On Monday night at the Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, I was honoured to received the Sydney Risk Prize for Outstanding Script by an Emerging Playwright for Selfie. I also got to get up on stage with my very best friends in the world to accept the Jessie for Outstanding Musical – Small Theatre for Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical.
Awards are weird and wonderful (and then weird again). In an industry where merit and success so rarely meet, it’s a bit odd to take one night a year to declare a winner. But I think the real impulse is to celebrate and to come together – to recognize the hard work and to (try to) get all our beautiful, vibrant colleagues in one room to say, as Dawn Petten so beautifully put in her acceptance speech, that this is ‘our town’.
One of my favourite phrases is ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. I believe this, absolutely. It’s the guiding principle of everything I do in the theatre. When we are at our best, we all win. And this experience has reminded me that I have been lifted by the people in this community – I am the beneficiary of programs and people who made room for me at the table. Sometimes as artists we live in a culture of scarcity that can trick us into thinking we can’t afford to lift everyone up, when in fact the truth is that we can’t afford to leave anyone behind. That night reminded me of the incredible generosity I’ve been shown in my short time in the professional world, and I intend to pass that kindness on to anyone I can. Win or lose, feast or famine, it won’t always be this good – so when the tides rise and we cast our nets, the bounty will be so much greater for having everyone on board.