16 Nov 2015
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The Playmarket Award was presented to Jean Betts at the Playmarket Accolades held at the Hannah Playhouse, in Wellington on 15 November 2015.
The $20,000 cash prize recognises a playwright who has made a significant artistic contribution to theatre in New Zealand.
Jean’s body of work includes the acclaimed plays Revenge of the Amazons, Ophelia Thinks Harder, The Collective and The Misandrist. Ophelia Thinks Harder and Revenge of the Amazons are riotous re-workings of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Midsummer Night’s Dream. Jean once said she is “Particularly interested in re-thinking the position of women in the classics and myth, religion and ‘traditional’ cultures”.
Her work has been performed by professional companies, schools, tertiary institutions and community theatre groups throughout New Zealand as well as in Australia, the UK, Canada, Switzerland, South Africa, Singapore and the USA. Ophelia Thinks Harder has been performed in more than 160 productions and translated into Italian and German.
Jean began her career as an actor and director, graduating from the first class of the
QE II Arts Council Drama School (now Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School) in 1970. She is a founding member of Circa and Taki Rua Theatres, Playmarket, Heartache and Sorrow Company, The Play Press, and the Women’s Play Press. She was instrumental in establishing the WOPPA and Shebang women’s playwriting festivals in 1993 and 2000.
She is the only New Zealand playwright to have been a finalist for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, first in 2004 for The Collective and again in 2012 for Genesis Falls. Her plays have been adapted for radio and she was co-writer of the film Leave All Fair.
The Playmarket Award is funded by Creative New Zealand and administered by Playmarket. Previous winners of the award are Dean Parker and Gary Henderson.