TELLING NEW INDIGENOUS STORIES – BELVOIR AWARDS BALNAVES FOUNDATION ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER FELLOWSHIP

Press Release, 29 August 2018

Belvoir has announced Kodie Bedford as the recipient of the Balnaves Foundation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellowship, an evolution of the Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright Award, which has long been recognised as one of the most prestigious playwriting awards in Australia.

The Fellowship includes a $25,000 paid residency at Belvoir, working across production, programming and development in 2019 as she develops her new play, CURSED!.

Ms. Bedford has extensive experience in network television, having worked for SBS (WORLD NEWS AUSTRALIA, LIVING BLACK) and ABC TV (MESSAGE STICKS, NAIDOC Special), and has most recently written for MYSTERY ROAD, GRACE BESIDE ME, THE SLOT and is a writer of numerous projects in development.

Selected from a pool of 13 submissions, Ms. Bedford has been awarded the fellowship by a panel comprising of Kylie Bracknell [Kaarljilba Kaardn], Guy Simon, and Belvoir’s Artistic Director Eamon Flack, Head of New Work, Louise Gough and Artistic Associate Dom Mercer.

Ms. Bedford’s new play CURSED!, is about death, family and mental illness through inappropriate anecdotes and black comedy. An estranged family is called and gathers in Geraldton WA, when their Grandmother is in the final days of her life. Three siblings from a blended family face family secrets and revelations while understanding the legacy of mental illness – all through a rich dark humour, laced with real pain and a serious subject. A story for everyone with a “crazy” family.

“I am so honoured and humbled to receive the Balnaves Foundation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellowship” said Kodie Bedford.
“This fellowship is so important in the Australian narrative. I look at the list of past winners, the legacy they have created and the stories they have shared. I thank the Balnaves Foundation and Belvoir Theatre for their commitment to help project the voices of Indigenous storytellers”.

Eamon Flack, Belvoir Artistic Director said “Belvoir is deeply passionate in its commitment to stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists and we are appreciative of the Balnaves Foundation support for this commitment”.

“The range and depth of the submissions for the Fellowship in 2018 was strong and reaffirms our commitment to working meaningfully with Indigenous Artists and the depth of talent and scope of ideas. We are thrilled that Kodie Bedford will be joining Belvoir in 2019 as a Fellow, we cannot wait to work with her, support her story and have her presence at Belvoir”.

The Balnaves Foundation has given over $1 million dollars towards the creation of Indigenous theatre at Belvoir to date. Hamish Balnaves, CEO of the Foundation, said “Since 2012, the Balnaves Award has been attracting entrants of the highest calibre including Leah Purcell, Nakkiah Lui, Jada Alberts, Megan Wilding, Katie Beckett and Ursula Yovich. The vision of the award is to elevate Indigenous story-telling in the arts which is critically important in fostering understanding and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“In 2018, the Award has taken an exciting new shape, expanding to become a Fellowship to enable greater exposure to the talents and support at Belvoir. We would like to congratulate Kodie on the award and are excited to see how she will use the prize to further her exceptional work to date”.

Balnaves Fellowship assessment panel members Kylie Bracknell [Kaarljilba Kaardn] and Guy Simon said “The opportunity to be a part of the process of selecting the 2018 Balnaves Fellow with Belvoir is deeply heartening. It is tremendous to see where new Indigenous writing is heading. There are so many stories that represent our mob each with a unique fingerprint. The future of our storytelling on stage is bright”.