March 30, 2019


PLAYMARKET is pleased to announce the ADAM NZ PLAY AWARD winner for 2019:  
Mitch Tawhi Thomas (Ngāti Maniapoto) for his play Pakaru.  

Tawhi Thomas also won the award for Best Play by a Māori Playwright. He is the first playwright to win the Adam NZ Play Award twice, having already taken the top prize in 2012 for his play Hui.

The Adam NZ Play Award recognises and celebrates the best in new unproduced writing for the theatre. Director of Playmarket Murray Lynch announced the win at Circa Theatre on 30 March 2019 alongside four other special award winners.

Pakaru is the story of 40 year old Jess Anderson, a Pākehā solo mum, raising her two Māori teenage twins, Shayla and Brayden. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when Jess’ boyfriend moves in. Judges described the play as “devastating” with “glorious roles for actors” and “told with furious compassion”.

Tawhi Thomas graduated from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School in 1997 and has worked constantly as an actor, writer and teacher. In 2001 he received the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Outstanding New Play for his thriller Have Car Will Travel. The following year he was awarded the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award, awarded annually to an outstanding new playwright in the early stages of their career. His play Hui won the Adam NZ Play Award in 2012 premiered by Silo Theatre at the Auckland Arts Festival in 2013. His other works include Coupling, Doughboy, Take it or Leave it and Jangle. Mitch has been the writer in residence at Waikato University and later in 2019 he will take up the position of Acting Tutor at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School following a stellar career as a high school teacher.

Acclaimed actor writer and director Nancy Brunning (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāi Tūhoe) was named Runner-Up and also received the award for Best Play by a Woman Playwright for her epic family saga, Taniwha Woman. Matriarch Tohungia Te Aroha leads Ngāti Pūkohu a small iwi thriving in the Te Roa Valley National Park, however the radical strategies for iwi survival in the 21st century lead to conflict. Taniwha Woman is a story about what a woman’s world looks like post treaty settlement.

Hamilton-based writer, actor, and director Benny Marama (Kuki Airani) received the award for Best Play by a Pasifika Playwright for thursdays.child, a commentary on how advancements in technology are leading us headfirst toward the superficial and a greater sense of aloneness.

Peter Croft was awarded Highly Commended for Penalty which won Playmarket’s Playwrights b4 25 competition in 2018. The play takes place in Nazi-occupied Kiev in the summer of 1942. A football team of Ukrainian ex-professionals become a symbol of hope for the downtrodden populace of Kiev as they prepare to play their final match of the season against a side of German army players. 

The Adam NZ Play Award, now in its twelfth year, is the only one of its kind for new writing. Playmarket’s only entrance requirements are that the playwright be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and that the play has not yet had a professional production. The award is generously funded by the Adam Foundation. Playmarket is also very grateful for the support of Circa Theatre, and major funders Foundation North and Creative New Zealand.

ADAM AWARD WINNER 2018 and Best Play by a Māori Playwright: Mitch Tawhi Thomas for Pakaru

RUNNER UP and Best Play by a Woman Playwright: Nancy Brunning for Taniwha Woman

Best Play by a Pasifika Playwright: Benny Marama for thursdays.child

Highly Commended: Peter Croft for Penalty

Other Finalists:
Carl Bland – Mr Red Light
Kieran Craft – Four Nights in the Green Barrow Pub
Emily Duncan – Le Sujet Parle
Rose Kirkup – Unflattering Smock
Rene Le Bas – Lloyd Dobler is Dead
Rachel Lowe – You Didn’t Die
Stanley Makuwe – Black Lover
Olga Nikora – In Search of Freedom
Jenny Pattrick – Hope
Frances Steinberg – Routine Magic
Craig Thaine – Martha Mee 

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