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Colin McColl

Colin McColl’s Biography

Last Updated:
16/05/2019, 9:45 pm
Theatre Director
Arts Foundation Laureate 2007
Colin McColl is recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading theatre directors with more than 30 years experience as an actor, director and producer. He has worked in theatre, opera, and television in New Zealand and internationally.

Colin was born in Lower Hutt in 1950. After working as an actor in England, he returned to New Zealand to become Associate Director of Downstage Theatre, forming a long association with the Theatre. In the late 1970s he moved to Australia where he was Artistic Director at Hole in the Wall Theatre, Perth and Project Director for Sydney's Toe Truck Theatre's Outback projects

After two years as Director of Wellington Performing Arts Centre, Colin co-founded Taki Rua Theatre in 1983 and was Artistic Director of Downstage Theatre from 1984-1992. This eight year tenure was the longest in the theatre's history, during which he helped re-establish the ensemble company and was responsible for many memorable productions including a reputation for new New Zealand work and inventive updates of European classics.

After eleven years of free-lancing in television, opera and theatre, throughout New Zealand and internationally, Colin became Artistic Director of Auckland Theatre in 2003. In his career as a theatre director he has produced and directed more than 50 plays.

Colin is the first and only New Zealand director invited to showcase a production at the official Edinburgh Festival. His distinctly New Zealand version of Hedda Gabler played there to great acclaim in 1990. Performances followed at the Ibsen Festival, Oslo, the Covent Garden Festival, London and the 1991 Festival of Sydney. He has also directed Ibsen productions for the Norwegian and Dutch National Theatre companies.

Colin has won three Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for Best Director. These were in 1993 for A Doll's House, in 2000 for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and in 2002 for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. In 2001 he was awarded Best Director/Best production in the ATC Audience Awards for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

He has worked with a wide range of New Zealand writers on new productions, including Peter Wells on Ricordi! An operatic and expressionist dramatisation of Katherine Mansfield's Wellington stories for 1996 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts. He collaborated with Hone Kouka, for the Te Ropu Whakaari seasons of bi-cultural theatre at Taki Rua Theatre, directing Nga Tangata Toa, a version of Ibsen's The Vikings, re-set in an East Coast marae in 1919.

In addition to theatre, Colin has a passion for opera. Credits include directing Wellington City Opera's 1988 production of La Boheme, the NBR New Zealand Opera's 2002 production of The Marriage of Figaro, chamber opera's The Prodigal Child and Quartet and in 2009 he directed Rossini's The Italian Girl in Algiers for Scottish Opera and the New Zealand Opera Company. He has also directed and acted in television, both here and overseas including episodes of Shortland Street, The Sullivans and Fallout. His film credits include roles in An Angel at my Table and Bread and Roses.

Colin received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2007. He was made an Office of the Order (ONZM) in 2010 for services to the theatre, film and television.