Playwright Albert Belz is probably best known in Whanganui for his award-winning play Yours Truly performed at Amdram in March.

Belz will be in town for the Whanganui Literary Festival next week and will be interviewed by local archivist and actor Sandi Black.

Black, who played the role of Annie Crook in Yours Truly at Amdram, will conduct a Q and A session with Belz to discover what inspires him and encourage him to share insights with the audience.

Yours Truly, written in 2006, is a love story set against a background of the unsolved Jack the Ripper murders in 1880s London.


The playwright says he is disappointed that he did not get to see the Amdram production of his play.

"I have heard really good reports about it and I look forward to meeting Amdram people during the festival."

He has seen a number of productions and said it is always interesting to see his work interpreted by a new cast and how it is received.

"Some audience members were frightened by the play when the first production was staged in Wellington.

"There were some people who didn't want to return to their seats."

He was gratified that his script could have that effect on people although Belz is as
drawn to the light as he is to the dark and is possibly New Zealand's most versatile playwright.

He wrote his first play, Te Maunga, in 2001 after acting in a number of television roles (Hercules, Shortland Street, Rip Girls) during the 1990s.

"I started writing to create a role for myself really but the writing took over."


Now a professional writer for film and theatre, Belz also writes for television, including Shortland Street scripts. After winning two Chapman Tripp awards and the Bruce Mason Award for best-emerging playwright for Yours Truly, he went on to win the Listener Award for best New Zealand play for Raising the Titanics in 2010.

Last year he received the Adam NZ Play Award for Best Play by a Māori Playwright for Cradle Song and he has written children's plays as well as the comedy series Tongue Tied which screened on Māori Television.

"I get inspiration from everywhere really and my current project is inspired by a book I read.

"It's about the things that were going on at Disney Studios during the 1990s and I've written a part for myself in this one - I'm going to play Jeffrey Katzenberg.

"It will be the first time I've trod the boards for about seven years."

Born in Whakatane, Belz is of Ngati Porou, Ngā Puhi and Ngati Pokai iwi.


He has completed a writing residency in Le Quesnoy, France, as well as New Zealand residencies at Waikato, Victoria and Canterbury universities.

He is now based in Auckland where he is a lecturer in performing arts at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

"I haven't lived in Whanganui but I have connections there," he says.

"Artist Gabrielle Belz is my aunty and I always enjoy my visits so I'm looking forward to this one."

Albert Belz: The Play's the Thing, Saturday, October 5, 10am to 11am, Whanganui War Memorial Centre. Admission $15. Book at Royal Wanganui Opera House.