January 26, 2010


Six New Zealand plays publisher Playmarket believes deserve to be considered classics have been published (in 3 books of 2 plays each) as part of an effort to see contemporary New Zealand playwrights’ work appreciated and read as literature, as well as performed on stage.

Acclaimed plays by Dave Armstrong, Oscar Kightley, Sarah Delahunty and David Geary are the latest releases in playwrights’ organisation Playmarket’s New Zealand Play Series, ensuring major New Zealand plays are available in print.

“In the last twenty years New Zealand has produced many significant plays that have remained unpublished,” says outgoing Playmarket Director and Series Editor Mark Amery. “These works I believe are part of an essential body of New Zealand literature which deserve the love and attention of readers’ eyes that book publishing provides.”

Included are the first New Zealand plays to put rugby, shearing and sheep actually on stage (David Geary’s Pack of Girls and The Learner’s Stand respectively), two Kiwi deconstructions of classic literature for young people (Sarah Delahunty’s 2b or nt 2b and Eating the Wolf) and two witty works that celebrate the political and cultural differences in New Zealand society (Dave Armstrong’s The Tutor and, with Oscar Kightley, Niu Sila).

All three playwrights continue to be amongst New Zealand’s most active. Dave Armstrong’s latest Le Sud opens with Auckland Theatre Company on February 13, and David Geary’s Mark Twain and Me in Maorilandpremieres with Taki Rua Productions as part of the New Zealand Festival on March 13.

Between them these published plays have won countless awards and rave reviews but have never been available in print. They join plays by Gary Henderson, Dianna Fuemana, Toa Fraser, Tom Scott and John Vakidis in a series of books that seeks to plug a gap in plays produced since 1990 that have been published.

The titles are available from New Zealand’s only online play bookshop at www.playmarket.org.nz/bookshop and all good bookshops. The Play Series is published with the support of Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Players’ Trust.

Further information on the plays and playwrights is included below.


1. Two Plays: Dave Armstrong (With Oscar Kightley)

From the combined wit and talent of co-writers Oscar Kightley and Dave Armstrong comes the fresh, funny and poignant Niu Sila, one of New Zealand’s most loved plays. The play centres on a friendship that spans twenty years, two cultures and one neighbourhood. In 1970s Auckland, five-year-old Ioane Tafioka, just off the boat from the Pacific, moves in next door to five-year-old Peter Burton. They begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives. Deftly exposing the flaws in our society, Niu Sila is at once uplifting and deeply sad.

Dave Armstrong has a superb sense for what some New Zealanders really think, and he gleefully exposes them in the award-winning play The Tutor. Morally corrupt Auckland fat cat John Sellers hires goody-good maths tutor Richard Holton to raise his wayward son’s grades. The Tutor is a prickly comedy, skewering equally the brash capitalist and the po-faced liberal, yet ultimately finding a common humanity.

Praise for Niu Sila 
‘If the title is a mystery to you, think God Defend Niu Sila. Such is the unique, organic, humour that abounds in this cutting-edge new comedy.’ – Sunday Star-Times
‘Tucked amidst the many laughs, poignant observations and heartfelt performances comes a feeling for what it means to live in a truly multicultural land.’ – Capital Times

Praise for The Tutor 
 ‘…bright, hugely entertaining, accessible and engaging…’ – Peter Hawes
‘This comedy rocks … a tight, provocative and funny piece of theatre that also says something useful about human nature. Not to be missed.’ – New Zealand Sunday Star-Times

2. Two Plays : Sarah Delahunty

An acclaimed play ideal for young actors, 2b or nt 2b takes six characters from classic literature and turns them into techno-savvy teens struggling to see the point of their lives in the twenty-first century. Seamlessly blending dialogue from Shakespeare, Sophocles, Chekhov and Ibsen with the vernacular of today’s youth, Sarah Delahunty shines the spotlight on a serious issue with warmth, wit and style.

Eating the Wolf similarly illustrates Delahunty’s talent for finding contemporary issues in old tales and presenting them in a fresh and funny way. The much-loved story of Little Red Riding Hood is turned on its head as we are taken on a rapid-fire tour of feminist political history. Packed with symbolism and pace, this multi-layered play will leave you questioning the plight of the modern woman – once you’ve recovered from the belly laughs.

Praise for 2b or nt 2b 
“Ticks all the boxes for theatrical, educational and sociological value. It needs to be published and available as acting sets in every high school and civic library … 2b or nt 2bneeds to be everywhere.” – Theatreview
“[2b or not 2b] is a play that deals with teenage suicide and it does it with comedy which never allows us to forget that while we laugh (and I laughed more at this show than at anything I saw at the Comedy Festival) the underlying seriousness of the theme is always present.” – Dominion Post

Praise for Eating the Wolf
“A must-see for anyone who has wrestled with gender-politics, be they axe or mop wielders, corporate or home executives." – National Business Review

3. Two Plays : David Geary

A classic New Zealand comedy that sees rugby live on stage for the first time, Pack of Girls follows the fortunes of disregarded ‘rugby widow’ Pam. Fed up with her husband’s misguided dreams of sporting stardom, Pam sets about putting her own into practise. Together with her motley, seven-a-side, all-female rugby team the Hurridames, Pam challenges the men on and off the field to change their assumptions. Sparking with wit and racy banter, Pack of Girls is an exuberant and revealing examination of concerns close to New Zealand’s heart.

Meanwhile in the shearing shed, drop-out law student Terry Champion gets more than he bargained for when he lies his way into a shearing job over the summer in David Geary’s award winning The Learner’s Stand. Egged on by by an unlikely gang, including a hardened veteran shearer and a drag queen rousie,Terry begins a quest for self-fulfilment which lays bare the conflicts and overlapping realities of small-town New Zealand. The Learner’s Standswings effortlessly between side-splitting hilarity and moving pathos.

Praise for Learner’s Stand
The Learner’s Stand is a riot of hilarious one-liners and comic characters in a cross between Animal Farm and Footrot Flats” – The Dominion
“Once again, Geary shows his ability to get at the heart of Kiwi culture” – The Listener
“This is great ‘country’ fun, spiced with cunningly served home truths, romantic variations – and a shearing lesson.” – CENTREPOINT

Praise for Pack of Girls 
“…this play couldn’t fail to stir tremors of recognition in the Kiwi soul” – The Listener
 “The play offers itself to us in the fullest possible way and the jokes just keep getting funnier” – Timothy O’Brien 

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