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The 2023 Out of the Limelight Awards

Every second year, we have the immense privilege of facilitating some very special awards, made possible by the Sir Roger Hall Theatre Fund. The Out of the Limelight Theatre Awards are intended to acknowledge dedicated theatre practitioners without whom most theatre productions could not take place – yet who rarely get the sort of recognition that is given to playwrights, directors, and actors. 

Each recipient is notified out their award out of blue; and gifted $5,000 in recognition of the deep appreciation others have for their work.

“I set up the Out of the Limelight Awards to celebrate theatre practitioners whose work rarely gets the sort of recognition it deserves! This is the second time they have been awarded, and the range of recipients has widened this time with the inclusion of a theatre archivist and a theatre music composer as well as a lighting and sound technician and two theatre producers.

Theatre throughout New Zealand was very badly hit by lockdowns, so I’m hoping these awards will bring some warmth and attention to these worthy recipients.” Sir Roger Hall

Huge congratulations to our 2023 recipients:


Vanessa Immink (Ngāti Hāua, Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa) is a wahine Māori/Pākehā independent theatre maker and producer from Aotearoa New Zealand. With a degree in musical theatre, Immink found herself in the arts management world as a production assistant and tour manager on international touring shows like Singin In the Rain, Cats, Blue Man Group and Priscilla Queen of the Desert across 2014 – 2016. Immink has previously held positions such as the Senior Programmer (Fringe Club) at Adelaide Fringe Festival (2019-2020), Senior Producer & Marketing Manager at Kia Mau Festival (2020-2021) and the Project Producer for Māori advocacy organisation Ngā Hua Toi (2020 – 2021). In 2021 Immink created VOLT, a digital education arts management platform for independent producers and self-producing artists, and in 2022 was selected as one of 25 emerging BIPOC producers to attend Theatre Producers of Color programme. Vanessa is currently a 2023 International Society of Performing Arts (ISPA) Global Fellow.


John Gibson has been writing music for film, theatre, television and dance since 1980. He has established many long-standing collaborations with many of New Zealand’s finest artists, including Vincent Ward, Colin McColl, Douglas Wright, Shona McCullagh and Michael Hurst. John’s work for theatre numbers over 80 original scores, including over 150 original songs. His scores for Auckland Theatre Company include The Life of Galileo, The Master Builder, The Good Soul of Szechuan, A Doll’s House, Awatea, On the Upside Down of the World and many others. In 2008, John was awarded a New Zealand Film and Television Award for Achievement in Original Music in Film for his work on Vincent Ward’s Rain of the Children. In 2021, he composed the score for feature film Coming Home in the Dark, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival. He is currently in the final stages of a solo album, Blow for Humanity.


H-J Kilkelly is an Ōtepoti-raised producer. Her experience is extensive, having produced shows, festivals, practitioner development platforms and workshops for companies such as Tawata Productions, Kia Mau Festival, Barbarian Productions, BATS Theatre, Playmarket, Toi Māori, and NZ Young Writers Festival. She is the co-director and producer for Prospect Park Productions and its platforms Ōtepoti Theatre Lab and Ōtepoti Writers Lab, which were launched as responses to critical needs within the rohe, and works as part of the management teams of Dunedin Arts Festival and Otago Polyfest. H-J is involved in a number of projects nationally centred around addressing infrastructure, strategy, advocacy and professional development for the sector, including the Ringatoi Pōneke:Artists Initiative and as co-lead for Ngā Hua Toi Ōtepoti (advocacy body for Māori theatre and dance). A previous resident of Te Hau Tūtū, an independent Māori Theatre Producers’ Room based at Te Haukāinga in Wellington, H-J is now based back in Ōtepoti.


Giles Tanner is a graduate of Hagley Theatre Company (Diploma in Performing Arts), where he concentrated on technical production. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of Canterbury. Currently Head Technician at The Court Theatre, Giles has worked on more than 50 Court productions including Amadeus; When the Rain Stops Falling; Constellations; Educating Rita; Waiora: Te U Kai Po - The Homeland; The Events; Ropable; Venus in Fur; Titus Andronicus; In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play; Stephen King’s Misery; Hedwig and the Angry Inch; The Father; Fresh Off the Boat; The Wind in the Willows; A Streetcar Named Desire; The Girl on the Train and Sense and Sensibility; Rēwena and Be Like Billy?


Alister McDonald was the Dramaturg of the Fortune Theatre in Dunedin from 1985 to 2018, has served on the Playmarket Executive since 1996 and been the Secretary / Treasurer of the Writers’ Cottage Trust since 2014. His theatre reviews and journalism have been published in Mercury, Critic, The Otago Daily Times, The Christchurch Star, The New Zealand Times, Act, Centre Stage Australia, Free Copy, Playmarket News, Theatre Australasia, Angles, Playmarket Annual, Playmarket e-bulletins and the theatreview.org.nz website. He has previously written short histories of Dunedin theatre, Otago University Capping Concerts, the Otago University Dramatic Society and the Fortune Theatre. He has also recently completed a 75th anniversary history of the Dunedin Film Society.

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