Bala Murali Shingade


NameBala Murali Shingade (he/him)
Country of BirthIndia
Place of ResidenceTāmaki Makaurau Auckland
ArtformScreen, Theatre
Decades Active2010s, 2020s


Bala Murali Shingade is a writer, director and actor based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Active on stage and screen, his creative practice has developed around the similarities and distinctions between the two forms. He has worked simultaneously on film and theatre projects not only as a multi-hyphenate practitioner, but as an artist and performer agile at storytelling — and dismantling stereotypes — through both humour and pathos.

Born in India and raised in Aotearoa from the age of four, Shingade graduated from the University of Auckland in 2017 with an MA in Screen Production. His first foray into theatre was as an actor in three Prayas Theatre productions between 2018–19, while his first play as a writer, What Have You Become?, was presented as part of Proudly Asian Theatre’s Fresh off the Page series in 2019. Speaking on the podcast Asian in Aotearoa in 2023, Shingade has described the play as wrestling with questions around identity because that’s what “everyone was doing” — a direction he followed at the time, though ultimately moved on from, because of a desire to make work as an artist not necessarily defined by those expectations.

In 2019, Shingade’s five-minute monologue in Prayas Theatre’s anthology show First World Problems 2.0 would become the basis for Boom Shankar, an ever-evolving comedy about bomb defusal. Co-written with Indian New Zealand actor Aman Bajaj, the monologue was expanded into an hour-long version for the NZ International Comedy Festival in 2021, produced by Gayatri Adi. The show’s popularity spawned a repeat season at Basement Theatre the same year before evolving into two separate projects: a 15-minute pilot episode for Pan-Asian Screen Collective’s Episode One web series initiative; and a new presentation as part of Q Theatre’s Matchbox season in 2023. Both Shingade and Bajaj returned as performers, Adi returned as producer and theatremaker Ahi Karunaharan, who provided dramaturgy for earlier iterations, directed the new season.

As a filmmaker, Shingade was an inaugural Arts Foundation Springboard Award recipient in 2020, which provided him with a year-long mentorship by Oscar Kightley, MNZM, on the development of a feature film script. Among the short films he’s directed, Shingade has explored coming-of-age experience in Brown Boy Lies, his MA thesis film, and 800 Lunches (2019), made as part of Someday Stories’ series of sustainability-focused short films by emerging Aotearoa filmmakers.

Under his company Rocket Park Productions, Shingade produced writer-director Daniel Nisbet’s play The Best Café in the World, which premiered at the Basement Theatre in 2022, and writer-director Warren Rodricks’ short film Ballsy in 2023, also for Someday Stories.

In 2022, his New Zealand Film Commission-funded short film Perianayaki, about the unseen life of a Sri Lankan supermarket employee, won four New Zealand’s Best awards at Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival, including Best Short Film and the Audience Award. The awards jury praised the film for “ground[ing] itself quietly yet profoundly in the everyday” and called it “searingly truthful, with a central performance we won’t forget.”

Shingade’s most recent short film, Blue Lights, was made under the Toi Film screen programme, which partners Aotearoa filmmakers with Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School students. It premiered on November 10, 2023 together with films directed by Dana Leaming and Mia Blake.

Key works / presentations

As playwright and performer:

2023, 2021 — Boom Shankar, Q Theatre/Basement Theatre/NZ International Comedy Festival

As playwright:

2019 — What Have You Become?, Proudly Asian Theatre: Fresh off the Page

As producer:

2023 — Ballsy, Someday Stories annual short film series
2022 — The Best Café in the World, Basement Theatre

As writer/director:

2023 — Blue Lights, Toi Film: Toi Whakaari graduate short films
2023 — Boom Shankar, pilot episode for Pan-Asian Screen Collective: Episode One web series initiative
2022 — Perianayaki (co-written with Shreya Gejji), Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival
2019 — 800 Lunches, Someday Stories annual short film series
2019 — Brown Boy Lies

Key awards

2022 — Whānau Marama, New Zealand International Film Festival: Best Short Film, Audience Award, Creative New Zealand Emerging Talent Award (Perianayaki)

2020 — Arts Foundation: Springboard Award

Last updated: 5 March 2024 Suggest an Edit