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Leading Maori Playwright Comes to Victoria

15 Nov 2010

This content is tagged as Theatre .

NEWS

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Acclaimed New Zealand playwright Albert Belz will be the 2011 Writer in Residence at Victoria University.

During 2011, Mr Belz will work at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria. He plans to complete a stage play, Light Bearer, about the first war in heaven, and will also complete the second draft of a novel for young adults, and a trio of short plays for children.

Albert Belz (Ngati Porou, Ngapuhi, Ngati Pokai) says he's looking forward to the opportunity of immersing himself in writing projects and Victoria University's cultural life.

"I'm also excited about being closer to Wellington friends and whanau, and about the chance to experience more of the city's vibrant arts scene."

Mr Belz's most recent stage play, Raising the Titanics, is a theatrical homage to Billy T James, Prince Tui Teka and the Maori showbands of the 1950s and 60s that charmed audiences and reviewers during its development season this year, and will tour New Zealand during 2011. As well as actors, it features a live band comprising musicians Tama Waipara and Francis Kora.

Mr Belz's play about Jack the Ripper, Yours Truly, won awards for Best Overall Production, Most Original New Play and Best New New Zealand Play at the 2006 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. The production was directed by Victoria University senior lecturer in Theatre David O'Donnell. Mr Belz also won the Bruce Mason Award for Best Up-And-Coming Playwright in 2006.

Mr Belz's third play Te Awarua was written as part of a residency in Les Quesnoy, France, where it had its debut in 2003. It was relaunched in Cambridge this weekend as part of Armistice Day celebrations there, and will have an Auckland season in February. His other plays include Awhi Tapu (set in the Urewera, and winner of a Human Rights Commission award), Whero's New Net (based on the stories of Witi Ihimaera), and Te Karakia, which was also directed by David O'Donnell, and staged at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in Wellington in 2008. Mr Belz has also written for radio, film and television: his scripting and story-lining credits include Pulp Comedy, Shortland Street and Mataku.

Institute Director, Professor Bill Manhire, says Mr Belz's appointment is an exciting prospect.

"We have a very strong scriptwriting programme, and it's going to be enormously valuable for our students to have a writer of Albert's gifts and practical experience right here on campus. We're sure he will also make strong connections with Wellington's lively theatre world."

The Writer in Residence position is jointly funded by Victoria University and Creative New Zealand.