David Geary

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David Geary is an award winning playwright from New Zealand. He also writes for television.

Geary, David (1963– ), is a playwright and fiction writer. Born in Feilding and educated at Palmerston North BHS and Victoria University, he began a law degree before turning to Arts. Geary studied acting at Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School in Wellington. He graduated in 1987. After completing the creative writing paper at Victoria, and while enrolled at the Te Kura Toi Whakaari/The New Zealand Drama School, he submitted ‘Kandy Cigarettes’ to the 1988 New Zealand Playwrights’ Workshop, under the pseudonym of Kurt Davidson. Parts of this script then became a series of revue sketches entitled ‘Gothic But Staunch’ and ‘Dry, White and Friendly’.

His first full-length play was ‘Pack of Girls’ (Downstage, 1991), a comedy in which a rugby widow forms a women’s rugby team. This was followed by 'Lovelock’s Dream Run', first seen at the Australia and New Zealand Playwrights’ Conference in Canberra in 1990, opening at The Watershed (Auckland Theatre Company) in 1993 and published by Victoria University Press in 1993. Drawing on his experience of boarding school, Geary gives a highly imaginative and empathetic account of what life might have been like for Lovelock (the future runner) as a boarding student in Timaru, and then later in Berlin at Hitler’s Olympics. The play is studied at schools and New Zealand universities. In 1991, he co-wrote and co-directed the television documentary The Smell of Money. His short story collection, 'A Man of the People' was published in 2003.[1] He has worked as a scriptwriter and storyliner for television including Shortland Street, Mercy Peak, Jackson's Wharf and Hard Out,[2] and has been seen as an actor in series such as 'Shark in the Park'.

His next full-length play was ‘The Learner’s Stand’ (Circa, 1995), about the experiences of a student who joins a rather atypical shearing gang for the summer. ‘The King of Stains’, a short play about a drycleaner with a fish fetish, followed (Bats, 1996). With Mick Rose and Tim Spite, he co-authored ‘Backstage with the Quigleys’ (Bats, 1992) and ‘The Rabbiter’s Daughter’ (Bats, 1994), two one-act plays which satirise, respectively, the theatrical and the literary worlds. He also collaborated with Theatre at Large to create ‘Manawa Taua/Savage Hearts’ (Watershed, 1994) and with a group of actors to create ‘Ruapehu’, one half of a double bill with Fiona Samuel’s ‘Untitled’; these two plays appeared under the title ‘One Flesh’ at Downstage, 1996.

Geary’s plays are characterised by their physicality, their mordant humour and their critique of entrenched Kiwi mythologies. He has written for television (The Smell of Money – a documentary, Jackson’s Wharf and Mercy Peak – drama series) and film (Baggage – a short film). He was awarded the Dominion Sunday Times Bruce Mason Playwrights’ Award in 1991 and in 1994 won the Adam Foundation Playwrights’ Award for ‘The Learner’s Stand’.

He was awarded the Dominion Sunday Times Bruce Mason Playwrights’ Award in 1991 and won the Adam Foundation Playwrights’ Award for The Learner’s Stand in 1994.

In 2002, David Geary moved to Canada, where he has written a series of short plays - Menu Turistico, A Man Walks Into A Bar …, and Oedipus Butchers the Classics for the Walking Fish Festival of Vancouver. These plays have also had successful seasons in New Zealand.

He’s continued to maintain strong ties with New Zealand theatre, with A Shaggy Dog Story (2005), The Underarm (2006) and a revival of The Farm (2007) all having productions at Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North. In 2007, Penumbra, a piece originally co-devised by Geary as the Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School graduation was remounted for the Auckland International Arts Festival.

Being of Maori descent (Nga Mahanga, Taranaki), Geary has forged links with aboriginal artists in Canada, and has been teaching story telling and script writing with First Nation writers.

An occasional poet, David Geary’s 'A conversation with Thomas Hardy in St James cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba' can be found in the online magazine Turbine 06.

In 2008, he was Writer in Residence at Victoria University of Wellington.[3]


  1. ^ [1] Profile, Playmarket New Zealand Playwrights' Agency. Retrieved 9 November 2009
  2. ^ [2] New Zealand Book Council. Retrieved 9 November 2009
  3. ^ [3] Victoria University of Wellington