Ken Duncum


Ken Duncum is a writer and teacher who is currently director of the MA Scriptwriting course situated in the International Institute of Modern Letters. In October 2009 he won the prestigious New Zealand Post Mansfield Prize for the 2010 residency in France.

Ken has been writing for theatre and television for over 20 years, and is recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading playwrights. An all-time ‘Top 30’ list of New Zealand plays (as voted by theatre professionals) featured three of Ken’s plays (Blue Sky Boys, Flipside and Horseplay), the highest tally of any playwright. Similarly, his work for television has won awards in New Zealand and been screened internationally.

His plays include a loose trilogy looking at the impact of music on New Zealand – from 50’s rock ‘n roll vs Beatles-era British Invasion (Blue Sky Boys), 70’s Glam (John, I’m Only Dancing) and Punk (Waterloo Sunset). He has also written plays about men lost at sea (Flipside), Polish saints (The Temptations Of St. Max), unsolved murders (Trick Of The Light) and dark goings-on in smalltown New Zealand (Horseplay).

Cherish – published in 2004 – charts the dramatic reverberations of a surrogacy dispute between two gay and lesbian couples. Cherish won Best New New Zealand Play at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards in 2003 – making it two in a row for Ken as his play Trick Of The Light won the same award the previous year. In July 2006, Cherish was produced in New York by Nicu’s Spoon Theatre Company – and in May 2008 by Northern Lights Theatre in Edmonton, Canada.

Ken is currently writing a feature film adaptation of his stageplay Picture Perfect which premiered at Circa Theatre, Wellington in 2006. His most recent play is a stage adaptation of The Great Gatsby which premiered at Court Theatre, Christchurch in July of this year.

Ken has also written extensively for tv drama series such as Duggan and Cover Story (for which he won Best Script For Drama at the NZ Film and Television Awards) as well as tv comedy (receiving an award for Best Writer – Comedy at the 2002 TV Awards for Willy Nilly).

< Back to Our Mentors