May 30, 2019



After being highly commended for three years running, young playwright Courtney Rose Brown has taken the top prize in Playmarket’s 2019 Playwrights b4 25 competition, with her play Breathless. The 24-year-old was not able to make the award ceremony held at Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, on Tuesday as she was at the opening night for her play Running Late at BATS Theatre in Wellington, confirming that this playwright’s career is already on the move.  

The Playwrights b4 25 competition, run by Playmarket, the agency for New Zealand playwrights, recognises the best new writing for the stage by writers under the age of 25. Auckland Live is the sponsor of the main prize of $1,5000 cash towards the development of a new work. Courtney submitted two plays for the competition in the last year that she is eligible, Breathless and Your Call Is Important To Us, and these were both shortlisted. She says her goal is to create ‘honest and thought-provoking New Zealand stories’. This award suggests she is well on her way.  

Courtney wrote Breathless, a powerful family drama,as part of her studies towards a Masters in Creative Writing from the Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. The judges commented on Courtney’s impressive ability to create nuanced and believable characters with maturity. Since graduating from University, Courtney has already had her play, The First Time, debut to rave reviews which led to additional seasons in both Wellington and Auckland.  

Eight other plays were shortlisted for the award and Murray Lynch, Director of Playmarket, says that ‘the depth and range of the pieces are an encouraging sign for the future of theatre in New Zealand’. The plays and their writers are: 
Ryan Cundy – Three Dead Dogs  
Emilie Hope – Confessions with a Kangaroo  
Joshua Iosefo – Odd Daphne  
Joni Nelson – 8 Reasonable Demands
Emma Rattenbury – Saving Grace
Daedae Tekoronga-Waka – House of Beaumont
Ben Wilson – Post-It Notes
Sherry Zhang and Daphne Zheng – Yang/Young/

Three Dead Dogs and Post-It Notes were both part of the Wellington Fringe Festival in 2018, 8 Reasonable Demands was recently staged by Auckland Theatre Company, and Odd Daphne by 2016 Kiwibank Local Hero award-winner Joshua Iosefo was seen at Māngere Arts Theatre in March. Shortlisted writer Daedae Tekoronga-Waka appeared as an actor in both Odd Daphne and 8 Reasonable Demands and is currently an intern at BATS Theatre in Wellington.  

Playmarket is very grateful for the partnership with Auckland Live which made the event possible. Playmarket’s major funders are Creative New Zealand and Foundation North.  

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