We’re thrilled to announce that the winner of The Silver Gull Play Award for 2022 is XAVIER COY for his play FIGHTING.

The Silver Gull Play Award is a competition open to NSW-based writers over the age of 18 for an unpublished and unproduced original play of 60 minutes or more duration that speaks to New Theatre’s ethos of ‘Plays With a Purpose’.

This year, over 40 plays were entered, displaying a wide variety of subject matter, and the judges praised the quality and originality of the writing. Four plays which the judges considered outstanding were shortlisted: Inside Out by Christopher Bryant, Fighting by Xavier Coy, God in Space by Jeanette Cronin, and Miriam by James Elazzi, with Xavier’s a clear winner in the final round, the judges calling it: “Mesmerizing”, “Powerful” and “A brave new leap in theatre”.

On Monday evening, in front of an enthusiastic crowd, excerpts from the four shortlisted plays were presented by actors Matt Abotomey, Nasrine Amine, Phoebe Atkinson, Kate Bookallil, Suzann James, Saro Lepejian, Antony Makhlouf and Tricia Youlden, under the director of Jess Davis. 

Xavier receives a prize of $5000 and the other shortlisted writers receive $500 each, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Joy Minter, who has supported The Silver Gull Play Award since its inception in 2015. 

Fighting by Xavier Coy is an exploration into the mind of one man as he traverses the highs and lows of Bipolar over the course of a day, and we witness his battles with both the people in his life and the voices in his head.

The man makes his way to work, an uninspiring job in a Vodafone store run by an elderly couple named Cliff and Helga. Whilst the protagonist is desperately alone, Helga and Cliff enjoy a virile sex life and are quite happy to share it.

Our protagonist spends a period of time trying to avoid panic attacks only to be confronted with his ex-girlfriend who is now engaged. It’s enough to set him off and he leaves work early to compose himself before a date that night with a woman he quite fancies.

The dinner is an awkward affair and ends with her calling things off. Feelings of worthlessness and despair whirl around his head, the voices combining to trigger a depressive episode, until he reaches for his medication and a bottle of vodka, intent on killing himself.

Then the phone rings. It’s his mother, making an RUOK? call. He puts the pills away and lives to fight another day.

“Two and a half years ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, PTSD and anxiety. It led me down a path of introspection and self discovery. It also elucidated a lot about the world we’re in and how we view mental health.

“Since my diagnosis I have come to learn what Bipolar really looks like and how it is represented on stage and screen. It borders on wrong to offensive. So much of it is generalized “crazy”. Seeing all this led me to write Fighting as a way of showing an authentic experience of the disease.

“COVID gave people who had never experienced mental health problems before an insight into what anxiety and depression looks like. The global dialogue around mental health was suddenly in the spotlight. Bipolar, though, is still misunderstood. Fighting is a play that is reflective of the cultural zeitgeist and provokes us to wonder whether we can really ever know what happens beneath the surface.”

Xavier Coy is a Sydney based writer and actor. He wrote on season two of Channel 10’s acclaimed television series Five Bedrooms and has completed a development room for The Full Box’s adaptation of their documentary into a drama series, Opal Cove.

 In 2017 Xavier was awarded the Terracini Estate Residency for writing. Other writing credits include Not Even God Can Save Us (ACA), The World According to Jerry and Agency (KXT Storytellers Festival), BuriedAre You Listening Now? and Distorted (Old 505 Theatre), Caught Out (Sydney Fringe Festival and Bondi Feast) which took out the NIDA  Award for Best Writer & winner of Sydney Fringe Award at the 2018 Sydney Fringe Festival, and Charles & Larry (Flightpath Theatre). 

Recent and exciting news sees Caught Out being adapted into a musical format in collaboration with Squabbalogic Independent Musical Theatre Inc. which has been funded by Create NSW and a federal Rise Grant.

Xavier has producing attachments for his feature films, the comedy, The Dream (Sugary Rum Productions) and a drama Changing Tides (Goose Bridle Productions). 

Previous finalists and winners of The Silver Gull Play Award:

Inside Out by Christopher Bryant
Fighting by Xavier Coy – winner
God in Space by Jeanette Cronin
Miriam by James Elazzi

Off The Record by Chris Aronsten
Sanctuary by Margaret Davis
Cloudsurfing by John AD Fraser
The Scammer by Wendy Lewis
Fitson and Dan by Mark O’Flynn
The Other End of The Afternoon by Bokkie Robertson – winner

Victim by Jeanette Cronin
God’s Gruesome Shadow on The Wall by Kian Farzam
The Scream by Justin Fleming
Gods and Little Fishes by Jamie Oxenbould and Richard Sydenham – winner
The Park by Simon Thomson

I Damo by Pauline Bleach
The Deal by Kel Vance
Breathless by Deborah Mulhall
Son of Byblos by James Elazzi
Field of Vision by Joanna Erskine – winner

Disinhibition by Christopher Bryant
Alabaster Burning by John AD Fraser
People Inside Me by Katie Pollock
Superheroes by Mark Rogers
Lions and Tigers and Bears by Phillip James Rouse – winner

The Bees Are All Dead by Kit Brookman
Dead Wen by Elias Jamieson Brown
For Unknown Reasons by Zoe Cooper – winner
A Spy in the House of Love by Zoe Hogan
Human Activity by Katie Pollock
The Blackbird and the Whale by Alison Rooke

People Will Think You Don’t Love Me by Joanna Erskine – winner
A Matter of Life and Death by John AD Fraser
The Ink Trail by Louis Klee
This, This Is Mine by Duncan Ragg
I sat and waited but you were gone too long by Olivia Satchell

Between the Streetlight and the Moon by Melita Rowston
Furthest West by Michael Collins
The Block Universe (Or So It Goes) by Sam O’Sullivan
The Last Executioner by Mark Swivel
TickTickBoom by Melissa Lee Speyer – winner



Original artwork © Michael Tonkin