March 1, 2009


Next weekend during the Auckland Festival sees the largest gathering of professional playwrights and producers in many years. Organised by New Zealand’s playwrights’ agency and development organisation, Playmarket, the forum NEW WRITING / NEW PRODUCING involves participation of over 150 theatre professionals from around the country, including 75 playwrights. NEW WRITING / NEW PRODUCING will consider the ways New Zealand plays are being developed, produced and toured.

The two-day forum features two free public play presentations of work in development-
Playmarket’s New New Zealand Play Award Winner The 53rd Victim by Pip Hall, directed by Gary Henderson is at 2pm on Saturday March 7 at the Upper NZI Room at the Aotea Centre, THE EDGE. Based on the true story of a New Zealand woman involved in the aftermath of the 2002 London Bombings, the play is an in-depth look at a complex character where the lines between a person’s own fact and fiction are blurred. 
On Sunday March 8 at 2pm is three time New Zealand Young playwrights’ Competition Winner Kate Morris’s Sketch, directed by Stephen Bain. In the play, helped by a spirited artist a terminally ill woman puts her last days on display in an art gallery. Also at the Upper NZI Room at the Aotea Centre, THE EDGE.

The forum recognises the strong growth in theatre in Auckland and nationally in recent years, says Playmarket Director Mark Amery. However Amery also says that that growth hasn’t been matched by equivalent growth in infrastructure to ensure the development and long life of quality New Zealand work for the stage, "not to mention strong careers for playwrights and other practitioners".   
"The theatre scene appears more fragmented than ever," says Amery. "Quantity doesn’t equate with quality. This forum is an opportunity for those shaping our theatre’s future to articulate their visions and grow professional communities of likeminded playwrights and producers. Playwrights generally remain woefully isolated from theatres. Given these are some of our leading storytellers we’re encouraging closer communication to inspire change." 
Playmarket’s licensing statistics show that the professional licensing of New Zealand plays has doubled in ten years and quadrupled in twenty. Not only have some of our older big producers been growing, our so-called independent scene is no longer small fry. Recent analysis shows that the royalties accruing from independent production (i.e not the established recurrently Creative New Zealand funded theatres) accounts over the last ten years for New Zealand playwright income the equivalent of Auckland Theatre Company and Circa Theatre put together over the same time. 
The forum centres on a range of topics where Playmarket sees there is significant work to be done to improve the livelihood and quality of our theatre. Sessions include a look at the national infrastructure for the longer life of productions, Auckland regional growth, the licensing of New Zealand plays overseas, literary management in theatres and the range of development models being offered by festivals and presenting venues. 
The forum forms part of the Aotearoa Playwrights Conference, funded by Creative New Zealand, which started in July last year with ten playwrights on a writing retreat for a week north of Wellington. One of the products of that week of writing was Pip Hall’s The 53rd Victim, which is presented this weekend. 
For the forum Playmarket is joined by national dance organisation DANZ, who are hosting a parallel event the DANZ Choreographic Conference. This also brings together a significant body of professional New Zealand choreographers to participate in sessions with theatre practitioners and run parallel sessions of importance to the dance community. 
NEW WRITING / NEW PRODUCING is produced in association and with the assistance of partners THE EDGE, Auckland Festival, DANZ, PAANZ and Creative New Zealand. 
For further information please contact Georgina Titheridge at Ph. 04 382 8462 or visit our website

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