'As a writer, it is not cold hard, logical fact-based truth that I seek, but rather the more elusive kind: deep, universal truth that cannot be logically understood but can only be felt as an internal and inexplicable stirring of the soul.'

Jo was born in Auckland to father Richard Randerson, a priest of the Anglican Church, and Jackie Randerson, a teacher, mother and guidance counsellor. The family (with older sister Rebecca and younger brother Jeremy) moved to Wellington in 1977.  Jo studied at Wellington Girls College, and then went on to Victoria University of Wellington to major in English, Theatre and Film.

She became involved as a writer, director and performer in theatre productions for the University's Student Drama Club. At the same time she also wrote for and performed at BATS Theatre, Wellington, and made television appearances as a stand-up comedian. After graduating, she spent a year in Australia working at an old people's rest home and as a church youth worker before co-founding the theatre group ‘Trouble' on her return in 1995.

Trouble made several award-winning shows: The Girl Who Died, Black Monk, Mouth, The Lead Wait and Bleach (a co-production with Boilerhouse theatre, Scotland). Bleach was part of the 1998 New Zealand Fringe Festival and went to the Edinburgh Festival and the Tramway Festival of site-specific theatre in Glasgow. Jo participated in Bill Manhire's creative writing course at Victoria University in 1997 where she was awarded the Prize for Best Portfolio. That year she also received the Bruce Mason Award after her first play Fold (part of the Young and Hungry season at BATS).

Jo then founded her own theatre company, Barbarian Productions, whose award-winning shows have played in Melbourne, Prague, Edinburgh, Adelaide, Norway and Brisbane as well as around New Zealand. Jo has been involved in numerous theatre collaborations including The Sojourns of Boy with inaugural Laureate Briar Grace-Smith, and halo with Douglas Wright. In 2005 she befriended the Circus Ronaldo (Belgium) and apprenticed herself to Danny Ronaldo and Karel Creemers, learning an outsider style of clown and commedia dell'arte. Jo was then offered a position as a writer and devisor with Company Kate McIntosh of Brussels, where she lived and worked in 2006.

Her writing has twice been shortlisted for the International Institute of Modern Letters Prize and has earned her the following writing fellowships: Robert Burns Fellow (Dunedin), Winston Churchill Fellow  (Russia) and the Creative New Zealand/Department of Conservation Wild Creations Residency at Cape Kidnappers. Jo's published work includes The Knot and Through the Door, (Wedge Press), and The Spit Children and The Keys to Hell (VUP). Her most recent publication is the short story collection Tales from the Netherworld (Steele Roberts).

Jo graduated in 2012 with a Masters in Theatre Arts (Directing) from Toi Whakaari: The NZ Drama School and Victoria University.  Her most recent projects have been the public art ‘dress-up conversation' Brides in collaboration with Anya Tate-Manning, a series of collaborations with the Swedish performance art duo Goldin + Senneby - M&A (Artspace, Dunedin Public Art Gallery) and Shorting the Long Position which was created for the Turkish Biennale 2013 - and an adaptation of her debut short story collection The Spit Children for a stage production at the Hetpaleis in Antwerp 2014.

Barbarian Productions is currently touring Yo Future, a production about the hopes and fears of the Millennial Generation, devised in collaboration with Long Cloud Youth Theatre and casting local youth performers in each of its tour locations.

Jo lives in Wellington with her husband Thomas LaHood and sons Geronimo and Caspar.

 Jo Randerson was interviewed by broadcaster Kim Hill
at the 2008 New Generation Awards held in Christchurch.
Image by Ken Baker



An essay written by Jo Randerson for My House Surrounded By A Thousand Suns, an exhibition of artists with experience of mental illness and intellectual disability, curated by Jo and shown at the New Dowse, Lower Hutt in 2008


Promotional short of Barbarian Productions' 2009 season of Jo Randerson's "Good Night - The End". Performers: Jo Randerson, Thomas LaHood, Felicity McDonnell, Aaron Cortesi.
Jo Randerson, from The Gravy, directed by Jess Feast and produced by Sticky Pictures


Barbarian Productions partnered with Downstage Theatre, Wellington in September 2009 to present an evening of ‘wild humour, terrifying humanity and a stab at some of the great unanswerable questions in 'Good Night – The End' - an existential comedy’
born Auckland
majored in Theatre and Film Victoria University of Wellington
co-founded the theatre group 'Trouble'
Phoebe Maunsell Award for Artists Most Original Production, Black Monk, Chapman Tripp Awards
Fold won the Bruce Mason Award Prize for Best Portfolio, Victoria University Creative Writing Course; Most Original Production, Mouth, Chapman Tripp Awards
Bleach performed at NZ Fringe, Edinburgh and the Tramway Festivals;The Knot published, Wedge Press
The Spit Children published, VUP
Wellington Fringe Best Comedy Robert Burns Fellow, Dunedin Founded Barbarian Productions
Wellington Fringe Best Comedy, Creative NZ/Department of Conservation Wild Creations Residency
Winston Churchill Fellow (Russia)
Melbourne Fringe Best Comedy Award
Melbourne Comedy Festival Golden Gibbo AwardThe Keys to Hell published, Victoria University Press; Premiere of All Natural, Brussels, Company Kate McIntosh, writer
Nominee Billy T James Comedy Award
Most Original Concept, Wellington Fringe, Absolutely Positively Walking; Premiere of Hair From the Throat, devisor/performer, Paris, with company Kate McIntosh
Curated My House Surrounded By A Thousand Suns exhibition Premiere of Loose Promise, Berlin, company Kate McIntosh, writer
Arts Foundation New Generation Award
Through the Door (illustrated by Seraphine Pick) published, Wedge Press;Good Night – The End premieres at Downstage Theatre
                                                                         Director Project Born
                                                                              Yo Future premieres at Whitireia Theatre
Writer Assisted Living at BATS TheatreGraduates with MTA from Toi Whakaari/Victoria University
                                                Wig Wam Jam premieres at Fringe;Tales From The Netherworld published by Steele Roberts;Brides collaboration with Anya Tate-Manning premieres Wellington CBD;M&A collaboration with Goldin + Senneby premieres in Auckland and Dunedin;Shorting the Long Position collaboration with Goldin + Senneby premieres in Istanbul Biennale;Yo Future performed at inaugural Kokomai Creative Arts Festival, Carterton.