Irish drama scoops prestigious scriptwriting prize

Press Release – Victoria University of Wellington

A relationship drama set in early 1990s Dublin, has won a Victoria University of Wellington student the annual David Carson-Parker Embassy Prize in Scriptwriting.Embargoed until 7pm, 6 December 2011
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Irish drama scoops prestigious scriptwriting prize

A relationship drama set in early 1990s Dublin, has won a Victoria University of Wellington student the annual David Carson-Parker Embassy Prize in Scriptwriting.

Barbara Burke’s script Orla is a story that interweaves pseudo-family relationships with some of the societal pressures of the time.

A Master’s student in the Creative Writing programme at Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), Barbara received the $3000 prize at a function at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington on Tuesday night. The annual prize is awarded to the best script written during the Master’s course.

Barbara was both surprised and thrilled to receive the prize.

“When I started at the IIML, I was planning to write all kinds of other-wordly stories. But with some gentle coercion from Ken, I was convinced to write something a lot closer to my heart—a story of two women, both at different critical points in their lives, amid some of Dublin’s harsher realities.

Barbara grew up in Ireland and studied in both Dublin and Edinburgh. In 2005, she moved to New Zealand with the intention of staying a year. Nearly seven years on, Wellington remains her home.

Over that time, she has mostly worked in communications roles. She took up writing fiction several years ago in her spare time, and was delighted to be part of the 2011 scriptwriting class at the IIML, where she has worked on Orla.

“I loved the class, I loved the learning and the writing. It was, hands down, one of the best years of my life.”

Barbara says that as well as working on other projects, she plans to continue working on Orla over the next year in the hopes it may one day make it to screen.

“I want to get through another couple of drafts next year before taking Orla out into the world.”

Michael Hirschfeld Director of Scriptwriting at the IIML, Ken Duncum, was highly impressed with the script.

Orla is a relationship drama, extremely well realised by Barbara, who has a flair for evoking place and time, and finding the dramatic in the details of her characters’ lives.

“In reading the script there is a feeling of total immersion in the Dublin of the mid-1990s and the concerns, dilemmas and growth of her central character. Barbara is an exciting new writer with verve and ability—and I look forward to following the future of Orla and of Barbara’s career with interest.”

Funded through the Victoria University Foundation, the David Carson-Parker Embassy Prize in Scriptwriting was first established by the Embassy Theatre Trust and is now funded by arts philanthropist David Carson-Parker.

ENDS

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