Sophia Simmons wins the 2018 Pioneer Playwright Award Winner with 'GRAVITY GUTS'

Published by: Pioneer Playwright Award | 12-Nov-2018
Company of Rogues and the Pioneer Play Festival are proud to announce that Gravity Guts, Sophia Simmons' smart, sharp and funny play about growing up, the universe and everything, is the winner of the 2018 Pioneer Playwright Award. The award will be presented with a staged reading of the play on Friday November 23rd at Sydney's new Pioneer Theatre.
Company of Rogues and the Pioneer Play Festival are proud to announce Sophia Simmon's smart, sharp and funny play about growing up, the universe and everything is the winner of the 2018 Pioneer Playwright Award.

Gravity Guts tells the story of a teenage girl as she tries to follow her dream of being an astronaut. She loves sci-fi because her dad thinks it's cool, she's obsessed with space travel and her hero is Sigourney Weaver from Alien. She just needs to pass the medical, get through the entrance exam, and ace the physical fitness test (cue 80's workout music).

She knows heaps about space and can do a rubix cube in under 3 minutes so it should all be easy right? If she can just block out the sound of her dad drinking in the next room, she might be able to pull it off.

Throughout this joyful and delicately woven one-woman show, Sophia explores the big ideas that have alluded human kind since the beginning of the universe; like what exactly is a quasar? What happens inside a black hole? And how do you find your voice in a vacuum? A playful blend of autobiography, creative nonfiction and comedy, it's the story of a girl who just wants to break free from her father's orbit, but first needs to build up the guts.

Decided using a blind judging process, excluding gender and personal identification from adjudicators, the award aims to unearth an exceptional new Australian play to present at the opening night of the inaugural Pioneer Play Festival at the Pioneer Theatre in Sydney's Castle Hill. The award will be presented to Sophia by Mayor of The Hills Shire, Dr Michelle Byrne on Friday Nov 23rd.

A graduate of the Adelaide College of the Arts performance program, Sophia has been performing in a wide variety of theatrical works in Adelaide and Melbourne since 2015. As a playwright, Sophia was the recipient of the Flinders University Young Playwright Award for her work Brightness in 2013, was a participant in Australian Theatre for Young People's Fresh Ink program in 2014, and was featured in the National Play Festival with her play Limit.

Her success in this competition comes as Sophia completes her Masters of Writing for Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Sophia is delighted to receive the recognition from the judges, saying "I'm absolutely thrilled, this piece is really close to my heart and is the culmination of a massive year's work, so I'm very humbled to be honoured in this way. I feel very grateful to Company of Rogues for the gesture of support and can't wait for people to see the work".

"The process of awarding a new playwriting award has been incredibly exciting and satisfying". Said Goldele Rayment, Artistic Director of Company of Rogues and the Pioneer Play Festival. "As a company committed to diversity and inclusion, I am pleased to see that the outcome of our blind judging process is an emerging, young female playwright, with a play showcasing a strong female protagonist".

What: Gravity Guts "“ Pioneer Playwright Award
When: 7.30pm, Friday 23rd November 2018 (arrive from 7pm)
Where: Pioneer Theatre, Cnr Castle and Pennant Streets, Castle Hill
Tickets: $25 - $40
Bookings: via the festival website at

The Pioneer Play Festival is made possible by the support of The Hills Shire Council's Pioneer Theatre, Bilbybags, InTouch and Alive 90.5 FM. The Pioneer Play Award is powered by the donations made to the festival's Australian Cultural Fund campaign.


Presented by Sydney theatre-makers Company of Rogues, the Pioneer Play Festival is a celebration of Australian theatre-craft and performance in the heart of The Hills, curated by Artistic Director Goldele Rayment. Part of The Hills Shire Council's launch of the new Pioneer Theatre in Castle Hill, the festival is an exciting new program of performances, workshops and activities for all ages. The festival will include the launch of Australia's newest playwriting competition, the Pioneer Play Award, the 50th Anniversary performance of Alex Buzo's Norm and Ahmed, and the Sydney Premiere of Felix Nobis' award-winning bush melodrama Boy Out of the Country, directed by Erica Lovell.



Dom is currently an Artistic Associate at Belvoir Street Theatre. A critically-acclaimed director and dramaturg he has worked with the Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, National Theatre of Parramatta and Griffin Theatre. His production of Sam O'Sullivan's The Block Universe (Or So It Goes) was nominated for Best Production in the Sydney Theatre Awards. His expertise includes time as the Literary and Programs Manager at the Old 505 Theatre (2017), and Acting Literary Manager (2016) at Belvoir Street Theatre. In his current position in the Artistic and Programing team at Belvoir Dom overseas the curation and programing of 25a, the re-imagined independent season in the downstairs theatre. We're thrilled to have Dom on board to direct the prepared reading of the first winning play in the Pioneer Play Awards.


Sydney-based writer Gina Schien is a graduate of the NIDA Playwrights Studio, an AWGIE Award winner and a US MacDowell Fellow. A celebrated local writer with a passion for stagecraft, Gina's work has received critical acclaim both at home and abroad. Her plays include: Relative Comfort (New Theatre, Sydney; Bailiwick Theater, Chicago); The Dyke Variations (Women's Theatre Project, Florida), Cake on a Plate (Oxford and Brighton Fringe, UK; Short and Sweet, Sydney) The Collection (Theatre Songe); The Lesbian Variations (Slide Bar, Sydney); The Clerk Ascending (ABC Radio), Pulpit Rock (Short and Sweet; Eastside Radio); Good Woman Smoking (World Bar), Charlie's Window (Short and Sweet Sydney; Brisbane Emerge Festival) and Play Like a Girl (New Theatre).


Leila is an Independent Theatre Producer, and the producer behind the 2018 National Play Festival. Leila currently works at Playwriting Australia as the Associate Producer. Her experience includes production for Darlinghurst Theatre Company; Artistic Director of FLW Theatre Company; and involvement in the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Short and Sweet and Mudfest.


Jordan is an acclaimed playwright, teacher and director. A graduate of VCA and Notre Dame, Jordan has had new work developed and/or performed at Sydney Theatre Company, ATYP, VCA, Old 505 and The Joan Penrith. Jordan is a powerful young voice in Australian theatre, and is currently a resident at Old 505, and an Associate Producer with Apocalypse Theatre Company.

Newsletter Sign Up

Join Our Growing Community

ART NEWS PORTAL is a global crowd sourced art news feed.
Everyone is welcome to share their art and culture related news.