My year at the theatre challenges Auckland's reputation as a cultural wasteland.
Over the past 12 months I have seen more than 30 productions, including local and international shows in two festivals, and enjoyed seeing one theatre company in particular hit its stride.
The year started with the fledgling AK05 festival taking shaky flight under imported CEO David Malacari. Controversy threatened to steal the limelight from the shows themselves, and the pressure to perform will be on for AK07.
The festival's gems included the energetic Tao drummers from Japan's Beat of the Globe and the sexy puppets in the Canadian Cabaret Decadanse.
Of the local shows, I found the Silo Theatre's Scentless Apprentice inventive and disarming. The grand folly of A Clockwork Orange was the sole misfire in a stellar season for the Silo.
Following AK05 was the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, which ably demonstrated that great festivals need time and steady management to prosper.
There were plenty of laughs on offer, but my two favourites involved Herald columnist Te Radar.
His Timor ODDyssey proved that holiday slideshows don't have to be boring, and allowed him to demonstrate a flair for investigative journalism.
And Te Radar's direction of From India with Love saw him provide a steady hand to the zany fun of Tarun Mohanbhai and Rajeev Varma's dairy love story.
This year there were also several home-grown shows that could only have been created in New Zealand.
Frangipani Perfume showcased the Cinderella-like stories of three Samoan sisters cleaning toilets and dreaming of a better life.
The experiences of New Zealand Indians were back under the spotlight with Indian Ink re-staging their trilogy of Krishnan's Dairy, The Candlestickmaker and The Pickle King.
Niuean New Zealanders were represented by Dianna Fuemana's drama My Mother Dreaming.
In The Wholly Grain, newcomer Sonia Yee wrote and performed her experiences of being a young Chinese Kiwi.
And Vanessa Rhodes' The Land of Make Believe was about being young, Pakeha and bored in Lower Hutt.
The success story of the year was the Silo, which provided consistently high quality, creative, challenging and entertaining theatre.
Its Simplicity Season was a stand-out with a great mix of new and classic, local and international plays, with the work of fantastic writers such as Kenneth Lonergan, Tennessee Williams, Neil LaBute, Jacques Brel, Edward Albee and Spike Milligan all under one roof.
With such a strong season there were many memorable moments and performances to savour. It's hard to single people out but I'd like to give another round of applause to David Van Horn, Charlie McDermott and Hannah Tolich in This is Our Youth, Jeff Szusterman in Suddenly Last Summer, Stephen Butterworth in The Boys in the Band, the whole cast and crew of Badjelly the Witch, Craig Hall and Alison Bruce in The Mercy Seat and Shane Bosher and Andrew Laing in Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.
The Silo was also responsible for my two favourite shows of 2005 - The Goat and My Brother and I Are Pornstars.
Edward Albee's The Goat redefined tragedy, and the Silo's production was classic theatre, from John Verryt's elegant set and Andrew Malmo's understated lighting to the wonderful acting of Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Michael Hurst - their finely nuanced performances were something special.
My Brother and I are Pornstars was the polar opposite - a shockingly funny home-grown production by Jackie van Beek, Jonathan Brugh, Felicity Letcher, Colin Mitchell, Jodie Molloy, Roger Murray and Trygve Wakenshaw. It was fresh and inventive theatre to rejuvenate and inspire even the most cynical theatre-goer.
Call me parochial, but one of the most satisfying aspects of the Silo's work is that the company is now exporting theatre to Wellington with The Women, The Boys In the Band and My Brother and I are Pornstars making the trek south.
By Shannon Huse