Robert Lord is an important figure in New Zealand literary and theatre history. He wrote incisive and indiosyncratic radio and stage plays about New Zealand life when there were relatively few, did almost every job going at Downstage, and helped establish Playmarket. Lord also incorporated queer characters into his plays at a time when almost nobody else did, playing around with sexual conventions and distorting them in curious ways. Suburbia, small towns, social conformity, gender relations, human hypocrisies and the absurdity of daily life were other common themes.
Lord’s diaries offer a dramatic contrast between life in 1970s and 80s New York – a world of sex, drugs and socialising – and provincial New Zealand, with its respectable living rooms, fields of carrots, and homoerotic demonstrations of sheep shearing. Lord had a complex relationship with his homeland and was never quite sure where he belonged. His diaries tell of torn loyalties and creativity forged out of dislocation and outsider status.
Robert Lord Diaries was published by Otago University Press in October 2023. An introduction by the editors, Chris Brickell, Vanessa Manhire and Nonnita Rees, examines Robert Lord’s life and contextualises the diaries. The book also includes pictures of Robert and his friends in New York; family photos from New Zealand; play posters; and theatre photos taken during productions in New Zealand and overseas.
Extra photos and details can also be found on my various blog posts [here]