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Ian Wilding ... has written a darkly funny play which satirises the fetish of youth, the cult of beauty and the impact of the longevity business on a population very much in love with itself.

POSTED: 24 MAY 2010

Ian Wilding wins Patrick White award with Forever Seven*

Ian Wilding is the recipient of the 2009 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award for his play, Forever Seven. The winner was announced at Sydney Theatre Company ahead of a rehearsed reading of the play in Wharf 2 last Saturday (22 May) as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Set in the future, Forever Seven — which Wilding had originally titled More & More — is a darkly funny play which satirises the fetish of youth, the cult of beauty and the impact of the longevity business on a population very much in love with itself. In the disturbingly familiar world of the play, a medical procedure has been developed to freeze the aging process.

The practice, which is referred to as ‘coding’, has divided the population into two: those who believe in aging gracefully versus those who are going to be forever young. Amid this climate of division and political unrest, a passionate romance develops between a young man and woman. Forever Seven depicts their struggle to remain connected in a society engulfed in civil unrest.

Describing winning the award as “a really wonderful thing”, Wilding said: “That the award exists at all has always given me great encouragement during the struggles with the blank page. To achieve recognition and reward in this fashion for something you already love to do is a rare privilege — and one that makes me ever more determined to demonstrate that I deserve it.”

The judges were Louise Fox (playwright), Clare Morgan (Arts Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald), Katherine Thomson (playwright) and Andrew Upton (Co Artistic Director, Sydney Theatre Company).

Andrew Upton congratulated all of the shortlisted entrants and, on behalf of the judges, said: “We were delighted to find that the quality of the scripts was high again this year. Each of the four shortlisted plays are inventive and unique and represent the great gamut of work Australian playwrights are producing. The rich ideas of Ian Wilding’s ambitious play are expressed with clarity, wit, intelligence and a precise theatrical language.”

The $20,000 Award is an initiative of Sydney Theatre Company and The Sydney Morning Herald. It was established in 2000 in honour of Patrick White’s contribution to theatre and to foster the development of Australian playwrights. To date, 15 writers have shared in the award from over 1600 entries. Previous winners include Nicki Bloom for Bloodwood, Angus Cerini for Wretch, Timothy Daly for The Man in the Attic, Patricia Cornelius for Do Not Go Gentle…, Wesley Enoch for The Story of the Miracle at Cookie’s Table and Stephen Carleton for Constance Drinkwater and the Final Days of Somerset.

Wilding is a previous recipient of the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award for his play Even Amongst Dogs in 2003.

His plays Below, Torrez, and October have been produced by Griffin Theatre Company in Sydney, while The Carnivores and Torrez have been produced by Black Swan in Perth.

Forever Seven was written as a commission for Bell Shakespeare Company through their Mind’s Eye art form development program. In 2010 Griffin Theatre Company is producing Wilding’s latest play QUACK.

*Based on media release issued by Sydney Theatre Company.

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