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Theatre Industry Celebrates 45th Annual CONDA Awards

Best Musical Production- Heather's The Musical by Chookas Entertainment.

Theatre lovers from across the region gathered at Newcastle City Hall this evening to celebrate the 45th annual CONDA Awards, presented by the City of Newcastle Drama Association (CONDA).


The longest-running theatre awards program in Australia, the CONDAs are affectionately known as “Theatre Christmas”. The evening brings together the very best of local talent to celebrate the achievements of theatre makers throughout the year.

A panel of six judges attended 61 productions throughout the year, at venues from Maitland to Speers Point to Newcastle City CBD, in order to pick the winners in 27 award categories.

All judges have formal training in theatre studies and practical experience in the industry.

Head CONDA Judge, Karen Birrell, said the calibre of theatre produced in Newcastle this year was exceptional.

“This year, the CONDA winners hailed from 12 different local theatre companies, reflecting a broad distribution of achievements in design, technical achievement, performance, direction and writing across the region,” said Ms Birrell.

CONDA President, Dr Shane Bransdon, said it was great to see so many different companies winning awards this year.

“Some years, there are particular shows that dominate and take home quite a few awards but this year, there was a great spread, demonstrating there is quality work being produced everywhere,” said Dr Bransdon.

The most prestigious award, recognising Outstanding Achievement and Contribution to Theatre, was awarded to Mercia Buck OAM, for her involvement and advocacy for the industry over several decades. Mercia is the founder of Opera Hunter and was influential in the establishment the Warners Bay Theatre.

The coveted award for Best Musical Production went to Heathers the Musical, produced by Chookas Entertainment, while the Best Play accolade was awarded to Knock and Run Theatre for their production of Ideation.


The CONDA Legacy Awards acknowledge the ongoing efforts of some of the unsung heroes in the industry. This year’s recipients were:

· Vivien Jones, for decades of work as an arts administrator at Young People’s Theatre and Newcastle Theatre Company.

· Nola Wallace, for her lifelong dedication as an educator and actress.

· John Zeder, for his dedication to the technical services of the theatre industry.

“The awards would not have been possible without the generous support of CONDA’s highly valued sponsors, including Out of the Square, in its tenth year as Major Sponsor,” added Dr Bransdon.


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