEAM, Katrina Samaras THE MUSEUM OF TEARS, Paul Gucci’s ALLOCATEEISM, Kerri Gay’s UBUNTU, Donna Spillane’s BLOWING THE WHISTLE, Sally Bartley’s WALK A MILE and Stephen  North’s THE LAST REHEARSAL. The overall winner was Connery Brown’s BEND IT LIKE BECKETT.

They were performed by  five of Sydney’s finest actors; Sandy Gore, David Lynch, Gennie Nevinson, Alice Livingstone and Steve Paton, directed by Ryan Whitworth-Jones. There were brief piano interludes by Victor Spiegel.

Some interesting stats. A breakdown of the age groups – there were 84 plays by playwrights between 60 and 69, 55 plays by playwrights between 70 and 79, 19 plays by playwrights between 80 and 89, and two plays by playwrights 90 and 100. The oldest playwright was a grand 92 years of age.

All but one of the playwrights attended with the only absentee being the result of Covid. One of the playwrights travelled up from Tassie. The winner travelled up from Geelong.

A state by state breakdown; one entry from the ACT, five from Tassie, 5 from South Australia, 6 from Western Australia, 22 from Queensland, 33 from Victoria, 89 from New South Wales. Three people didn’t include their postal address on their entry form.

This was a very impressive event. Everyone wanted to be there. Like all clever concepts, the first thought is why hadn’t someone thought of it before. Senior playwrights; think of all the lived experience and of all the plays that they have seen in their lives!

Bring on SAGE TO STAGE 2025!

Stephen Sewell