Robert Gilbert

Trans Tasmin

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There are very few theatre plays that explore the world of transgender New Zealanders in contemporary society.  The themes around cross-dressing, androgyny, and transgender have been around for thousands of years and explored in the very earliest of written theatre literature: eg The Bacchae by Euripides.
It is my intention to write a play where the issues of gender role, and transgenderism in contemporary society are seen against a backdrop of an ancient Greek Tragedy.  The scenes will be linked by the character Simon Greenwood, who is a first year university student studying The Bacchae.  He is able to view his own contemporary challenges of having a transgender girlfriend and a cross-dressing stepfather against the gender-role themes in The Bacchae.
Woven into the contemporary story is the story of this Greek Tragedy about Dyonisus' ruin of Pentheus.  The issues will be seen through the eyes of young Simon Greenwood, who has been greatly influenced by his stepfather, when he discovers that his stepfather is leading a double life.  Meanwhile the young man unwittingly begins a relationship with Tasmin, a Māori transgender woman.
Titled TRANS TASMIN, the play will deal with discrimination in New Zealand society, misunderstandings and fears about the transgender community, and be expressed in theatrically challenging context by including aspects of Euripides' 'The Bacchae' within the text.

It is my hope that audiences will come away with a greater understanding of the transgender community, and perhaps having more tolerance and compassion for New Zealanders who are different to them.  Join me in bringing this important message of understanding and equality to life through the art of theatre.   A form of art, which for centuries has been celebrated for it's ability to educate, inspire and transform humanity.

Thank you for your support - Robert Gilbert.



  • Published!


    I'm very pleased to announce that 'Trans Tasmin' is available as Paperback or Kindle on Amazon.

    Thank you for your incredible support - please share the link. Arohanui. Robert.


  • Possibilities


    Dear friend

    Late last year, TRANS TASMIN came 2nd in the stage play catergory of the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition 

    Recently, The Court Theatre have asked for suggestions about what you’d like to see on “The Court's stage in 2018/2019!” See here:

    So … if you think TRANS TASMIN should be considered, you might like to let them know.


    Robert Gilbert



    672 likes; 27 tweets; 39 shares; 83 donors; $6010 raised. My most humble thanks seem inadequate for your concerted effort to make this project happen. And it will, now, thanks to you. I have set up a Facebook page for TRANS TASMIN here: where you can follow the progress of drafts, workshops, public readings and hopefully, one day, production. It has been an exciting journey and my thanks to the team at for their wonderful innovation in supporting artists. What a boost!


    Robert Gilbert.


  • Wow!


    From 51% to 84% in one day! To the 20 new donors yesterday, thank you so much!! I cannot tell you how exciting it was to see the target slowly come within reach.  I am currently in Wellington for a function tonight but will spend the rest of today ensconced in the hotel tapping away at the second draft of TRANS TASMIN. With a little over $900 to raise before midnight - I am definitely feeling boosted!!


  • Last Day


    Boosted campaign closes midnight Sunday. If you can, one last share, tweet, email, or whatever, to your networks would be so greatly appreciated. Not sure if I'll get over the line - a wee miracle needed now - already indebted to so many people for their support, enthusiasm and cash.




    Wonderful support from




    Working on the second draft now.



  • Over Halfway


    Crikey from 43% to 51% in one day!!  Over the halfway mark now.  I really am most grateful for the selflessness people have shown. I am especially thankful for the openness and bravery of Lexie Matheson for telling some of her story and endorsing this project.





    2 days to go!


  • Close ...


    Just a few days remaining and 43% of the goal achieved so far. My sincere thanks for all of the tweets, re-tweets, posts and re-posts by so many people. Thanks also to and for supporting the project by featuring in their publications. I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic support for TRANS TASMIN and look forward to bringing this play to life, come what may.



    Arohanui, Robert.


  • Final Countdown!


    Just over a week to go!  Thank you to all of the donors so far. Thank you also for continuing to share the link to this page through your contacts and networks. I have no idea whether I can reach the goal over the next week, but I’ll certainly give it my best shot.




    This week celebrated theatre designer, Julian Southgate, lent me some of his Greek theatre masks to work with.  It has been a fascinating process experiencing the possibilities and limitations that mask-work brings. Pictured below are samples of Julian’s fabulous masks.




    This morning, I was honoured to be invited by Dale Husband on Radio Waatea – Auckland’s only Māori radio station, to talk about TRANS TASMIN. You can listen to the interview here:




    Well, one last push as I begin tapping out the second draft of TRANS TASMIN. Fingers crossed!!




    With sincere thanks






    Final Countdown!
  • Two Weeks To Go!


    My sincere thanks to those who donated this week.  I am humbled by anyone who believes in my project, or me … or both. This week, we managed to get a feature in the Outlook Express – a local paper in North Canterbury. That was encouraging, and my thanks to Rachel MacDonald for telling my story. I am beginning work on the second draft and have some solid ideas for the development of the script. An opportunity to workshop the play with professional theatre practitioners will see a final draft ready for the stage. With just a fortnight to go, the target seems a long way off, but I am confident that we can do it. Thank you so much to the 35 donors so far – thank you for tweeting and posting the link .  Fingers crossed for the next two weeks.


    World famous in North Canterbury!


    Two Weeks To Go!
  • Newstalk ZB with Chris Lynch


    I had an opportunity to talk about TRANS TASMIN with Chris Lynch on Newstalk ZB this morning:

    It is wonderful to have such interest in the subject matter and the play. 


  • Inspiration in Australia


    I have had the good fortune to spend a week in sunny Queensland.  I was cast in a short film as a kiwi construction worker and spend time shooting in Brisbane, plus a scene out in the desert at Nindigully.  The flights to and from Oz, plus the 16 hours in the car on the day we went to the desert, gave me heaps of time to write.  The rest of my time was spent in a place called Dalby.  There, I was the adjudicator of the Dalby Theatre Festival.  This festival really celebrates new Australian plays.  What a delight and an inspiration it was to spend time watching new works from some wonderfully creative playwrights.  Back at home now and putting the final touches on the first draft.  On Friday, at 11.10am, I will be interviewed on NewstalkZB Canterbury Morning with Chris Lynch - - talking about Trans Tasmin.




    En route to Nindigully – the 1200km drive gave me plenty of writing time!


    Inspiration  in Australia
  • Gender Representations



    A big thank-you to those who donated this week.  We are slowly but surely edging towards the goal of $6,000.  The money will pay professional actors and a director to workshop a draft of my play. Recently I have been turning my mind to the gender swapping that has occurred in theatre ever since the ancient Greeks. Of course, in THE BACCHAE by Euripides, Dionysus convinces Pentheus to dress as a woman so that he can spy on the maenads. When I visited Shakespeare’s birthplace at Stratford Upon Avon recently, I was reminded that women’s roles were played by men.  Whilst there, I witnessed the classic ‘balcony scene’ from ROMEO AND JULIET tenderly enacted by two men.  Fascinating stuff and all good fodder for my play. Thanks for sharing the link. Counting down the last month now!


    At Shakespeare’s birthplace – Stratford Upon Avon


    Gender Representations
  • Winter Weekend


    What a wonderful sense to have broken the $1,000 mark!  Thank you so much to those who have donated to this ambitious project. I am constantly surprised and delighted by the extraordinary generosity of people.  The play is coming along nicely.  The first draft of Act One is completed and as we face a chilly weekend in Christchurch, I hope to make a start on Act Two, Scene One.  Please keep sharing, emailing, tweeting and let’s make this happen.

    The Victoria Street clock tower – frozen in time (the time of the Feb 22 EQ)

    Winter Weekend
  • Masks


    It’s been a creative couple of weeks. I have really enjoyed re-reading THE BACCHAE and considering the gender themes that Euripides wrote about over 2,500 years ago. 

    When I was in London a few weeks ago, I visited the theatre exhibition at The V&A Museum. I was especially inspired by a set of masks designed by Jocelyn Herbert for the Greek play The Oresteia, by Aeschylus, produced by The National Theatre in 1981 – I’ve attached a photo I took. Aren’t they amazing? 

    Thank you to those who have donated this week- anonymously and otherwise. I really value your support.  Keep spreading the word, sharing and tweeting the link helps.

  • Thank you for your tremendous support.


    Well the Boosted project is underway and I'm already overwhelmed by the generosity people have shown this early in. Thank you so much to those who have donated already. Getting the word out is key, I think.  Have people share the link, then having their friends share it and so on.

    This will be a busy three months, as I strive to raise enough funds to pay actors and a director for a professional workshop of the script. Ah, the script. Yes, there's a bit of writing to do too. Research is complete. Synopsis done. And character profiles sorted. 

    Here's my list of characters for the play:

    TASMIN MAHIKA – a Māori transgender woman of Ngai Tahu descent (we don’t discover Tasmin’s gender status until near the end of Act One). She is a confident young person, astute and politically and culturally ‘in touch’. She has no doubts whatsoever that she is a woman and is resolved to make the final part of her physical transition. She adopts the notion of takatāpui to describe and identify with her sexuality, gender, and culture. She works part-time behind the bar at the rugby clubrooms (the actor playing Tasmin also plays CHORUS 3).

    SIMON CLARKE-GREENWOOD – a first year university student majoring in Performing Arts. He is cast in a production of The Bacchae, by Euripides. He also plays premier-grade club rugby. (The actor playing Simon plays DIONYSUS).

    DAN GREENWOOD– Simon’s stepfather (since Simon was very young) and ‘male role-model’. Dan is middle-aged and works as a builder. He is the coach of Simon’s rugby team. Dan is a secret cross-dresser. (The actor playing Dan plays PENTHEUS).

    KATRINA GREENWOOD – Simon’s mother, a middle-aged clerical worker. She is an alcoholic. (The actor playing Katrina plays CHORUS 1/AGAVE).

    TODD MATTHEWS – Dan’s co-worker and rugby club mate. He is very ‘macho’. (The actor playing Todd plays SERVANT/MESSENGER).

    HILARY MORRIS – a nurse and Todd’s girlfriend. (The actor playing Hilary plays CHORUS 2).

    Thank you for your tremendous support.

    Thank you for your tremendous support.