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Bachelor of Arts 2004
Master of Arts 2014

Robert Gilbert

For my postgrad diploma in arts research project, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to combine traditional European story-form with Māori cultural dynamics by writing a play for children.

The result was so personally rewarding that under the expert guidance of award-winning playwright and academic, Dr Angie Farrow, I sought to develop my writing further by attempting to pen a full-length play for adults. My master’s thesis looked at transgender representation in theatre, and the theatrical considerations in writing a play that might broaden the debate around transgender issues in New Zealand.

This fascinating journey began with lengthy interviews of transgender kiwis. Apart from authentic source material for the play, the interviews gave me a rare insight into a word of marginalised people who are often ridiculed and misunderstood. The research included an examination of transgenderism, the theatrical representation of transgender characters, and cross-dressing in theatre from the ancient Greeks to Shakespeare and beyond.

I also explored theatre forms and examples of dramatic narrative to guide my thinking and my own writing. The thesis included the play I wrote: Trans Tasmin. I was delighted with the opportunity to have two workshops of the script, one in The Dark Room in Palmerston North, and one at The Court Theatre in Christchurch.

These were incredibly rewarding experiences and I was thrilled with the outcome. Subsequently, a professional theatre company has shown interest in the script, and with their guidance and support I wrote a new draft

'Trans Tasmin' is now available as Paperback or Kindle on Amazon and has been awarded second place in the stage play category of the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition (2016).