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Since its launch in 2007, PLAYMARKET’s New Zealand Play Series has published eleven volumes of major works for the stage, yet New Zealand theatres have produced many significant plays that remain unpublished. The New Zealand Play Series seeks to ensure that many of these important theatrical works reach the readership and further audiences they deserve.

PLAYMARKET has again partnered with Series Editor David O’Donnell and Whitireia Publishing - publishing programme leader Rachel Lawson and her students Hannah Newport-Watson, Poppy Haynes, Jo Garden, Lianna Gonlag and Keri Trim – in editing and production and we value the opportunity to give experience to and foster relationships with up-and-coming publishers.


By Lucy O’Brien

“The story of a girl named Kate with cerebral palsy who’s a total bitch’” Lucy O’Brien

Since her birth 19 years ago Kate’s parents, Daniel and Lindsay, have been struggling to cope with bringing up Kate who suffers from cerebral palsy. The demands made upon them are spinning out of control.

Katydid is a gritty, often very funny, play - a modern day folk tale; a fable that curls its lip at happy endings or a neatly packaged moral.

The play achieved standing ovations during its premiere season at BATS Theatre in August 2010 and went on to win O’Brien Outstanding New Playwright of the Year at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards.

Katydid was born in 2005 while O’Brien was studying for a MA in scriptwriting under Ken Duncum at the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) where she emerged as one of the most talented writers of the programme in recent years.

O’Brien’s experiences of growing up with disability in her own family made her keenly aware of how people with disabilities are portrayed in film and television: -

“What struck me the most was the common trait of dull saintliness and chastity. I decided I wanted to write something I’d never seen before—a character with a disability who was a little bit wicked. In fact, whenever a friend asked what I was writing about, I would answer, ‘The story of a girl named Kate with cerebral palsy who’s a total bitch.’”

The play raises questions about society’s attitudes to the disabled, but avoids simplistic political statements, deftly negotiating the balance between black humour and humanity as Kate, engagingly manipulative and poignantly vulnerable, seeks her independence.

“I believe there is room—giant, gaping chasms in fact—to tell more stories about people living with disabilities, and I am pleased to be able to add one more to the canon.” Lucy O’Brien

Available to buy here.

No.8 Wire

8 plays/8 decades

“A DIY approach to theatre…”

/The sense of New Zealanders as a nation of do-it-yourselfers pervades every sector of society, and the arts are no exception says David O’Donnell in his introduction.

Throughout New Zealand’s relatively short theatrical history there are countless examples of theatre practitioners with inadequate resources and funding applying a DIY approach to theatre production. This volume celebrates the No. 8 wire approach to playwriting and production by showcasing eight short plays over eight decades, from the amateur theatre groups of the 1930s to the professional fringe of the 21st century.

Violet Targuse and Isobel Andrews represent the long period in the mid-20th century where the theatrical torch was kept burning by amateur societies rather than professional companies. Often these amateur groups were run by women, particularly during the war years when most able-bodied men were on overseas service. The female orientation of the amateur groups is reected in the themes of Rabbits and The Willing Horse, both of which focus on women’s issues in New Zealand society, though in contrasting ways.

When the modern professional era began in the 1960s and 1970s, Robert Lord was a key gure, both as a playwright and as one of the founders of Playmarket. His Balance of Payments represents the anarchic, satiric spirit of that era as playwrights became more condent in critiquing aspects of the Kiwi character.

Among the many voices to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s, Stuart Hoar and Fiona Samuel stood out for their freshness and originality, demonstrated by the playful postmodernism of Scott of the Antarctic and the vibrant characterisations in One Flesh.

As devised theatre became more popular around the turn of the millennium, resulting scripts became more sophisticated and sometimes ground-breaking. This was the case with SEEyD, created using a methodical devising approach led by actor/director Tim Spite. SEEyD’s innovative staging and potent examination of the controversial debates around the genetic engineering of food spawned a devising theatre company which to date has produced ten original devised plays.

The younger generation of playwrights is represented in this collection by Kathryn van Beek and Thomas Sainsbury. Van Beek’s Indiscretions presents a radically different view of young Kiwi women from that portrayed in the plays of Targuse and Andrews, while Sainsbury’s Sunday Roast exemplies his energetic and inventive No. 8 wire approach which has seen a prolic output of self-produced work in a relatively short time period.

Available to buy here


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