September 22, 2008


Five emerging playwrights have been shortlisted by a national theatre panel for New Zealand’s most significant national theatre award, the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award, New Zealand playwrights’ agency Playmarket has announced. They are Geraldine Brophy, Ross Gumbley, Branwen Millar, Paul Rothwell and Thomas Sainsbury.
The Bruce Mason Award which will be presented at Downstage Theatre on November 21. Since 1983 it has recognised the work of an outstanding emerging New Zealand playwright. Such a playwright will have had one or more full-length plays produced to acclaim. Previous winners include many of this country’s most celebrated writers, including Briar Grace Smith, David Geary and Toa Fraser and was last year awarded to Michael Galvin. The award is sponsored by the Downstage Theatre Society, The FAME Trust, Bruce Mason Estate and Playmarket.
Geraldine Brophy may be best known to the public as an actor (Second Hand Wedding) but she is quickly building an equally fabulous career as a dramatist, which began with the premiere of The Viagra Monologues in 2003. Four plays have premiered since, throughout New Zealand.

Ross Gumbley was better known as a co-writer with Alison Quigan on a series of works before he struck out alone with great success with Happy Coupling in 2006. He followed this up in 2007 with another mainstage success, an adaptation of The Thirty Nine Steps.

Branwen Millar‘s Armslength premiered to strong notices at Circa Theatre in January 2008, following making Branwen a winner in the Playmarket New Zealand Young Playwrights Competition in 2007. It was followed by a commission for Young and Hungry Arts Trust, Swansong which premiered at BATS in June 2008.

Five of Paul Rothwell‘s plays have been mounted in the last three years providing both delight and controversial insights into the heart of New Zealand society. He has twice been nominated for the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Most Outstanding New Playwright and is a previous winner of Playmarket’s New Zealand Young Playwrights Competition. A new work Christmas Indoor premieres in Wellington in December, and The Blackening has a reading with Auckland Theatre Company this year.

Thomas Sainsbury is arguably currently New Zealand’s most prolific playwright and has gained considerable attention and praise in the past 18 months for productions of his dark comedies in Auckland and Wellington, including Luv, The Mall, Loser and Beast. He has been previously selected three times for Playmarket’s New Zealand Young Playwrights Competition.

The award and nominations are decided through voting by a panel of ten leading directors and play developers throughout New Zealand. The winner will be awarded a $10,000 full-length play commission.

The Award is named after the man considered to be New Zealand’s first most significant playwright, Bruce Mason who died in 1982.

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