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Stage and screen director and producer Simon Bennett has directed professionally since graduating from Toi Whakaari – NZ Drama School in 1988.

Spending 20 years as a director, producer and executive producer on Shortland Street, Simon also directed across 5 seasons of Outrageous Fortune (winning the DEGNZ Achievement in Directing award at the 2007 Air NZ Screen Awards), produced and directed on the first two seasons of The Almighty Johnsons and produced international co-production Maddigan’s Quest, a post-apocalyptic children’s drama series based on a Margaret Mahy story. Simon also directed wartime telefeature Spies and Lies, starring Antony Starr, and feature film Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business, starring the Naked Samoans. Most recently, Simon has directed two seasons of the US kids’ TV show, Power Rangers: Ninja Steel and Beast Morphers.

Simon’s theatre work began at Victoria University where he directed Summer Shakespeare King Lear in 1988. Immediately after graduating from Drama School he was instrumental in establishing BATS Theatre as Wellington’s fourth professional theatre. He then embarked on a prolific stage-directing career around New Zealand. Favourite productions include JISM by Ken Duncum and Rebecca Rodden (BATS 1989), Blue Sky Boys by Ken Duncum (BATS and St James 1990), The Shrew (Watershed Theatre 1991), Into The Woods and Assassins by Stephen Sondheim (Watershed 1994 and 1996), The Ballad of Jimmy Costello by Tim Balme (NZ and international tours) and Flipside by Ken Duncum (Circa Theatre 2001). In 2000 Simon formed the NZ Actors Company with Tim Balme, Katie Wolfe and Robyn Malcolm. NZAC tours of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Roger Hall’s A Way of Life reached wide audiences around New Zealand. Since then, Simon’s theatre work has included Ken Duncum’s Horseplay (2006) and Arthur Meek’s Trees Beneath the Lake (2012) for Auckland Theatre Company and White Cloud by Ken Duncum and Tim Finn (BATS 2012). Most recently, Simon co-wrote the book for Shortland Street – The Musical with Guy Langford, which he also directed for ATC in 2018.

In 2014, Simon was awarded the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Wellington Theatre at the Chapman Tripp Awards. He has previously won Chapman Trip Awards for Flipside (2001 Production of the Year) and Jimmy Costello (1997 – Downstage Best Production).

 

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