SYDNEY THEATRE AWARDS – should I prepare a speech?

Thomas (Matthew Whittet) confesses his doubts to his mate Jesus (John Leary) in The Book of Everything. Photo Heidrun Lohr.

Hollywood’s glamorous Golden Globe Awards are being presented today, while in the Paddington RSL Club tonight a more modest affair will be taking place as the Sydney Theatre Award winners are announced.

My stage adaptation of Guus Kuijer’s novel The Book of Everything has been nominated as Best New Australian Work and also as Best Production for Children. Kim Carpenter has been nominated for his costumes for the show, while our director Neil Armfield, and actors Yael Stone and Peter Carroll are up for gongs for their work on other productions. Congratulations all, and we’re delighted to have been recognised.

The stars will be arriving at the Golden Globes in their limos, walking the red carpet, dressed in Gucci and Armani. In Paddington, Mevrouw T and I will hoping for a good parking spot for the Corolla, then walking the footpath, dressed in clothes sourced from Marrickville recycled clothing shops. I found a fine tuxedo there for $2, but decided against it. Too dressy. It’s just wasn’t me.

No doubt the Golden Globes will be surrounded by glittering parties where the Moet will flow. At the Sydney Theatre Awards it’s buy your own drinks at bar prices – a sure way to keep the acceptance speeches coherent.

Which brings me to my dilemma. Is it uncool to carry an acceptance speech in my pocket? ‘Wow, this is just sooo amazing!’ followed by floods of tears is fine if you win Best New Supporting Actor, but we writers are expected to be witty and articulate. We have thirty seconds to get a few laughs and offer an insightful exit strategy from the crisis in Afghanistan.

It’s hard to do that off the cuff. On the other hand, pulling out a sheet of paper looks as if you expected to win. Even worse is not winning, and someone finding out later that you’d spent a month preparing the speech.

The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter. It’s nice to be nominated. There’s no money involved. It’s probably not even a boost to the career. In the unlikely event of your name being called, everybody wants you on and off the podium asap, and nobody cares how much your grandkids contributed to the Best Production for Children.

Naturally, all of the above is just an excuse to mention The Book of Everything again. It is a super production, and will tour later this year to Adelaide, Darwin, Geelong, Wollongong, and Sydney’s Seymour Centre. Plans are well in train for a modest New York run in 2012. Do make sure you see it.

STOP PRESS: The Book of Everything won the award as 2010 Best Production for Children. Director Neil Armfield and producer/designer Kim Carpenter did the talking, so I could just sit back and be thanked myself – which was much more relaxing!


Filed under Art

21 responses to “SYDNEY THEATRE AWARDS – should I prepare a speech?

  1. Ian

    Best of luck Richard. “The Book of Everything” was wonderful.


  2. bagnidilucca

    Don’t forget to thank God if you win. Break a leg…. Nella bocca del lupo etc…..and Good luck as well.

    • Thanks Ian and BdL.

      I’m afraid God comes in for quite a bit of criticism in The Book of Everything, so we can’t count on His support, though Jesus comes across as an okay fun kinda guy.

      But ‘Jesus! That’s me!’ doesn’t seem to be the appropriate response when the envelope is opened.

      With a bit of luck someone else will have to worry about what to say.

  3. Mike

    Richard, do you remember the speech Keiran Perkins gave when he won Olympic gold in the 1500 metres freestyle from lane eight? Absolutely perfect. Thanked his mum, his sponsors, politely dismissed the many doubters…didn’t miss a beat after one of the great swims of all time.

    We can’t all do that.

    And only you will know what sits inside your top pocket.

    Break a leg.

    • Mike, I don’t remember the speech, but I clearly remember Kieren’s swim. I was watching my son play soccer while listening on the radio…

      Likewise I trust that people’s memories of The B of E on stage will erase their recall of anything, win, lose or draw, that happens thereafter.

  4. David Barrett

    Best wishes from the Barrett clan, Richard. It’s a shame we missed out on the play…. maybe next time.

  5. shawjonathan

    Good luck, Richard. You could try “You love me, you really love me!” and hope it will be taken as wit.

  6. Jenny Thompson

    Congratulations again, Richard, let’s hope you hit the jackpot this time. Probably useful to have a list of those you need to thank just in case you forget someone and make an enemy for life! It’s a great piece of theatre and you must let me know when it’s going to Melbourne so I can get everyone down there to see it.
    Yes – break a leg and keep us blogged.
    Love Jen and Peterxxx

  7. Victoria

    Geelong?! Woollongong? NY?



    Regarding that Afghanistan thing; if you’ve got any suggestion you think might just work, it’s your duty to let the world know, Richard.

    Lots of love,


    • We hope for Melbourne too, Victoria, but I think it would need to be a new local production. Maybe once the new directors settle into MTC and Malthouse they’d consider it.

      As for my Afghanistan solution…I think it will be appearing soon on Wikileaks.

  8. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

    Such a well-deserved award. Congratulations!


  9. Telma

    Good luck however you are already a winner in my eyes ( I know this may sound corny but you are my dad so I can get away with it). Love ya.

  10. michael

    Telma’s right, Richard – you ARE a winner! Congratulations. Interesting to see that 3 of my all-time favorites were in the company, as well: Neil Armfield, Kim Carpenter & Julie Forsyth.

  11. Agnès

    Wauuuw! gefeliciteerd. Wanneer wordt het definitieve uitslag bekend? Laat het ons weten. Super leuk!

  12. Congrats. My suggestion for when you’re receiving the prize: Tell a short anecdote about the play – you won’t need a cheat sheet for that…

  13. Thanks for all the advice and good wishes.

    It was very nice to win something, and to let the director and producer collect it and speak on my behalf.

    Nobody told me the prize included a couple of nice bottles of wine. Had I known that I would have been crawling over hot coals/broken glass/some other cliché to get to that microphone.

  14. Congrats on the award! I don’t suppose there’s any chance that this will be staged in Brisbane in early July, is there? That’s a self-interested question: I’ll be in Brisbane then and would love to see it! (The Book of Everything is one of my all-time favorite books.) And, if not, then perhaps I can catch the NYC run in 2012. (I live in the U.S.)

    • Thanks Philip,

      No plans for Brisbane yet, I’m afraid, but pencil New York in for April 2012.

      But I’m delighted that you love the book as much as we do. Guus Kuijer is a superb writer, unfortunately not well enough known outside the Netherlands.

  15. bagnidilucca

    I gather from the comments that you won – how wonderful! Congratulations.

  16. shawjonathan

    Congratulations, Richard! And in such a strong field! The person who read the news out to me from the Herald thought they had the category wrong but, like me, heartily approved of the play winning.

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