Noëlle Janaczewska wins Windham Campbell Award for Drama

23 Mar 2016

Noelle Janaczewska

 Noëlle Janaczewska, EMSAH’s Adjunct Professor in Drama, has just won an extremely prestigious Windham Campbell Award for Drama. This award is $150,000 (US), one of the richest literary prizes in the world. The prize is based at Yale University and is designed to give writers the chance to work without having to worry about an income for at least a year.

The Windham Campbell prize website provides background on the donors:

Lifelong partners, Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell were avid book collectors, voracious readers, and friends with many of the most important literary figures of their time. Windham wrote memoirs, novels, plays, short stories, and a children’s book. Campbell was a stage actor who also penned unsigned book reviews for The New Yorker and contributed articles to Harper’s Magazine and other publications. The pair discussed the idea of creating an award to support writers for many years, inspired by Windham’s early monetary struggles and the important role financial independence played in his career as a writer. When Campbell passed away unexpectedly in 1988, Windham took on the responsibility for making this shared dream a reality.

The 2014 prizes were announced March 7th, a year after the inauguration of the prize and the announcement of the first winners. Writers are nominated by an international panel of judges who agree to work anonymously. Writers do not know that they have been nominated.

The citation about Janaczewska’s work reads as follows:
Noëlle Janaczewska brings innovative stagecraft and a questioning voice to plays that translate cultural and political tensions into drama as complex as it is illuminating. Janaczewska writes plays, monologues, poetry, essays, radio scripts, libretti, open texts, and gallery and on-line explorations. Originally from the UK, she moved to Australia in the late 1980s. She has worked with theatre companies in Britain, Germany, Netherlands, and Australia. She notes the following recurring themes in her work: “the history and philosophy of science, colonialism and its legacies, narratives of place and migration, and the exploration of language/s.” Her intellectual rigor and impressive grasp of the craft of turning political realities into compelling theater—as in This Territory, which sprang from a racial incident in Australia in 2005 known as “Reclaim the Beach”—represent a high level of artistic excellence. Among the prizes she has won are the 2006 Queensland Premier's Literary Award; the Griffin Playwriting Award; and the Playbox-Asialink Playwriting Competition; and 5 Australian Writer’ Guild Awards for radio. Internationally, she has been a finalist for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

In response to winning, Janaczewska responded, “I’m amazed, delighted, and truly honoured to receive this prize. It’s a wonderful, generous gift of time and space—precious commodities for a writer. Time to concentrate on the actual work; space for ideas to germinate and flourish.”

Janaczewska was named and Adjunct Professor at UQ in 2013. She began a relationship with Drama staff through an Arts Queensland Creative Partnership Award: UQ commissioned her to write #Scratchlands and the Drama Production course staged her Third Person in second semester 2013. It is a wonderful opportunity for UQ students and staff to work with someone whose work is recognised to be deserving of such a prize.