Backstage Pass

In the year of our 30th anniversary, comes a celebratory book. Written by Frances Walsh and published by Penguin Random House New Zealand. 


We're giving you a Backstage Pass to the last thirty years of theatre with Auckland Theatre Company.

In the year of our 30th anniversary, comes a celebratory book. Written by Frances Walsh and published by Penguin Random House New Zealand.

This is not a history book. It’s a great read, with insightful stories, juicy anecdotes and revealing interviews with some of the big personalities who shaped the making of a cultural institution. In celebration of thirty years of theatre-making at ATC, Backstage Pass tells the story of those who were there.

Author Frances Walsh interviews a cast of characters, including Danielle Cormack, Chye-Ling Huang, Michael Hurst, founder Simon Prast, Reverand Mua Strickson-Pua, and more to delve into some of the history of the Company, shining a light on the pivotal moments, some of the significant personalities and more than a few insights into what it takes to make theatre.

Beautifully illustrated with images from our 30-year history, this book would make a great gift for any theatregoer or those who love Kiwi storytelling.

The book marking Auckland Theatre Company’s 30th anniversary was commissioned by the ATC Patrons Group.


It was 1993. Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You was number one on the charts for weeks and weeks. A cabbage cost 70 cents; a litre of petrol $1; a packet of cigarettes $5.25. In Tāmaki Makaurau the gym enthusiast Les Mills was mayor and no one was treading the boards. Her Majesty’s Theatre had been bowled, and Theatre Corporate and Mercury Theatre had gone under. Enter the actor Simon Prast and a small group of concerned citizens. On a wing and a prayer, they founded Auckland Theatre Company.

More than 200 productions later, Aotearoa’s premier professional theatre company now quartered in glam digs on the waterfront, looks back to look forward. A starry ensemble of creatives, board members and staff tell, if not all, some. There’s a leading lady who champions workers’ rights; a leading man who has views on shoes and Shakespeare; a costumier who consulted a horse whisperer; an architect who rates a play about peaceniks withholding sex in 411 BCE; a lighting and set designer who dreams of Chekhov; a critic (male) who described one hit as “a swaggering testosterone-filled John Wayne of a drama with balls of steel”; a playwright who knows all about single-sex boys’ schools; another playwright who has been banished from dinner parties; a theatremaker who is pleasantly surprised that Auckland Theatre Company staged his exploration of racism in Aotearoa; a director who once resembled the British playwright Tom Stoppard; another director whose years of programming have led him to conclude that nuns and totalitarians are as catnip to Auckland audiences.

However, Auckland Theatre Company’s sell-out shows The Haka Party Incident (2021) and Dawn Raids (2022) featured neither type.

Read Sample