Dean Parker wins first Playmarket Award; Whiti Hereaka wins Mason award

Press Release – Playmarket
The Playmarket Award has been presented to Dean Parker at a ceremony at Downstage Theatre in Wellington. The award was created to recognise a playwright who has made a significant artistic contribution to theatre in New Zealand, and grants a $20,000 cash prize.

With thirty plays in his catalogue at Playmarket, the New Zealand playwrights’ agency, Parker’s playwriting career spans from his first play produced at Downstage in 1974 to the production of Tigers of Wrath currently running at Circa Theatre.

His plays provoke and entertain audiences while examining New Zealand’s political history and the political perspective of individuals. In 1988 he wrote; “I would describe myself as a class-conscious writer.

I’m with Lenin. I’m for the working class seizing control of the wealth it creates, for the replacement of parliament, the army, the police, the judiciary – all those deadly manacles of state control – with workers’ committees and militias, and all this done as part of a world-wide struggle.” He has written plays set on a factory shop floor, within the National Party caucus, war-ravaged Baghdad, the New Zealand Legation in Moscow, and the story of Robert Muldoon. He is prominent in his union, the NZ Writer’s Guild.”

He was born in Napier of mainly Irish ancestry and has worked as a writer for stage, television, and film for much of his life. He has also written many radio plays and contributes to the New Zealand Listener and the New Zealand Herald.

His plays include adaptations of Great Expectations, The Trial, The Hollow Men and Other People’s Wars.

Other notable plays include The Man That Lovelock Couldn’t Beat, Baghdad, Baby!, and Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

Midnight in Moscow which The Press reviewer Alan Scott called “entertaining and thought-provoking” and “one of his best to date”, is being produced in two cities next year after a tumultuous start in its premiere at The Court theatre in Christchurch where it was playing on 22 February 2011 when the earthquake hit.

Parker has won awards for his screenwriting including for co-writing the successful big-screen comedy Came a Hot Friday. His television work includes the Welsh-Kiwi rugby tale Old Scores, which Parker cowrote with Greg McGee. With McGee he co-created the ‘80s trucking series Roche, and the goldmining drama Gold, a co-production between New Zealand and Canada. He also worked on episodes of police drama Mortimer’s Patch and Betty’s Bunch The award is funded by Creative New Zealand and administered by Playmarket. Parker is the inaugural winner.

Press Release – Playmarket
The Bruce Mason Playwriting Award was presented to Whiti Hereaka at a ceremony at Downstage Theatre in Wellington.

The award exists to recognise early success in the career of the winning playwright; to encourage their continued exploration of the theatre medium and grants a $10,000 cash prize.

Whiti is an award-winning playwright, novelist and screenwriter – holding a Masters in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) from Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters – and is a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.

She has been previously shortlisted for the Bruce Mason Award and has had great success in the Adam New Zealand Play Award winning Best New Play by a Maori Playwright, for her play Te Kaupoi in 2010 and the same award for Rona and Rabbit on the Moon in 2011.

Murray Lynch, Director of Playmarket, NZ’s playwrights’ agency, says “Whiti’s plays are poetic, poignant, and wildly imaginative”.

Her first play was a finalist in the NZ Theatre Federation one-act play festival. She has twice been commissioned by Young and Hungry Arts Trust and been recognised in Playmarket’s Plays for the Young competition. She was writer in residence at Randall Cottage in Wellington where she worked on her debut novel, The Graphologist’s Apprentice, published by Huia in 2010, and which was later shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers First Book Award in 2011. She was also resident at the Michael King writer’s centre in Devonport, Auckland in 2011. She is of Ngati Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa descent, and is currently working on her second novel.

The Bruce Mason Playwriting Award has, since 1983, recognised the work of an outstanding emerging New Zealand playwright. The recipient is decided through voting by a panel of leading Artistic Directors and Script Advisors throughout New Zealand. Previous winners include many of this country’s most celebrated writers including Hone Kouka, Briar Grace-Smith and Jo Randerson and was last year awarded to Arthur Meek.

The Award is named after the man considered to be New Zealand’s first most significant playwright, Bruce Mason, who died in 1982. His plays are still produced widely today and many, such as The Pohutakawa Tree and End of the Golden Weather have come to be considered New Zealand classics.

The award is funded by the Bruce Mason Estate, The FAME Trust, and Downstage Theatre Society.

 

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