PRIZEWINNER Melbourne-based playwright Angela Betzien has won the $30,000 Kit Denton award at the Australian Writers Guild for a film script based on her play, War Crimes, about three girls in a rural town where an Iraqi refugee family has arrived. It is the second time she has won an AWGIE prize, after collecting the $40,000 Richard Wherrett award in 2007 for Hoods. Betzien (pictured) was unable to collect the prize in person because she is attending the international female playwrights' conference in Stockholm. Her play, Helicopter, was produced by the Melbourne Theatre Company last month.
MUSICAL TRIBUTE Cape Town Opera was formed during South Africa's apartheid era and its philosophy continues to reflect a political consciousness. The company makes its Australian debut in two concerts as part of Hamer Hall's opening season. It will present highlights from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess with Verdi arias on Friday, to be followed by a performance of excerpts from Mandela Trilogy, a musical tribute to the great leader, next Sunday. Both concerts will be supported by Orchestra Victoria conducted by Sebastian Lang-Lessing on Friday and then by Albert Horne. The company will also work with musicians from the Australian National Academy of Music to present a daytime concert.
NEW APPOINTMENT There is a changing of the guard at the Melbourne Festival where executive director Tim Jacobs has announced he will hand over at the end of the year to his deputy, Katie McLeish. Mr Jacobs, the former CEO at the Arts Centre, came out of retirement two years ago to work with chairman Carrillo Gantner in restructuring the festival's administration. He departs after the last event programmed by Brett Sheehy, meaning McLeish (pictured) will work with incoming artistic director Josephine Ridge for the 2013 festival. She joined as head of planning and development and was appointed deputy executive director last March.
COMEDIC LUST In the era when the novel Fifty Shades of Grey dominates the bestseller lists, it is not surprising that playwright Melissa Reeves (pictured) should examine female lust in her work, Happy Ending, which opens at the Melbourne Theatre Company's Fairfax Studio on Friday. But Reeves, who also wrote Furious Mattress and Spook, which were presented at the Malthouse, has made her focus comedy. Set in Northland Shopping Centre, the plot involves middle-aged mother, Louise, falling into lust with her Chinese masseur. The MTC's associate director, Aidan Fennessy, says Reeves has written "one of the most awkward and doomed courtships ever seen on stage". It runs until September 22.