April 15, 2024


Playmarket is pleased to announce the joint winners of the ADAM NZ PLAY AWARD for 2024: Dan Bain for The Odyssey and Sam Brooks for This Is My Story of Us.

The Adam NZ Play Award recognises and celebrates the best in unproduced writing for the theatre. Playmarket Tumuaki Murray Lynch announced the winners at Circa Theatre on 13 April.

Dan Bain’s new play The Odyssey is a glorious new take on Homer’s original epic poem. Repositioned as a comedy scramble style show for three high-skill, high-charisma performers, Dan asserts that you shouldn’t need a classics degree to make sense of what’s going on.

Described by one of the judges as ‘a gift to the audience’, Dan’s inventive new play is ‘utterly delightful’. Another judge called it a ‘goddamn raucous camped up retelling’ which leaps off the page.

Dan has been a theatre director, playwright, improvisor, street performer, actor, motivational speaker and comedian since 2001. His work as a writer includes the hit comedy Stag Weekend with Brendon Bennetts, a number of children’s shows, two Young and Hungry commissions and an acclaimed adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Dan was Associate Director of The Court Theatre from 2017-2020 and is currently the Artistic and Programming Director of Little Andromeda Fringe Theatre in Christchurch. His production of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express for The Court Theatre recently celebrated an extended season.

In This Is My Story of Us, playwright Sam Brooks charts the love story between Kane and Hero from first date to the end of the relationship and after. In his play, what appears to be a relationship shrouded in secrecy opens out to a profound exploration of grief and a questioning of morality.

Inventive in its use of structure and underpinned by ‘beautiful, tender prose’, one judge remarked that the story ‘hurt my heart. It sucked me in and spat me out. I was left needing to sit with my thoughts and feelings for some time.’ A deeply affecting piece of storytelling, the play is driven by Sam’s playful use of language and considered use of rhythm.

Sam is an award-winning, prolific playwright and journalist. He won the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award in 2016. His plays include Burn Her, Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys, Wine Lips and Lads on the Island. Sam was recently awarded a prestigious Michael King Residency and was the Feature Writer at The Spinoff for a number of years. He currently holds the record for the most plays shortlisted for the Adam NZ Play Award, (15). He won the Dean Parker Award in 2023 for Em, and was Highly Commended for Future of the Party, A Rich Man and Burn Her.

Runner-Up and Best Play by a Woman Playwright was won by Cassandra Tse for Before We Slip Beneath the Sea. In this dazzling script for immersive theatre performance, a small community off Wellington’s north coast gathers for the last time to grapple with rising sea levels. One judge remarked on how form marries content in the play, ‘the pick-a-path script goes beyond a gimmick because it reflects the issue. When confronted with the climate changing, we’re unable to get on the same page, let alone the same path’.

Best Play by a Māori Playwright was won by Tawhi Thomas for his play Matenui. This ambitious piece centres an articulate, educated and imaginative woman, incapable of accepting society’s minimal expectations of her, who is challenged and undone by the perspectives and perceptions of other Māori around her.

Best Play by a Pasifika Playwright was won by Cook Islands playwright Teherenui Koteka for her play Kaveinga, a moving new work which urges the Cook Islands people to reflect upon their contributions to climate change.

Christchurch playwright Dan Bain has also won the McNaughton South Island Play Award for The Odyssey. This award acknowledges a new play written by a South Island resident, in memory of Howard McNaughton, a leading theatre academic and pioneer of Cultural Studies teaching at Canterbury University. Hitting a trifecta of sorts, Dan is also the recipient of the Dean Parker Award for Adaptation.

The Adam NZ Play Award, now in its seventeenth year, is the only one of its kind in Aotearoa for new playwriting. 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 our major funders Foundation North and Creative New Zealand.

Since 2008 there have been 95 shortlisted and winning plays that have been produced in 119 different productions.

Dan Bain for The Odyssey
Sam Brooks for This Is My Story of Us  

Runner-Up and Best Play by a Woman Playwright: Cassandra Tse for Before We Slip Beneath the Sea

Best Play by a Māori Playwright: Tawhi Thomas for Matenui

Best Play by a Pasifika Playwright: Teherenui Koteka for Kaveinga

Dean Parker Award and McNaughton South Island Play Award: Dan Bain for The Odyssey

Other Finalists:
The Boy Trip by Sam Brooks
Trojan Horse by James Cain
We’ll Always Have Paris by Paul Kalburgi
The Ants by Alex MacDonald
Breakdown by Craig Thaine

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