Malthouse Theatre Playwriting Innovation Award


Malthouse Theatre’s Playwriting Innovation Award is a new initiative supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund that is designed to provoke conversations about the future of playwriting in Australia, and acknowledge the innovative contributions made by local playwrights to the growth of the artform.

We know 'innovation' is a divisive term that obsesses over the novel. But we also know that our artform thrives on transformation, and that theatremakers are continually innovating in large and small ways. By placing the word front and centre, we want to face it head on, and talk in real terms about how theatre might evolve in the next decade.

The Award invites playwrights to consider what innovation means to them in the context of their practice—be it in audience development, content, form, process or collaboration. We're interested in how writers relate to this paradigm of 'innovation', where they see their practice shifting, and where they want to take it next.

The submission process asks playwrights to articulate their approach to innovation in the context of their previous work, and of a proposed new project they wish to write and develop in collaboration with Malthouse Theatre.

The recipient is awarded a cash prize and full play commission to the total of $20,000, plus a creative development workshop and the support of Malthouse Theatre’s team to develop the work.

We'll also be sharing insights from the development of the work through the Engine Room Blog, so artists and audiences can continue the conversation with us.


The Award is given to the playwright who demonstrates a significant contribution to innovation in the field of Australian playwriting. Submissions are open to all playwrights who are over 18 years of age and currently living in Australia, and playwrights from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

Playwrights are asked to submit one previous script and one project proposal. Submissions are assessed on originality, insight, clarity, viability, and potential audience impact of these two works, and the innovative contribution they make to Australian playwriting.

Submissions are assessed by Malthouse Theatre’s Artistic Team, including Artistic Director Matthew Lutton, New Work Manager Mark Pritchard, and Resident Artists Ra Chapman, Kamarra Bell-Wykes and Bridget Balodis.

2021 Playwriting Innovation Award Recipient


Rachel Perks is a queer non-binary writer based in Naarm. They have a long-standing creative partnership with Bridget Balodis under the moniker ‘Double Water Sign’. Some of their works include MORAL PANIC (Darebin Speakeasy), GROUND CONTROL (Next Wave), and ANGRY SEXX (Melbourne Fringe). Rachel’s works have been nominated for nine Green Room Awards and Rachel has been the recipient of the Melbourne Festival Discovery Award, Art Start, and the Dame Joan Sutherland Award. Rachel’s script HYDRA (previously End of Life) was selected for the MTC Cybec readings and shortlisted for The Queensland Premier’s Drama Award in 2019. In 2017, they undertook a three-month internship in NYC under the mentorship of Tina Satter (Half Straddle), Erin Markey, and Sybil Kempson. Rachel is currently developing six-part comedy web series Unicorn Hunters. They have a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts from the VCA. Rachel writes and thinks obsessively about queered, digitised, cyborgian climate futures—the end of the world as we know it, and the beginning of the next.

Read more about the Playwriting Innovation Award and Rachel on the Engine Room Blog here

Submissions for this award have now closed. For updates on our Artist Development programs and what’s happening in the Engine Room, sign up to our monthly newsletter.

This project is supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.