Melbourne based actor and playwright Emily Sheehan has taken out the 2015 Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award for her play Hell’s Canyon.
Earlier this month, the Seaborn Broughton and Walford Foundation (SBW) announced Sheehan as the winner of the $20,000 award, beating 70 submissions from across Australia. Common themes in submissions this year included domestic violence, family interaction in an electronic age, migration, drugs and indigenous issues.
Hell’s Canyon follows Caitlin, 17, and Oscar, 15 who are on a self-funded road trip in regional Australia. Caitlin has promised Oscar she’ll be his girlfriend if he helps her reach her destination. But where are they heading? Hell’s Canyon is a wild ride into growing up and finding peace.
The SWB judging panel described the work as “oddly moving” and full of “idiosyncratic, romantic magic realism” and presented the award at the SWB Christmas Party on December 17 in Sydney.
On accepting the SBW Award Sheehan said, “It’s such a blessing to be accepting this award in a country where women are allowed to tell their stories, and where stories about women aren’t niche. It’s an exciting time for female artists, and for many artists our voice is through the work we make. It’s a privilege to be supported and championed in this way by the Seaborn Broughton and Walford Foundation, so that my play can become the fullest expression of itself.”
Sheehan completed her Masters of Writing for Performance at the VCA in 2015, where she was awarded a creative scholarship for excellence. In 2014 Emily was a Playwriting Australia Dramaturgy Intern, and a ATYP Fresh Ink mentee with Lachlan Philpott. Her short work Eating Sunshine was produced by ATYP and published by Currency Press.