top of page
Woman of Words

Woman of

The life of a literary icon

Woman of

World Premiere        2023 / Lake Wānaka Centre


Commissioned by    Royal New Zealand Ballet 

                                      Wānaka Festival of Colour


                                      with support from the

                                      Royal New Zealand

                                      Ballet Foundation

Choreographer:         Loughlan Prior

Sound Design:            Matthew Lambourn

Costume:                     Donna Jefferis


Composers: Alessandro Marcello, Aaron Copland, Maurice Ravel, Irving Berlin, Benny Goodman and his Boys, Arthur J. Mills, Fred Godfrey, Bennett Scott, Douwe Eisinger, Hans Bakker, Poul Ruders and Matthew Lambourn.


Voice of Katherine: Francesca Emms


Photography: Celia Walmsley

"At once profoundly cerebral, unflinchingly erotic, exquisitely artistic and brutally dramatic, this Royal New Zealand ballet left me stunned by its emotional depth, by its precisely eloquent voice-over excerpts of her thoughts and by the magnitude of the work’s psychological exploration."

- Mona Williams, Theatre Review


Program Notes: 

“Life is marvellous. I want to be deeply rooted in it - to live - to expand - to breathe in it - to rejoice - to share it. To give and to be asked for Love.” - Katherine Mansfield

Woman of Words is a biographical dance work, celebrating the extraordinary life of Katherine Mansfield. Exploring the personal stories which inspired her literary work, the ballet translates early twentieth century attitudes through Katherine’s eyes, in a series of epistolary moments gathered from letters to her closest friends and loved ones.


Mansfield played a central role in shaping modern literature by experimenting with style, subject matter and theme, with the analysis of anxiety, sexuality and existentialism embroiled within her writing. In remaining true to her brilliant and singular voice, she created a body of work that redefined the genre.

Katherine’s intense, captivating and all too short life is brought to the stage using integrated text and sound design in collaboration with award winning editor Matthew Lambourn. Beginning with her early years growing up in Wellington, to the height of London bohemia and the Bloomsbury group, to her death at the age of thirty-four, Woman of Words celebrates Katherine’s winding journey and her passion for creativity, love and life.


With special thanks to Nicola Saker, Cherie Jacobson, The Katherine Mansfield House and Garden, Alexander Turnbull Library - National Library of New Zealand, Marie Silberstein, POW Studios, Wānaka Festival of Colour and the Royal New Zealand Ballet Foundation.

"Mansfields literary life turned into exquisite ballet. Full kudos to choreographer Loughlan Prior and the Royal New Zealand Ballet for nailing this outstanding tribute to Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand’s trail-blazing maverick for women and for literature."

– Otago Daily Times

bottom of page