4 Feb 2024

Pride: Playwright Sam Brooks on queer storytelling

From Culture 101, 12:45 pm on 4 February 2024


Sam Brooks

Sam Brooks Photo: Supplied

Prolific playwright Sam Brooks has not one, but two plays premiering in Wellington and Auckland in February for Pride. 

Lads on the Island is loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and premieres at Circa Theatre in Wellington. A story about male friendship between a queer and straight guy, Brooks is keen to emphasise it also involves magic and reimaginings of classic New Zealand music tracks. 

Lads on the Island - Sam Brooks

Lads on the Island - Sam Brooks Photo: Supplied

The second show, The Perfect Image will be his first play in Auckland in five years. It has a modern day setting which could, at first, sound mundane but is ripe for comedy: a stock image company is shaking the industry up by including models of colour. But suddenly, it’s a bit too diverse and they’re having to recruit a white male to create a melting pot. 

The Perfect Image

The Perfect Image Photo: Andi Crown Photography

The romantic comedy was shortlisted for the Adam Award in 2022 and features as part of Pride Elevates, a partnership with artists to better represent Queer work by programming it. 

As if two shows premiering the same month wasn’t enough, Brooks will also hold a fundraiser for The Perfect Image - with a reading of Em - his adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma in Auckland. Emma is swapped out for Emmett, in a queer re-telling set in Queenstown. 

This week, Brooks announced he was leaving website The Spinoff as an arts journalist after seven years. He spoke to Culture 101’s Perlina Lau about taking the plunge into freelance work and opportunities for 2024.