News and opportunities for New Zealand Playwrights.


“Language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you, the author, at any time” Harold Pinter 

Kia ora <<First Name>>

This bulletin comes to you later in the month than usual for a number of reasons, which we don’t need to go into, but hey, it’s not because we aren’t thinking of you and it’s here now. The playwriting year has started with a hiss and a roar and with festivals hitting the scene already there are so many events of interest to put in your calendars. There are more to be announced later in the year but for now check out the Spotlight on Playwrights events listed below and look out for the New Zealand work appearing in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin fringe and mainstream festivals.
In the next bulletin we’ll be announcing the shortlist of plays selected from submissions to the Adam NZ Play Award but I can tell you the shortlist is longer than usual because it was too hard to reduce it down! It has been a great read and I predict a few humdinger productions to come.
Clinics are already underway and there’s some really promising work in development there too.
I have a clearer picture of the Creative Development Services role that has arisen from CNZ’s review of theatre programmes and Playmarket will be applying with proposals to fulfill the revised role. This could be an exciting development for us and we look forward to July when we will know the results of our submission.
Next month we’ll be calling out for applications for our biennial retreat at Strathean June 21-28. Ten playwrights will be selected to spend a week in the country being fed and looked after while they write.
Looming fast is the deadline for our Playwrights b4 25 competition so get that draft moving along and submit…

Nga mihi mahana
Murray Lynch - Director of Playmarket


Circa Theatre and the 2016 New Zealand Festival Writers Week in partnership with Playmarket present a series of events, conversations and readings.

Friday 11 March 11am - 12 noon
Chaired by Emily Perkins with panelists Lorae Parry, Lynda Chanwai-Earle, Miria George, Jess Sayer
The Guardian UK’s list of the 101 Greatest Plays in any western language included only one woman (Caryl Churchill). Are New Zealand’s women playwrights as invisible?
Book here.

Friday 11 March 12.30pm – 1.30pm

Chaired by Dave Armstrong with panelists Pip Hall, Hone Kouka, Nancy Brunning, Carl Nixon.
Reflections of Kiwis on stage both challenge and entrench our unique lifestyle. From Foreskin’s Lament to Waiora; from Middle Age Spread to The Motor Camp; from Wednesday to Come to Hikoi – are we representing our nation honestly on stage?
Book here.

Friday 11 March 2 – 3pm
Chaired by Linda Clark with panelists Roger Hall, John Smythe, Alison Quigan.
Too few plays get repeat showings. Some gather dust, few go on forever. Even Bruce Mason and Roger Hall, who are household names, have not had all of their plays staged. Some plays are studied, some seen often, some are devised and some forgotten.
Book here.

Saturday 12 March 10 – 11am

Anthony McCarten in conversation with Miranda Harcourt.
What are the keys to Anthony McCarten’s success? From Ladies Night to The Theory of Everything; Wellington to Hollywood – Not only is Anthony an internationally successful writer and producer for stage and screen, nominated for Academy Awards, and winner of BAFTA awards, he has also written several best-selling novels translated into 14 languages.
Book here.

Saturday 12 March 2pm
Anthony McCarten has dramatised his explosive novel; pleading for tolerance, the freedom of individuals, and the freedom of art. Azime is 20 years old and shy. She is Kurdish but grew up in London. She lives in two different worlds. She secretly visits a comedy course, and later slips into a niqab and becomes the world’s first Muslim comedian. Her appearance is explosive: her family is against her, the British press celebrates her as a sensation, and the Internet is hot with death threats.
Book here.

All sessions are at Circa Theatre and cost $19 (Writers Week multi-passes are available).


We were saddened to learn of the death last year of Campbell Smith. Campbell was among Playmarket's most long-established figures, having been represented by us since the early 1980s.  He was one of only two clients (Roger Hall the other) to have been awarded an honorary doctorate (in 2012 by the University of Waikato) and also became in 2012 one of only two clients to have had a volume of his Collected Plays published (James K. Baxter the other). Alister McDonald's tribute to Campbell is available on our website here.

Writer, comedian, actor, columnist and kiwi legend, Jon Gadsby passed away on 13 December 2015. Jon's 40 year career included plays, books for both children and adults alongside the television comedy that made him a household name. Ian Pryor's obituary for Jon for NZ on Screen is available here.

We were also saddened to hear of the passing of David Lyndon Brown after a short illness in December. David was a poet, playwright and artist. Olywn Stewart has written a tribute to him for The Spinoff which is available here.

Philip Braithwaite is the recipient of the Ursula Bethell Residency in Creative Writing at the University of Canterbury. The residency, funded by the University and Creative NZ, was established to provide support for New Zealand writers and foster New Zealand writing and allows authors to work on an approved project within an academic environment.

Paolo Rotondo is the recipient of the The New Zealand Society of Authors and Auckland War Memorial Museum National Grant. Paolo will use the grant to research the earliest interaction of Pakeha and Māori.

The 2015 Playmarket Annual
Email us here if you'd like a copy or view it online here.



For this competition Playmarket is interested in writers under 25 who take risks and throw care to the wind, as well as those who write strong, conventional plays. Write about anything you like that matters to you in any way you like, for any kind of audience you like.
Submissions close 1 April 2016
Visit here for more information

Set and realise your playwriting goals. 
For twelve years now Rebecca Mason, executive coach, the daughter of playwright Bruce Mason, has been offering a life coaching scholarship to playwrights who would benefit from setting and realising their goals. Rebecca works with playwrights remotely.
 If you’re interested in receiving this coaching please apply in writing to Murray Lynch with your C.V and a short submission outlining your vision for playwriting and why you would benefit from the coaching.

Kathryn returns with her popular series of workshops in 2016. Next up is The Beginner's Guide to Screenwriting. A two-day intensive on 27-28 February. See her latest newsletter here for more information.

Applications are invited for proposals for a quality text work about living in Auckland.The grant will be a single payment of $12,000 paid on completion of the work.
The work may be in English, Te Reo or a combination of the two languages. Text work encompasses poetry, short story, novel, novella, script (theatre, film), children’s fiction, graphic fiction, graphic non-fiction, non-fiction, essay or other nominated literary form.
Submissions close 19 February 2016.
For more information see the website here.

The Residency is for a mid-career or senior New Zealand writer of Pacific heritage to carry out work on a creative writing project exploring Pacific identity, culture or history at the University of Hawai‘i for three months. One award valued at NZ$30,000 is granted each year, towards three months of writing.
Applications close 1 March 2016
For more information see the website here.


8 Plays by Award-Winning NZ Writers

A tantalising reflection of contemporary Aotearoa, bursting with the best of current New Zealand Theatre.
The Intricate Art of Actually Caring by Eli Kent
Manawa by Jamie McCaskill
Sheep by Arthur Meek
Rewena by Whiti Hereaka
The Road that wasn't There by Ralph McCubbin Howell
Fix by Jess Sayer
Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys by Sam Brooks
Eloise in the Middle by Emily Duncan
Available here.

The Plays of Bruce Mason: A Survey

by John Smythe
This is the first comprehensive survey of Mason’s dramatic works. In capturing particular times, places and people with eloquent insight, humanity and wit, his plays invariably distil timeless and universal themes with distinction. In this critical overview, John Smythe interrogates each text to reveal the artistry of a master craftsman at the edge of socio-political awareness.
A co-publication with Victoria University Press. Available here.

Children of the Poor

by Mervyn Thompson
Now back in print, Mervyn Thompson's deeply moving and immensely powerful adaptation of John A. Lee's autobiography. A stirring impassioned reworking of a forgotten part of our own history and one of our most popular plays for schools. With new study notes by Susan Battye. Available here.

1 April  - Playwrights b4 25 submissions close
1 June - Brown Ink and Asian Ink submissions close
1 August - Plays for the Young submissions close
1 December  - Adam NZ Play Award submissions close for 2017


Sarah Lyall for The New York Times
A reporter’s unnerving plunge into 10 events across New York City involving all kinds of audience participation.
Read more here

Alison Flood for The Guardian
Philip Pullman is heading a new charge from writers demanding to be rewarded fairly for their work, as the Society of Authors warns that unless “serious” changes are made by publishers, the professional author “will become an endangered species”.
Read more here

Richard Lea for The Guardian
The Society of Authors reveals 2015 saw the highest number of applications for financial assistance, with more well-known authors beginning to ask for help
Read more here

Jonathan Mandell for HowlRound
Jonathan Mandell, unable to understand several recent plays, goes to the source to explain them, and then humorously debates how important it is for theatre to be coherent.
Read more here

Mya Kagan for HowlRound
Playwright Mya Kagan reveals the first response to a script submitted under the name Max.
Read more here

J. Holtham for American Theatre
Increasingly, playwrights writing for television are finding creative satisfaction they don’t always get in the theatre.
Read more here

Howard Sherman
Can you really ban critics from a production?
Read more here

Nicole Serratore for American Theatre
A performance piece used bits of copyrighted plays to critique the portrayal of women in contemporary theatre. Was it fair use or out of bounds?
Read more here


Winston’s Birthday
by Paul Baker

The Court Theatre 6 – 27 February 2016
Secrets are revealed, resentments released and new understandings formed in this fresh and funny perspective on an iconic and larger-than-life family. It’s 1962 and Randolph Churchill is holding a luncheon party to celebrate the 88th birthday of his admired but estranged father. Sir Winston is a fading force and there is unfinished business in his loving but dysfunctional family.

Hillary Clinton / Young Lover
by Arthur Meek and Geoff Pinfield

Theatre Beating at Circa 30 January – 20 February 2016
Richard Meros, B.A. humbly proposes to inaugurate a golden age of American culture & society by encouraging Hillary Clinton to take him as her Young Lover.

by Anthony McCarten

Salzburger Landestheater, Salzburg, Austria 5 February – 24 April 2016
After a terrorist attack on the London underground, Azime, a shy twenty year-old from a Kurdish family realises that she must speak out. In her own way. She secretly signs up for a comedy acting course, slips on a burka and gets on stage…. as a world-first muslim female comic. Her appearance is dynamite.

Kings of the Gym
by Dave Armstrong

The Fortune Theatre 6 – 27 February 2016
Principal Viv Cleaver wants to clean up low-decile Hautapu High School. Her big problem is the PE department, in which unfit and un-PC Laurie Connor is head teacher. He spends his days gambling and watching TV instead of teaching the curriculum. But when super smart and sporty student teacher Annie Tupua arrives on a placement, Viv sees her chance to make some changes.

The Road That Wasn’t There
by Ralph McCubbin Howell

Trick of the Light at Adelaide Fringe Festival, Australia 12 - 20 February 2016
In New Zealand, there are some 56,000 kilometres of paper roads – streets and towns that exist only on surveyors' maps. Or do they? A young woman strays from the beaten track and finds herself in a paper world. It seems to be a land of possibility, but she soon discovers that things that happen in the fictional world can have frighteningly real consequences.

The Bookbinder
by Ralph McCubbin Howell

Trick of the Light at Adelaide Fringe Festival, Australia 12 - 20 February 2016
They say you can get lost in a good book. But it's worse to get lost in a bad one... From award-winning company Trick of the Light Theatre comes a story of mystery, magic and mayhem. The Bookbinder weaves shadowplay, paper art, puppetry, and music into an original dark fairytale . An inventive one-man performance for curious children and adventurous adults.

by Dean Parker

Auckland Theatre Company at Sky City 12 - 28 February 2016
Auckland's A-List clusters in Clevedon for a glorious weekend of passes and pony shots. And a little polo. Saddle up for a raunchy, riotous ride on the wild side. Dean Parker lifts the lid on Auckland's outrageously fortunate and filthy rich in a glossy summer satire with stick and balls. No one who's anyone can afford to miss the world premiere scandal-fest of Polo!

The Ballad of Jimmy Costello
by Tim Balme

De Noorder Smederij, The Netherlands 12 - 30 April 2016
In the 1960s New Zealanders began cheering on a car thief-prison-escaper and inadvertently promoted a small town kiwi boy from petty criminal to multi-prison escapee to National folk icon... A hero who ran rings around the police in his many bids for freedom. Inspired by a true story.

A Play About Space
by Uther Dean and My Accomplice

My Accomplice at NZ Fringe Festival 12, 17, 29 Feb 1 – 2 March 2016
Join Space Captain Florencia Dreggs and her bumbling right hand man Warner Hornshaw as they voyage across the galaxy going up against cyborg zombies, killer robots, aliens with four arms, and the horrifying crab-like Khalkalari. A Play About Space is every sci-fi film you loved when you were ten and every sci-fi film you love today all packed into one high-octane and hilarious hour.

I Lip Sync For Him
by Sam Brooks

Smoke Labours Productions at NZ Fringe Festival 18 - 20 February 2016
A fully lip-synced cabaret from award-winning playwright and lip-sync artist Sam Brooks (The 21st Narcissus, Stutterpop) and actor Dan Veint (Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys). This gay love story features songs from everybody's favourites: Kylie Minogue, Nicki Minaj, Fall Out Boy, Carly Rae Jepsen and more!

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Gross
by Adam Goodall

Leaving Party at NZ Fringe Festival 22 – 26 February 2016
Critics think Final Destination 3 is "boring", "laughable" and "pointless sadism". Adam Goodall disagrees. He thinks it's amazing, and he wants you to think that too! Taking in everything from Orson Welles to Carly Rae Jepsen, this is a show about high art, low art and the stories behind our personal canons. And it's also about a film where someone gets skewered by the American flag.

Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die
by Abby Howells

Basement Theatre 23 – 27 February 2016
A control-freak actor, a sex-crazed celebrity obsessive and a socially phobic fan fiction writer have one thing in common: Benedict Cumberbatch. When they hear that Holmes/Kahn/Smaug is making a trip to New Zealand, they devise a show in the hope he will come and see it and fall in love with me, I mean them. Definitely them.

Not in Our Neighbourhood
by Jamie McCaskill

Tikapa Productions at the NZ Festival 26 – 28 February and Auckland Festival 2- 5 March 2016
A powerful, thought-provoking and refreshingly honest play about the many guises of domestic violence. Creating a documentary to raise awareness, Maisey Mata encounters Sasha, Cat and Teresa at the Women’s Refuge in Hauraki.

The ACB with Honora Lee
by Kate De Goldi, adapted by Jane Waddell

Circa Theatre at the NZ Festival 27 February – 26 March 2016
A charming exploration of kindness, patience and acceptance, it follows the relationship between young Perry and her eccentric Gran, Honora Lee, who’s losing her memory. As more and more words slip from Gran’s grasp, Perry furiously gathers them up, turning them into an illustrated and disorderly alphabet book, which becomes a gift of love to her grandmother.

Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong
by Jo Randerson

Barbarian Productions at NZ Fringe Festival 29 February – 3 March 2016
The raucous and dangerous Punk Barbarian returns to the stage. This powerful and hilarious solo show by legendary writer and performer Jo Randerson is a wake-up call for those that have fallen asleep, and a call to arms for those who have given up the fight. It includes gruesome battle renditions, piano recitals of Bach and readings of Robert Frost.

All Your Wants and Needs Fulfilled Forever
by Eli Kent

The Playground Collective at Vault Festival, London, UK 2 – 6 March 2016
Sex, video games and his three pet rats; Simon successfully distracts himself from the recent death of his father in all the ways you might expect, until a fracture in the fourth wall reveals his world might not be all that it seems.

The Woman Who Forgot
by Rachel Davies, created with Jess Feast

Storybox at the NZ Festival 2 – 9 March 2016
Who needs a stage when you have an entire city? A multi-dimensional piece of adventure theatre which combines a smartphone app, texts, Skype calls and live performers. Step into the shoes of Elizabeth Snow, who wakes suddenly with no idea who she is, and join her on an immersive journey through Wellington as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life.

The Underarm
by David Geary and Justin Gregory

Silly Mid On Productions Australian Tour 4 March – 1 April 2016
Two Brothers. One Ball. So Much Lost. It’s just not cricket This is the story of two brothers ripped apart by the most infamous act in trans-Tasman sport. As adults, they are reunited at another test clash in Wellington. What results is a tumultuous ride through sport, politics and the ugly side of broken families and, of course, the perennial sledging match that is Aussie-Kiwi relations.

Duck Death and the Tulip
By Wolf Erlbruch, adapted for the stage by Peter Wilson

Little Dog Barking at the Auckland Festival 5 - 6 March 2016
A duck strikes up an unlikely friendship with death, and a strangely heart-warming story unfolds. Based on the internationally celebrated book by Wolf Erlbruch, Duck, Death and the Tulip will intrigue and enchant both children and adults.

Cell Fish
by Miriama McDowell and Rob Mokaraka

Auckland Festival RAW, Q Loft 6 March 2016
Auckland Festival's RAW (featuring works at different stages of development) presents scenes from Cell Fish, a black comedy-come-psychological thriller exploring the inside workings of a New Zealand prison and the inside workings of the minds of the incarcerated. Who will succeed? Who will fail? Who is genuine? And who’s saying whatever they need to get paroled?

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