A Brief Rumination about being a Playwright in New Zealand

The life of a playwright in New Zealand isn’t perhaps as lonely and isolated as it once was. Fifty years ago there was next to no home-grown theatre in New Zealand. There were the Campions and their company the New Zealand Players, and Mervyn Thompson, plying their trade around the country; but it wasn’t until the seventies that being a playwright became an identifiable profession.

Of course the greatest support a New Zealand playwright can receive is from the theatres themselves – those that are willing to put on their plays! All the reassurances of friends and promises from actors and directors count for next to nothing if there is no interest from the theatre companies. Without them there can be no career, no income, no reputation …

– unless the playwright decides to hell with everybody and resolves to put on their show themselves! This is easier if the playwright is also an actor and/or director – since they will be able to make a direct contribution to the creation of the show. If not, and if the playwright has little association with the theatre and therefore no friendships or favours to draw on, then there will be a considerable expense.

Mounting a show in New Zealand doesn’t require the same sized budget as it would in say London or New York, but to cover decent publicity and more than token lighting and set design requires a budget of some tens of thousands of dollars. And since few playwrights in New Zealand are wealthy, they must resort to plotting and scheming …

(to be continued)


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