The rich depth of Queensland’s theatre industry was celebrated at the 2018 Matilda Awards on February 18, 2019 with the coveted Gold Matilda awarded to debase Productions in honour of its ground-breaking work over two decades.

debase was lauded for using comedy to raise social awareness and challenge audiences to question stereotypes, history and identity; and for its commitment to telling Australian stories.

The production company, founded in 1998, collaborated with Queensland Theatre and Cairns’s Jute Theatre Company last year to stage The Longest Minute which shared the award for Best Mainstage Production with La Boite’s Prize Fighter.

The judging committee ruled both productions were “consistently outstanding”, acknowledging the uniquely local premise of The Longest Minute and applauding Prize Fighter for delivering a “powerful theatrical work of excellence”.

More than 500 performers, artists and patrons of the arts attended the ceremony at Brisbane Powerhouse tonight in what Matilda Awards Executive Committee chairperson Deb Wilks described as a celebration of Queensland’s theatre industry.

“The calibre of nominees and winners was outstanding and a real testament to the quality, resilience and effervescence of the Queensland arts sector,” Ms Wilks said.

“We are truly kicking goals in Queensland.”

Brisbane Powerhouse artistic director Kris Stewart punctuated the award presentations with performances by talented Queensland entertainers including Casus circus, Luke Kennedy (From Johnny to Jack, The Voice Australia), Michael Tuahine (Song Lines), Judy Hainsworth (Babushka, #firstworldwhitegirls) and soprano Irena Lysiuk.

Noni Hazelhurst was named Best Female Actor in a Leading Role for her portrayal of a lost, fallen and ultimately dispossessed woman existing on the fringes of society in Mother (QPAC).

Paul Bishop’s portrayal of a father and husband navigating the grief of loss in Poison (Metro Arts) was awarded Best Male Actor in a Leading Role.

The judges named Andrea Moor Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Aunt Julia Tesman in Hedda (Queensland Theatre) and Jackson McGovern Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his myriad roles in The Owl and the Pussycat (Little Match).

The Matilda Awards’ 10-member judging committee awarded Best Independent Production to The Sound of a Finished Kiss (Now Look Here, Electric Moon).

The coming-of-age story of love, loss, betrayal and share-housing was inspired by the songs of The Go-Betweens and also took out the award for Best Musical or Cabaret.

Another dual award-winner was We Live Here, a joint production between Flipside and Metro Arts, that fused physical theatre, circus and real-life stories from Hummingbird House children’s hospice to deliver a story about life in the face of death.

It won Best Circus or Physical Theatre Work and Best Director for Natano Fa’anana and Bridget Boyle.

Counterpilot’s immersive production of Crunch Time – a performative dinner party that modelled the democratic process – received The Lord Mayor’s Award for Best New Australian Work while Carly Skelton won the Bille Brown Award for Best Emerging Artist for her vulnerable performance in The Hatpin (Oz Theatricals).

The Matilda Awards presented its inaugural Emerging Female Leader Award to Brisbane-based lighting designer Christine Felmingham. Christine, who has worked across theatre, dance and live performance, received a $1000 bursary from the Brisbane Women Arts Leadership Group and access to a 12-month program of mentoring.

Technical excellence was also recognised at the awards ceremony with A Christmas Carol (shake & stir) receiving Best Video Design for Craig Wilkinson and Best Set Design for Josh McIntosh.

Penny Challen continued The Owl and the Pussycat’s winning streak with an award for Best Costume Design while David Walters won Best Lighting Design for Nearer the Gods (Queensland Theatre) and Babushka’s Happily Ever After won Best Sound Design/Composition.

Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch congratulated all the nominees and recipients for their outstanding work.

“The Matilda Awards are the highlight of Queensland’s performing arts calendar, showcasing the strength and diversity of talent in theatre across the state,” Ms Enoch said.

“Queensland has a passionate and dedicated theatre community doing exceptional work to create world-class arts experiences, helping share Queensland stories and providing employment.

“The Queensland Government is proud to support the awards as part of our commitment to the arts, recognising the role the sector plays in supporting our cultural, social and economic development and in making creativity the key to a strong future for our state.

“I was delighted to present the top prize, the Gold Matilda, to debase productions for its commitment to theatre in Queensland for more than 20 years, touring nationally and internationally, and using comedy to address social issues.” 



Best Video Design

Craig Wilkinson - A Christmas Carol

Best Lighting Design

David Walters - Nearer the Gods - Queensland Theatre

Best Sound Design/Composition

Babushka - Happily Ever After  - Babushka

Best Costume Design

Penny Challen - Happily Ever After - Babushka

Best Set Design

Josh McIntosh - A Christmas Carol - shake and stir

Best Director

Natano Fa’anana and Bridget Boyle - We Live Here - Flipside and Metro Arts

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Andrea Moor – Hedda - Queensland Theatre

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Jackson McGovern - The Owl and the Pussycat - Little Match Productions

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role

Noni Hazlehurst – Mother - QPAC

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role

Paul Bishop – Poison - Elise Greig and Metro Arts

Bille Brown Award – Best Emerging Artist

Carly Skelton - The Hatpin - Oz Theatricals

Best Circus or Physical Theatre Work

We Live Here - Flipside and Metro Arts

Best Independent Production

I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You - The Good Room

Best Musical or Cabaret

The Sound of a Finished Kiss - Now Look Here and Electric Moon

Best Mainstage Production (SHARED)

The Longest Minute - Jute, Debase and Queensland Theatre

Prize Fighter - La Boite

The Lord Mayor’s Award for Best New Australian Work          

Crunch Time - Counterpilot

Emerging Female Arts Leader Award

Christine Felmingham

Gold Matilda

debase Productions

Images (from top): The Longest Minute, Prize Fighter (photographer: Dylan Evans) and images from the 2018 Matilda Awards ceremony.

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