Meet the Shortlist- Emme Hoy

Pavlov’s Dogs
By Emme Hoy

‘the past has teeth, and the past has dark corners and hidden rooms and whirlpools that exist under your skin and in your brain; and they never, ever go away.’

Pancakes cooking in the kitchen, a book deal in the works, a journalist come to stay, and blood on the floor. The lines between love and cruelty and animal and human begin to blur as hierarchies collapse, scientists become subjects – and old certainties go up in smoke.

Recipient of the 2017 Belvoir Philip Parson’s Fellowship, Emme completed her Master of Fine Arts in Writing at NIDA. Emme’s original television series NOBODY’S PERFECT was longlisted for AWG’S Primetime TV Competition, shortlisted in the ABC/AWG Laugh Out Loud Competition and a semi-finalist in WeScreenplay’s International Television Competition. Her play EXTINCTION OF THE LEARNED RESPONSE was shortlisted for the Patrick White Playwright’s Award, the Griffin Award and the 2018 Theatre 503 Playwriting Award; and her co-written play BATHORY BEGINS was awarded the 2019 ATYP co-commission. Staged works include SALEM at NIDA’s Playhouse Theatre, STRANGERS at Bondi Feast and FIVE YEAR PLAN at the Sydney Fringe Festival. In 2018 Emme wrote additional text for the Sydney Theatre Company’s acclaimed production of ST JOAN and is an alumni of Sydney Theatre Company’s Emerging Writers Group. 2019 productions include a libretto adaptation of LA FINTA GIARDINIERA for the Queensland Conservatorium, EXTINCTION OF THE LEARNED RESPONSE as part of Belvoir’s 25a season, and ATYP’s premiere of BATHORY BEGINS.

Emme is eligible for the new Bruntwood Prize International Award. For more information on this award- and the nomination process please go to


What inspired you to write this play?

PAVLOV’S DOGS was initially inspired by my fascination with how power is exerted through language and all the ways we attempt to define and assert our own humanity. Often, western culture seems to prize mind over matter – but I think that one of the questions the play asks is how much we really are in control of … whether it’s our emotions or our bodies. Where does that leave us? What does that make us? When I look back on it, I think that beneath the intellectual ideas that brought about the structure and the story; the heart of the play was inspired by the irrational; the emotional; the things we can’t quite articulate … and the realisation that we’re not quite as in control as we would like to think.


Can you tell us a bit about your journey as a playwright?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer; but initially thought it would be novels or stories. I didn’t do my first short playwrighting course until I was seventeen. I’d trek into the city for late-night classes after school – the only teenager amongst a group of much older adults – and loved it. The day we had actors come in to read our first drafts, I had never been so nervous or so exhilarated. That’s when I knew I was hooked. Playwrighting was far more challenging than the other forms of writing I’d tried, but there was something about the aliveness, physicality and collaborative nature of it that made it addictive. Since then, I’ve been writing plays. I have a Masters in Writing for Performance from NIDA and have been lucky enough to be attached to several theatre companies as an emerging writer: including a place in Sydney Theatre Company’s Emerging Writer’s Group; and as a recipient of Belvoir St Theatre’s Philip Parsons Fellowship.


How do you feel about being shortlisted?

I was very shocked to be shortlisted. It’s such an affirmation that you’re on the right track; that someone can see something worthwhile in your writing. To be read and considered at all is such a privilege. I’m always aware that a someone has taken hours of their time to sit and read your words. To learn that they thought there was something in them is a wonderful gift.


What do you think about anonymity of the Bruntwood Prize?

I love the anonymity of the Bruntwood Prize. It allows people to look at your work without preconceptions; and means that it has to stand entirely alone.

Published on:
22 Oct 2019


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