2022 Playwrights b4 25


Young playwright Talia Pua has taken the top prize in Playmarket’s 2022 Playwrights b4 25 competition supported by Auckland Live, with her play Pork and Poll Taxes. Talia’s play is a rich, poetic family drama inspired by the history of Chinese market gardeners in the poll tax era. Set in 1891, the play delves into changing family dynamics, migration, and racism in Aotearoa.

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 $1,500 towards the development of a new work. Pork and Poll Taxes had a sold-out premiere season at the Herald Theatre, Auckland Live in August 2021, presented by Proudly Asian Theatre and Hand Pulled Collective. In 2021, the play was also a finalist in the Adam NZ Play Award.

Judges praised the play for its exciting level of theatricality and described it as a ‘beautiful, heartbreaking and thoughtful piece of theatre’ written by a ‘skilled storyteller’. One of the judges said ‘I can’t wait to see this play performed’.

In addition to her writing, Talia Pua is a theatremaker, performer and award-winning designer. She has a passion for devised physical theatre and has performed in shows such as AKL, Babel and Iron Eyes at Basement Theatre. She has a degree in Creative Technologies and her theatre design work includes AKL, Babel and Our Modern Earth (is a f*cking mess). Throughout her creative practice, cultural identity has been a key area of exploration.

Five other plays were shortlisted for the award. The plays and their writers are:

Nowhere, Baby by Melanie Allison

Back on Track by Te Huamanuka Luiten-Apirana

Music Sounds Better Out Here by Jack McGee

The Adults are Talking by Jack McGee

Conversations with the Ghost in my Bedroom by Mia Oudes

Music Sounds Better Out Here and Conversations with the Ghost in My Bedroom were both part of the 2022 New Zealand Fringe Festival. Nowhere, Baby was recently part of Red Scare Theatre Company’s Red Readings development season, and The Adults are Talking will have its premiere season at BATS Theatre 7 – 11 June 2022.

Playmarket is very grateful for the partnership with Auckland Live for their generous funding of the prize money and continued support of young playwrights. Playmarket’s major funders are Creative New Zealand and Foundation North.