Emily Duncan

Emily Duncan is a Dunedin-based playwright, dramaturg, and director, and the University of Otago Robert Burns Fellow 2019.

Emily’s early one-act play Lips, was runner-up in the New Zealand Young Playwrights’ Competition in 1999. This was followed by Sweet Meats (Dunedin Fringe, 2004). Her first full-length drama Palliative Care dealt with the timely issue of war veterans and their relationships with their families and premiered in the 2008 Otago Festival of the Arts.

Emily has won Stage South’s (Dunedin) Write Out Loud playwriting competition three times with Palliative Care (2006), Water Baby (2007), and Southern Comfort (2010). She has worked with such significant national and international dramaturgs as British playwright Simon Stephens (2006, Palliative Care) and Literary Manager at Christchurch’s Court Theatre, Elizabeth O’Connor (2008, Water Baby).

In 2013 Eloise in the Middle won Playmarket’s Plays for The Young competition, and in 2014 Emily was runner-up in the same competition with Le Sujet Parle. Eloise in the Middle was published in the anthology Here/Now: Eight Plays by Eight New Zealand Playwrights (Playmarket 2015. The play premiered at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 2018 and won the Robert Lord Outstanding Script/Narrative award at the 2018 Dunedin Theatre Awards

Emily was the inaugural artist in residence at St Hilda’s Collegiate in 2017. In this role she wrote In Our Shoes, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Adam NZ Play Award. Another work for young adults, Fallen Angels, was produced for the 2017 Young & Hungry Festival of New Theatre.

For Prospect Park Productions, Emily has written Hold Me (BATS Theatre 2016), Shaken (Short + Sweet Wellington 2016), and wrote and directed the multi-award winning three-part thriller podcast Dark Dunedin: Heaven Looks On (Dunedin Fringe 2018). She directed Le Sujet Parle (Dunedin Fringe 2019) at Otago Museum’s Beautiful Science Gallery. The play was shortlisted for the  2019 Adam NZ Play Award and nominated for the Beyond Words City of Literature Award in association with Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature at the Dunedin Fringe 2019 awards.

Emily’s recent dramaturgical work includes advising a graduate Dunedin School of Art project (2017), the immersive character host project Journey of the Jura at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum (Wow! Productions, 2018), and as mentor/script advisor for the Fortune Theatre’s Studio 4 x 4 Emerging Playwrights Initiative (2017, 2018).

Emily wrote, directed, and produced the short film Hours with the Flowers for TV2’s 2000 series (TVNZ, 2000). More recently she wrote the script for the short film There (dir. Tabitha Arthur) which premiered at the The Bienal Internacional Dona i Cinema – Mujer y Cine – Woman & Film Festival in València in January 2019.

Emily has a PhD in Theatre Studies from the University of Otago. Her thesis proposes a dramaturgical model based on Michel Foucault’s concept of Heterotopia and includes a playscript, Waipiata, about a former tuberculosis sanatorium and borstal in the Maniototo. She holds a BA in English, Theatre and Film from Victoria University, Wellington, and an Honours degree in English Literature from Massey. Emily also undertook actor training at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York City and at RADA’s summer school in London.

Emily is represented by Playmarket: