James Wenley

James Wenley is studying for a PhD in Drama. In 2014, he was awarded an Arts Doctoral Bursary to assist with his study costs.

James Wenley

“I’ve always loved drama and theatre, and uni really unleashed my interest in not only putting on productions, but writing about them too. I wrote my MA thesis on forgotten plays from New Zealand’s past, and I got such satisfaction from researching these little-known plays, crafting my arguments, and then getting it all bound in book form. I wanted to keep going, and broaden my horizons, into an area of New Zealand theatre that had almost no critical attention, but is so important to this country’s theatrical history.

“My PhD topic is ‘New Zealand Theatre’s Overseas Experience’. My thesis explores the way NZ theatre productions are represented and received in an international context. How do overseas audiences engage with theatrical work from a New Zealand cultural origin? How is cultural identity transformed, reinforced or disrupted when a NZ theatre production is performed internationally?

“Being a postgrad you really appreciate how knowledgeable and approachable the amazing staff are at the University of Auckland. I really respect the staff in my subject area, so it was an easy choice to continue my studies at the University of Auckland. And there are always extra seminars and talks that you can attend, to get a taste for research in other areas to keep your brain active.

“One of the other great things is being able to give back (and hone my own teaching skills) as a tutor on undergraduate courses. It’s my third year teaching English 109: Drama on Stage and Screen, which was one of the courses that I loved in my very first year of university. It’s so rewarding passing on my passion for this area.

“At uni this year I’ve been a tutor, marking assistant, note-taker and reader/writer for Disability Services – all very interesting. I regularly produce theatre productions. This year my company, Theatre of Love, is performing work by NZ writer Gary Henderson: Mo & Jess Kill Susie and An Unseasonable Fall of Snow.

“Postgrad study is a big journey, especially if you are going all the way through PhD. At postgrad level you do have to be super-ridiculously disciplined, and sometimes it can be hard to claim the time for your studies in the face of work and other distractions. Be clear about what you need to achieve and when, but also be kind with yourself.  I know I’ve grown so much in my work and as a person in my postgrad studies.”

Read James’ blog at Theatrescenes.

Find out more about studying Drama.