Anthony McCarten is a playwright, filmmaker, poet, and fiction writer. McCarten, with Stephen Sinclair, wrote Ladies’ Night (1987), a play about male strippers that became an unprecedented commercial success. It has been translated into six languages and was the most successful touring production in Britain between 1990 and 1994. McCarten21q12s first novel, Spinners (1999) was published in New Zealand, the UK, and the USA. He has also directed films, published a short story collection, and a number of poems. His novel In the Absence of Heroes was a finalist in the Fiction category of the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards. In February 2015 McCarten was made an Honorary Literary Fellow in the New Zealand Society of Authors’ annual Waitangi Day Honours.
FROM THE OXFORD COMPANION TO NEW ZEALAND LITERATURE
McCarten, Anthony (1961– ), is a commercially successful playwright, also writing poetry and fiction.
He was born in New Plymouth. His first play was ‘Invitation to a Second Class Carriage’ (Depot Theatre, Wellington, 1984). His next, ‘Yellow Canary Mazurka’, was selected for the 1986 New Zealand Playwrights’ Workshop and premièred the following year at Circa in Wellington. At the workshop McCarten met Stephen Sinclair and, in six weeks in 1987, they wrote ‘Ladies’ Night’, a play about male strippers, which opened at Mercury in December of that year and went on to become the most commercially successful play in New Zealand’s theatre history. It has been translated into six languages and was the most successful touring production in Britain between 1990 and 1994.
Subsequent plays have been ‘Pigeon English’ (Playwrights’ Workshop, 1988; Depot, 1989), ‘Weed’ (Circa, 1990), ‘Via Satellite’ (Circa, 1991, and the winner of the NZ Listener Best Play and Wellington Theatre Critics’ Best Production awards for 1991), ‘Hang on a Minute, Mate’, an adaptation from a series of novels by Barry Crump (Downstage, 1992), ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ (Bats, 1994, and afterwards toured nationally), ‘FILTH (Failed in London, Try Hong Kong)’ (Circa, 1995) and ‘Four Cities’ (Los Angeles, 1996).
As well as ‘Ladies’ Night’, McCarten has co-written with Stephen Sinclair ‘Ladies’ Night 2’ (which relates the fortunes of the characters five years on) and ‘Legless’. He has directed two short films: Nocturne in a Room (1992) and Fluff (1995) and has published a short story collection, A Modest Apocalypse (1991), and a number of poems.
McCarten's first novel, Spinners, was published in New Zealand by Random House in 1999, and is also published in the U.K. and the U.S.
Via Satellite was made into a feature film (McCarten wrote the screenplay) which premiered at Cannes in 1999.
The English Harem (2001) is McCarten's second novel, published in New Zealand and the UK.
A French adaptation of Ladies' Night won France's Molière Comedy Prize in 2001.
Brilliance (2003) is the story of how two brilliant men came together and changed the world. But while banker J.P. Morgan left the relationship unscathed, remaining the uncontested Napoleon of Wall Street, the inventor, Thomas Alva Edison, went from being hailed as the 'bringer of light' to be derided as 'Wall Street's executioner.' But what went on in the mind and heart of this 'genius' the public thought it knew?
McCarten also contributed one short story to the new anthology, Myth of the 21st Century (Reed, 2006).
Anthony McCarten's novel In the Absence of Heroes was published by Random House New Zealand in 2012. John McCrystal in the NZ Listener called In the Absence of Heroes ‘witty, humane and dazzlingly clever' and ‘a damned fine novel'. The Dominion Post Weekend praised the novel, ‘McCarten's deft and crisp writing, his blend of the online action with the real world, and remarkable sense of pace, make this a lively and intelligent book. It's a thriller, of a kind, but it's the flawed and engaging characters who drive this novel. Oddly human and grounded, it is rich and invigorating.'
In the Absence of Heroes was a finalist in the Fiction category of the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards.
MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS
- Anthony McCarten’s bibliography in the Auckland University Library's New Zealand Literature File
- Playmarket profile
Updated January 2017.