Stories on stage, Mark Houlahan

The Plays of Bruce Mason: A Survey
John Smythe
Playmarket and Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781776560554

Here/Now: 8 Plays by Award-Winning New Zealand Playwrights
David O’Donnell (ed)
Playmarket, $35.00,
ISBN 9780908 607594

John Smythe’s survey of the plays of Bruce Mason does what its title promises, describing in chronological order Mason’s plays for stage, screen and radio. In so doing, Smythe adds to the small shelf of indispensably useful books on New Zealand plays. He has strong credentials to mount such a project. He has published an (equally indispensable) history of Wellington’s Downstage Theatre and maintains the Theatreview site (theatreview.org.nz), which curates reviews for productions throughout New Zealand. Smythe has also written scripts and performed throughout the country; this new book shows that writing about New Zealand theatre, of necessity, involves a good deal of participant observation. There is no space of analysis entirely separate from issues of production, performance and personal alignment.

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