Rodger, Victor

Rodger, Victor



In Brief

Victor Rodger is a playwright and scriptwriter of Samoan heritage whose theatre work deals with race, racism and identity. Rodger’s first play, Sons, premiered at the The Court in 1995. He continues to produce plays that explore and challenge racial and cultural stereotypes, and that are grounded by vivid characterisation and complex character relationships. He has received numerous awards in recognition of his theatre work and was granted the 2006 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers’ Residency at the University of Hawai’i.

Photo credit: Deborah Marshall


Rodger, Victor (1969 - ) is a playwright and scriptwriter of Samoan heritage. Born in Christchurch, Rodger was a journalist for several years before studying at Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School in Wellington. Rodger was a writer and storyliner for the long-running television soap opera Shortland Street from 2000-2015.

Rodger’s theatre work deals with race, racism and identity. His first play, Sons, premiered at the The Court in 1995. In 1997, Cunning Stunts was produced by Young and Hungry Theatre Company. Rodger rewrote Sons in 1998, and performed at Downstage Theatre in Wellington, winning four Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards including Most Outstanding New Writer and Most Outstanding New New Zealand play. Sons was published by Huia in 2008.

In 2001, Rodger won the Sunday Star-Times Bruce Mason Playwriting Award. His third play, Ranterstantrum (2002), was lauded by the Evening Post as ‘a triumph over stereotype’.

Rodger studied writing for film at the Maurits Binger Foundation in Amsterdam in 2004-2005. The following year he was awarded the 2006 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers’ Residency, based at the Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Hawai’i.

In 2007, his fourth play, My Name is Gary Cooper, was produced by Auckland Theatre Company. This play was reviewed as ‘a darkly witty demolition of palagi fantasies about Polynesia’ by Metro magazine.

Rodger was the 2009 Ursula Bethell Creative Writing Resident (formerly Canterbury University Writer in Residence). The residency is designed to foster New Zealand writing by providing a full-time opportunity for a writer to work in an academic environment, and is open to writers in the fields of creative writing: fiction, drama, and poetry.

In 2012, Rodger was the Pacific Artist in Residence at the MacMillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies.

Rodger’s next play, Black Faggot, premiered in 2013 and was produced by Multinesia. It received the Development and Best Production awards at the Auckland Fringe Festival, and was described by reviewer Deborah Klayman as “cleverly written: laugh-out-loud funny at the outset, but increasingly multi-layered”.

Rodger won the 2013 Contemporary Pacific Art Award.

In 2014, At The Wake was produced by Multinesia Productions. A play exploring the question of what would happen if Rodger’s Scottish grandmother and Samoan father met at a funeral, reviewer Sharu Delikan writes that it is “theatre at its best, where […] the end result is not a dry eye in the house through either tears or laughter”.

The plays Girl on the Corner and Club Paradiso premiered in 2015, with Rodger receiving critical acclaim for both.

In 2016, Rodger received the Robert Burns Fellowship.

Rodger was the 2017 Victoria University / Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence.


Updated August 2017.