Adam NZ Play Award

PLAYMARKET is pleased to announce the ADAM NZ PLAY AWARD winner for 2021 is Emily Duncan for her play & Sons. The Adam NZ Play Award recognises and celebrates the best in new unproduced writing for the theatre.

Emily also won the award for Best Play by a Woman Playwright and the McNaughton South Island Play Award which is awarded to a play written by a South Island resident in memory of Professor Howard McNaughton,1945–2014.

& Sons is a black comedy set in the executive office of a shoe factory. The play examines pathologic patriarchy and toxic masculinity; how it is upheld, wields damage, and might be razed. Judges described the play as “beautifully written”, “thrilling in the best sense of the word”, “shocking… lacerating and wicked…”

Emily Duncan is a Dunedin-raised and based writer, dramaturg, and director. She won the 2020 Bruce Mason Award and held the 2019 University of Otago Robert Burns Fellowship. Emily is the co-founder of Prospect Park Productions, home of Ōtepoti Theatre Lab and Ōtepoti Writers Lab. She holds a PhD in Theatre from the University of Otago and trained at the Strasberg Institute in New York City. Her plays have been published in the anthologies Here/Now (2015) and 101 New Zealand Monologues for Youth (2019). In November 2020 she was the recipient of the $10,000 Bruce Mason Playwriting Award, which recognises professional success in the career of the writer.

Acclaimed actor, writer, director and producer Katie Wolfe (Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Mutunga) was Runner Up and received the award for Best Play by a Māori Playwright for The Haka Party Incident, a searing piece of verbatim theatre recreating the 1979 stoush between University of Auckland engineering students and members of activist group He Taua. The Auckland Theatre Company will stage the world premiere of The Haka Party Incident at the Auckland Arts Festival in 2021. Judges described the play as ‘powerful political theatre which rips the Band Aid off racism in Aotearoa.’ Katie was also the winner of the inaugural Dean Parker Adaptation or Non-Fiction Award. This award, in the memory of playwright Dean Parker, is given to a play adapted from a work of fiction, or a docudrama or verbatim work.

The award for Best Play by a Pasifika Playwright went to Vela Manusaute for Sons of Vao, a moving and powerful play about a brutal father and his dysfunctional relationship with his three sons, as they grow up in Niue and then in New Zealand. Vela is an award-winning actor, director and producer and most recently has created New Zealand’s first bilingual English-Tongan television series Brutal Lives - Mo'ui Faingata'a.

Highly Commended was awarded to Sam Brooks for two plays The Future of the Party and A Rich Man.

The Adam NZ Play Award, now in its fourteenth 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 our major funders Foundation North and Creative New Zealand. 

ADAM AWARD WINNER 2021, Best Play by a Woman Playwright and McNaughton South Island Award:

Emily Duncan for & Sons

Runner Up, Best Play by a Māori Playwright and the Dean Parker Award:

Katie Wolfe for The Haka Party Incident

Best Play by a Pasifika Playwright:

Vela Manusaute for Sons of Vao

Highly Commended:

Sam Brooks for A Rich Man and The Future of the Party

Other Finalists:

Ro Bright – The Hall
Estelle Chout – Po’ Boys and Oysters
Anders Falstie-Jensen – Back to Square One?
Angie Farrow – The Eternal
Alex MacDonald – Eleanor Crane
Joe Musaphia - Unbelievable
Olga NikoraCuckoo
Allen O’LearyThe White Queen
Talia PuaPork and Poll Taxes
Ben WilsonHomemade Takeaways