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Greg McGee

Greg McGee’s Biography

Last Updated:
30/11/2020, 3:13 pm
Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship 2013

Greg McGee has written for theatre, television and film. Born in Oamaru in 1950 and educated at Waitaki Boys' High School and Otago University, graduating with an LLB in 1973. His first play, Foreskin's Lament, was described as "a quantum leap forward in New Zealand drama" (NZ Listener) holding a mirror up to Kiwi masculinity at the present time. The play drew on Rugby culture of the period to comment more broadly on national codes and values. It first toured New Zealand in 1980 and 1981 and happened to coincide with the political and civil upheaval leading up to the 1981 Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand.

New Zealand's celebrated playwright came from a working-class family that never went to the theatre. Growing up he was a lad who loved rugby and was outstanding at it - he was an All Blacks triallist. Speaking on his early life McGee says:

"We were brought up by tough old bastards who'd lost their childhood to the Depression and their youth to the Second World War, and they were tough. I guess looking at us they thought - ‘We fought for that? That lack of respect for us and for our values?' So I think with me and the coaches there was a bit of that intergenerational thing going on."

Between 1991 and 2007 McGee wrote primarily for television. In 2009 his career took an unexpected turn: under the pseudonym Alix Bosco, McGee became the enigmatic crime writer and winner of the inaugural 2010 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime, and Slaughter Falls (2010). He has won several television awards, including Best Drama Writer for two of his political documentary dramas: Erebus: the Aftermath (1987), and Fallout (1994). In 2012 he produced two new books: a biography of then All Black Captain Richie McCaw: The Open Side (2012) and a novel, Love & Money. He was awarded the prestigious Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship (2013) where he wrote The Antipodeans (2015) which was longlisted for the 2016 Ockham Award for fiction.

All McGee’s stage plays are centrally concerned with the loss of collective values and individual altruism in an increasingly materialist and selfish society. He continues to write not only for stage, but also film and television. He is a past President of the New Zealand Writers' Guild.