Abby Howells dreams big at 2022 comedy festival

Abby Howells performs HarleQueen. PHOTO: BEKKY BOYCE
Abby Howells performs HarleQueen. PHOTO: BEKKY BOYCE
A screenplay written by a then 10-year-old Abby Howells will come to life this year as the Dunedin comedian competes for the Billy T Award.

Howells will premiere Dreamer in Dunedin, her home town, before she performs the one-hour solo show during the International Comedy Festival in May as one of five nominees for the award.

Discovering she had been nominated had been very exciting given it is considered the most prestigious award a comedian can receive in New Zealand.

Previous winners include Rose Matafeo, Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement.

"It’s a big deal and a real honour for me."

She is known to Dunedin audiences through her theatre work and more recently she performed her award-winning show HarleQueen at the Dunedin Fringe Festival in 2019.

Abby Howells will also be doing stand-up as part of the Billy T Award competition. PHOTO: ALI LITTLE
Abby Howells will also be doing stand-up as part of the Billy T Award competition. PHOTO: ALI LITTLE
Since then she has won Best Emerging Artist award at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2020 for the show and the director’s award at last year’s Comedy Festival.

Howells has teamed up with Anya Tate-Manning again and Hannah Smith (Trick of the Light theatre) for her latest production based on the post-World War 2 romance screenplay she wrote as a child.

"I’m bringing the show to life on stage and giving it an ending as I never finished it. It’s quite exciting."

While she also does stand-up, Howells loves bringing her theatre background into her comedy work with some "theatre magic" to help tell the story.

She felt it is important to premiere her show in Dunedin in April.

"We all have a strong connection to Dunedin and it felt right for the first time it is performed for it to be here."

Howells will also compete in the stand-up Billy T Jams in February at Auckland's Q Theatre and at the festival’s Last Laughs show on May 22 when the winner will be announced.

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