Characters drive Holly’s second Young Playwright award

Holly at STCFor someone whose first love is acting, Holly Brindley pushes a mean pen.

Holly has just won the State Theatre Company’s Flinders University Young Playwright Award for the second time, and is in rehearsal with two actors and a director for a public reading of her play Cat, to be presented at the Dunstan Playhouse in the Festival Centre at 7pm on Monday, August 31.

Holly studied Drama at Flinders, graduating in 2012.

A keen reader and theatre-goer since childhood, Holly did play-writing classes in her teens with local youth theatre company Urban Myth.

She was in the performance stream in the Flinders Drama Centre, and while there is a large theory component in the course, she didn’t do any writing within the course.

“But because you do study plays when you’re acting, you do learn about the structure of a text,” Holly says.

Cat, a one-act, continuous one-hour play set in real time, is a departure for Holly; where previously she has worked with abstract and romantic settings, this time she has gone for a more gritty and intimate feel.

The play opens with the meeting of two supposed strangers, a sex worker and her client. As their dialogue develops, a shared past emerges. The judges of the competition commended her for her skill in crafting dialogue and character, and for the play’s sustained tension.

Holly says her approach to writing a play is more driven by character than plot,

“Narrative is always important, but it’s not where I begin.”

She likes to test her work by thinking from an actor’s perspective: “I try to imagine if an actor would want to play this character or not.”

Now based in Melbourne, she is part of the Australian Theatre for Young People’s Fresh Ink mentoring program. She is currently working on a 30-minute play that will have a staged reading in Melbourne at the end of the year.

The reading at the Playhouse will be an all-Flinders graduate affair – actors Annabel Matheson and Antoine Jelk will be directed by Nescha Jelk, who is also director of the current State Theatre Company production, Volpone.

“We all know each other from the course,” Holly says.

As part of her prize, Holly is working on Cat with the benefit of the advice and experience of yet another Flinders graduate, award-winning playwright Phillip Kavanagh.

Entry to the reading of Cat is by gold coin donation, but booking is essential via rsvp@statetheatrecompany.com.au

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