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NZ theatre picked by SoHo Playhouse for New York showcase

New Zealand theatre handpicked by SoHo Playhouse for 2020 showcase in New York

We are thrilled to announce three NZ shows all featuring Māori and Pacific performers have been selected for a 2020 showcase in New York!

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New Zealand theatre handpicked by SoHo Playhouse for 2020 showcase in New York

A season of New Zealand theatre is set to hit New York stages next year. Showing at SoHo Playhouse, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, Modern Māori Quartet: Two Worlds and The Contours of Heaven will feature at the historic theatre between 3 – 30 January 2020. The individual works are produced by FCC/Victor Rodger, Square and Sums Co., and Zanetti Productions respectively.

SoHo’s Artistic Director, Darren Lee Cole, invited the three works to New York after being impressed by their performances during a visit to the Performing Arts Network of New Zealand (PANNZ) Arts Market, held in Auckland in early March 2019. SoHo Playhouse is a critically acclaimed off-Broadway theatre in Manhattan, New York, with a long and proud history of being a platform for international artists.

Darren’s interest was piqued by common concerns born of separate experiences embodied in the performances ¬¬– experiences which defy borders and cross cultures.

“With its guttural slam poetry style about women finding their voice in their world, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt transported me back to the first time I saw Ntozake Shange's acclaimed theatre piece, For Colored Girls..., where seven women who have experienced oppression tell their stories,” Darren reflected.

The Modern Māori Quartet: Two Worlds, through music and captivating storytelling, offers a universal lesson ¬– no matter who we are, or where we are, only the truth will set us free. Contours of Heaven invites us into the world of youth at the margins of society all through an incredible soundscape,” he added.

“All three are humanising plays that show how performance art can truly bring the world together,” said Darren.

The season which will be produced by PANNZ, has been strategically timed to coincide with the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Market, 10 – 14 January 2020. APAP is one of the largest markets for the performing arts in North America. Adding to the New Zealand presence in New York, performing arts professionals were able to apply to Creative New Zealand’s International Market Development Fund for support to attend the market. In order to leverage from this exposure, Creative New Zealand will support a delegation with an official booth.

Creative New Zealand’s Senior Manager Arts Development, Cath Cardiff said, “We’re delighted that the quality and appeal of New Zealand theatre continues to be recognised internationally. This is a valuable opportunity for these companies to perform at this respected theatre and to attract onward touring opportunities. By attending the market with a larger delegation we will be able to extend the benefits to other New Zealand performing artists,” she added.

“Over the years, we’ve worked hard to develop strategic partnerships at home and abroad which support New Zealand companies to take advantage of such opportunities. It’s wonderful to be able to facilitate and support this collaboration between SoHo and PANNZ and to create new avenues for New Zealand performing artists,” she said.

Louise Gallagher, Executive Director, PANNZ, said, "Darren was invited to attend the PANNZ Arts Market as part of our pilot international programme. This outcome of the Market is hugely validating and shows what we already knew – that there are very real opportunities for New Zealand work to be presented internationally and we’re thrilled to be opening these doors through our showcases. To be able to follow this opportunity through to being the Producer of the New York season feels very rewarding.”

Creative New Zealand has invested NZ$284,000 towards the season of New Zealand theatre at the SoHo Playhouse which is being produced in partnership with PANNZ.


The Shows

Wild Dogs Under My Skirt

Writer: Tusiata Avia

Director: Anapela Polata'ivao
Producer: FCC/Victor Rodger

An ensemble piece, performed by an all-female cast of six Pasifika actors, using Tusiata Avia’s poetry to describe the intersection of New Zealand and Samoan cultures.

Cast: Nora Aati (as Aunty Avai), Petmal Lam (as Aunty Fale), Saane Vaipulu (as Manila), Stacey Leilua (as Tusiata), Katerina Fatupaito (as Dusky Maiden), Anapela Polata'ivao (as Teine Sa).

Performing from 3 – 19 January 2020

Modern Māori Quartet: Two Worlds

Writers: James Tito, Maaka Pohatu, Matariki Whatarau, Francis Kora and Matu Ngaropo

Producer: Square and Sums Co

Performing from 10 – 19 January

With signature style and humour the award-winning MMQ weaves together four stores full of heart and revelation that unfold the fabric of Māori musical culture, its genealogy and evolution.

Layering an earnest and uniquely Kiwi narrative to their soaring harmonies and classic quirky charm, the award winning Modern Māori Quartet invite you to meet Koro, Big Bro, uncle and Bub, and experience their take on what it really means to be Māori in this day and age.

The Contours of Heaven

Writers/creators: Ana Chaya Scotney, Puti Lancaster, Marama Beamish and Owen McCarthy

Director: Puti Lancaster

Producer: Zanetti Productions

Performing from 9 – 14 January 2020

What does it take to determine who you could be?

Told with aroha, love, and striking originality through verbatim theatre, live vocal harmonies and movement, this one-woman show tells the real stories of six young people coming of age in The East Coast of Aotearoa New Zealand, Te Matau a Māui, The Hawke's Bay.

Developed in Aotearoa New Zealand, this iteration is The Contours of Heaven's international debut.

Winner (Auckland Fringe 2018): Auckland Arts Festival Fringe Award Best Theatre; Best Performance (Theatre); Basement Theatre Migration Award

Season Producer

The Performing Arts Network of New Zealand (PANNZ)

As season producer, PANNZ will be responsible for production and delivery services for the season 3 – 20 January 2020.


The Performing Arts Network of New Zealand (PANNZ) supports the New Zealand professional performing arts sector. It’s core objectives are to promote and encourage a sustainable performing arts touring network, and to facilitate and develop communications networks within the professional performing arts community. Activity includes running the annual PANNZ Arts Market & Tour-Makers National Touring Agency.

The PANNZ Arts Market was originally launched in 1999, in partnership with EVANZ (Entertainment Venues Association of New Zealand). EVANZ formally ceded their involvement in the Market in 2006 but remain close associates of PANNZ and continue to hold a seat on the PANNZ Executive.

The Arts Market is the sole marketplace for performing arts in NZ and has grown from a one day market featuring 11 works to a three day event featuring more than 50 works. It is now one of the most important industry events on the New Zealand calendar.

In 2014 PANNZ was awarded the Creative New Zealand Touring Agency funding to deliver medium to large-scale regional and national tours of contemporary Theatre, Dance and Music throughout New Zealand. Tour-Makers was established in 2015 and is working, often in partnership with key venues, to establish a sustainable touring network for professional work in New Zealand.


SoHo Playhouse

Darren Lee Cole

Chairman of the Board and Artistic Director – SoHo Playhouse

The Soho Playhouse is an historic off-Broadway theatre in Soho NYC. Its main stage is a 178 seat proscenium arch theatre. Darren Lee Cole has worked off-Broadway for over 35 years and has been the Producing Artistic Director of the SoHo Playhouse since 2004 where he has presented or directed over 50 ground-breaking works that have won many prominent theatre awards.

From SoHo Playhouse

Having influenced Off-Broadway and the theatre industry as a whole for the past 35 years, Darren Lee Cole has built his career around producing groundbreaking works, directing stellar performances, and teaching some of the world's finest actors.

Darren truly learned about theatre from the legendary John Houseman and has been inspired through him in his producing, acting, and directing. Darren has produced over 150 productions through Cole Theatricals in New York, Los Angeles, Sweden, Canada, England, Scotland, Costa Rica, and many other states and countries. Darren became Producing Artistic Director of the SoHo Playhouse in 2004 where has produced or directed an additional 50 groundbreaking works that have won many of Off-Broadway's most prominent theatre awards.

“SoHo Playhouse is one of the last great venues for the curious. It’s a place for artists to share their messages with the world, and a place for audiences to listen.”



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