Jenny Wake

Jenny is the founder and artistic director of Calico Young People’s Theatre, which specialises in professional theatre for young audiences and in theatre with young performers. She is a writer, teacher, director and producer, with a career encompassing children’s theatre, television and education. Jenny has written, directed and produced Play School, one of New Zealand television’s best-loved children’s series. She was a series writer for Bumble, directed perennial TV favourite What Now and created and produced an information series for teenagers, The Mostly Useful Job Guide. Recently she wrote a behind-the-scenes book: The Making of King Kong. In 1991, Jenny founded Calico Young People’s Theatre. Under her guidance, Calico has created, commissioned and performed plays for children in schools, theatres and festivals throughout New Zealand. Shalakazap!, a lively audience participation play written by Jenny in consultation with maths advisers at Teacher Support Services, toured primary schools for three sell-out seasons, was presented at Brisbane’s prestigious international Out of the Box festival and was subsequently remounted by Vancouver-based Axis Theatre for several tours to Canadian schools. In 1996, Calico began running theatre workshops for children. Hundreds of children have attended Jenny’s theatre skills workshops. Their creativity and hunger to perform inspired her to start writing large-cast shows for young actors. Jenny’s stage adaptations of The Snow Queen and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are now available to schools, along with costumes, music and scenery, and have been performed by thousands of young New Zealanders. Formerly Wellington-based, Jenny now lives in Napier. She has an MA in Children’s Theatre from California State University Humboldt.