The 2018 Pioneer Playwright Award Winner Is … Gravity Guts by Sophia Simmons

Company of Rogues and the Pioneer Play Festival are proud to announce Sophia Simmons’ 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 23 rd , along with a staged reading of the play, directed by Dom Mercer.

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

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