In 2007 Playmarket established their flagship New Zealand Play Series, publishing iconic plays by our leading playwrights.
Publishing students were involved in setting up the series, and each year they produce the books of playscripts, editing the manuscripts for the page, laying them out and managing the production process. Some of the books they have worked on are described in more detail below.
In 2014 Isaac Snoswell managed the publication of a book of plays for children.
Figuring out the best means of hiding two tuatua from an overexcited dog is one problem I wasn’t expecting to solve when I embarked on my Diploma in Publishing (Applied) at the start of this year. Yet for a group of young publishers, collating eight plays from seven New Zealand playwrights and school teachers into an attractive and cohesive whole has offered the perfect insight into the wide-ranging and often bizarre conversations that publishing can lead you to.
Stage Adventures is Playmarket’s first collection of plays for children, and has been the most important book in my life for the past four months. It has offered an amazing opportunity to work closely with authors and designers, as well as the knowledgeable folk at Playmarket, to gain firsthand experience of all the intricacies of the publishing process. From the title on the front to the blurb on the back, we contributed in a positive and practical way to creating a book that would make our nine-year-old selves proud.
The most immediate concern was ensuring that the unique flavour and enthusiasm of each play came through on the page without sacrificing the reader’s need for clarity. When a group of planets, astronauts, scientists, stars and aliens march singing across the stage, it is important that the logistics of the action have been clearly laid out before the script is passed to an unsuspecting school teacher. This has resulted in many in-depth conversations with a variety of colourful and talented writers, and has allowed our recently honed editorial skills to be put to immediate use!
The project offered the perfect balance of pragmatic problem solving and collaborative creativity. Obtaining song permissions, briefing designers, sourcing translators and coordinating a group of busy playwrights was interspersed with creating titles, brainstorming cover ideas and delving deep into the fantastical worlds of the plays themselves. Under the expert guidance of Playmarket director Murray Lynch, series editor David O’Donnell and master co-ordinator Rachel Lawson, Stage Adventures was a privilege to work on.
Three Plays by Robert Lord
In 2013 students worked on a book of Robert Lord’s plays, edited by Phillip Mann.
The New Zealand Play Series project had a point of difference in 2013 – the student team wouldn’t be meeting the playwright. Robert Lord, one of the founders of Playmarket, passed away in 1992, leaving a diverse collection of works. The book published by Playmarket in 2013 celebrates Lord’s rich contribution to New Zealand theatre through three different, but equally captivating, plays. Distinguished theatre director and author Phillip Mann meticulously compiled and edited Lord’s work, along with an analysis of the plays through introductory essays.
The Whitireia team thoroughly enjoyed working with Phil, who is as amiable and approachable as any author could be. He heaped praise on their still-developing editing skills, and took a genuine interest in their comma shifts and deletions. Phil’s experience with playscripts is vast, and the students were privileged to learn the ins and outs of staging from him.