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The people of theatre, from the directors and practitioners, to the lighting operator, are the backbone of this dynamic art form. Ryan Knighton offers frank insights into his profession, and we plug some must-see Fringe shows for your consumption.

**Ryan Knighton is a member and director of improv-theatre company PlayShop, emerging playwright, recent MA graduate in script-writing, and choice guy in general.

Why do you ‘do’ theatre?

Basically I feel like it’s an important medium for art. It’s one that can create change. Personally I just do it because I want to create things that will affect people. That somehow their lives will be improved. Offering something that can tease or change feelings in others—for the better.

What do you enjoy most—performing, directing or writing?

I don’t know. It changes every day when I wake up.

Who do you look up to in Theatre?

Gary Henderson and Ken Duncum are very good New Zealand playwrights. They encapsulate the thing of a New Zealand play in a very intelligent way. I’ve been sitting in shows of theirs and I’ve left like Oh man. What was that? Then churned it over for a week and gone, that was amazing. These men are good at seeing something in society and managing to delve deeper beyond that layer to the core, communicating it in a really beautiful, meaningful way. Directors Leo Jean Peters and Kerryn Palmer make some of the best work in Wellington.

Most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about Theatre?

This is real simple. It was the phrase, can you see the thing? When you’re trying to communicate something to an audience, trying to build a thing (sorry, I say ‘thing’ a lot). Is it there? Can I see that thing? And if it’s not, try something else. You’ve got to be really honest with yourself.

Favourite thing about Wellington theatre?

I find Wellington is quite tasteful compared to other parts of the country. We’re quite sophisticated in what we do and what we’re putting on. Years ago, we were quite brave and we’re sort of having a resurgence of that now, which is quite exciting.

Least favourite thing about Wellington Theatre?

I don’t like one-hour plays. I think we can all push ourselves a bit further.

Most difficult thing about being involved in theatre?

Everyone says this… but there’s no money. The most difficult thing is balancing a job that lets you live your artistic integrity and work against the perception of the world; what you ‘should’ be doing.  The hard thing is the lifestyle. The way other people will comment and judge you on it. You just have to have the courage to stand by your own core and artistic integrity.

Advice for theatre students at Vic?

Find people you like working with and make stuff!


Must-see New Zealand Fringe Festival shows for March:


The Owl and the PussycatCompany of Giants

1 March–5 March, 7.00pm–8.00pm; 5 March, 3.00pm–4.00pm

BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace or 04 802 4175

“Endlessly inventive, charming, full of surprises.” David Stevens, Theatreview.


Enter the New WorldBinge Culture Collective

Your closest New World supermarket.

There are no set viewing times, instead download the audio-file from

“The very first audio-driven-first-person-adventure-of-your-own-local-New-World-Supermarket in New Zealand history.” Binge Culture.


Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong—Barbarian Productions

29 February–3 March, 6.30pm–7.20pm

BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace or 04 802 4175

“Includes gruesome battle renditions, piano recitals of Bach and readings of Robert Frost. A wake-up call for those who have fallen asleep.” Eventfinda.


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