March 18, 2016


2016 Judging Panel  

The Theatre Awards Trust is delighted to announce the confirmed Judging Panel for the 2016 Theatre Awards.

Comprising a diverse range of theatre lovers, practitioners, critics, old hands and fresh energy, our Judges are:

  • Stephen Blackburn – Stephen has worked in a variety of roles, from theatre to ballet and opera, in his 35 year career.  For the past 11 years Stephen has been Creative Producer of Capital E National Theatre for Children.
  • Shannon Friday –Shannon is an independent theatre director and critic in Wellington whose production company, Enterprise Entertainment, aims to create high-quality, low-cost sci-fi theatre for geeks and their families.  Shannon is also a Theatre Awards Trustee.
  • Salesi Leota – Salesi is a graduate of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and has worked in Wellington as an actor, producer and arts administrator for the past 14 years.
  • Fiona McNamara – Fiona is a theatre director, devisor, performer and producer who works freelance and with Binge Culture Collective.  She has an MA in Theatre from Victoria University and also studied theatre at Freie Universitaet Berlin.
  • Claire Noble – Claire is with Arts Access Aotearoa and has been part of the NZ and UK drama sector for 18 years.  Claire is a UK-trained workshop leader in the arts, a community project facilitator and is passionate about inclusion in the arts.
  • Samuel Phillips – Sam is both a freelance theatre director and a Tutor at Capital E.
  • Lyndee-Jane Rutherford – Lyndee-Jane has been a profesional actor and director for 25 years and is a member of the Circa Council.
  • Fiona (Ona) Truelove – Ona is a Toi Whakaari graduate who has been a theatre practitioner and teacher for the last 20 years.
  • Kris Wehipeihana – Kris is an enthusiastic theatre-goer and a reviewer for Wellingtonista.
  • Jane Yonge – Jane is a director, theatre mentor and arts advocate.  Jane is a Master of Theatre Arts graduate (Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, Victoria University of Wellington).

The judges were nominated and selected by Wellington’s Theatre Cluster, comprised of representatives from:

  • Circa Theatre
  • The Conch
  • Bats Theatre
  • Young and Hungry Arts Trust
  • Capital E National Theatre for Children
  • Big Live Arts Group
  • Taki Rua Productions
  • Playmarket
  • Tawata Productions

A lot of thought and time went into choosing the Judging Panel to ensure that the judging makes a positive contribution to our theatre community.  The panel is diverse in age, gender, race, background and expertise, with a wide spectrum of theatre arts experience

All professional theatre will be judged, including Fringe shows.  Judges will not be able to vote on any production they have been directly involved in. 

Judging is already well underway for the end of year awards, to be held on Sunday 4 December – mark your calendars!

We thank you all again sincerely for your support and encouragement, but especially the Theatre Cluster for its engagement and collaboration with both us and our administrative team.

We are excited about this new direction – and we are confident that the new Judges Panel (and the procedural protcols we have in place) will help ensure the continued integrity of the Awards as a professional and public acknowledgement and celebration of excellence in Wellington theatre.

We thank all our Judges for committing their time and energy to this important role.


Our last Newsletter advised that Dame Beverley Wakem (DNZM, CBE) had joined the Trust Board and that we were in discussions with others to conribute their expertise, ideas and enthusiasm.

We are delighted to announce that Beverley and continuing Trustees Richard Cathie, Suzanne Snively and Mike Woodbury have now been joined on the Trust Board by:

  • Tom Broadmore, a recently retired District Court Judge and former long-time Chapman Tripp Partner who is an enthusiastic arts supporter;
  • Shannon Friday, who as noted above has also agreed to serve on the Judges Panel; and
  • Sherilee Kahui, who has a Master’s Degree in Theatre Directingand makes work with Wellington-based collective Hank of Thread.

We are very pleased to move forward with such a diverse and committed Trust Board.

Feedback welcome!

As ever, if you have feedback on any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact one of the Trustees or to email

Ngā Mihi

The Trustees

Wellington Theatre Awards

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