Kate Parker was born in Kaeo, Northland in 1973 to renowned New Zealand ceramic artist Richard Parker and teacher/artist Nan Parker. 'My father is and always will be an inspiration for me. He is a generous, vibrant maker with a drive that has seen him continue in his craft with all its challenges for nearly 50 years. Growing up with clay, a creative energy and this drive has given me the strengths I've needed to continue and create the work I do now.'
In 1992, with an interest in drama, she trained with actor/director Stuart Devenie at Northland Polytechnic in Whangarei. "Stuart inspired my love of theatre, he was (and still is) a charismatic genius, full of wonderful stories of passion for his work.'
Through the Polytechnic, Kate was introduced to the work of Michael Parmenter, with a trip to Auckland to see his work The Race. "My first taste of physical performance in the form of dance, but so much more than dance, with its use of set and imagery. I was gobsmacked! It was, and still is one of the best shows I've ever seen. It was wonderful, finally being able to work with Michael during our development of The Arrival."
Kate then went on to train at the John Bolton Theatre School in Melbourne. Here she worked extensively as an actor working in physical theatre and winning awards for the creation of street theatre for the Melbourne Festival.
On her return to New Zealand in 1999 Kate quickly established herself as an entrepreneurial theatre artist creating, performing, producing and teaching her craft often in association with co-creator Julie Nolan.
As well as performing within their devised works Kate began to design and build puppets and imagery. Moa Hunting (they performed together), The Butcher's Daughter (Julie directed and Kate performed), Beyond the Blue (they both directed).
Kate also co-directed Black Ice with Pandemonium Theatre along with making shadow puppetry for Pauline Grogan's work 500 Letters which also toured nationally. Kate is also known to New Zealand audiences through her singing and her puppetry skills in Indian Ink's The Candlestickmaker, which has been performed nationally and in Singapore, Australia and Germany over a number of years. Since 2006 she has also been the co-director of The Trash to Fashion Awards in Waitakere City
In 2008 Kate negotiated with Australian author/artist Shaun Tan about developing a theatre production of his graphic novel The Arrival. She then designed and built imagery, co-devised and performed while Julie directed The Arrival at the Auckland Festival in 2009. They became Red Leap Theatre along with the sought after producing skills of Lauren Hughes who became part of their team. Lauren worked as the company manager for the next four years allowing the company to grow and gain Kaihikatea status with Creative New Zealand. Lauren has since retired to a very active position on the Red Leap Theatre board. The company is now managed by Helaina Keeley along with producer/production manager Theresa Hanaray.
The Arrival has now toured Sydney, Hong Kong, Wellington, Seoul, Busan, Taiwan and Macao. It has won numerous Chapman Tripp Awards including Production of the Year and Best director.
In 2011 the company premiered Paper Sky - co-directed by Julie and Kate. This work (through an evolvement process) and continues to tour nationally and won the 2012 Chapman Trip award for Most Original Production and Best Set Design.
Kate stepped away from the company in 2015 to support her young family and take a theatrical break.
During 2016 she was Auckland Council’s artist in residence. During 2017 she exhibited ’Kowhai and The Giants’ a paper cut lightbox story at The Arataki Centre, which was viewed by over 40,000 people.
In 2017 she was an artistic associate for Auckland Theatre Company.
In 2018 she created ‘Lucan and The Whale Star’ a watercolour lightbox exhibition and also directed ‘Lunar State’ a devised graduation performance at the Unitec School of Performing and screen arts.
She is currently creating ‘Kowhai and The Giants’ into a picture book and directing the development of ‘Lunar State’.