November 26, 2013


The Playmarket Award will be presented to Gary Henderson at the Playmarket 40th Birthday Accolades in Wellington on 24 November 2013

The $20,000 cash prize recognises a playwright who has made a significant artistic contribution to theatre in New Zealand. 

Henderson’s body of work includes the acclaimed plays Skin Tight, Peninsula, Home Land, An Unseasonable Fall of Snow, Mo and Jess Kill Susie, and Sunset Cafe. In 2013 alone his work has been performed by professional companies in New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the USA.

He was born in Geraldine in 1955 and has worked as a playwright, director, dramaturge and writing teacher.

Skin Tight, Henderson’s play inspired by Denis Glover’s iconic NZ poem The Magpies, caused a sensation on its debut at BATS Theatre in 1994 with The Press acclaiming it as ‘a universal homage to love.’ The Scotsman review of the 1998 Edinburgh production raved ‘there is not a superfluous word, and every word is perfect in its place.’

Henderson says, “I often compare writing to rugby. You hear people say rules are made to be broken, but they’re not at all. You break the rules in rugby, you just get penalised, and if you do that often enough you lose because the other side will get penalty kicks all the time. The smart player knows the rules and then does something unexpected with them. They subvert them. The smart player will kick when anyone else would have sidestepped, or run when anyone else would have passed. And that unpredictability makes a brilliant rugby player. It’s the same with a writer,” in 20 New Zealand Playwrights published by Playmarket.

His previous awards include Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for New Zealand Play of the year (Peninsula and Homeland), Chapman Tripp Award for Outstanding Short Play of the Year (Mo and Jess Kill Susie) and an Edinburgh Fringe First Award for Skin Tight.

Henderson’s plays have been published in the UK, Poland and New Zealand.

The Playmarket Award is funded by Creative New Zealand and administered by Playmarket. The inaugural winner of the award in 2012 was Dean Parker.

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