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Leading British Playwright to Work in NZ Cities

For Immediate Release
12 December 2005

Leading British Playwright to Work in Auckland, Wellington And Dunedin

"A brilliant writer of immense imagination with an acute observation of peoples foibles" Independent

"A major new voice in British theatre" The Scotsman

Leading British playwright and Royal Court playwriting teacher Simon Stephens will visit Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin in February and present his exciting new play to New Zealand audiences.

In association with British Council New Zealand and THE EDGE, Playmarket is thrilled to announce Emerging Voices. Stephens will work with selected new and emerging New Zealand playwrights, run courses and there will be public readings of his latest play Motortown.

A resident dramatist at the National Theatre in London in 2006 and much produced with leading British theatres, Stephens’ Motortown premieres at the Royal Court Theatre in London in April as part of their 50th anniversary celebration.

A bruising, blackly comic love story that spans casual sex, political amorality and sudden, extreme violence, Stephens’ provocative play charts a day in the life of a returning soldier who returns from Iraq to find his life and England in disarray: cue a 24-hour road trip through the heart of a warring England.

“This is an exciting project for the public and emerging New Zealand playwrights alike,” says Playmarket Director Mark Amery. “Motortown is one of the most affecting plays I’ve read this year, but more importantly Simon is a real inspiration to playwrights and a great teacher.

“It’s important in our developing theatre culture as we evolve our own distinctive voices that we remain also open to what others have to offer. Simon Stephens’ work and teaching practise represents an exciting period in contemporary British theatre.”

“We are excited to bring Simon Stephens to New Zealand and support Playmarket in connecting aspirational young New Zealand playwrights with the best of contemporary UK theatre practice” says British Council Arts and Creative Industries Manager Anna Cameron.

“This programme is about developing stronger connections between the UK and New Zealand theatre cultures. Earlier this year we established a partnership with the Royal Court Theatre and sent emerging playwright Louise Tu’u to the Royal Court Young Writers Programme.”

The playreadings are free to the public and will be followed by discussions with the playwright:

Auckland Tuesday 14 February at 7pm, Limelight, Level 3, Aotea Centre
Dunedin Monday 20 February at 7pm, Fortune Studio Theatre
Wellington Thursday 23 February at 7.30pm, Paramount Theatre bar

Playmarket is now taking applications from new and emerging playwrights for two-day courses with Stephens to be held in the three centres. The course follows Stephens’ acclaimed Royal Court tutorial model, covering such areas as dramatic action, character/dialogue, stagecraft, redrafting and narrative/structure. They include rigorous group discussion, the analysis of contemporary British texts and writing exercises.

Congratulations also to six emerging playwrights have been selected to meet individually with Stephens and work on their scripts: Kelly Kilgour and Thomas Sainsbury (Auckland), Lisa Norriss (Christchurch), Emily Duncan and Nigel Waters (Dunedin) and Lucy O’Brien (Wellington).

Stephens is the author of eight stage plays, four of which premiered at the Royal Court, where he was resident dramatist in 2000, two at the Bush Theatre and two at the Royal Exchange Manchester, where he was Pearson Writer on Attachment in 2001. Stephens won the Pearson Award for Best New Play, 2001 (for Port), Best Visiting Production at Tron Theatre Awards, 2003 (for One Minute) and was nominated for the Olivier Award for Most Promising Playwright, 2001 (for Herons). Stephens last play On the Shores of the Western World was a 2005 Royal Exchange and National Theatre London co-production. Stephens is a resident dramatist at the National Theatre in 2005.

Following on from Playmarket’s 2005 masterclasses by American playwright / tutor Michael Wright and German playwright / tutor Kristo Sagor, Emerging Voices is another exciting opportunity for New Zealand playwrights.

Applications for courses must be in writing (via email or letter) by Friday January 20 to or PO Box 9767, Te Aro, Wellington. Places are strictly limited. If you have not previously submitted work to Playmarket please include an example of your playwriting with your application.

Cost: $80 (Playwright members and clients), $110 (non-members – includes membership)


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