FORMER Canberra theatre director, Adam Spreadbury-Maher, is nowadays one of the busiest directors in London and, as most “Citynews” readers know, has already garnered a swag of , not least an “Olivier.”He’s also recently found time to return to Canberra and Queanbeyan to stage a quirky post modern production of Terence Rattigan’s “A Tale of Two Cities” at the Q.
Now with his feet firmly on the ground in the West End, Spreadbury-Maher has e-mailed in some excitement to tell us of plans for the second year of “the Stella,” (the Stella Wilkie award), named after one of Canberra’s most respected theatre identities, the late actor, writer and theatrical benefactor, Stella Wilkie.
The original idea was as follows: East 15 Acting School students studying on the 3-year Contemporary Theatre course present seven new plays by new playwrights with their acting students each year called the Debut Festival. Spreadbury-Maher, as The King’s Head Theatre Artistic Director and associates chose two as the Stella awardees, to transfer into the King’s Head for a further performance, with the possibility of a further season.
The inaugural winning play was “Sandpits Avenue”. The runner-up was “League of St George”. Both were performed at the King’s Head Theatre in a double-bill on March 25 2013. Both were then performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2013 and transferred to open The Hope Theatre in November.
Last year in naming the award, he said: “Stella was somebody who saw the germ of an idea or talent in someone and did everything she could to see it nurtured, grow, allowed to make mistakes, pick up and dust off when they did, and set them back on course again afterwards. Her support and thoughtful feedback of my earliest directing work was precious and I can see no better project than East 15’s Debut Festival to name after Stella. This award is about what she dedicated her life to. Celebrating and nurturing raw talent is what she loved doing, so long may her spirit continue with this and the excellent work made by East 15 and the King’s Head Theatre”. Spreadbury-Maher says he is particularly excited to have negotiated a “much higher profile judging panel” for 2014.
Apart from himself, representing the King’s Head & Hope Theatres, there are London-based American playwright, Martin Sherman, whose most famous work, “Bent,” portrayed the persecution of homosexuals in Hitler’s Germany. As well, the committee 2014 comprises David Mercatali, (associate director, Southwark Playhouse) Mary Franklin, (resident director, Hope Theatre), Yasmin Zadeh, (last year’s winner – producer/actress) Nika Obydzinski, (literary manager, King’s Head & Hope Theatres and David Luff (Producer, Soho Theatre