John is a maker, artist, teacher and academic with over 30 years practical theatre experience. 

I’m interested in including and engaging audiences and how we can physically adapt, skew and explode our basic perceptions of who we are on a stage. The blending of text and movement fascinates me and I love when all of the actor and all of the audience is engaged to re-imagine and represent all of our stories, making the whole experience more pertinent and more visceral.

John Butterfield first stepped on a stage at the age of 16 in a production of Peter Pan in his home town of Walnut Creek, California. Further study, as part of a regional young rep programme led him to specialise in dance and choreography. This, along with teaching kept him working and busy until aged 22 he enrolled on an acting programme at The Drama Studio, London in Berkeley.

For the next ten years John forged a successful career dancing, choreographing and acting throughout California before forming his own dance company in 1989. The New Urban Dance Company created and performed original dance theatre works in the Bay Area C.A. John continued to teach and work freelance for a number of dance companies throughout the United States.

In 1994 the Butterfield 8 Theatre Company was created as a theatrical branch of his dance company and John began to explore more physical theatre. On completion of his bachelor programme at St. Mary College, Morga in 2002 his interest in theatre direction was such that he took a year out from his company to start a Masters in Theatre Arts at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School and Victoria University.

On his return to California, John settled the Butterfield 8 Theatre Company into their residence at The Cue Theatre, a converted pool hall in Concord, C.A. Here he set about creating new work and re-telling classics. Working with actors to ensure the focus was on the work and not on the individual, they experimented with puppetry, gender casting, projection, movement, and environmental theatre. Telling stories in an intimate space meant that the audience was key to any performance and this was one of the factors that led them to be named as one of the Top 10 small theatre companies in the Bay Area.

In 2014, John returned to Toi Whakaari to complete his Masters creating Your Body is a Battleground, a work of physical theatre exploring gender and desire as his final thesis. This return to Aotearoa reaffirmed for him that the innovative arts environment here was where he wished to continue to work, teach and create.

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