BEHIND THE PEN

Stephen writes and directs for the screen and stage. He is perhaps best known as the co-writer of The Two Towers, being the second film in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Earlier collaborations with Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh include Meet the Feebles, and in 1991 Braindead, which won Best Screenplay at the 1993 New Zealand Film and Television Awards. 

Stephen’s feature debut Russian Snark, starring Stephen Papps alongside Elena Stejko, premiered at the 2010 NZ Film Festival in Auckland. It went on to be nominated for 6 NZ Film Awards, including Best Director, and won the Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 2011 it won Best International Film at the Garden State Film Festival, and the Grand Jury Prize at the Brussels Independent Film Festival. He currently has a feature in development with the New Zealand Film Commission, entitled The Sunflower Project (aka Sputnik), which he will be directing in 2022.

Stephen is the co-author of stage comedy sensation Ladies Night which continues to be performed throughout the world.  In 2001 the French version won the prestigious Moliere Award for stage comedy of the year. The one man play Blowing It, co-scripted with Stephen Papps, received 5 star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2003.

His historical drama The Bellbird was produced as a main bill for the Auckland Theatre Company in 2002, and was published by Reed in 2004. Reviewing it in the NZ Herald, Peter Calder called it “a play of heart and soul and a valuable addition to our literature.” And in 2004 ATC premiered The Bach, a success they repeated in 2005. The Bach continued to prove its appeal to New Zealand audiences with productions in the other main centres. Both The Bellbird and The Bach are prescribed texts for Drama Studies in New Zealand secondary schools.

More recent theatre productions have included his surrealist thriller Drawer Of Knives, and dystopian satire Intimacies. In 2015 his play Success, a comedy drama about the tangled relationships of three stand-up comedians, played in Auckland and Wellington. 2017 saw the premiere of his post-apocalyptic parable Remain In Light  in Auckland; also the comedy musical Love Me Tinder – a satire on the online dating phenomenon and the perennial horrors of first dates!

Stephen has written the novels Thief of Colours, published  in 1995, and Dread in July 2000. His collection of poetry, The Dwarf and the Stripper, appeared in 2003. Poems from the collection have been selected for two anthologies: ‘Spirit Abroad: a Second Selection of Spiritual New Zealand Verse’ and ‘121 New Zealand Poems’, selected by Bill Manhire.

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