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Theatre Building Communities Authenticity and audiences Briar Grace-Smith on being real

Community Theatremakers Talking House, Prayas, Black Friars Angie Farrow making connections

Growing Regional Identity Palmerston North Represent! Centrepoint turns 40 – the play

New Zealand Theatre 2014

NO.49: 2014


Theatre Building Communities Authenticity and audiences Briar Grace-Smith on being real

Community Theatremakers Talking House, Prayas, Black Friars Angie Farrow making connections

Growing Regional Identity Palmerston North Represent! Centrepoint turns 40 – the play

New Zealand Theatre 2014

NO.49: 2014


DIRECTOR’S WORD ISSUE 49 2014

For this year’s Annual we widen our focus beyond

that can be traced forwards and back over

the four biggest cities that have been the subject

the decades, but it’s a healthy sign. Lines are

of our previous four Annuals to look at the varied

constantly blurred and theatre is becoming more

and different sorts of theatre that might be labelled

and more inclusive. By creating work for a specific

community theatre. We look at the connections

purpose, location or demographic we actually

between community and theatre everywhere.

end up opening theatre out to wider audiences

The term ‘community theatre’ has been adopted

than ever before.

by what we are used to referring to as amateur

The theatre company from which professional

theatres or theatre societies. This is definitely

regional theatre exploded was Downstage, and

grassroots community work and yet theatre is

late last year just shy of its fiftieth birthday the

often created by and for a specific cultural group

company was forced to close. This was one

or interest community. That we’re seeing more

more noticeable change in the national theatre

of our communities presenting their own voices on

ecology. New Zealand theatre has not undergone

stage or in site-specific spaces is to be celebrated.

the kind of recent brutal funding cuts of some

At the same time there is increasing interest in

overseas countries but it has also not enjoyed the

the idea of community theatre produced by

level of government support that some of those

funded professional theatres. In the 1960s and

countries have received. The national theatre

70s New Zealand’s professional theatre companies

scene has shifted somewhat since the days that

grew out of a vibrant amateur movement that

saw the birth of Downstage but it is debatable

had been dedicatedly producing theatre for

whether we have continued to move forward at

many decades. Amateur groups had arisen

the rate we should have. There is definitely evident

from their specific community locations – often

change and hopefully some of this is reflected for

quite remote. As Bryan Aitken points out in this

consideration in the articles we print in this issue.

issue, professional theatre still benefits from that

Theatre is better reflecting the diversity of our

movement, and is itself turning more to creating

contemporary culture, in a way that leads

work beyond their usual venues, and programming

our development as a vibrant, complex country.

work that is created within and for a particular

Briar Grace-Smith’s article demonstrates the

community.

importance of reflecting the voice of tangata

The community theatre movement in turn benefits

whenua and we also look at reflections of

from work premiered in the professional arena,

immigrant cultures through the work of Prayas

and is producing an increasing number of scripts

and Black Friars, Talking House's verbatim theatre

written by local writers. There are cycles here

looking at diverse communities, provincial theatre

production and touring, New Zealand Theatre organisation’s important connective tissue and the contribution that theatre can make to the lives of many diverse sectors of this nation. All of this plus our round up of work presented in each of the main cities and a full calendar of a very full year of NZ work produced throughout the country. Mark Amery has once again impressively led the commissioning of a range of thought-provoking articles and overseen the recording of the theatrical year. Along with my thanks to the Playmarket staff, in particular Salesi Le’ota who has worked tirelessly on the Annual, I offer my heartfelt thanks to Mark. Murray Lynch Director, Playmarket

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Bronwyn Ensor in 2b or nt 2b by Sarah Delahunty, 1st Gear Productions, Circa Theatre. Image: Stephen A’Court; the cast of Yo Future devised and directed by Jo Randerson, Barbarian Productions, Southland Festival of the Arts, Repertory House, Invercargill. Image: Nicole Johnstone (Southland Times); and Stuart Hoar, Michelanne Forster, Dave Armstrong and Briar Grace-Smith, Hannah Playhouse, New Zealand Festival Writers Week. Image: Pauline Lévêque.


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CONTENTS 4 KEEPING IT REAL Briar Grace-Smith on Te Reo and the role of theatre. The Magazine of the New Zealand Play and Playwright Playmarket Annual Editor: Mark Amery Design: Sorelle Cansino Advertising: Annesley Kingston Editorial Assistants: Salesi Le’ota and Murray Lynch Published by Playmarket PO Box 9767, Wellington Aotearoa New Zealand Ph. 64-4-382 8462 Fax. 64-4-382 8461 www.playmarket.org.nz email: info@playmarket.org.nz ISSN 0113-97030703 The Playmarket Annual is published once a year. The next issue will be September 2015. The views expressed in this magazine are not, unless stated, those of Playmarket staff or its executive. Advertising enquiries should be made to Annesley Kingston, ph. 04-475 9449. Playmarket Board: Andrew Caisley (President), Catherine Fitzgerald, Danielle Grant, Amanda Hereaka, Alister McDonald, Tai Paitai and Brent Thawley. Playmarket Staff: Director Murray Lynch; Script Advisor Stuart Hoar; Client Promotion Salesi Le’ota; Licensing Administrator; Nick Doherty/ Claire O’Loughlin. Playmarket receives major funding from Creative New Zealand’s Arts Leadership Investment (Toi Tōtara Haemata) programme and funding from ASB Community Trust.

6 MANY VOICES Community theatre makers on authenticity and different audiences: Simon O’Connor, Michelle Johannson, Bruce Brown and Ahi Karunaharan.

10 NOT ENOUGH HOURS Alison Quigan meets fellow actor and playwright April Phillips.

12 A PROVINCIAL PLAY  Countering NZ’s tendency to marginalise regional identity, Natasha Hay considers the inroads being made for the NZ play in our regions.

17 THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST Renée on the value of theatre from a community perspective.

18 AFTER THE BIRDS Angie Farrow’s personal experience in theatre building communities.

21 PALMERSTON NORTH – THE PLAY Written by David Geary.

22 NATIONAL WELLBEING Bryan Aitken on the role of the busy local theatre society scene.

23 REWRITING HISTORY  Philip Braithwaite on the playwright’s fidelity to the facts.

25 AUDIENCE FUNDED Sam Brooks on trying to classify Auckland theatre.

26 ANNUAL ROUND UP Four critics report on the tenor of the last year in the four major cities’ theatre scenes.

33 THEATRE CALENDAR T  he vast array of professional productions of NZ Plays August 2013 – July 2014.

36 PLAYMARKET INFORMATION Stuart Hoar on getting produced, and the information and services Playmarket provides.

40 THE LAST WORD Kate Louise Elliott on being better at the business in show business. CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Paniora! by Briar GraceSmith, Auckland Theatre Company, NZ Festival, Soundings Theatre. Image: Matt Grace; Anthea Hill, Amber Cureen and Paul Glover in The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear, adapted by Tim Bray, Tim Bray Productions, The Pumphouse. Image: David Rowland; Uther Dean, Salesi Le’ota and Kirsty Bruce in Gunplay by Paul Rothwell, The Bacchanals, BATS Theatre. Image: Charlotte Simmonds; Paul McLaughlin and Phil Grieve reading The Travelling Squirrel by Robert Lord at the 2013 Playmarket Accolades, Hannah Playhouse. Image: Philip Merry; and Adam Gardiner and Toni Potter in Sunday Roast by Thomas Sainsbury, Silo Theatre. Image: Malmo Photography.

ON THE COVER: Representing theatre practitioners with strong connections to the Manawatu in front of Anton Parsons’ sculpture ‘Numbers’ in The Square, Palmerston North: (L to R) writer Philip Braithwaite, actor and writer Jamie McCaskill, Te Pūanga Whakaari Theatre Production’s Karla Crofts, Centrepoint Theatre Artistic Director Jeff Kingsford-Brown and Te Pūanga Whakaari’s Reihana Haronga. Image: Brendan Lodge.

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normal way. Pepeha – the act of standing up and formally introducing yourself to others – which is common these days, was considered by the old people to be quite strange.

RIGHT: Te Arahi Easton and Nepia Takuira-Mita in Ngunguru i te Ao i te Po by Noa Campbell, Taki Rua Productions Te Reo Māori Season. Image: Philip Merry.

“I live my life above ground now” says Rangimoana Taylor. “I do what I am passionate about, I get to the point”. Nancy Brunning agrees: ‘‘When you go through something this big, you know what counts’’. Apart from both being integral to the journey of Māori theatre, Rangimoana and Nancy have both recently overcome battles with cancer. They speak candidly and passionately about the role theatre has in preserving Māori language and tikanga.

ABOVE: Miria George and Jarod Rawiri in Hīkoi by Nancy Brunning, Hāpai Productions and Auckland Arts Festival Te Kākano Season, Circa Theatre. Image: Michael Hall.

KEEPING IT REAL

Briar Grace-Smith on Te Reo and the role of theatre for Maori

Te Ohu Whakaari not only gave rangatahi the tools they needed to grow as actors but it also provided us with the opportunity to explore and own our identity, in a creative way. The levels of language within the company varied. The shows we made were bilingual but, most importantly, the stories connected to and validated who we and our audiences were as (urban) Māori.

Rangimoana was the director and founder of Te Ohu Whakaari Māori theatre company in the late 1970s. I joined the company later when I was just seventeen years old. At that time in my life I felt such a need to be recognised as Māori that I would state my tribe and my river at the top of my voice to anyone who looked twice at me. Nancy remembers being at school and pretending to be able to speak and write in Te Reo, a language that she didn’t grow up knowing. This connected her to her mother and momentarily filled the space inside of her that should have been bursting with Māori identity. For Nancy, myself and many rangatahi, the need to yell or to pretend was not only attached to the aspirations we had to connect to our Māoritanga, but it also disguised a feeling that was bubbling just beneath our skin. The feeling of whakamā. “When the language is a normal part of your life, you don’t need to shout about it,” Nancy says. “When my mother spoke Te Reo she had confidence, she had an energy that she didn’t have when she spoke English. For Māori speakers of Nancy’s mum’s generation, introductions to others usually played out in an intimate and

Rangimoana believed then as he does now, that in order to move forward and stand strong, people need to get rid of the whakamā. “If you are Ngāi Tūhoe or Ngāti Porou, that’s good but if you were brought up in Strathmore and have never been back home, it doesn’t make you less. Let’s stop pretending. There’s no time”. The experience of being part of Te Ohu Whakaari not only gave many of us the confidence to stand in front of a crowded room and speak, it helped define our future careers. Nancy is pleased that her daughter Mārire hasn’t had to struggle with the same issues that she did. But even today, learning Te Reo in an immersive way and sending children off to Kōhanga Reo or Kura Kaupapa often means making big sacrifices. “Our grandparents had to change their lives in order to learn English and now we’re having to do the same, we have to re-work our entire lives to reclaim what was taken. The language should be a given”. Nancy’s recent play Hīkoi is about a woman who is strong in her Māoritanga, and about her relationship with her husband, who had been denied his. Holding stoically to the belief that the Pākehā way has to be the right way (and at the same time hiding his head in the sand) Charlie orders his wife Nellie (a language and human rights activist) out of their home. Their children are consequently denied access to their Māoritanga. It is a personal story to Nancy and one she needed to write. “I am the middle child in my whānau. I have learnt to observe the extremities on either side of a situation. I try to make sense of them in a way that is accessible to all, and in a way that evokes a wider conversation. I needed to write this play to shake us all out of complacency”. Rangimoana points out that the themes explored in Hīkoi are similar to those in the play Kōhanga written by Apirana Taylor and produced in the mid-80s, and that they are still just as relevant. In language retention and maintenance Māori might be light years ahead of other indigenous

“I want them to know where they come from. I want to bury their pito with mine and to speak our language.” / Nancy Brunning PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49 : 4


nations, but the 2013 census tells us that the number of speakers has dropped and that Te Reo is in a state of crisis. We cannot afford to be complacent. “Theatre has always led the way,” states Rangimoana. “It is constant, it costs nothing. All over the world, all the time, people are making theatre. We join into that whakapapa”. He talks about having recently seen the futuristic play 2080 by Aroha White. For him the story was mindblowing. “Theatre is a space that allows us to be brave and honest. To not only look to our past but to look ahead and dream about what we will be. It’s powerful”.

“Theatre is a space that allows us to be brave and honest.”

Nancy describes theatre, because of its kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) connection with its audience, as being the most powerful medium for making change. “It is one of the few mediums that has managed to sustain key values, and it is all about accessibility. We can’t lose that”. Kotahitanga (togetherness and collaboration) manaakitanga (well being) and aroha (love in its widest sense) are some of the concepts that are embraced within the language and should extend to the way Māori theatre operates. As well as the play itself, the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of all involved is vital to the success of a production. Rangimoana talks about the poeticism of Te Reo Māori, which as well as being rich with metaphor, connects people to the natural and spiritual worlds. “People often speak the words but don’t realise what they are saying. For example, the word ‘karanga’ (the women’s call as the visitors move onto the marae) means to weave the light. Pōwhiri, the welcoming ceremony means to wave away the night. Aroha means divine breath”. As he speaks I remember a lament of old, taught to some of us in Te Ohu Whakaari by Aunty Keri Kaa. In a song written in grief for her dead child; an East Coast mother begins “Rimurimu teretere e rere ki te moana.” Here she is describing the way kelp drifts aimlessly on the tide, as a metaphor for the helplessness of grief. The lament finishes with “Rite tonu tō hanga, ki te tīrairaka e, waihoki tō hanga, te wairangi e”. Here she compares her child to a tīrairaka, a fantail, which flits about and is never still, this is a metaphor for the elusiveness of memory. The language used in this lament affected me profoundly at the time. Mōteatea (traditional compositions) continue to provide huge inspiration for my writing in English. Nancy recounts working with Hone Hurihanganui on the Māori language play for children Awhina.

While the script could be read as linear, if you listen carefully to the words, you will understand that nothing in this story is how it initially presents itself to be. Reaching out and connecting with children this small and gentle play is about as layered as they come. Tainui Tukiwaho is a first language speaker who grew up on his papakāinga in Rotorua. “Until I left home I didn’t know that my experience was any different than anyone else’s,” he says. “By the time I found my way into the performing arts, the hard work had been done. We didn’t have to fight for a space”. He established his theatre company Te Rehia to promote accessibility of Te Reo. During performances of the children’s show Ruia te Kākano, audiences from mainstream schools and kura kaupapa influence the characters’ journeys with their suggestions. “The three main characters in the play speak only Te Reo, so the storyteller must teach the audience key words in order to help the cast finish the story”. It’s all about making Te Reo contagious. Over the time Tainui has been working in theatre, he’s witnessed the growth of audience embracing Te Reo Māori. “Children are always excited to participate but recently we got feedback from a Pākehā lady in Cambridge saying she was disappointed there wasn’t more Māori language included in the show that we took there” he laughs. However he states that to ignite real change in public psyche more resources need to be thrown at Te Reo Māori theatre. He credits The Māori Troilus and Cressida, directed by Rachel House – which achieved critical acclaim

“Ko te tarawhe tuatahi noa iho tenei” / “It is a first draft.” Ngunguru i te Ao i te Po / Noa Campbell

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at the Globe theatre in London as evidence that theatre in Te Reo can also effect international audiences. Tukiwaho and Puti Lancaster have both recently become Kaiarataki Māngairua (Artistic Directors) of Taki Rua, this year celebrating 20 years of the Te Reo Māori Season. Alongside Te Rakau Hua o te Wao Tapu, Tawata Productions and other practitioners, Taki Rua have continued this important mahi since the days of Te Ohu Whakaari. Rangimoana shows me the Te Reo application on his smartphone and admits to using it regularly. “When it comes to learning the language, use whatever is at your fingertips, use it whenever you need” he reiterates. Glenis Philip-Barbara, Chief Executive of Te Taurawhiri i Te Reo Māori agrees. “Let’s stop growling... we need to be positive and celebrate whatever part of the journey a speaker may be on. Theatre is powerful, it captures a moment in time, it tells a story in Te Reo outside the perimeters of Kura Kaupapa and it normalises the language. It gives our children the message that Te Reo is anytime, anywhere”. As I sit in Kāpiti Library writing up my notes, a young man sits down on a couch beside me and starts reading a book to his daughter in Te Reo. The little girl is full of questions ‘He aha tēnei mea?’ He aha tēnei? “What is this thing?” What is this?” she says pointing to the bright pictures inside the cover. There is no shame in their exchange. No whispers or bowed heads. None of the book borrowers or students furiously studying crane their heads to listen in. It is all completely normal.


SIMON O’CONNOR: TALKING HOUSE A verbatim documentary play, Be\Longing offers stories from recent migrants to Aotearoa/New Zealand. A number of researchers and performers involved in its first production in 2012 were members of Dunedin community arts company Talking House. Earlier this year people featured in the show were re-interviewed. Their responses to the original production, and reflections on how their relationship with the community and the country have changed over the past two years, form a coda to a revised staging of the play planned for 2015.

D (from Brazil): Because I think there was a kind of a common theme across throughout everyone who was participating in this play. They were not identifying themselves completely with the culture and how things were done. And not in a critic way but in a sort of ‘oh that’s different and the other’s different’ sort of way. R (from India): I looked behind and I saw my neighbour. INTERVIEWER: Your neighbour was [sitting behind you] in the audience?

PAGE 9: Steven Ciprian and Boni Tukiwaho in Full Disclosure by Nathan Joe, Legacy Project, The Basement Theatre. Image: Kasia Marcisz.

PAGE 8: Mele Kanikau: A Pageant by John Kneubuhl, Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland. Image: Joanna Forsberg.

As Terry MacTavish noted in her review of Be\Longing (Theatreview, 3 March 2012) “Many hours of interviews with migrants to New Zealand are edited and shaped to share with us their experience, under headings which are projected onto a screen: Origins, First Impressions, Challenges, Language, Social Values and Protocols, Where Do I Belong?… The actors all have MP3 players that relay the words of the immigrants… As nearly as possible the cast reproduces the accents, inflections and intonations of the interviewees…”. In production the raw material of the play, as well as its structure and theatricality, were pretty much laid bare. The writing was done using a film editing programme rather than a word processing programme (about 20 hours of video interviews condensed to around 70 minutes) and the acting was more a matter of meticulous imitation than creative expression. The relatively static staging, projected captions, almost conversationally

R: Yeah.

free-ranging nature of the narrative, performers

INT: This was the... [neighbour who had been

re-presenting real people rather than embodying

sending abusive letters]? RIGHT: Rudali – The Mourner, based on the short story by Mahasweta Devi, Prayas, Herald Theatre. Image: Shovik Nandi.

MANY VOICES

Four different community theatre makers on authenticity and audience

H (originally from the Netherlands): It made me focus again on that whole process of arriving in a land. I found that useful.

with other local people – community groups and also artists working in a variety of disciplines. Over the years these diverse collaborations have often led us into areas we might not otherwise have explored, which is another focus of interest for us – challenging and extending our own preconceptions as theatre workers and artists.

R: Yes. The fence problem. After that. Um after that happened the letters... er… from my neighbour who was writing… stopped. It stopped. And it was… a great relief for me. You know, I don’t know how others reaped benefits like… such an impact, just like that. That was… that was… that blew me away. That she took me and my family seriously. Oh it’s awesome. It was awesome. Yes.

imagined characters, all this somehow added emphasis to the simple, authentic, compelling stories of the migrants themselves. For us as theatre workers it raised afresh those questions that help keep us alert and curious about our work: what is ‘story’, what is ‘character’, what is writing, acting, what makes language effective in performance, how does theatre relate to audiences, and why? Another Talking House piece in development at

Be\Longing is the second of three such plays Talking House has had an association with. The first was Hush, about family violence in 2009, and the third, The Keys Are In The Margarine, about dementia was staged in June this year. Hush and Be\Longing were initiated and directed by Stuart Young and Hilary Halba as research projects within Theatre Studies at the University of Otago. Keys was initiated by Cindy Diver and Susie Lawless and directed by Stuart Young.

the moment is Alive In Berlin, by poet Jenny Powell.

The form and development process of the verbatim pieces are a neat fit with the Talking House kaupapa. Our focus is on material arising from our local environment (a kind of ‘dig where you stand’ approach) and we like to work in collaboration

what it is we habitually do in our practice. In place

The work is a series of poems, prose pieces and scraps of dialogue, most of it read live by Jenny at a lecturn, with some voices recorded. All the voices, including Jenny’s own, are electronically altered to a degree, and the work is accompanied by projected images and a sound/music score. Jenny has referred to the piece as a ‘concerto’. Again, for those of us on the project who are most used to theatre, Berlin raises questions about of continuous story, Jenny presents a world of fragments that crazily expands but then ultimately contracts to nothingness (a musical rather than a dramatic structure perhaps). Instead of fully

“I just wonder how you will make this play out of all that?” Be\Longing / Simon O’Connor

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“It exposed our weaknesses and dichotomies as migrants” investing in her characters as a performer she

My first contact with Prayas was in 2010 as an

holds them at a distance, as if to say “look at this,

actor in Tasher Desh, Kingdom of Cards by Nobel

look at this odd behaviour here, this circumstance,

Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. After spending

and this quirk of personality”. The work is set in

three years post drama school playing a range of

the South (the Berlin Wall “leans” on a mantelpiece

limited (and sometimes stereotypical) South Asian

in Gore, Paris shifts to Invercargill, a vision of Cold

characters, it was refreshing to be able to work

War paranoia colours images of a child wandering

on a classical piece of text, with an ensemble

Dunedin’s Rattray Street). But rather than

of 20 other South Asian actors and musicians.

celebrating place it explores ideas of isolation,

What was eye opening and magical, that I had

dislocation and uncertainty.

never experienced before, was performing a work

Dunedin’s relative cultural isolation has its drawbacks. One positive though is that it allows space to play, explore and experiment. Talking House, with its roots in community and its branches spreading across artistic disciplines, is proving to be a great place for local theatre

theatre and powerfully universal. We thought we could enter the scene with a universal theme that had made it big elsewhere (the original production won a Fringe First at Edinburgh). It had elements of Indian clichés in the right sense of the word.” Spurred by its success, Prayas broke away from the folk theatre genre to explore a modern

one of the reasons we do what we do.

urban tale, The Terrace by Gujarati playwright Madhu Rye for their second production. Vyas: “We fell flat on our face with this play. Our patrons were disappointed that Indians could stage a play based on extramarital affairs and all that! It was the domain of the west. There was a bit of frowning by our Indian community.”

A whakapapa of Prayas. The word Prayas

Prayas wrote their own story inspired by

means ‘to endeavour’. Legend has it that the

Rohinton Mistry for their next production.

company began with a few people sitting around

that was so close to home, to a packed audience hungry to see a glimpse of that home. Their own stories on stage. In that moment I understood

In my final year at Toi Whakaari drama school in

Theatre Companies, attempting to break out from

2007 I travelled to London to work with acclaimed

“stereotypical compartmentalisation – mystic

South Asian theatre company Tara Arts. Their

spirituality, exotic curries and Bollywood glamour,”

work spoke clearly to a specific community, but

as articulated by Prayas founder Amit Ohdedar.

Khoj – The Search. “It exposed our weaknesses and dichotomies as migrants, that honesty bonded us with our audience.” Prayas have since employed familiar language, colour, music, dance, and humour, but without embracing stereotypes. “We have managed to experiment as well: Tasher Desh – Kingdom of Cards and Beyond the Land of Hattamala are both good examples.”

over the years had grown bigger, attracting a

Prayas’ objective is to present works by the Indian community of aesthetic value and entertainment,

I came on board as an assistant director with

wider audience, performing in partnership with The National Theatre. The company had, over

based on the works of noted Indian playwrights

30 years managed to constantly remain

with available and established English translations. Much of Prayas growth has been through collaboration with talent from across the diverse regional Indian and New Zealand population.

workers to engage in some serious play.

AHI KARUNAHARAN: PRAYAS

relevant and important in the development and presentation of a voice; a perspective not often heard on stages. Not bad for a company that started off as a community theatre. Returning

a table thinking “Why not Indian plays in English? For everyone!” Nine years later and Prayas is now one of New Zealand’s leading Indian

to New Zealand I could see the potential for

Prayas’ first play was Charandas Chor by playwright Habib Tanvir. Prayas’ Secretary, marketing whiz

something similar here from our communities of

and actor Sudeepta Vyas reflects: “Charandas

the subcontinent, but we had a long way to travel.

Chor was chosen as it was rustic, very Indian folk

Margaret-Mary Hollins and Amit Ohdedar on Rudali – The Mourner in 2012. I would co-direct the same play in 2013. Coincidentally I had worked on the same script at Tara Arts. What I saw in London was slowly starting to become a reality. Also changing was that besides newly attracting regular theatre lovers outside of the South Asian community, Prayas was also growing a community of South Asian patrons who were not theatregoers back home, connecting with these stories from their land.

“You don’t know what you’ve lost, Carl. And if you don’t know that, you’re not a Hawaiian.” Mele Kanikau / John Knebuhl

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of us from our own communities, and how our ‘mainstream’ general audience define what our art is. Jatinder quietly chuckled to himself and told me, “it is probably happening right now as we speak’. Almost exactly seven years after that conversation, I can confidently say, yes. Yes it is happening right now as we speak. Prayas and Tawata Productions were instrumental in the establishment of my own production company Agaram Productions. Agaram produced the inaugural South Asian Writers Festival last year. I have a return season of my debut play The Mourning After in Auckland, and am currently developing a new play Tea, which recently had a workshop with ATC.

MICHELLE JOHANSSON: BLACK FRIARS

“We stand outside Aotearoa’s dominant, Eurocentric, colonial culture” My first Prayas production as director was Thali in 2013. I didn’t want to repeat The Terrace experience and alienate our regular audience. However I wanted to push our storytelling techniques by bringing in my western training, approaches and styles, marrying them with our Indian Theatre codes and styles. The work was a platter of physical comedy, solo work, absurdist Theatre and naturalistic drama and the audience responded positively. Much as I would like to think the whole show was a safe and calculated experiment, actress and co-director Monica Mahindra reminisces, “three out of four shows were totally out of it, totally out of the box. But the audience loved it. I think they have been with us long enough to go to places we take them to now.” The world of the play and language were for our core community still something they could connect and respond to. I also directed a return of Rudali in 2013 and this year Charandas Chor with Margaret-Mary. I remember on my last day at Tara Arts talking to artistic director Jatinder Verma. I mentioned that I felt New Zealand had a long way to go to create, develop and attract an audience for South Asian Theatre: to break away both from what is expected

South Auckland based theatre troupe the Black Friars was formed in 2006 out of a desire to challenge the dominant stereotypes surrounding Pasifika people and, to “keep talented young brown people off the street and on the stage”. Over the past eight years we’ve written and produced shows for the NZ International Comedy Festival and Auckland Fringe Festival, we’ve worked in churches and communities on youth suicide prevention, and we’ve held workshops for teachers and students around the Pacific. We’ve adapted classical works with and for young brown audiences, we’ve told original stories in traditional ways and traditional stories in original ways. We’ve won awards, been criticised and even attacked on occasion for our message. These days, our mission statement has changed. We are now determined to “build bridges and make mirrors” but the vision is the same. We want to tell stories that matter to Polynesian people in Aotearoa, and we want to make existing stories relevant to us. We are educators and counsellors, facilitators and enablers, theatre-makers and storytellers. Embracing these multiple identities constitutes the fabric of our company. We are proud to be pan-Polynesian, poly-vocal performers invested in the construction of identity for Pasifika people. We work in communities to encourage young people to tell stories that matter to them. In our theatre work, we also investigate questions of representation, loss and heritage vital to the survival of Pasifika culture in the diaspora. These themes resonate strongly with the work of Samoan playwright John Kneubuhl (1920-1992). Our production of his play Mele Kanikau opened to the sound of the keys of an old typewriter, prodded into life by a Samoan man in his twenties,

sitting at a desk on the stage of a Waikiki hula pageant. The actor (Lauie Sila) is frustrated, balling up fistfuls of paper and hurling them away. He finally appears to notice the audience and rises, saying “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am the author of the play you are about to see”. My name is Michelle Johansson, I am not Hawaiian and Lauie is not the author of this play. The ‘real’ author is not Hawaiian and neither were our beautiful Waikiki hula girls. I am a Tongan director and in 2013 I directed a pan-Polynesian cast in a Hawaiian play, by a Samoan playwright. I am only afakasi (half-caste) Tongan, and the playwright was only afakasi Samoan. Identity, representation, authenticity, and loss are the stuff of Kneubuhl’s plays. For Pasifika people in Aotearoa this play has arguably never been more important. Mele Kanikau tells the story of actors in a pageant preparing for a hula performance for tourists to Hawai‘i. The concert has a sense of being ‘fake’, a hollow display rather than a genuine performance of cultural practices. A native Hawaiian expert arrives with his hula halau to teach the performers to be more ‘authentic’. The play is riddled with loss, in the form of ghosts who attempt to revive Hawaiian dance and language, and ultimately hold the pageant-makers themselves responsible for their loss of culture. Just as the lead character Carl must find his own way to live in a culturally authentic manner, so must we all. Producing Kneubuhl’s playscript was an act of critical research in my PhD studies. The question at the heart of this research centres around authenticity – cultural and theatrical. I was aware from the outset that people were likely to be sceptical regarding the ability of theatre to represent reality when the practitioners come from many different cultures. How could Pasifika people living in Aotearoa hope to represent the Hawaiian pageant world and its counterpart, the schools of ancient hula? There are strong parallels between the world that Kneubuhl wrote into being and the world that I, and my cast, crew, audience and community currently inhabit. The people involved in my production and I myself were, like Kneubuhl, both outside and inside the world we sought to represent. This otherness stems from the fact that we stand outside Aotearoa’s dominant, Eurocentric, colonial culture. It was our ‘otherness’, shared with the indigenous people of Hawai‘i, that allowed me to stage this production in a space and place relevant to Pasifika people here and now. Tongan scholar Epeli Hau‘ofa argues that “although our historical and cultural traditions are important

“I’m a man who has constantly shaken hands with disappointments. I’m used to it.” The Mourning After / Ahi Karunaharan

PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49 : 8


elements of a regional identity, they are not in themselves sufficient to sustain that identity, for they exclude those whose ancestral heritage is elsewhere, and those who are growing up in nontraditional environments”. Many cities in the Pacific Islands are now home to people of different cultures and ethnicities. However, Aotearoa, and particularly Auckland is unique in its range of diversity, and demographic density of multicultural communities. I apply this to Kneubuhl’s belief that Polynesian writers should use playwriting as a means of exploring their own identity, and that “theatre should be a peoples’ theatre, doing original plays where the peoples’ souls, spirits, psyche, lifestyle, histories are revealed to themselves on a stage”. The story of Mele Kanikau, with its themes of cultural alienation and loss reveal the duty of all Polynesians (and all people) to embrace their cultural traditions in a meaningful way in our own non-traditional environments. Within the Black Friars, this production enabled us to value the richness of our cultures and to represent some of this richness on our stage.

BRUCE BROWN: LEGACY PROJECT As a playwright, I’m passionate about telling my own stories. As someone who has been involved in community theatre for over five years, I’ve also discovered the power of connecting communities to those stories. Great theatre is born of a desire to challenge audiences perceived viewpoints of the world. I have seen loads of amateur theatre fail at this hurdle – at least for me. Yet, they still fill houses. This has taught me the importance of thinking about audience. This in turn has been reflected in my writing. But as a gay playwright, what does this mean for my potential audience?

“I’m slightly over the amount of overseas gay theatre we are seeing here.” of writing I was exploring. Plus I wanted to expand my circle of potential contacts interested in the same concerns. All very selfish reasons. But I also saw a gap within Auckland theatre that I knew needed to be filled. Isn’t this the secret to any successful endeavour? Find a gap, the lack, and fill it. With the rebirth of the Auckland Pride Festival, I saw a missing element and it was only a matter of time before someone else had the same brilliant idea. I could either wait until someone else started something and be involved as a writer, secretly frustrated with the focus and direction... Or I could strike while the time was right and shape the project I wanted. Not to just present another gaythemed show and sell tickets, but actually reach out to an audience to draw them into the process.

characters? I don’t think so. If so, playwrights

Legacy Project is a short theatre festival, showcasing six diverse fifteen-minute plays which explore the modern Kiwi queer experience. From open call submissions, six scripts are chosen to be workshopped with a focus on supporting and strengthening the unique voice of each writer. The plays are then cast, rehearsed and performed as part of the Auckland Pride Festival.

would be very limited in the kinds of plays we could

The performance showcase of the final

Without turning this into a debate about the stories playwrights should write and the stories they do write... Can only a gay writer write an authentic gay story? Can a transgender story only be told by someone who has lived through it personally? Can a lesbian only write genuine lesbian

write. But at the same time, these stories won’t necessarily work at a Sunday matinee community theatre performance. Trust me, I’ve been there and seen people walk out. Thinking about audiences and the stories we present to them is a necessary part of creating theatre. This is where the idea for Legacy Project came from.

workshopped plays is the carrot to lure interested writers within the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) to submit their scripts. The real reward is the development time. Legacy Project provides support to emerging LGBT writers to tell their stories and find their voice within a structured environment. To learn from

I set out to create a new theatre development

each other and be inspired by working with

project to provide a new platform for the kind

established theatre-makers. And to allow these

stories to be shared, engaging the community where these stories need to be heard. The key to making gay theatre more accessible is telling diverse, exciting and powerful Kiwi stories. I’m slightly over the amount of overseas gay theatre we are seeing here. Yes, most of it is fantastic work (I never thought I would get a chance to see both parts of Angels in America!). But if only these stories are told, it limits the diverse perspectives our LGBT community needs to see. Plays about AIDS and the ongoing struggle against inequality are important, but I find it hard to relate directly. They don’t feel like stories I could ever tell as a playwright. The more overseas character dramas I saw, the more I wanted to see our own unique Kiwi stories instead. The fantastic work of Sam Brooks has certainly helped to fill this void, but his was only one voice of the potential many I knew were out there. Once an opportunity was offered for these stories to be developed and ultimately performed, I hoped the floodgates would open. Okay... maybe a flood of submissions was a lot to expect in our first year. Yet we received over twenty script submissions, and just over half that number of directors keen to be involved. If you build it they will indeed come. We have begun planning for our second year of Legacy Project, to build on our first year’s success by continuing to build connections within our community. To nurture Kiwi stories that speak to a LGBT audience, but also have appeal to the wider community. We don’t intend to disappear anytime soon. Submissions for Legacy Project: Year Two open in August.

“Hey, I wear my geek badge with pride. And besides, it’s a hundred times better than FUN GUY 69” Locked Out / Bruce Brown

9 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49


I’ve woken up from vivid dreams and rushed to the computer to turn them into a script. Killing Me Softly was prompted by Michael Laws’ unsuccessful ‘Death with Dignity’ bill. STiFF, a comedy about prostitution and funerals, arose from a desire to subvert two subjects that are normally treated quite sombrely. Then of course there’s humour in others’ misfortune. Specifically my husband’s! His occupation influenced Death & Taxe$ (“write about what you know”) and SNiP was inspired by his uncommon reaction to the vasectomy sedation, followed by subsequent conversations with other men about their (really funny – sorry guys) experiences. Do you write with particular actors in mind? I visualise the production as I’m writing it so I often picture specific actors in the roles. Being an actor, it’s really important to me that the play is not just a satisfying experience for the audience, Now based in Auckland and the author of 10 plays, Alison Quigan is the former Artistic Director of

RIGHT: Amy Tarleton, Ray Henwood, Steven Ray, Jane Waddell, Todd Rippon and April Phillips, Blind Eye reading at Playmarket, Wellington. Image: Craig Hutchison.

ABOVE: April Phillips. Image: Clare Willsher.

NOT ENOUGH HOURS

Alison Quigan meets fellow playwright April Phillips

Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North. She is

but even the smallest roles must have depth and delicious lines. Do you get treated differently because you are

well known for her work as an actor, playwright

a woman?

and director. April Phillips has a Masters degree

My gender has been more of an issue as an

in scriptwriting from Victoria University and has

actress, where it seems there are more great roles

had 11 plays produced.

for men than women (although that is changing)

Alison: Playmarket asked me to have a

and that the male lead is often cast first and so the

chat with April Phillips with the idea that, as

female is cast to suit the male lead. Then compare

women, writers, actors and producers from the

the somewhat veiled role of writer to my former life

provinces we may have something in common.

in the legal profession. Clients would sometimes

We’ve never met, but I was curious about her

ask to speak to a man, only to get the same

process, so I sent her some questions.

advice they received from me. It was obviously

Why did you start to write and when?

more convincing coming from a baritone voice!

While at drama school it was suggested that,

Are you taken less seriously because you write

because there is so little regular acting work

comedy/you are provincial?

in New Zealand, we should create our own

I think possibly so with professional theatre.

performance vehicles. We had a module on

My acting career started at Whanganui’s Four

playwriting. I was already writing short sketches

Seasons Theatre in its professional days.

as a member of the comedy troupe Hens Teeth.

The theatre produced predominantly comedies,

So immediately out of drama school I wrote my

musicals and bedroom farces to survive and the

first full length play Killing Me Softly, purely as an

box office success of those shows allowed the

opportunity for me and two fellow graduates to

company to put on one or two more highbrow

act. The play was produced at Taki Rua Theatre

pieces, which satisfied the dramatic urges of the

and, on the back of its success, Playmarket

personnel, but which were financial flops. I think if

invited me to become a client writer. My second

funding was cut to our professional theatres, we’d

play STiFF was lots of fun to write and its

possibly see more comedies out of necessity.

success encouraged me to write more. I haven’t stopped since.

I’m very grateful for the following my plays have in the amateur societies. The production standards

What starts you off? Is it a character, an issue

are usually very high due to the enthusiastic and

or a moment?

dedicated volunteers and community resources,

All of the above really. I think once you start writing

and there are always some future stars among

your sense of drama or comedy heightens and

the amateur actors. I’ve always written a mixture

your inspiration radar is always on high alert.

of drama and comedy, but the emphasis recently

“Talking’s not my thing. Take the credit card, show ’em the room, give ’em the key. Clean the rooms, then watch TV.” Motel / April Phillips PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49 : 10


“The way I see myself is a writer of stories, unlimited by genre or subject, and limited only by my imagination.” has been on edgy dramas which have been

before I start to write. Sometimes it’s a matter of

more successful for me with professional theatre

hours if it’s something I’m really fired up about

companies. The way I see myself is a writer of

and on occasion it’s been years. I find that once

stories, unlimited by genre or subject, and limited

you start writing and the ‘muse’ is on your side,

only by my imagination.

it then takes on a life of its own and sometimes

When the play is on do you watch the audience

it goes off in a direction that surprises you. I love

or the actors? Both! Because I’m an actor, I act each role from my seat! I feel excited when great actors are embodied by the characters I’ve written. As the

it when that happens! I’ve often thought that my

time professional’ for many years (I’ve been writing plays for nearly twenty years). It wasn’t until I completed my Masters degree in scriptwriting in 2010 and gave up the security of the ‘day job’ that I felt able to call myself a writer. Now that film and theatre is all I do, I’m proud to say I’m an Actwritingprod.

subconscious is much more clever and creative

What is the best part of being a writer?

than my conscious brain! Do you have more than one play on the go at

writer, I get frustrated when a really good line is

the same time?

lost due to bad delivery or someone coughing in

Always! There are not enough hours in the day

the audience! I just love watching an audience

for all the ideas I have. And because now I’m

rocking in their seats with laughter and nudging

also writing for film, I have both stage plays and

the person next to them as they ‘share’ the gag.

screenplays in the oven at the same time so I’m

I adore the taut silence during a dramatic moment

constantly switching from format to format, idea

of tension when you know you’ve got them on the

to idea, voice to voice. It’s an exciting and very

edge of their seat, and then the gasp or sob when

busy kitchen.

you deliver the shocking twist. I’ve never set out to

Have you ever given up on a play?

change people lives but I do like the idea that my plays take them someplace different for a couple of hours and perhaps linger with them for a while. Do you do research?

Not once I start writing it. If I reach a hurdle that I just can’t get over, I find I have to leave it for a while before making another attempt. Having time to reflect on the problem and then coming

Always. I’ve been concerned that the Big Brother

back with a fresh outlook always seems to

who monitors internet traffic will one day call on

get things back on track. Even if it means

me because of some of the weird, wacky and

a substantial rewrite.

occasionally disturbing things I’ve Googled.

When did you first call yourself a writer?

Not just facts, but dialects and slang too. They say write about what you know, but I wouldn’t want to limit my vivid imagination to my own limited knowledge or experience! How long between idea and starting to write?

I’ve been calling myself an actor/writer/singer/ producer for quite some time and I’ve been trying to think of a shorter, all-encompassing title. When I got pulled over by a traffic officer the other day and he asked my occupation I decided to

I sculpt an idea in my head until the basic plot

simply say ‘actor’ at which point he pulled out the

and main characters feel substantially formed

breathalyser. I had described myself as a ‘part-

Every artist puts themselves ‘out there’ on a regular basis hoping for praise, but risking criticism. It’s a bit masochistic. It’s certainly nerve-wracking. We create to fulfil our own need to express, but also to be heard. We are nothing without an audience. A script is nothing but words on a page until actors bring it to life. So every time a new work of mine is performed for the first time to a live audience I experience two hours of anxiety followed by enormous relief at the audience response, and then pride. It’s the most satisfying feeling to know you’ve created something that others have enjoyed and might remember. Talking to April I realised we do have a lot in common. She writes in the same way I read a book and sometimes the way I write. Being able to stick to an idea in spite of the distractions is both a discipline and a release. She inspired me to look again at those writing projects I have let slip. It is so easy to be too busy and too distracted to stop writing. She told me of her daughter Celine, whose special needs have impacted on their family life. I could see that April is a writer of great courage and resilience and whose best work is probably yet to come.

“For dinner. Pork sausages. Which reminds me, have you thought any more about having a vasectomy?” Snip / April Phillips

11 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49


Economists are warning of the demise of

“The fact that a production of Odyssey by a bunch

regional New Zealand, ‘zombie towns’ being

of schoolkids transfers to Auckland is in itself an

one unpalatable term bandied about. Much of

achievement. Peter’s play, Albert Black about the

the hinterland beyond the four main centres is

last teenager hanged in NZ is on in Auckland in a

struggling, and while many governments overseas

month… Since Peter left, the NYT has not done

are pursuing regional development, ours isn’t.

anything as dashing, daring and confronting, but

Our diverse regional communities need to

it’s early days.” 


continue to have a voice in the national narrative. It’s something theatre can assist with.
 With theatre there’s a tendency to look at four major cities and treat the rest as an ‘other’. To dismiss anything in the provinces as being a bit, well, amateurish. This is wrongheaded, of course. As well as a healthy touring network there’s a big network of community theatre groups that show no sign of dying. Some regions are developing new festivals. Playwrights and other practitioners all have a role in helping encourage new regional work. Community theatre takes many forms. Paul Maunder, a pioneer of community theatre in Wellington in the 1970s, for example, is back in the saddle creating theatre on the West Coast of the South Island that speaks specifically to that region.

PAGE 15: Nisha Madhan, Jacob Rajan, Julia Croft and David Ward in Kiss the Fish by Justin Lewis and Jacob Rajan, Indian Ink. Image: John McDermott.

PAGE 14: Antony Aiono, Clare McDonald, Mary Rinaldi in Plains by Harry Meech, Remote Fiction Theatre, Riverlea Theatre, Hamilton Fringe Festival 2013. Image: Chloe Taylor.

The battle to keep on good people is constant when surviving on the smell of an oily rag. For a few years in the 2000s Whangarei had a theatre committed to NZ writing. Under the driving force of Laurel’s dad, Stuart Devenie, Playfair built up a base of subscribers and an audience for eight seasons of New Zealand plays. Sadly, Creative New Zealand could find nothing in Playfair’s success to warrant funding it. 
 Regional companies have thrived in the past. Tauranga’s Gateway theatre was well supported by the city but closed in 1977 due to the withdrawal of government support. In the 1970s there were nine fulltime professional companies operating: in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch,

Other professionals are leading the charge in

Dunedin, Whanganui, Tauranga, and Palmerston

inspiring regional community groups, like Laurel

North; some had Theatre-in-Education offshoots.

Devenie in her hometown of Whangarei. For her,

Four Seasons Theatre in Whanganui founded by

community-based devised work is central to why

David Smiles played an important role, with its

theatre exists: “I spend a large part of my time

regional schools tours of Children’s Art Theatre.

making work with Northland Youth Theatre (NYT).

It survived for 30 years, mainly due to Smiles.

Getting to know an audience in a place like that

When market forces prevail, the axe falls. Of the

is incredibly satisfying. You can really connect to

provincial professional theatres only Palmerston

questions around purpose and effect. It’s less about

North’s Centrepoint survives. 


a mass audience and more about a specific one.” 
 RIGHT: Rachel Clarke and David Bowers-Mason in Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong by Jo Randerson, Remote Fiction Theatre, Hamilton Gardens Festival 2014. Image: Deborah Lanning.

PROVINCIAL PLAY

Natasha Hay considers the inroads being made for theatre in our diverse regions

work, often through the mechanism of new arts

REGIONAL COMPANIES

Like Centrepoint, Dunedin’s Fortune celebrated

Devenie sees the increasing importance of theatre in

40 years this year. Says current artistic director

community settings, with divisions between amateur

Lara Macgregor, “With the closure of Downstage,

and professional dissolving. “In fact (regional places)

Fortune, Centrepoint and Court are the longest-

are where some of the biggest risks can be taken

running professional theatres in the country. That

towards innovation and engagement.”


alone should be a fair indication of the importance

Whangarei is an interesting case study. Writer-

the regions feel (about their theatres).” 


director David Stevens, a keen observer of theatre

Fortune has been touring local work through

in the area, says theatre can help give a sense

Otago and Southland since 1977.

of identity: “Arguably more so in a country like

“When I came onboard in 2010,” says Macgregor,

ours, where there’s not a great sense of regional identity. Where, perhaps regional identity is slightly discouraged in favour of national identity.”


“there was a tour set in place…. a complicated technical show which some smaller venues would not be able to accommodate. So we made a

However, most plays shown there are not regional.

decision not to tour to a couple of towns. Within

“The exceptions would be the work of Kelly

days, I received vehement emails with threats

Johnson and co, and the work under Peter Larsen

to report us to CNZ because we weren’t going

of the NYT.”

to visit. How fantastic! That’s indication from the

So, what is regional theatre? “Metamorphosis

communities surrounding Dunedin that theatre is

has zero specific relevance to Whangarei, yet

vitally important, and a much-awaited event.”

Kelly played it to sold-out houses. Similarly,

In the past, The Court has had a dedicated tour

NYT’s Odyssey (devised by Devenie) sold out. 




manager and produced touring works on a greater

“I’m fine. My girls are fine. The sheep are fine. The sheep dogs are okay too, just in case you’re wondering.” The Middlemarch Singles Ball II / Ella West PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49 : 12


“No-one likes being treated like a one-night stand.”

scale. Currently, they produce one touring show per year and this year are working with The

PLAYWRIGHTS – PAUL MAUNDER

Fortune on touring a show. In the North Island,

There remains a place for the community-

frightened of one another and being falsely

based model of theatre production, says Paul

represented. Gathering together is the way

Maunder. “I didn’t come (to the West Coast,

to break through this web of control.”


South Island) with theatre in mind, but rather

Topics suggest themselves through a process

Auckland Theatre Company has toured NZ work annually to the provinces for 15 years.

GETTING IT THERE Too often, vital new work only gets seen in the cities where it’s created. As Playmarket’s figures show however this is changing. Creative New

to give myself writing time. However, when I put the word out about a community-based theatre group, surprisingly, a core group of experienced people emerged.” 


Zealand is aware that touring is essential to

The group has worked perhaps because

sustain a company, and that developing regional

there is limited mainstream theatre in the

audiences means a regular menu of new work

area. “The Coast is rich in working-class

coming through. Already, it funds specific touring

stories, and there’s no real competition from

companies Capital E National Theatre for Children,

commodity-based theatre. It’s also a place of

Taki Rua, Indian Ink, Tawata, Massive Company,

communities, and rehearsal and performance

Red Leap and Arts On Tour. Now, CNZ has

spaces are very affordable.”


announced a national touring initiative towards

Maunder believes in “cultural democracy,”

developing medium-sized tours to help address

where each community has the right to

the risks for both companies and presenters.

its stories. “When theatre is developed

Its Touring Consortia pilot, aiming at getting shows

alongside communities, exploring issues

to identified regions via consortia of regional venues, has had mixed success. So that money

that are relevant to the community, then the community becomes stronger and sometimes

of listening. “We’ll do some research, go through a period of exploration by the group members, then I write the play.”
 The first play was about the use of 1080, a hugely controversial topic. As they conducted their research, the issue seemed to be a cultural one. The locals use the bush to go hunting and gathering; outsiders contemplate the bush, bring in tourists... “It seemed best to portray both sides of the debate, using a commediatype form, with a discussion afterwards.” 
 Leading up to performances, the Pike River Mine exploded killing 29 people. They postponed the 1080 play while the community grieved. Then the group decided to tell the Pike story. Again people stayed to talk. “The discussion afterwards seems equally

will be put to new use next year with the National

social change can occur.


Touring Initiative – establishing a touring agency

“The latest project (about the Spring Creek

and touring fund with nearly $2 million over three

Mine closure) has served as a provocation

years to bridge “gaps in infrastructure,” such as

in the considering of regional economic

coordinated touring services.

development.”


There has been a steady increase in the

People gathering in a space and listening to

practice, although we’ve done workshops

networking of artists, organisations, producers,

one another is hugely important, he says.

for teachers, a children’s play and adult

festivals and venues over the last 15 years.

“If you look at analyses of oppression in the

workshops. As with all community work, one

One of the channels for assisting touring is the

West currently, then they involve indebtedness

project leads to another, so a narrative of

Performing Arts Aotearoa New Zealand market

and media-tising – the digital addiction, being

dialogue evolves.”

(PAANZ) for artists to pitch work to producers/

“Time to ponder history Mr Mayor. You want a cup of tea?” Ana i Runga i te Pa The Cave Above The Pa / Paul Maunder

13 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49

important.” Maunder is thrilled by the work: “No one’s paid. That both gives a freedom and is a flaw in terms of sustainability. The population’s probably too small to establish a professional


FESTIVALS – PHILIP TREMEWAN Philip Tremewan has headed Wanaka’s Festival of Colour for 12 years, with stints directing Taupo, Tauranga and Christchurch festivals. He sees strong growth in theatre in regions where there are festivals. “It’s very hard if you do not have a festival umbrella to bring new work into communities. Festivals are able to provide marketing, and there’s a trust in what we have chosen for the programme.”
 Establishing good working relationships with writers has been vital. “We’ve commissioned new plays, Le Sud being the greatest success, but we’ve also worked on the development of other new Dave Armstrong plays such as King and Country, which premiered in Wanaka. That was the result of a collaboration of a bunch of festivals getting together – because CNZ didn’t come to the party, so we all made it happen. We’ve developed a model for developing and premiering new work in Wanaka, which works for the Wanaka people as they get to see it first, and it works for the big cities because the work gets an airing way out in the sticks and the chance to have work done on it.” Alongside these plays are community productions initiated with a professional director or writer. Riverside Drive by Graeme Tetley and directed by Sara Brodie saw Brodie work with school students and adults. Last year Brodie created Tracing Hamlet with the community.
Jo Randerson and Stuart Devenie have worked with theatre groups and next festival The Playground Collective will work with students. “Often those community productions are the first to sell out because everyone knows someone in them.”
 The festival’s also keen to nurture playwrights from the area, such as Liz Breslin. Breslin’s play It’s Your Sh*t, about freedom campers was given a reading and she has gone on to mount a production. “The director (Anna Shaw) is someone who worked on Riverside Drive and

“You’re coming in and people want to know who the hell you are.”

buyers.
Playmarket’s records of NZ theatre

Te Rakau Hua o Te Wao Tapu have been touring

productions shows a significant increase in work

plays in Te Reo Māori and English to schools

touring outside the four main centres in the last

and marae for over 20 years.

several years. Key to everything, says Indian Ink’s Justin Lewis “are local organisers who mobilise audiences, and get the local councils and trusts to invest… Always, they influence their local communities and councils. It all starts with these people. The councils play a key role where they ensure that facilities are fit for purpose, and there is venue management that is entrepreneurial, develops audiences and shares risk. Local media with great arts reporting is also critical.”
 Regions like Taranaki and Nelson, Lewis says, demonstrate how a strong local arts community can generate a virtuous cycle, with increased audiences, arts activity, media focus and investment. “Probably the thing that theatre-makers and producers need to do is to really understand how their work connects with audiences – if it doesn’t, don’t tour it! Then get better at promoting that work and have a long-term commitment to

then went off to Toi Whakaari, and did the directors course. Others went off to Toi Whakaari, too. Now we have people returning to do work in the community. So that’s a pretty good loop.”


regional touring. No-one likes being treated like

There are also shows that come through separately from the festival. “We are currently working with Arts on Tour on the solo play Nick: An Accidental Hero; it’s not our festival time but we’re going to put it on, market it and sell the place out.”

a one-night stand.


NURTURING WORK AND AUDIENCES To develop and nurture new work, festivals play a crucial role. And new festivals keep popping up – the latest, Hamilton Gardens Festival and the Wairarapa’s Kokomai Creative Festival. These festivals now provide a touring circuit for proven works. Festivals should be a powerful focus of any arts strategy, says Wanaka’s festival director Philip Tremewan. What CNZ also really needs to fund, he says, are innovative producers like Show Pony. Providing smaller towns with more diverse theatre, the kind of shows Show Pony tour capture a younger demographic. The programmers in these regions recognise this, says Show Pony’s Adrianne Roberts: “From my experience, they’re incredibly passionate about educating their audiences to a variety of work. The shows we’ve taken to the regions have been really well received… with some perhaps being a bit too ‘out there’ for audiences who aren’t used to seeing perhaps more

“Before Indian Ink, I developed the touring theatre

contemporary original pieces. But that’ll change

programme for Duffy Books in Homes. We’d perform

if they keep getting exposed to different shows.” 


original theatre to over 100,000 children throughout

Show Pony is presently touring Barbarian

NZ. Schools sit at the heart of communities, and two decades later the programme still thrives.” 


Productions’ Yo Future, a work helmed by Jo Randerson, devised with a cast of 20 teenagers,

Schools in regions have also been served by the

looking at the future. “We’ve re-created the

likes of EnsembleImpact, which has been taking

show with a local cast in Wellington, Wairarapa,

NZ work around schools for six years. Two Māori

Hamilton and Invercargill… It’s a professional

theatre companies Taki Rua Productions and

production, exposing these teens to that

“…the village telegraph works with it’s usual efficiency. I swear when I had my prostate exam everyone knew the result before the doctor had his finger out.” Kiss the Fish / Justin Lewis and Jacob Rajan PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49 : 14


environment, giving them an insight into the mana of theatre and the power they have as performers to express their issues to an audience.” 
 Younger people are realising that if the work isn’t there for them, then they must make it themselves, says Venture Southland’s Angela Newell, who helped develop Invercargill’s festival. “The arts festival in Southland struggles to get viable numbers to the NZ work it brings in. It still requires subsidising. The days of mindless farce or British comedy are fading, though, and people want to hear NZ stories.”
 People like seeing people they know in shows, and they like to be seen to be supporting local productions, as is the case Newell says with Invercargill-based Invers theatre company. An example of this is Dunedin playwright Ella West’s The Middlemarch Singles Ball, and its sequel. It was Middlemarch itself that made it happen. “I got turned down by Fortune Theatre

“local communities should have the right to decide for themselves”

and Court,” she says. “I got turned down by CNZ and in the end I had to say to Middlemarch I can’t do it, and they said, so why can’t we do it? And they did. We put the play on and everyone in the community came to see it.”

TAKING IT TO THE REGIONS Regional touring dates back to the early colonial circuits when many large grand opera houses were dotted across the country, often in relatively small towns. Theatre touring to those big regional theatres still happens, but there’s room for growth. Christchurch-based promoter Ben McDonald, is taking around commercial ventures such as light musicals, but also teaming up with Geraldine Brophy on Grumpy Old Women, which she adapted to a NZ context. Small producer touring, such as Flaxworks from Auckland, Invers Theatre Company and

playwright-performers like Helen Moulder, Jan Bolwell and Geraldine Brophy are utilising networks they’ve developed over years to get to myriad small places and venues. Notable also is the work of Steve Thomas’ Arts on Tour, who as a touring agency have been taking theatre to remote and rural centres for nearly 20 years. Brophy mostly tours her own work. “Of the 14 plays I have written, 10 have toured – normally I’ll tour two to five times a year all over NZ and I have relationships with the audiences in nearly every town or city I visit.” This has taken seven years’ hard work, says Brophy, but means people come back consistently. Success is more likely by courting the community, she says. “Grumpys this time I did about 22 interviews. Most of these were in small places, on radio, so you’re getting into people’s ears and they get to know who you are. You’re coming in and

people want to know who the hell you are. They don’t want to know which institution you are from, unless you are the Ballet – they’ve been doing it for so long they’re local.” For her own tours, she generally works outside all funding bodies. “You try to put the product on first… and I’m a great believer in exchange. So I’ll go off and help somebody put something on and use my organisational skills if they come and do something for me. The idea that money is permission to create appalls me.” Looking ahead, Brophy is ever optimistic. “I think theatre is going to explode… We are starting to get all worried about computers and electronics and life swimming around in the ether, people will always want an organic connective experience. That’s why concerts, theatre, those things have survived for a reason. People everywhere want that feeling.”

TOURERS – INDIAN INK Because Indian Ink has grown a relationship with audiences throughout the country, there’s a lot of trust, says Justin Lewis. “Sometimes this means we can bring people to the theatre who don’t usually go.”


“We have just performed Kiss the Fish to around

Audiences in the regions are often especially enthusiastic about high-quality theatre: “There are plenty of urbane, sophisticated, well-travelled people in provincial and rural areas. People tend to love where they live, care passionately about their communities and everyone shares a common humanity.” If the work speaks to this, people will come.

to a season – that’s something I’d love to see.” 


1,200 people in Nelson – one in 50 people from Nelson’s population of 46,000 came. The ratio is similar in a number of regional centres. If Auckland achieved the same ratio, we’d have 27,000 people Touring is a no-brainer for the company, as it’s the only way to earn a living from doing what they do in New Zealand. “We get access to a larger market, our work is performed more often and as a result we can not only invest more in the capital cost of its creation, but we have time to develop it

informed by the understanding that comes from multiple seasons in front of diverse audiences.” 
 The benefits however are greater than just economic and artistic. “It’s good for the soul. I’ve met a number of people who’ve told me that seeing one of the plays in their regional home helped spark their careers in the professional theatre. That humbles and amazes me. 
 “The connection with audiences is what drives us – it sure ain’t the money – and often we find regional audiences to be the most engaged, most welcoming and most generous in their appreciation. That’s gold for us.”

“You get caught in a Gore motel room with two prostitutes and a dog named Claude and your popularity goes through the roof.” Le Sud / Dave Armstrong 15 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49


THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST Renée on the value of theatre from a community perspective The value of theatre in a small town and the teaching of drama are topics I write about in the novels that make up my Vogel Place trilogy. Drama classes should be compulsory for scientists, mathematicians, medical professionals, teachers, plumbers, carriers, writers, everyone. “Their main purpose is to introduce kids to themselves,” says Hester in one of those novels, Once Bitten. “If that sounds like crappy jargon it’s because I can’t think of any other way of putting it. Going through the safety net of exercises, group work, delving into classic plays, into modern plays, into poetry, into music, into the lives of other human beings leads them to think about others in contrast with themselves. Then they get introduced to performance. And it’s then they begin to see that, while they all have skills, they don’t all have the same skills – they also learn they can fuck up, they can fail, but that’s not the end of the world – they learn that they can pick themselves up and do it again. They learn about discipline. And they get to understand the meaning of courage and determination, although they don’t call it that. That’s when they start to get an idea of who they are.” Drama classes also create audiences. I served my time in a theatre in a small town when professional theatre in NZ was just a dream. I learned from May MacDonald, tall, articulate, fabulous actress and teacher. Three nights a week and all Sunday. We worked hard. We weren’t paid but we all turned up, lines learned, cues on tap, hoping that we would be one of the ones who earned the “well done”. In my novels, set in an imaginary town called Porohiwi, is a group called The Porohiwi Players. The novels show the importance of such an organisation, not just for those involved as players, but backstage, lighting, front of house, and organising suppers. In Too Many Cooks (first in the trilogy) a college production performs The Last Gasp Café by Sarah Delahunty. I discovered pretty quickly that I had to know how I’d direct it and how I’d handle the fact that only 12 kids had auditioned, and there were twenty-five parts. I had to know the play very well indeed. My hero, Hester, also has to write a bad play. “Should be easy,” she thinks, “people do it all the time.”

“Theatre in small towns matters. Theatre everywhere matters.”

ABOVE: Vivienne Plumb and Renée, Hannah Playhouse, New Zealand Festival Writers Week. Image: Pauline Lévêque.

The second in the trilogy, Once Bitten, has The Merchant of Venice. It’s one of my three favourite plays although I can’t stand Portia, I think Antonio’s stupid, and I’m unsurprised that Shylock is the way he is.

going for them. Three very important things. Apart

The third novel, No Good Crying features The Importance of Being Earnest. My hero, Cleo has to write the history of The Players and this time I knew it was not enough to say “What the hell does this line mean?” – I had to write about what it’s like to look for the story in such a history. Any fool can write a narrative that goes “then this happened then that happened” – yawn, yawn.

Roget’s. Earnest. Two entries. One – ardent, busy,

Myths from every culture feature the hero on a journey to gain a prize. The holy grail, the one they love, land, treasure. The choices the character makes are a large part of the story. So it is with novels, plays and theatre groups. How do they keep going, what things went wrong? What things went right? The Importance of being Earnest. Something about these words stuck with me. I went on walks, thought, drank red wine, and talked to Sarah Delahunty at the meetings we have to talk about our work. Those words, I decided had three things

from linking this particular fictional group over the years, it describes what they had to have to keep an amateur theatre company going, it explains how and it shows why they lasted, why they’re important. devoted, diligent… yes. Two – determined, firm, fixed – yes. The Concise Oxford. Earnest. Adj: Sincere or serious in intention. Noun: Sign or promise of what is to come. Right. Being earnest is what keeps the fictional Porohiwi Players going. It’s what keeps all the amateur theatre groups going and it probably is the grease that keeps professional theatres going as well. When I was in Paris and went to find Oscar Wilde’s grave I saw someone had written on it, “You are the most wonderful man in the world” and I smiled. But maybe they had a point. Did Oscar mean the other meanings when he wrote that title? Who knows? Truth is rarely pure and never simple but one thing is certain. Theatre in small towns matters. Theatre everywhere matters. And writing about what this means for us matters even more.

“Listen boy, the stage does not belong to the actors who fill it but the artists who colour it… Actors are only pawns who argue back.” Mary Scott: Queen of the Backblocks / Hannah McKie 17 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49


No one writes community plays for profit and there is little recognition. If you are in search of fame and fortune, you would certainly ignore the provinces, the unskilled actor and the disused church hall that stands in place of the Opera House. So why do it?

RIGHT: The cast of Before the Birds by Angie Farrow, Massey University, Palmerston North. Image: Amanda McRave.

In the early 1980s I had an experience that was to change my view about the power of theatre irrevocably. It was a large-scale community theatre

ABOVE: Jacob Dale and Catriona Tipene in The River by Angie Farrow, Massey University, Palmerston North. Image: Anu Sefton.

Angie Farrow’s personal experience in theatre building communities

AFTER THE BIRDS

There has been no great rush amongst playwrights in this country to create community plays. This is understandable. The scale of effort, and the logistics of bringing large groups and expertise together are big disincentives for ambitious writers.

production of The Poor Man’s Friend by Howard Barker in Bridport, Dorset UK. It is a beautifully written play, in part about the ironic connection between Bridport’s glorious reputation for making ropes for the royal navy, and the same ropes being used to hang people. Many local people performed, most of them untrained, and many more worked behind the scenes. Like most of the audiences in these Colway Theatre productions, it was full of relatives and friends and acquaintances and people who would never normally set foot inside a theatre. Watching it, I found myself fixating on a group of older female actors. Without warning, I burst into tears. I can’t entirely account for this, except to say that I was moved by their state of entrancement. They were like children who had been let loose into themselves, joyful and unguarded. This play came from their place, their community, and they wore it like a familiar dress, with pride and a little shame at some of its shabbiness.

I thought then, “I want to be part of this form that can achieve such immersion and collective identity”. And, because I am an idealist, “I want to be able to bring people together in ways that will make a difference to their sense of connection with each other.” It is nearly twenty years since I came to live in Palmerston North. I had landed a job at Massey University to teach Drama. Like many immigrants I wanted to make a mark. Perhaps in the absence of any ancestral connection to this place, I wanted to bring something of myself into the city, a sort of cultural DNA that would help me feel like I belonged. Palmerston North is full of people like me. I began to ask myself ‘How can theatre build communities?’ and ‘How could theatre build this community’? Theatre was already thriving in Palmerston North: Centrepoint was sustaining loyal audiences; the amateur theatre scene was a-buzz with activity; and Massey University was regularly producing productions. It was a good time to be making new theatre. Before the Birds was my first attempt to make a large-scale community theatre play. It took over two years to write and involved interviews with scores of local people from different cultures and generations. It had a huge cast with a large Māori component, and a strong local thematic, which drew its inspiration from local stories, past and present. The production had many of the attributes that had brought me to tears on that evening in Bridport. The cast was multicultural and ranged in age from five to 80. As rehearsals developed, the company under the reassuring direction of

“As we speak, thousands of people are lining the banks and singing lovingly to the Manawatu.” The River / Angie Farrow PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49 : 18


Amanda McRaven, began to own the play as though they themselves had created it. It was as though they were inventing it night after night. As the author I became increasingly invisible. The play was about identity. It asked the question “Where do we belong in place and time?” which was a fitting question because many of the cast were newcomers, immigrants like me (aren’t we all immigrants?), searching for somewhere to place their feet.

“Because it is tough it forces us to look hard at ourselves.”

The production had an electric effect. Many of the audience stayed behind to talk with the cast about what they had seen. They had remembered characters mentioned in the play. Many had personal memories of events and places. This was about them: their history and their people. There was an excitement that made it much bigger and more deeply felt than any other theatre event I had seen. Much later, another community play The River flowed into being. To be honest, its creation was more like a flood than a flow, taking a mere eight months to write, with the help of astute dramaturgy from John Downie. Driven by the desire to expose some of the dynamics of the Manawatu River (good and bad), the play involved research with environmentalists, scientists, farmers, local councilors, astrophysicists and owners of lifestyle blocks. Less celebratory than Before the Birds, its huge devoted cast and local narrative had the effect of bringing the audience together in common outrage. The Manawatu is an iconic river. I was shocked at the indignation and concern that the play evoked. Director Jaime Dorner made use of his dance and physical theatre background. The production was visually lavish and spatially expansive, providing a self-contained world that was both familiar and mythic. The poetic form of theatre allowed for multiple perspectives: from the idea of water as a source of life, to spiritual inspiration, to cause of death (countless people drowned in the Manawatu when it was a major means of transport). The production was followed by a forum that allowed people to voice opinions about the river’s health. In this way theatre became a potential agent for discourse and political and environmental change. Making theatre is a bit like making babies: you produce one and forget the pain of its birth. Before you know it you’re gestating all over again! A new large-scale theatre play is in the making about refugees. It was conceived in Berlin, but is unlikely to be born until later in the year. It is called Asylum and although highly relevant to the local community, will have a more universal focus,

perhaps leading the community to look out from itself to the bigger humanitarian concerns in other parts of the world. Is this where community theatre is heading: towards a more global perspective? Are all communities becoming global communities? Theatre is a fragile business. Most companies last for a few years when their flame shines brightly and then fades. It is hard to sustain the sheer force of energy required to invent and deliver theatrical brilliance over time or to survive on inadequate funds. Community theatre, on the other hand offers a slower, more sustainable burn. It is rarely about the achievement of a great product (though many of our greatest plays are community plays). Its focus is on sustaining groups, enhancing a sense of collective identity, helping to give voice to those who have been silenced or to voice issues that have been buried under the weight of bureaucracy or history. Its pace is slower; its focus is on enriching and building groups rather than building celebrity. There are countless examples, particularly in the third world, where theatre has been used to empower small communities and allow the weaker voices in society to speak out against the strong. The playwright’s role here is to create a product that will allow groups to express themselves in a common purpose, to uncover their collective stories, and to ensure that these stories are heard and embraced by local people. There have been many projects since I first arrived that have played a part in building an arts community in Palmerston North. The annual (now biennial) Manawatu Festival

of New Arts has been one of the more successful ventures where local artists produce new works under professional guidance. There has been The Manawatu Street Theatre Project, the After Eden Theatre secondary schools tour, the annual professionally directed Manawatu Summer Shakespeare Production, and numerous productions of new plays both by students and established artists that I have helped establish with huge help from the community and, in particular, from Massey. Palmerston North is experiencing a renaissance in the arts right now, with the emergence of small-scale experimental theatre companies such as Skin Theatre, White Coat Theatre and Te Pūanga Whakaari, the success of regular poetry and literary readings, the development of public art, street festivals like Arts on Edge, and the development of new theatre spaces such as The Dark Room and new studio at The Globe. It seems an unlikely time for this to be happening, with the diminishing of live community groups across the Western world and the growing focus on the virtual community. Palmerston North is managing to defy the odds. So, can theatre build communities? I’ve spent a great deal of my professional life trying to prove that it can. Theatre is not always a place of perfect harmony. It thrives on dissent, discord, dialectic and antithesis. Because it is tough it forces us to look hard at ourselves. But it is still the best place I know where we can build our sense of connection and identity with each other by breathing life into our collective stories, enhancing the everyday through physical poetry.

“I feel the connection to this place. It’s like, I’m suddenly in this huge family and all these people, all these hundreds of people are sort of claiming me.” Before The Birds / Angie Farrow 19 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49


PALMERSTON NORTH – IT’S VERY CENTRAL By David Geary

SCENE 1: CHEKHOV DOES PALMY

gentleman, due to the power cut your meals will

SETTING: Posh Palmy patio. Robert Harris

be delayed.

plunger coffee. Ex-Miss Manawatu intros her

PUNTERS: Booo!

‘new friend’.

FOHM: But we can offer half-price drinks until –

XMM: Mum, this is David. He’s a writer.

PUNTERS: We won Lotto, let’s get blotto!

MUM: Oh, what do you write? DG: Plays. Actually I have one on at Centrepoint soon.

SCENE 4: GEARS OFF!

MUM: Oh... well, that’ll be something to do.

SETTING: Dressing room of anxious Ladies Night cast. Not so distant drumming

SCENE 2: STRUTH

of legless natives.

SETTING: The e.Ther – a virtual interview space.

PUNTERS: (offstage) Boom Boom, Boom, Boom Boom – Gears Off!

MARK AMERY: Is that true? DAVID: Yeah. I make jokes, but I love Palmerston North and Centrepoint. They’re central to who I am.

SCENE 5: MORE! MORE! MORE! DG: The cast tried to do the play but had to cut straight to their strips. The audience lap-danced it up – INTERVAL – then the cast did their strips again. Everyone got lucky. A great example of how Centrepoint does frontier missionary work, attracting new punters who don’t know ‘the rules’. It shows how ‘Shakespearean’ the bawdy Palmy audiences can get. At least that’s the legend.

ABOVE: Adrian Hooke and Phil Grieve in Kings of the Gym by Dave Armstrong, Centrepoint Theatre.

smiles). So what’s the secret to creating an oasis

I was in a later, tamer, Ladies Night season.

MALE PUNTER: It’s like casting a fly.

that can survive forty years?

VMA: Where you met Miss Manawatu?

DG: You fish?

DG: From my era (1988 – 2000): Roger Hall writing

DG: Um... Centrepoint can inspire dramatic romances. Thespians find themselves on this exotic island and fling themselves at the locals, and each other – making mad love, marriage and babies. Though, many dangerous liaisons are doomed to end in a burger joint on the Paraparaumu Straights. But, yeah, Centrepoint and the Manawatu Plains are the fertile breeding ground for our theatrical future. But back to me with a whip and stripping to Devo...

MP: Going whitebaiting tomorrow. Come.

The Mum’s final line really speaks to that fear that we’re all living in a cultural desert. And Centrepoint is an oasis. MA: Am I actually in this conversation? DG: No, you’re a Virtual Mark Amery (VMA) that you can edit later. VMA: Okay (laughs, grimaces, and eventually

hit plays, Antony McCarten and Stephen Sinclair writing Ladies Night, and, if all else failed Alison Quigan remounting Shirley Valentine. There has to be popular entertainment that scores palpable hits. From that you can fund more esoteric works. I saw Dave Armstrong’s Kings of the Gym in Palmy this year and he’s hitting that sweet centre now. VMA: What about its management? DAVID: Centrepoint is great at giving actors backto-back work, a chance to hone their craft. Then they have the cash to pursue their own projects, some of which can feed back onto the stages of Centrepoint. Alison Quigan was an amazing supporter of me in this way. Jamie McCaskill is a great recent example of having this kind of support. But there is one group that needs particular praise… SCENE 3: AUDIENCE! AUDIENCE! SETTING: Centrepoint in the dinner-theatre

SCENE 6: WHIP IT GOOD SETTING: Centrepoint Theatre, post-Ladies Night. Punters and cast mingle. MALE PUNTER: Thanks for the show, Indiana Jones. DG: No worries. Hope it wasn’t your missus I wrapped my whip around and nearly reversed her hip replacement?

days. Semi-darkness.

MALE PUNTER: Nah, but jeez what a hoot. Can I show you how to crack your whip properly?

FRONT OF HOUSE MANAGER: Ladies and

DG: (pause. Sigh. This happens every night) Sure.

SCENE 7: IRON MAIDENS DG: We spent a lovely day catching a cup of whitebait. After the show there was a package of fritters waiting for me. Don’t get that at Circa... or semi-veterinarian flats with half a dog in the freezer... or flatmates in the Iron Maidens Massey women’s rugby team that can inspire me to write Pack of Girls. That’s when I realised country people were my tribe and I could be their scribe. I think Centrepoint and Alison can be proud to have led the way with that. She really embodies the ‘gumboots and all’ attitude you need in Palmy. It’s a Centrepoint tradition she built on, and was carried forward by Simon Ferry, Kate Louise Elliott and Jeff Kingsford-Brown. These days I love how its expanded to include experimental work in The Dark Room, and training for local youth. And I really love that they almost only programme Kiwi work, which makes them our only truly national theatre. That’s an inspiration, and challenge, to all other theatres out there.

“What contacts do you have besides Palmy contacts?” “Quite a few actually...” It’s a Whanau Thing / Jamie McCaskill

21 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49


NATIONAL WELLBEING

National President of Theatre New Zealand Bryan Aitken on the Theatre Society Scene Community theatre in Aotearoa/ New Zealand is

All aspects of community theatre are important.

as lively as ever. Here in Christchurch for example

There are many for whom theatre is a serious

we lack venues due to demolition after the quake,

amateur passion. This is as important to the

yet societies have been as active as possible,

well-being of our country as the professional

creating performances whenever and wherever

theatre industry.

they can.

I’ve worked on both sides of the fence. I still have

Theatre New Zealand (formerly New Zealand

a foot in both camps. I can see how well they are

Theatre Federation) represents a massive body

interlinked and feed one another, serving to inspire

of societies around the country, with an investment

and deepen the practise for non-professionals, and

of property and buildings running into several million

create opportunities for theatre-goers in those very

dollars. TheatreFest is the flagship of Theatre New

communities where the performances take place.

Zealand’s enterprises. One of the most satisfying

The amount of New Zealand plays being staged is

elements is the amount of new plays emerging

heart-warming. These are not just parochial stories

each year written especially for TheatreFest.

about our country’s founding and colonial psyche.

The flow-through from community to professional

As a practitioner I love going to the theatre to see

in all aspects of theatre has always been strong.

our multicultural heritage enacted. When will more

Training is inspired at a grass-roots level, feeding

theatres pick up Lynda Chanwai-Earle’s Man in a

tertiary training and the profession in many ways.

Suitcase, for instance (premiered at the Court), with

Many secondary schools also use its infrastructure

its multi-layered perspective on our community?

for accessing professional tutors for a wide range

Many theatre societies won’t take the risk of staging

Theatre New Zealand is proudly proactive in helping new playwrights find their feet. We consider this aspect as important in supporting and developing

of workshops, or for participating in TheatreFest,

a new New Zealand work because “the playwright

theatre in New Zealand, and New Zealand in

the annual one-act theatre festival.

isn’t known”, yet will mount a production of an

the theatre.

English farce (playwright unknown to audiences) because of its perceived genre and overlook a work of a similar nature, reflecting us. Theatres have a responsibility to promote the playwright alongside the play; these things go hand-in-hand. I have seen recent promotional material where no credit is given to the author at all. Surely a breach of rights. 2014 could see nearly 100 licences granted from Playmarket for community theatres to perform New Zealand works. This means on average two productions a week opening somewhere in our country. This is fantastic. In addition to these licensed plays there are many works that don’t get nationally recognised because they are written for local communities. They are no less important in the development of theatre and playwriting. They reflect the stories of a particular community.


REWRITING HISTORY Philip Braithwaite on changing the past An image that has haunted me: a man tied to a pole, alone, about to meet his fate. A firing squad gather around him and shoot. His body slumps down, dead. The man in question was my Great-Uncle, Jack Braithwaite. The setting was Blargies, a military prison in the South of France during World War I. In 1998, more than eighty years after the event, it was revealed that documents had been suppressed, and Jack was most likely innocent. In 2000 Helen Clark’s government pardoned him and three other soldiers executed for similar offences – but even that didn’t go far enough. Jack was the only New Zealand soldier to have suffered this particular fate, and it was all because of a tragic misunderstanding. The military crime of mutiny that had dogged my family for all this

“How far do you go?”

time – had driven my Great-Grandfather to an early death and had shamed Jack’s siblings –

ABOVE: Jamie McCaskill and Liz Kirkman in The Mercy Clause by Philip Braithwaite, Centrepoint Theatre.

was a miscarriage of justice. Every time I’ve told people the basic outlay of that

Zealanders in the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

father Joseph much younger than the real man

story they have suggested I write a play about it.

Patrick Evans’ play Gifted drew hostility from

was. Mere streamlining, you might say.

Many times I’ve contemplated it, but for whatever

Janet Frame’s niece for what she saw as an

But there are other fictions. There was a Scottish

reason I couldn’t get the story together. One of the

unflattering portrait of her aunt.

prisoner in another prison, condemned to the

basic problems was that final image: Jack being

On the other hand, if you’re interested in a

same fate, who opted to die alongside Jack.

shot, slumping down. What a note to end on.

historical subject, part of the appeal, perhaps

It turns out the image that haunted me all these

This year I was lucky enough to receive some

the main appeal, is that it actually happened,

years didn’t belong to history. In my play Jack

grant money, sponsored by the Fortune theatre,

or could have happened, or is inspired by people

still dies alone. Partly this is another move from

to write that play for the Gallipoli centenary.

who were particular to the event. It may be quite

necessity: there would be a need for another

dull if it weren’t for the fact that they were really

actor, and that character has no real arc.

there. If I wrote a play about a soldier who was

More importantly, however, is the fact that the

executed by British officers in WWI, the question

tragic image of a lone man conveys ‘the greater

I started doing some research. When I looked at planning my story I turned to other similar sources. One of them was The Monocled Mutineer, the TV serial broadcast in 1986 about the WWI

might be why? Knowing that there was a real

truth’. Aristotle says, “Poetry tends to express

man who had real courage against a real system

the universal, history the particular.” If you use the

I discovered there was some controversy.

makes it worth knowing about.

structure of an existing historical story, you are

Apparently the serial was riddled with factual

I know the surface details of Private Braithwaite’s

using it to probe deeper into the human situation.

errors. After being presented with these, the BBC’s

life: the historian Ian McGibbon has done most

So then, I return to the original question: if you

Managing Director of Television explained that,

of the hard work. As to the rest: how far do

distort the facts, why not just tell a wholly fictional

despite these errors, he felt that it portrayed

you go? I may change some of the facts for the

story? I think the audience is meeting you halfway.

“the greater truth” about World War I. The greater

purposes of dramatic expediency. Does that

They want to cry along with the suffering of the

truth. That’s an interesting concept: one that

matter?

character. You as a writer are facilitating that

reaches right down into the murky depths of

In reality Jack had anything between 16 and 21

journey, providing a more accessible road map

what we try to express as writers.

siblings. But that needlessly complicates things

through the rugged terrain of someone’s life.

As soon as you begin to write about ‘real events’

– it doesn’t serve the drama well. In my version

If you keep the essence of the story, you have

you are faced with concrete challenges. Ben

Jack has two brothers, one killed in Gallipoli, and

stayed true to the story and the reality of it.

Affleck’s film Argo caused outrage down here

the other whom he meets when he goes to serve

You have hopefully told a story which, in the

for completely omitting the part of the New

in France. Also, out of necessity I have made his

end, is universal.

mutineer Percy Toplis. When I read about it

“We all choose what we believe – in that sense we’re all heretics” Honest to God / Philip Braithwaite

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AUDIENCE FUNDED

Sam Brooks on trying to classify Auckland theatre It is 2014 in Auckland and you can separate plays into those funded by Boosted campaigns, and those with cardboard sets. Separate audiences into those who pay for tickets, and those who are on Elephant Publicity’s comp list. (Someone add me to the latter please and thank you). In the past it’s been easy to characterise audiences company by company. People who go to Auckland Theatre Company shows can afford to spend their whole pension on a B-reserve ticket. People who go to Silo shows need to display at least five vinyl records and two items from Zambesi before being allowed to book tickets. People who go to shows at The Basement are friends of people putting on shows at The Basement, or people who can only afford to go see shows at The Basement. 2014 provides no such easy classification. Take The Basement for example. Before this year, you could be certain that at any given point in the year you could find a Thomas Sainsbury play being performed, and at any other point in the year you could find someone making a joke about how many plays Thomas Sainsbury writes. But in 2014, this venue has programmed an Australian spoken word show about an extinct animal, a play in which Jennifer Ward-Lealand plays The Bride of Frankenstein, and a fortunately racially sensitive musical about a Korean nurse courtesy of flawless character actress Renee Lyons, yet it still sells DoBro’s for six dollars. Depending on what week it is at The Basement, you can find a person who remembers when Theatre Corporate was young, a person who wants to know who this Sophie Roberts girl is, or a person who wants to know where the door to the Classic is. You might even, if you hang around the box office long enough, see somebody in the industry pay for a ticket. My most terrifying theatre experience this year was when I was doing some writing in public at The Basement – because if nobody sees you write a script it never really happened. I looked up to see the entire bar swarming with Diocesan School students, queuing up to see Always My Sister while marvelling at the graffiti in the women’s bathroom. You never know who you’re going to find at The Basement, and that’s the most exciting thing about the place.

The programme shows no signs of letting up for the rest of the year. There’s another set of Young and Hungry plays written by straight white guys, the new Ben Henson explosion, and the main space again playing host to Silo with another formally exciting, audience challenging, financially viable production. It’s stuffed so full with good stuff I’ve had to resort to putting on shows in the green room or the car park, just to get programmed. Even then, I’ve had to promise it’s not another play about gay people being sad. If you stumble across said car park to Q, you’ll find a venue programming work just as eclectic, with the audiences to match. In the same week you can find a show that nobody could get a ticket to but is changing the face of theatre in New Zealand as we know it, while at the same time downstairs a show rumoured to be the literal death of theatre in Auckland and you need to see it. It’s a venue that’s never safe and more importantly, never boring. The crowd around Q is much like The Basement, except a little better dressed and a little poorer at the end of the night. Overlap also occurs when people from The Basement sneak across to Q to use the much larger, much cleaner and much nicer smelling bathrooms. That’s probably not what Creative New Zealand means when they say “building and retaining performing arts audiences”, but it doesn’t hurt. The usual truths remain throughout the rest of the Auckland theatre scene. The Herald gives you vertigo, TAPAC is the venue with the best parking and some remarkable counter-programming (shows other venues are too scared/picky to programme), The Maidment Theatre is the best theatre – one that Auckland Theatre Company shares with law and engineering school revues – and Mangere Arts Centre is the most beautiful space in the city, with the most honest audiences, during and after shows I’ve ever seen. I haven’t ventured to the Pumphouse Theatre this year, but I’m confident it continues to produce shows for the other side of the Harbour Bridge, for kids and grandparents alike. Joking aside, the key thing to note and cherish is that people in Auckland, regardless of class, colour, sexuality, obligations to friends, Boosted Campaigns and Ward-Lealand or Hurst above the title are seeing shows. They’re seeing shows with

ABOVE: Dan Veint in Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys by Sam Brooks, Smoke Labours Productions at The Basement Theatre. Image: Tegan Good.

“My most terrifying theatre experience this year was when I was doing some writing in public.” naughty words in the title, seeing shows without trailers and seeing shows that other people say are really good and you should buy tickets to before they sell out (hey Daffodils). People are going to theatre, you guys. If this continues, by 2045 Auckland might be able to sustain a theatre industry where ‘profit share’ is only a rumour and Quick Response Grants are for dance shows and visual artists only. But for 2015? Crowdfunding! This article has reached 0% of its satirical goal with 0 donors donating.

“One day I won’t have to talk to a gay person and have them immediately assume we have something in common.” Queen / Sam Brooks 25 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49


CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE LEFT: Rosalie Van Horik and Olivia Tennet in 360 – A Theatre of Recollections by Carl Bland and Peta Rutter, Theatre Stampede and Nightsong Productions, Civic Theatre. Image: Victor Staaf. Leroy Lakamu in Sea by Red Leap Theatre, Maidment Theatre. Image: Oliver Rosser. Adam Burrell in The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera, adapted for the stage by Tim Bray, Tim Bray Productions, The Pumphouse. Image: David Rowland. Renee Sheridan, Fiona Mogridge and Janine Burchett in Seed by Elisabeth Easther, The Basement Theatre. Image: Adrian Malloch. Sayanti Chatterjee, Anita Crisinel, Tina Pan and Aman Bajaj in Mumbai Monologues, Agaram Productions, TAPAC. Image: Shovik Nandi. Jake Arona, Tavai Faasavalu and Manu Vaueli in Polly Hood in Mumuland by Lauren Jackson, ATC, Mangere Arts Centre. Image: Michael Smith. David Van Horn and Fasitua Amosa in Niu Sila by Oscar Kightley and Dave Armstrong, ATC. Image: Michael Smith. Darlene Mohekey and Jess Sayer in Wings by Jess Sayer, Junket Theatre Company, The Basement. Image: Adam Baines.

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AUCKLAND James Wenley

This year Auckland added another reason for being a super city. According to a study by Massey University, it’s a ‘super-diverse’ city: more diverse than London or Sydney, with over 200 ethnic groups living in the region. Is this also reflected on Auckland’s stages?

diversity in their venues, jettisoning Short+Sweet

One of the most recent visible changes in Auckland’s theatre is the leadership handover of Silo from Shane Bosher (who tweeted he was now in “funemployment”) to Sophie Roberts. The theatre of Bosher, both edgy and earnest has been a huge force. After saving their pennies in a paredback 2013 season, Bosher’s parting gift was Tony Kushner’s legendary two-parter Angels in America. Roberts’ first gig as Artistic Director was the first mainbill production by indy workhorse Thomas Sainsbury, creating a dark serving of kiwi gothic in Sunday Roast. Silo has helped change Auckland theatre, but Auckland itself has changed. For a company often criticised for its lack of diversity in local programming, where to next Sophie Roberts?

popular local performers, a positive development.

In my search for diversity, I look to the major new works from Indian Ink (Kiss the Fish), Red Leap (Sea) and Massive Company (My Bed My Universe). They point towards a trend for pancultural work and a global outlook. Fish, featuring exquisite Balinese masks of monkeys and Freddy Mercury, was a fable set on an unidentified tropical island. Sea was cosmopolitan in its world-view, with a pan-ethnic cast that rode the waves of ocean pollution and looked to the plight of our Pacific island neighbours, under threat from climate change. Bed went beyond the global to the universe – it was its local references that felt tired.

and Read Raw, but hosting Prayas’ excellent Rudali – The Mourner. They’ve now rebranded as Auckland Live, ending perennial name confusion with a radio station, and replacing it with another. Auckland Live’s Winter Cabaret season mixed international acts with Meanwhile, Theatre Stampede’s labour of love and tech hours, 360 converted The Civic stage into a theatre that was literally in the round. EDGE/Live continue to attract big budget musicals, with Annie and Wicked finally blowing into town. This didn’t faze the razzle dazzlers of Chicago, Michael Hurst’s sexy re-imagining extended and extended its season. Revivals included ATC’s reverent Once On Chunuk Bair and Last Tapes’ Verbatim whose ongoing relevance was emphasised in post-show forums hosted by JustSpeak. A judge on my night remarked that he sees the same characters in

ABOVE: Rewa Worley in Skin, The Selecta Season, Auckland Theatre Company, The Basement Theatre. Image: Michael Smith.

his courthouse every day. Rochelle Bright’s Daffodils, via Q Presents was a star. A love-filled tribute to her parents that didn’t shy away from their flaws, it reimagined classic songs from the Kiwi playlist to invoke a shared Pakeha experience – there was the pain and joy of recognition. 2014 provided a world-first: Tainui Tukiwaho’s play Hoki Mai Tama Mā presented a new art form of Te Mata Kōkako o Rēhia (Māori Mask) blending tikanga and Commedia dell’Arte with exciting possibilities. Also there was the Auckland production of Shakespeare’s Pericles, for possibly the very first time.

Meanwhile, Auckland Theatre Company’s production of Briar Grace-Smith’s Paniora! presented a Spanish-Māori cultural fusion. These also reflected a less positive trend: presenting work to the paying public with distinct dramaturgical issues. Are the development processes supporting the creation of the highest quality work possible? This is also the question for ensemble company Outfit, who moved up to Q’s Rangatira stage with Sin.

Pasifika Theatre took a stock-take of where it’s

North Shore’s Bruce Mason Centre was bailed out by the Council’s Regional Facilities, the previously independent venue added to The EDGE’s fold. There have been mixed signals about how the Council-

The Basement celebrated their fifth birthday in

controlled company are building local artists and

truly found its programming groove, pairing

been and where it’s going, with revivals of Niu Sila and Romeo and Tusi, and return seasons of Birds (Dianna Fuemana), Black Faggot (Victor Rodger) and The Factory (Kila Kokonut Krew), the latter two ahead of international seasons. Mangere Arts Centre is the home-base to see new Pasifika writing; more can be done to showcase these voices on main-stages city-wide. usual fashion: inadvertently knocking their huge birthday cake to the ground, and reminiscing about toilet plumbing failures. The venue has

complementary shows (including a ‘Murder Season’ of Mark Power’s The Slapdash Assassin and Gary Henderson’s Mo & Jess Kill Susie), and hosting improv troupe Snort almost every Friday. They’ve even banned the word ‘audience’, wanting instead to foster a ‘community’ of fans who feel at home in the venue. The Feast, developed through Red Leap’s incubator program was a delicious showcase of three new works, with themed cupcakes after each show! The Basement also premiered Seed (Elisabeth Easther), Always my Sister (Michelanne Forster) and Luncheon (Aroha Awarau). Sam Brooks continues to bring his astute voice with Not Another Dead Fag and Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys. But are enough new writers getting through? It was also at The Basement that I finally found the new diversity. ATC’s Next Big Thing is a youth movement to watch, after the stand-out immersive exploration of teen drinking culture in Like There’s No Tomorrow, The Selecta features a diverse range of talents and experience, expressed through spoken word (Grace Taylor’s Skin), music, and a carnival freak show. They’re here, they’re young, and I can’t wait to see how they transform Auckland’s stages.

“Come on, eat up. Just think of the children starving in Africa. Or your brothers and sisters.” Sunday Roast / Thomas Sainsbury

27 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49


CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE LEFT: Ralph McCubbin Howell in The Bookbinder by Ralph McCubbin Howell, Trick of the Light Theatre, Arty Bees Bookshop, NZ Fringe Festival. Image: Stephen Coulter. Alex Greig and Brianne Kerr in Once We Built a Tower by Dean Parker, The Bacchanals, BATS. Image: Benny Vandergast. Wolf devised and performed by Claire O'Loughlin, Rachel Baker, Isobel Mackinnon, Stephanie Cairns and Fiona McNamara, People's Cinema. Image: Hannah Newport-Watson. Jack Barry, Hannah Schunk-Hockings and Jacob Dale in Iho, Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, National Library of New Zealand. Image: Philip Merry. Rob Mokoraka in Pūtōrino Hill by Chris Molloy, Taki Rua Productions, BATS Theatre. Image: Philip Merry. Emma Kinane and George Henare in Pasefika by Stuart Hoar, Circa Theatre. Image: Stephen A’Court. Philip Jones and Ruby Hansen in Second Afterlife by Ralph McCubbin Howell, Young and Hungry, BATS. Image: Stephen A’Court. Cathy-Ellen Paul in Traces by Tabitha Arthur, Longstaff Productions, The Royal Local Alehouse and Eatery, NZ Fringe Festival 2014. Image: Philip Merry.


WELLINGTON Uther Dean

On 17 September last year, just months from their 50th anniversary Downstage announced its closure.

Greig’s magnetic Italian immigrants) and this year’s

Things don’t have to be surprising to be shocking, and things don’t have to be sudden to be sad. Downstage’s closure had felt like a tragic inevitability for a long time. This was fuelled by how visibly Hilary Beaton’s well-intentioned ‘Performing Partnerships’ model was failing, populating Downstage’s season with underperforming return seasons (or, not uncommonly, returns of return seasons), with a few shows from Auckland dotted in between. It was the wrong kind of apt that the final work staged was a workmanlike third Wellington season of Live at Six.

boring Other Desert Cities). The inclusion of works

Theatre in this city is now a two horse race: between the eternally hip and young BATS, and the resolute and experienced Circa. Both doing their own work very well, but with a wide chasm between the two in which more and more practitioners are finding themselves caught – too big for BATS, too young for Circa. They inevitably leave.

anthology show Stages of Fear which brought

Circa had a trickle of these younger but proven companies into Circa Two this year, like Trick of the Light with their vortex of joy The Road That Wasn’t There, Show Pony’s presentation of the chair-stainingly hysterical The Pianist and My Accomplice’s A Play About Fear. But it’s a slow trickle, filling the gaps in the roaring trade done by charming, inoffensive two-handers by white male playwrights with one word titles – the electric tag-team of John Bach and Paul Waggott in John Logan’s Red, the warm winter soup that was Byron Coll and Kate Prior in David Greig and Gordon McIntyre’s Midsummer, and the beautiful (if occasionally slow) edifice of emotion that was Erin Banks and Ricky Dey in Nick Payne’s Constellations.

week seasons with sole use (as opposed to the

Circa One offered few surprises. We had the pantomime (a subversive Mother Goose from Michele Amas, brought to lively life by a committed cast), this year’s Armstrong (a return season of Kings of the Gym, again a chucklesome romp elevated at points to comic utopia by the faultless double act of Paul McLaughlin and

in Wellington, where it feels like there’s now

Ricky Dey), this year’s Miller (Gavin Rutherford’s

designed-to-death production of Stuart Hoar’s

Eddie Carbone only just wrestling A View from

glacial but poetic Pasefika, Young and Hungry’s

the Bridge away from Paul Waggott and Alex

murder by a thousand dark lighting cues and

Broadway/West End darling (the staggeringly like Nancy Brunning’s Hīkoi show that there is still some space for risks on the Circa mainstage. That predominantly Māori work is considered a ‘risk’ in spaces like Circa is too big a knot to do more than acknowledge here. On the other end of the gap, BATS – still ‘Out of Site for 2013’ – gave home to work from exciting young companies like Bright Orange Walls (whose Midsummer Night’s Dream was the Fringe show everyone told me I should see) and Making Friends Collective (spearheading the together four local companies in an uneven but interesting collection of work). BATS was also home to several productions by the Bacchanals who seem now set to turn their one-two punch of a comeback with Coriolanus and The Clouds into a Dylan-style tour/season that never ends. Older companies put on larger scale works for two Fringe-style sharing of the theatre space that is the norm) – Binge Culture’s This Rugged Beauty and The Playground Collective’s All Your Wants and Needs Fulfilled Forever. As interesting as it was to see the Out of Site space used in a larger canvas way, both seemed slightly at odds with themselves, redevelopments of previous work that did not seem to demand revisiting. The new ideas within these new seasons could easily have sustained fresh new work. But new work is harder to fund, harder to attract new audiences to and, in an increasingly unsustainable industry (a show that if it sold every seat at full price would make $15,000 should not have a budget three times that), seemingly less and less worth it. Especially nowhere to go once stripes have been earned. There also developed a troubling trend of productions out of line with the text’s intent. For whatever reason, comes the knee jerk reaction to blame the writer for a bad production. This made it heartbreaking to see cases like Circa’s

“The chosen one is back. Got a bit of a flash accent too.” Putorino Hill / Chris Molloy

29 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49

ABOVE: Jason Whyte in Grandad’s Lucky Storm by Rachel Callinan, Capital E National Theatre for Children, Hannah Playhouse. Image: Stephen A’Court.

unneeded A/V of Alex Lodge’s brilliantly cerebral Our Parents’ Children, and whatever it was Taki Rua did to mangle David Ballantyne’s national treasure Sydney Bridge Upside Down into total pretentious obscurity (I had more than one friend tell me that production had put them off theatre full stop). On a brighter note, the Fringe – compromised as it was by the emergence of sickening popularity contest ‘FringeFave’– has continued to be an engine of wonderful, constant invention. There was work by the singular Alice May Connolly (Tut) and national treasure-in-waiting Eamonn Marra (Respite), as well as the best work from the rest of the country, like Sam Brooks’ exquisite Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys (unforgivably not even nominated at the Fringe Awards). As we look ahead to the Guano (BATS’ programme/magazine) for the last quarter of the year being one half return or sequel seasons, we have to really start thinking about what is stifling the generation of new ideas in this city. Man cannot live on return seasons alone. We just learnt this when Downstage closed. Do we really need to learn it again?


CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE LEFT: Delia Hannah and Robert Tripe in The Great Art War script and lyrics by Stuart Hoar, music and lyrics by Philip Norman, The Court Theatre. Tola Newbery and Olly Ohlson in Hui by Mitch Tawhi Thomas, The Court Theatre. Julie Edwards in The Keys are in the Margarine: A Verbatim Play about Dementia researched and written by Cindy Diver, Susie Lawless and Stuart Young, Talking House, Fortune Theatre. Image: Yvonne Caulfield. Julie Edwards, Rosella Hart, Andrew Laing and Phil Vaughan in Peninsula by Gary Henderson, Fortune Theatre. Image: George Wallace. Tom Eason and audience in The Powerful Event by Tom Eason and Alice Canton, Two Productions. Image: Cassidy Wall. Julie Edwards and Dougal Stevenson in Book Ends by Roger Hall, Fortune Theatre. Image: Lara Macgregor. Damien Avery, Lynda Milligan, Juliet Reynolds-Midgley, Tim Bartlett and Adam Brookfield in Snap! adapted by Fiona Farrell from Ngaio Marsh’s novel Photo Finish, The Court Theatre. Elizabeth O’Connor at Under Construction 2013, Q Theatre. Image: Adam Baines.


DUNEDIN & CHRISTCHURCH CHRISTCHURCH – ERIN HARRINGTON

was met with widespread acclaim, while Fiona

It is three years on from the earthquakes, and a lack of dedicated and affordable performance spaces continues to be a frustration. In some cases, this has been an enabling constraint with artists forced to make creative decisions about staging.

Farrell’s Ngaio Marsh murder mystery Snap! and

Non-traditional productions have been popular, with David Ladderman’s outstanding King Lear adaptation Battle of the Bastards and other world-class offerings at the Buskers’ Festival proving that the fringe is increasingly attractive to mainstream audiences. Immersive romp Zombie: Red Zone, from Auckland co-op The Generation of Z, was staged in a warehouse and sold out three weeks’ worth of shows. Free Theatre’s The Canterbury Tales was a literal spectacle, showcasing dozens of performers manipulating enormous puppets in a procession through central Christchurch as a part of the Festival of Transitional Architecture.

establishment of a youth company, the creative

Smaller productions also made good use of alternative venues: Nataliya Oryshchuk and Kim Georgine’s Edwardian ghost story Whistle and I’ll Come to You played at Ferrymead Heritage Park, and CBD Bar and Pizzeria have offered a small space upstairs to local and touring acts, such as Eli Matthewson and Hamish Parkinson’s gorgeous Velcro City. However, the paucity of space will continue to have a detrimental impact upon both local practitioners and the willingness of larger and more traditional touring shows to come to Christchurch.

DUNEDIN – SHARON MATTHEWS

Local companies maintain their enthusiasm in defiance of ever-present roadworks and uprooted audiences. Hagley Theatre Company again offered up a fine (but criminally under-publicised) programme of provocative contemporary theatre, including the New Zealand premiere of Hideki Noda’s The Bee. Kiwi works featured strongly among community theatre companies: Riccarton Players staged McPhail and Gadsby’s Suite 16, and Elmwood Players presented Robert Lord’s Well Hung and the premiere of Tim Hambleton’s Thick as Thieves.

Book Ends, in which a group of (white, middle-

The Court Theatre remains the most visible face of Christchurch theatre, but the last year’s main stage offerings have been a mixed bag: a heart-

work of these playwrights. Fortune’ s 4 x 4 Young

rending production of When the Rain Stops Falling

Green and Adam Goodall.

the Kiwi-Chinese co-production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream were more coolly received. The Court have broadened their support of new voices and practices this year through the redevelopment of resident improv troupe The Court Jesters’ late night offerings, and the commissioning of more original children’s shows. Through The Forge they have shown an admirable freshness and vitality in programming plays such as Nassim Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit, Red Rabbit and the premiere of Pip Hall’s romantic dramedy Ache. Finally, the Christchurch arts community mourns the passing of Elizabeth O’Connor, the Literary Manager of The Court Theatre, whose dedication to storytelling, theatre arts and the development of new work and talent was unparalleled.

The past year has seen a welcome increase in productions of NZ plays, regional history and documentary theatre, but sadly a scaling down of the proposed Arts Hub at the Athenaeum, due to building issues. The Fortune Theatre turned 40 and treated audiences to a smorgasbord of NZ playwriting. An early appetiser was the September premiere of Gifted, adapted by Patrick Evans from his novel. 2014 kicked off with the premiere of Roger Hall’s aged, male) writers come to grips with literary technology. In March 2014, Gary Henderson’s Peninsula finally made its Dunedin premiere, a decade after it was written while Henderson was Robert Lord Writer in Residence. Fortune 40th Anniversary festivities included a forum chaired by Roger Hall, with Stuart Hoar, Abby Howells, and Dunedin playwrights Richard Huber, Emily Duncan and Phil Braithwaite discussing the future of playwriting. Hopefully, one outcome will be increased interest in the Playwrights Initiative returned with challenging plays by Cassie Sim, Barnaby McIntosh, Jess

“Just because you blog doesn’t make you an interesting person.” Ache / Pip Hall

31 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49

“the fringe is increasingly attractive to mainstream audiences.” Goodall directed a ‘rebooting’ of his play Rageface (2013), a cautionary tale about online forums for the Dunedin Fringe. Also at Fringe was Finding Hephzibah, co-devised by writer Claire Sara and choreographer Nadine Kemp, a dynamic performance piece incorporating music, film, Shakespeare’s Juliet, and concerning the oversexualisation of women in contemporary society. Counterpoint Productions continued fostering “young, fresh and exciting” theatre with strong productions of Gavin McGibbon’s Stand Up Love and documentary theatre piece Cædmon’s Hymn. The latter, with interviews, editing and direction by Jess Green, reflected on the ‘materiality’ of death utilising verbatim theatre-making techniques developed by Otago University’s Stuart Young and Hilary Halba. Stage South’s Read Out Loud 2013 (in association with Counterpoint) presented Paul Rothwell’s The Felinity of Wendel, a macabre tale of a seven-yearold girl who follows her heart and comes to a “very bad end”, and Robert Lord’s Balance of Payments. Stage South’s latest local writer’s initiative, HomeGrown, workshopped readings of Richard Huber’s St Joan of Broadway, a quirky farce set in 1939 New York, and Tim Hambleton’s Holding Court, a regional comedy about centralised bureaucracy. Community arts group Talking House produced two locally-focused documentary theatre pieces: Gasmen, a site specific celebration of the historical Dunedin Gasworks, and The Keys Are in the Margarine, a verbatim play about dementia. Regional history was represented at the Globe Theatre with Where Once Our Voices Led, a nostalgic comedy written and directed by Keith Scott, and The Middlemarch Singles Ball II by Ella West.


NEW ZEALAND ON STAGE Professional Productions of NZ Plays 1 August 2013 – 31 July 2014 TOURING, FESTIVALS & INTERNATIONAL

Gifted by Patrick Evans

Te Awarua by Albert Belz

Tapanui, Wanaka, Alexandra,

Te Rehia Theatre: Whangarei,

Oamaru, Nelson, Tauranga,

Dargaville, Kaitaia, Auckland

22 August – 27 October 2013

8-24 August 2013

Fortune Theatre: Christchurch, Taranaki, Fortune Theatre: Invercargill,

Hotel by Site-Specific: Christchurch

Kiss The Fish by Justin Lewis

27 August – 7 September 2013

and Jacob Rajan, Indian Ink

Invercargill 30 April – 3 May 2014

Hamilton, Auckland 10 August – 5 October 2013 New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson, Napier, Kerikeri, Whangarei 19 June – 26 July 2014 No Holds Bard by Michael Hurst, Natalie Medlock and Dan Musgrove Royale Productions: Edinburgh Festival Fringe, UK, 11-26 August 2013 Taupo 8 and 10 May 2014

Fred by Lisa Chappell Sydney Fringe Festival, Australia 28 August – 8 September 2013 The Basement 8-24 April 2014 On The Upside-Down Of The World by Arthur Meek, Auckland Theatre Company: Going West, Christchurch, United Solo Theatre Festival, New York, USA 29 August – 25 October 3013 Hamilton 15-18 February 2014

The Bitches’ Box by Amelia Guild

Edinburgh Festival Fringe, UK

and Emma Newborn

31 July – 25 August 2014

Edinburgh Festival Fringe UK 11-23 August 2013 Nelson 12-13 October 2013 Canterbury Tour 27 November – 1 December 2014 Hamilton, Blenheim, Wanaka, Waikaia

Ivy: Saviour of the Dinosaur! by Jennifer Martin, Capital E National Theatre for Children: Christchurch, Mandurah Arts Centre, Awesome Arts Festival Perth, Australia 3 September – 14 October 2013

14 February – 16 March 2014

Rewena by Whiti Hereaka

Invercargill, Taupo 1-17 May 2014

Centrepoint Theatre: Centrepoint

NSW Tour, Australia 23-31 May 2014

Theatre, Tauranga, New Plymouth

Nick An Accidental Hero

7 September – 3 November 2013

by Renee Lyons: Edinburgh Festival

I, George Nepia by Hone Kouka

Fringe 11-26 August 2013

Tawata Productions: Christchurch

Nelson, Kokomai Creative Festival

Festival 12-14 September 2013

16-21 October 2013

Kokomai Creative Festival,

Arts on Tour NZ Tour

Tauranga 18-31 October 2013

10 July – 2 August 2014 Party With The Aunties by Erina Daniels Taranaki, Christchurch 15 August – 15 September 2013

Niu Sila by Dave Armstrong and Oscar Kightley Auckland Theatre Company Hamilton, Christchurch, Whangarei, Nelson, South Side Arts Festival

Kokomai Creative Festival

13 September – 25 October 2013

18-20 October 2013

Talking Of Katherine Mansfield

Thames, Taupo 12-15 May 2014 Orewa 27 July 2014 Live At Six by Dean Hewison

by Catherine Downes; Going West Festival, Nelson Arts Festival 15 September – 25 October 2013

and Leon Wadham

The Yeti Trilogy

Show Pony: Taranaki, Christchurch,

by Natalie Medlock, Dan Musgrove

Nelson, Tauranga, Auckland

and Thomas Sainsbury

15 September – 16 November 2013

BATS, The Basement

Cheesed Off

27 August – 7 September 2013

by Jodie Ellis and Amanda Walden

Jane Austen is Dead by Mel Dodge

Blanket Theatre: Edinburgh Festival

Sydney Fringe Festival, Australia

Fringe, UK 19-25 August 2013

16-23 September 2013

Romeo and Tusi

Birds by Dianna Fuemana

by Oscar Kightley and Erolia Ifopo

Sharu Loves Hats: Basement Theatre 17-21 September 2013 BATS 1-8 March 2014

Jandals Inc: Hamilton, Auckland 22 August – 7 September 2013

33 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49

The Beyond with Leslie Squid by Lucy Schmidt and Stayci Taylor Melbourne Fringe Festival, Australia 20-27 September 2013 In Absentia by Tablo The National Theatre Company of New Zealand: Hamilton, Christchurch 26 September – 13 October 2013 Black Faggot by Victor Rodger Multinesia: Melbourne Fringe Festival 28 September – 5 October 2013 Brisbane Powerhouse, NZ Festival, The Edge 19 February – 8 March 2014 Basement Theatre 24-28 June 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, UK 31 July – 25 August 2014 Joseph Harper in Think Tree (Omautautahi) by Joseph Harper Christchurch, BATS, The Basement 3-12 October 2013 Seasons by Peter Wilson lyrics by Jenny Pattrick, music by Laughton Pattrick, Capital E National Theatre for Children: Downstage, Nelson, Timaru, Dunedin, Invercargill 5 October – 19 November 2013 Dark Stars by Arthur Meek Jonathan Council: United Solo Theatre Festival, New York, USA 8 and 17 October 2013 Kalopsia Sky by Frank Creation Theatre: The Basement 11-26 October 2013 Hamilton 26-27 February 2014 A Thousand Hills by Mike Hudson TAPAC, Mangere Arts Centre 15 October – 23 November 2013 Duck, Death, and The Tulip by Peter Wilson, Little Dog Barking Nelson, Tauranga, Edinburgh Festival 23 October – 2 November 2013, Lower Hutt 26 February 2014 Salon by Site-Specific Nelson 24-27 October 2013 Constantinople by Barnie Duncan and Trygve Wakenshaw Theatre Beating: Nelson, Tauranga 25-26 October 2013 Miss Fletcher Sings The Blues by Hayley Sproull, The Bakery Tauranga 31 October 2013 NZ Fringe Festival, Hamilton 11-21 February 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, UK 31 July – 24 August 2014 Home by Freya Desmarais Robert Niemetz: Romanischer Keller

Heidelberg, Baden Wurttenberg, Germany, 5-9 November 2013 Expectations by Emma Deakin Shaky Isles: Pleasance Theatre, London, UK 5-24 November 2013 Whistle Solo by Julie Hill 99 Luftballons: The Basement, BATS 5-16 November 2013 Verbatim by William Brandt. Devised by Miranda Harcourt and William Brandt and Portraits by Miranda Harcourt Stuart McKenzie, Last Tapes Theatre Company: The Basement, Newtown Community Centre, Mangere Arts Centre 12-27 November 2013 You Gotta be Joking by Roger Hall Ben McDonald Ltd: NZ Tour 12 November – 8 December 2013

Productions: NZ Fringe Festival 12-16 February 2014, The Dark Room 11-14 June 2014 Michael James Manaia by John Broughton Taki Rua Productions: Brisbane, Australia 19 February 2014 The Bookbinder by Ralph McCubbin Howell Trick of the Light Theatre: NZ Fringe Festival, Dunedin Fringe Festival 19 February – 16 March 2014 Paniora! by Briar Grace-Smith Auckland Theatre Company NZ Festival, Maidment Theatre 26 February – 12 April 2014 Too Far From Heaven by Angela Newell, Jade Gillies and Lizzie Dawson, Invers Theatre

The Guru of Chai by Justin Lewis

and Arts on Tour NZ Tour

and Jacob Rajan Indian Ink: Kerikeri, Whangarei 13-16 November 2013 Thrissur, India 18 March 2014 Palm Beach, Santa Fe, Taos, New Bedford, Burlington, Somerville, USA 28 March – 12 April 2014

2-27 March 2014

My Father’s Hands by Stacey Leilua and Vela Manusaute Kila Kokonut Krew: Hastings, Porirua, Manukau, Onehunga, Tokoroa, Christchurch, Dunedin, Mangere 21 November – 9 December 2013

Henderson and Massive Company,

Not in Our Neighbourhood by Jamie McCaskill Tikapa Productions: Thames 21-24 November 2013 Wellington 1 March 2014

Christchurch, Auckland, Arts on Tour

On/Off by Lisa Chappell Sydney, Australia 30 November – 15 December 2013

Adelaide, Australia 22-27 April 2014

Bedtime Monsters by Henrietta Bollinger The Lord Lackbeards: Greytown, Napier, Wairoa, Gisborne, Tauranga, Hamilton, Paekakariki, Wellington 21 November – 15 December 2013

25 April – 5 May 2014

Lashings of Whipped Cream by Fiona Samuel, Large Carpark Productions: Melbourne, The Basement Theatre, Sydney 30 January – 28 February 2014 Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys by Sam Brooks Smoke Labours Productions NZ Fringe Festival, The Basement

Take Back the Hood by Deborah Eve Rea Dunedin Fringe 20-22 March 2014 The Dark Room 1-3 May 2014 My Bed My Universe by Gary Massive Company: The Edge, Mangere Arts Centre 2-12 April 2014 Promise and Promiscuity by Penny Ashton NZ Tour, Winnipeg Fringe Festival, Canada 11 April – 26 July 2014 The Magic Chicken by Theatre Beating

Paper Sky by Red Leap Theatre Dunedin, Oamaru, Invercargill

Conversations with my Penis by Dean Hewison Out of Bounds: BATS, The Basement Theatre 30 April – 10 May 2014 Eglantyne by Anne Chamberlain Miss Chamberlain Presents Geraldine, Timaru, Ashburton, Christchurch, Wellington 1-24 May 2014 New Plymouth 10 July 2014 Tea for Tabitha by Jodie Ellis Blanket Theatre: The Temple Bar,

6-15 February 2014

Brighton, UK 3-9 May 2014

I Could Live Here by Carrie Green,

Tighty Whiteys by Chris Parker and Hayley Sproull, The Bakery: BATS, The Basement 6-17 May 2014

Andrew Paterson, Ria Simmons and Simon Leary, Would You Rather


Asian Invasion by various Ensemble Impact National Tour 9 May – 4 July 2014

Stage adaptation by Rachel

Crunchy Silk by Jess Sayer

The Owl and the Pussycat by

Tongan Morris Men by Arnette

Callinan, Bruce Mason Centre

Junket Theatre Company

Edward Lear, adapted by Tim Bray

Arapai Mangere Arts Centre

4-8 July 2014

25-29 March 2014

14 April – 3 May 2014

23-27 June 2014

Munted by Bare Hunt Collective Los Angeles, USA, Arts on Tour NZ Tour 3-27 July 2014

The Basement Theatre

Soo Young: The Musical

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera,

Talanoa The Village Collective

by Renee Lyons

adapted for stage by Tim Bray

Mangere Arts Centre

1-5 April 2014

23 June – 19 July 2014

13-14 July 2014

Going Bush: The Eeneid by Arthur Meek and Tapu by Thomas Sainsbury, IronBark: Bush Theatre, London, UK 23-24 May 2014

Godiva Productions

There’s a Bluebird Inside my Heart

The Edge

Sister Anzac by Geoff Allen

13-24 August 2013

but I Tell it to Shut Up by various

Paper Shaper by Peter Wilson and Tim Denton Little Dog Barking: Asian/Pacific Puppet Festival, Nanchong, China 1-7 June 2014

Motel by April Philips Cas’n’Ova Productions and

Balmy by Tom Eason, Two Productions 15-17 August 2013 Wings by Jess Sayer Junket Theatre Company

Playfight Productions 8-12 April 2014 Vice by various 15-19 April 2014

The Thing from the Place by Theatre Beating Theatre Beating and Time Out Theatre 7-12 October 2013 Rudali – The Mourner

Galatea Theatre: Torpedo Bay Navy Museum 23 July – 2 August 2014 No Man’s Land by Suli Moa Tales from the Kava Bowl Corban Estate Arts Centre

Luncheon by Aroha Awarau

based on the short story

I’d Like to Thank Productions

by Mahasweta Devi Prayas

20-31 May 2014

17-26 October 2013

HAMILTON

Shoshana McCallum

Winners by Lucy Suttor, Keagan

360 – A Theatre of Recollections

Hamilton Gardens Festival

Playfight Productions

Carr Fransch, Susie Berry and

by Carl Bland, Peta Rutter and

9-13 September 2013

Taylor Hall, But Seriously Though

Ben Crowder, Theatre Stampede

Collective 27-31 May 2014

and Nightsong Productions

15-17 August 2013 Looking at Stuff in Clouds

29 July – 2 August 2014

You Can Always Hand Them Back by Roger Hall, music and lyrics by Peter Skellern Mercury Theatre, Colchester, UK 12-28 June 2014

by Donna Brookbanks and

The Creeps by Catherine Waller Hollywood Fringe, Schkapf, Los Angeles, USA 12 June – 19 July 2014

Work: Dragonlore by Nic Sampson;

Always my Sister

Atlas/mountains/dead butterflies

by Michelanne Forster

MAMIL by Gregory Cooper

by Joseph Harper

11-21 June 2014

The Edge 25 July – 16 August 2014

Seed by Elisabeth Easther

15-23 February 2014

The Factory by Vela Manusaute Kila Kokonut Krew: Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong, Surfers Paradise, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, UK 12 June – 25 August 2014

TAPAC

Golden Boys by Brad Johnson

Pūtōrino Hill by Chris Molloy Taki Rua Productions: BATS, Q Theatre 1-19 July 2014 Hoki Mai Tama Mā by Tainui Tukiwaho, Te Rehia Theatre: Mangere Arts Centre, The Edge Whangarei 3 July – 2 August 2014

Young and Hungry Festival of New

27 September – 12 October 2013

17-28 June 2014

13-25 January 2014

Yo Future by Jo Randerson Barbarian Productions 15-20 February 2014 Tales by the River – The Goddess of Fire, Smackbang Theatre Company

Gloria created by Amy and

Battle of the Brothers

Albert Black Jukebox Killer

Catherine Waller

by David Ladderman

by Peter Larsen

The Vintage Collective

You Rung? Productions

29 July – 2 August 2014

23-30 November 2013

18-19 February 2014

An Unseasonable Fall of Snow

Robin Hood by Outfit Theatre

Odyssey

by Gary Henderson

Company, Outfit Theatre Company

by Company of Giants

Another Dead Fag by Sam Brooks

Theatre of Love

4-14 December 2013

Hamilton Gardens Festival

Smoke Labours Productions

29 July – 9 August 2014

29 October – 2 November 2013

Q Theatre

Agaram Productions

Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong

Zen Dog by Rob Nascimento

Sydney Bridge Upside Down

12-16 February 2014

by Jo Randerson

by Taki Rua Productions

Queen by Sam Brooks

Kings of Waterview 15-19 October 2013 A Model Woman by Phil Ormsby, Flaxworks 22 October – 2 November 2013

and Mick Innes, Rebels & Robots 25-30 November 2013

7-11 August 2013

Mumbai Monologues

Smoke Labours Productions

22-27 February 2014

Remote Fiction Theatre 25-27 February 2014

Bill Massey’s Tourists by Jan Bolwell Auckland, Wellington 12-27 March 2014

A Basement Christmas Carol

Daffodils by Rochelle Bright

13-16 February 2014

Hamilton Fringe Festival

by Nic Sampson and Barnaby

Bullet Heart Club

Frederic, The Basement

Auckland Other Venues

Plains by Harry Meech

14-29 March 2014

Strange Resting Places by Paolo Rotondo and Rob Mokoraka Cuba Creative: Hamilton and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, UK 25 July – 25 August 2014

4-21 December 2013

Coaltown Blues by Mervyn Thompson, Coaltown Blues Co-op Pahiatua, Picton 11-26 July 2014 Dannevirke, Greytown 22 March – 19 April 2014 The Height of the Eiffel Tower by Morgana O’Reilly Edinburgh Festival Fringe, UK 31 July – 25 August 2014

Sunday Roast by Thomas Just Above the Clouds by Ben Anderson The People Who Play With Theatre 4-8 February 2014 Thumper by Simon Ward 4-8 February 2014 Legacy Project 11-15 February 2014 Teen Faggots Come to Life by Raukawa Tuhura, Jaycee Tanuvasa, Isaac Ah-Kiong, Amanaki PrescottFaletau and Darren Taniue

AUCKLAND

13-15 February 2014

Auckland Theatre Company

Three by Bare Hunt Collective

Polly Hood in Mumuland by Lauren Jackson

Bare Hunt Collective 18-22 February 2014

Mangere Arts Centre

Mo and Jess Kill Susie

26 April – 3 May 2014

by Gary Henderson, Theatre of Love 25 February – 8 March 2014

Sainsbury, Silo 7 June – 5 July 2014 Sin created by Sin Ensemble The Outfit Theatre Company 10-18 July 2014

Revenge Of The Amazons by Jean Betts Female Company: Ponsonby Baptist Church 14-18 August 2013 Digital Winds by Iaheto Ah Hi Kinetic Wayfinding: Mangere Arts

The Maidment

Centre 24-28 September 2013

Defensability by Anthony Towler

My Life, My Story, My South

One Bad Leg Productions

Auckland by South Auckland

6-10 August 2013

Theatre Collective

Crossfire by Noa Campbell Aotearoa Theatre 4-7 September 2013 Lantern by Renee Liang Pretty Asian Theatre 10-15 February 2014 Sea by Red Leap Theatre Red Leap Theatre 6-10 March 2014

Pumphouse Theatre

FRESH Gallery, Otara 23-26 October 2013 The First Asian AB by Renee Liang

Remote Fiction Theatre Riverlea Theatre 27 September – 5 October 2013 The Twisted Tales of Baba Yaga Cue Productions: Meteor Theatre 10-11 October 2013 Home by Freya Desmarais Hungry Mile Theatre: Meteor Theatre 12 October 2013

Other Bare by Toa Fraser No Exit Theatre Company Meteor Theatre

Southside Arts Festival

9-10, 15-17, 22-24 May 2014

29 October – 1 November 2013

HAWKE’S BAY

Salt by Melissa Fergusson Charlatan Clinic: The Williamson 13-16 November 2013 My Name is Pilitome by Vela Manusaute

Manawa by Jamie McCaskill Tikapa Productions: Havelock North High School 7-10 August 2013

Tim Bray Productions

Kila Kokonut Crew: The Martin

MANAWATU

by Maurice Shadbolt

Stomach by Amelia Reynolds

Mrs Wishy Washy by Joy Cowley,

Hautus Institute Performing Arts

Centrepoint

Maidment Theatre

and Saraid Cameron

adapted by Tim Bray

Centre, Onehunga 24-26 April 2014

12 June – 5 July 2014

11-15 March 2014

23 September – 12 October 2013

The Man Whose Mother was

A Boy Wonder by Ryan Richards

a Pirate by Margaret Mahy

18-22 March 2014

Once on Chunuk Bair

Stockcars: The Musical

Whore by Melissa Fergusson

by John Lepper and Simon Ferry

The Santa Claus Show by Tim Bray

Lifewise Merge Café

2 November – 14 December 2013

9-21 December 2013

29 May – 1 June 2014

and 15-25 January 2014

PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49 : 34


Other Venues Wellington

Cinderella Meets Aladdin

The War Artist by Carl Nixon

3 x 20 by Keagan Carr Fransch,

Hīkoi by Nancy Brunning

14 March – 12 April 2014

Susie Berry and Brynley Stent

Hāpai Productions

4-8 March 2014

28 June – 12 July 2014

Once we Built a Tower

The Road That Wasn’t There

Kidzstuff: Tararua Tramping Club

The Emperor’s New Clothes

by Dean Parker

by Ralph McCubbin Howell

28 September – 12 October 2013

by Greg Cooper

Kings of the Gym by Dave Armstrong 2 May – 14 June 2014 The Mercy Clause by Philip Braithwaite 27 June – 26 July 2014

The Dark Room

The Bacchanals 11-15 March 2014 This Rugged Beauty

Dark Deeds by various

by Binge Culture

Skin Theatre

25 March – 5 April 2014

30 January – 1 February 2014

Shu by Laura Gaudin

Affinity by Sarah Delahunty

Arte/Visuale

1st Gear Productions

8-12 April 2014

16-19 July 2014

Trick of the Light Theatre 8-19 July 2014

Ache by Pip Hall 19 July – 9 August 2014

7 February – 2 March 2014

Studio 77, 25 February – 1 March

Other

4 Test and 1 Dood by Jonathan

The Beautiful Ones by Hone Kouka

Power and Kenneth Gaffney All a Man Wants is His Wage by CC Shackle and David Allen

by Uther Dean, My Accomplice

Cassandra Tse, music by

Quest for an Audience with the

13-17 May 2014

Bruno Shirley

Te Pūanga Whakaari Theatre Prince Seth and the Princess by Karla Crofts, Feilding Little Theatre 2-5 October 2013 Prince Seth and the Princess Pirate Adventure by Karla Crofts Centrepoint 9-12 July 2014

WAIRARAPA Yo Future by Jo Randerson Barbarian Productions: Kokomai Creative Festival 24-25 October 2013

WELLINGTON BATS Gunplay by Paul Rothwell

Forever, The Playground Collective 20-31 May 2014 Revelations by Lori Leigh 4-14 June 2014

The Bloody Benders by David

Badjelly the Witch by Alannah O’Sullivan, Kidzstuff Theatre Tararua Tramping Club 19 April – 3 May 2014

Euthermia/Hyperpyrexia by Andrew Clarke by Hannah Banks and Uther Dean

17-21 June 2014

Exoskeleton by Joseph Harper

Grandad’s Lucky Storm

Book Ends by Roger Hall

Capital E National Theatre for

8 February – 8 March 2014

Children: Hannah Playhouse 5-19 July 2014

God Belly by Andrew Gunn

The Ragged by Helen Pearse-

and Rosie Tapsell

Otene Te Rakau Hua o te Wao Tapu

Horatio by James Cain I’m Just Here for the Food

Lower Hutt, 22-26 July 2014

Immaculate Deception

Capital E National Theatre for

Rageface by Adam Goodall

by Pat McCarthy

Children: Hannah Playhouse

The Leaving Party: Playhouse

by Ralph McCubbin Howell;

A Play About Fear by My Accomplice

26 July – 2 August 2014

Theatre 13-16 March 2014

Uncle Minotaur by Dan Bain

Madame Blavatsky and the Astral Light by Renee Gerlich

NELSON & WEST COAST

This is my Real Job

18 July – 2 August 2014

Beautiful Losers by Mike Hudson

13-19 March 2014

Circa

Memoria by Happy Nomad Theatre Mis{s}conception by Rosaleen

Respite by Eamonn Mara

by Paul Maunder

The Robot Monologues

Kiwi Possum Productions

by Becca Barnes and Alwyn Dale

Regent Theatre, Greymouth

Suri vs Shiloh by Phoebe Borwick

30 October – 1 November 2013

Pandora Productions

Con by Gavin McGibbon

8-12 October 2013

26 October – 23 November 2013

Chop/Stick by Jo Holsted and

Mother Goose

Michelle Ang, Chairman Meow

by Michele Amas, lyrics by Paul

8-12 October 2013

Jenden, music by Gareth Farr 16 November – 22 December 2013

Alacrity Productions 4-6 December 2013 PSA Christmas with Celia by James Nokise, Anya Tate-

and 2-11 January 2014 Kings of the Gym by Dave Armstrong 18 January – 15 February 2014 Miss Bronte by Mel Dodge 21 February – 15 March 2014 Pasefika by Stuart Hoar 22 February – 29 March 2014

and Susannah Smith-Roy

26-27 October 2013

Traces. Ghosts from the Archives

CHRISTCHURCH

by Tabitha Authur and Ryan Smith

The Court Theatre

Tut by Alice May Connolly

The Town Centre: Chisholm House

Cædmon’s Hymn curated by Jess Green, Counterpoint: St Pauls Cathedral 16 – 19 July 2014 Elephants in the Garden of Gethsemane by Jay Williams Phoenix NZ Performing Arts Allen Hall Theatre 15-16 March 2014

Other The Keys are in the Margarine by Cindy Diver, Susie Lawless

by Dan Bain, Canterbury Tour

and Stuart Young, Fortune Theatre

Neang Neak’s Legacy

12 August – 6 September 2013

Studio 19-29 June 2014

by Sarita Keo Kossamak So

The Great Art War script and lyrics

Stand Up Love by Gavin McGibbon

by Stuart Hoar, music and lyrics

Counterpoint Productions: Allen Hall

by Philip Norman

24-28 June 2014

Gryphon

Tawata Productions 25-28 September 2013 I Believe in Monsters

24 August – 14 September 2013

by Tabitha Arthur,

Hui by Mitch Tawhi Thomas

Kapitall Kids Theatre

by Helen Moulder and Sue Rider

1-12 October 2013 Racecars vs Cupcakes

Rita and Douglas by Dave Armstrong

by Moana Ete

Armstrong Creative 3-12 April 2014

Kapitall Kids Theatre 22 April – 3 May 2014

31 August – 21 September 2013 Snap! adapted by Fiona Farrell from Ngaio Marsh’s novel Photo Finish 21 September – 19 October 2013 Mean Jean the Pirate Queen

2b or nt 2b and 4 Billion Likes

No Fefe Collective

by Sarah Delahunty

The Dragon of Doom

10-14 December 2013

1st Gear Productions

by George Harach

17 May – 1 June 2014

Kapitall Kids Theatre

Postal by Lucy O’Brien

8-19 July 2014

26 October – 9 November 2013

by Michelanne Forster 2-12 October 2013

by Gary Henderson

2080 by Aroha White

Brophy and Co

Tawata Productions

Ships by Moana Ete

Rumpelstiltskin by Greg Cooper

23 January – 1 February 2014

25-28 June 2014

Backyard Theatre 9-19 July 2014

15-25 January 2014

35 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49

by Lara Fischel-Chisholm

Epic Journey to the Shops

Gloria’s Handbag 22 March – 19 April 2013

Nelson Arts Festival

Manning and Kate McGill

An Unseasonable Fall of Snow

Dunedin Fringe Festival

by Alex Lodge; Second Afterlife

The Judgement of Ben Alder

Job by Kate McGill

12-20 June 2014

New Work: Our Parents’ Children

by Renee Pritchard

23 November – 5 December 2013

Cat vs Dog by Dan Bain

An Awfully Big Adventure

19 October – 9 November 2013

Howell, Trick of the Light

29 March – 19 April 2014

by Luke Scott and Courtenay Trigg

Red Nose Reverie

Broken River by Ralph McCubbin

Peninsula by Gary Henderson

Young and Hungry Festival of

PocaHAUNTus by Melissa Billington

2-16 November 2013

Fortune Theatre

by Rachel Callinan

with Lyndee-Jane Rutherford

The 24/7 Project

Georgine: The Lodge, Ferrymead

DUNEDIN

Think He Is? by Jason Chasland

Pandemic by Rachel Callinan

by Natalia Oryshchuk and Kim

Club, 5-19 July 2014

Freya Desmarais

20-24 August 2013

17-26 October 2013

Whistle and I’ll Come to You

Citizen Gef by Uther Dean and

Moxey and Ania Upstill

Stages of Fear by various

17-21 December 2013

Heritage Park 11-25 May 2014

The ImpoSTAR: Who Does He

and Thomas Sainsbury

Two Productions, Vacant Space

Kidzstuff Theatre: Tararua Tramping

The Bacchanals

Dolly Mixture by Yvette Parsons

by Tom Eason and Alice Canton

Buskted by Chris Green

Slave Labour Productions

19-28 June 2014

26 February – 1 March 2014

The Powerful Event

The Frog Prince by Rachel Henry

Everything is Surrounded by Water

by Abby Howells, Discharge

Tawata: Productions Studio 77

Williams and Matt Loveranes

As We Enter by Chris Swney

Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die

9-19 July 2014

Te Rakau Hua o te Wao Tapu

A Tale of 3 Lonely Men and their

24-25 July 2014

The Battalion

23 April – 3 May 2014

by Helen Pearse-Otene

Bloodlines book and lyrics by

All Your Wants and Needs Fulfilled

by Sarah Delahunty

by Scott Koorey

NZ Fringe Festival

A Show About Super Heroes

Elusive Moa by Jamie McCaskill

The Emperor’s New Clothes

IMAGES PAGE 33: Michael Hurst and Brett O’Gorman in The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate by Margaret Mahy, adapted for the stage by Rachel Callinan, Auckland Theatre Company, Bruce Mason Theatre. Image: Michael Smith. PAGE 34: Ryan Richards in A Boy Wonder by Ryan Richards, Basement Theatre. Image: Andi Crown Photography. PAGE 35: Catherine Waller in The Creeps by Catherine Waller, Schkapf, Hollywood Fringe Festival, USA. Image: Lauren Lakis.


PLAYMARKET INFORMATION International licenses issued: 16

edBulletin

School/Tertiary performance licences issued: 135

A bulletin sent out to schools biannually encouraging the continued growth of New Zealand plays in education, offering resources and opportunities to teachers.

Scripts circulated: 1261 Scripts/drafts received: 334 Script assessments: 9 PUBLISHING NZ Play Series: Two Verbatim Plays

Website www.playmarket.org.nz

Verbatim by William Brandt. Devised by Miranda Harcourt and William Brandt.

COMPETITIONS AND PROJECTS

Portraits by Miranda Harcourt and Stuart McKenzie Stage Adventures: 8 Classroom Plays Spilt Milk by Claire Ahuriri

ABOVE: Kate Elliott and Barnie Duncan in Whistle Solo by Julie Hill, 99 Luftballons. Image: Stephen Bain.

Editor: Salesi Le’ota

Howling Huskies, Evil Penguins and the Antarctic Snowman's Very Sore and Very Itchy Carrot Nose by Mark Casson Vampires and Huskies by Mark Casson

Playmarket Award Winner 2013: Gary Henderson Bruce Mason Award Winner 2013: Jamie McCaskill Adam NZ Play Award Winner: Seed by Elisabeth Easther Runners-up: Hīkoi by Nancy Brunning and Mule by Pip Hall

Cinderella and the Pirates by Richard Finn

Best Play by a Woman Playwright: Seed by Elisabeth Easther

PLAYMARKET SERVICES

Sapai and the Yam Snatchers by Michelanne Forster and Leilani Unasa

Best Play by a Māori Playwright: Hīkoi by Nancy Brunning

Agent

Space Circus by Holly Gooch

On behalf of clients the Playmarket agency issues

A Story of Rona by Steph Matuku

and manages performance licences, advises on

Boss of the Beach by Philippa Werry

Highly Commended: Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys by Sam Brooks and The Mooncake and the Kumara by Mei-Lin Te Puea Hansen

and negotiates commission and collaboration

Series editor: David O’Donnell | Design: Sorelle Cansino | Editing and Production: Whitireia Publishing

agreements, manages royalty payments, maintains an archive of playwrights’ work and materials related to it and circulates their plays to producers in New Zealand and internationally. Advisor Playmarket offers advice to playwrights and producers, a raft of development resources such as clinics, readings, and events; and industry discourse, partnerships and networks. Bookshop A comprehensive store of New Zealand plays. Every published New Zealand play in print and

eBook: Best Playwriting Book Ever Roger Hall’s classic The Theatre Writer’s Guide: Hot Tips for Good Scripts revised and expanded. eBook: Caring for your Theatre Archives NZ Theatre Archive’s handbook reissued and updated for the digital age. Playmarket Annual Documenting and discussing the major developments for New Zealand drama on our stages for New Zealand and international readers.

an extensive catalogue of plays in manuscript

Editor: Mark Amery | Design: Sorelle Cansino

form available to download.

Professional performance licences issued: 100

eBulletin Published monthly and distributed via email, the eBulletin is full of news and opportunities for playwrights and those interested in New Zealand plays. Published on the first Friday of each month February – December.

Community performance licences issued: 121

Editor: Salesi Le’ota

FACTS AND FIGURES 1 July 2013 – 30 June 2014

Playwrights b4 25 Competition 2014 Winner: Hanged by Jess Sayer Playmarket Plays for the Young Competition 2013 Winners: Eloise in the Middle by Emily Duncan and Space Circus by Holly Gooch (3-8 year olds) A Story of Rona by Steph Matuku (8-12 year olds) The Wayfinder by Joey Moncarz (Teenagers) Brown Ink 2014: Girl on a Corner by Victor Rodger Te Puhi by Cian Elyse White Asian Ink 2014: Who is Sada Abe? Part One: Bullfight of Love by Nathan Joe Playmarket Playwrights’ Retreat, Otaki 17-24 June 2014 Bruce Brown, Uther Dean, Maya Hammarsal, Holly Hunter, Emma Kinane, Rose Kirkup, Alex Lodge, Gavin McGibbon, Phil Ormsby and Chris Summers (Playwriting Australia Exchange Writer) Rebecca Mason Executive Coaching: Kathryn Burnett

“Talk properly, John. The way they do on the mainland. The way they do in Palmerston North.” Arcadian Nights / Philip Braithwaite

PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49 : 36


CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Sarah Boddy in Seed by Elisabeth Easther at the Adam NZ Play Awards, Circa Theatre. Image: Philip Merry; Stacey Leilua, Nora Aati, Stuart Hoar, Anapela Polataivao and Vela Manusaute workshopping Beef by Vela Manusaute, Under Construction 2013, Q Theatre. Image: Adam Baines; Playmarket staff past and present at the 2013 Playmarket Accolades, Hannah Playhouse. Image: Philip Merry.

Young and Hungry Playwrights’ Initiative 2014: Uncle Minotaur by Dan Bain Second Afterlife by Ralph McCubbin Howell Our Parents’ Children by Alex Lodge Robert Lord Cottage Residencies: Melinda Szymanik (Creative New Zealand University of Otago Children’s Writer in Residence), Kip Chapman, and Marie Duncan

CLINICS, READINGS AND WORKSHOPS 1 July 2013 – 30 June 2014 The Pink Hammer by Michele Amas, clinic The Mercy Clause by Philip Braithwaite, clinic Con by Gavin McGibbon, clinic Blind Eye by April Phillips, reading Caffeine Warriors by Tom Scott, reading Max Gate by Damien Wilkins, reading (Writers Week, NZ Festival and Auckland Writers Festival) Writing Audio Drama Workshops with Adam Macaulay, Auckland and Wellington (in association with Radio New Zealand) Under Construction 18 – 20 July 2013 Playwriting Masterclass with Jane Bodie Industry Forum Early Development Showings: Give Up by Michael Galvin

Beef by Vela Manusaute Speak by Jess Sayer Playreadings: Genesis Falls by Jean Betts 8 Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography by Declan Greene CONTACT US Wellington office Suite 4/35 – 38 Cambridge Terrace PO Box 9767, Wellington 6141 Director: Murray Lynch director@playmarket.org.nz +64 4 382 8464 Licensing Administrator: Nick Doherty (until 30 June 2014) Claire O’Loughlin (from 30 June 2014) info@playmarket.org.nz +64 4 382 8462 ext 1

Playmarket thanks our partners for their support: Creative New Zealand; ASB Community Trust; Adam Foundation; Auckland Writers Festival; The Basement; Bruce Mason Estate; Capital E National Theatre for Children; Circa Theatre; Drama New Zealand; Downstage Theatre Society; FAME Trust; Fortune Theatre; Hannah Playhouse; Massive Company; Matariki Development Festival; Museum Art Hotel; Musical Theatre New Zealand; NZ Book Council; NZ Festival; NZ Festival: Writers Week; NZ Players Theatre Trust; NZ Writers Guild; Playwriting Australia; Q Theatre; Radio New Zealand; Rebecca Mason; Robert Lord Cottage Trust; Script to Screen; Stage South; Taki Rua; TAPAC; Tawata Productions; Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre; Theatre New Zealand; Whitireia Publishing; Young and Hungry Arts Trust.

Client Promotion: Salesi Le’ota clientpromotion@playmarket.org.nz +64 4 382 8462 ext 2 Auckland office Suite F5/99 Queen Street PO Box 5034, Wellesley Street, Auckland Script Advisor: Stuart Hoar scripts@playmarket.org.nz +64 9 365 2648

Correction: Jess Sayer was a co-winner of the Playwrights b4 25 competition 2013 for her play Elevator. Her play Speak was shortlisted in the same competition but was incorrectly reported as the winner in Playmarket Annual #48.

“I’ve been poring over the great big book of wankers, and I’ve made my shortlist.” Seed / Elizabeth Easther

37 : PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49


GETTING YOUR PLAYS ON Playmarket Script Advisor Stuart Hoar In an ideal world a playwright would send his or

of co-writers, devisers, co-creators and actor/

her script to a professional theatre, gracefully

writers as well as suggestions for ways to

accept the theatre’s enthusiastic offer to produce

avoid disputes and resentment when working

the play as soon as possible then sit back and

collaboratively. It includes some simple draft

wait for the royalties (collected for the playwright

contracts to aid discussion and negotiation. It’s

by Playmarket) to roll in.

useful for all parties to have clear understandings

In the real world, as we know, it’s a little more

set in place before the creation of work begins.

complicated. It’s extremely rare and most

The page also has good advice about the process

unlikely that a professional theatre will accept

of applying for a Creative New Zealand grant and

an unsolicited play script and produce it more

useful links to various theatres, such as Circa,

or less as is.

BATS and ATC regarding their information on

Playmarket’s aim is to aid playwrights to get their

putting shows on, programming processes and

scripts produced and to encourage theatres to

literary programmes. There’s also a link to Radio

produce New Zealand scripts; in fact more than

New Zealand’s drama department, which manages

2000 plays are sent out by Playmarket each

to commission some twelve to seventeen hours of

year, not just to professional theatres but also

local drama a year.

to community theatres and to schools.

Playmarket’s aim is also to develop good working

Playmarket encourages all theatre producers,

relationships between producers and playwrights.

teachers, directors and actors to come directly

More often than not, if a theatre or producer does

to Playmarket for advice and information about

choose to produce a script written by a local

New Zealand scripts. Anyone looking for potential

playwright then some sort of ongoing relationship

scripts to produce should go to the Playmarket

will be initiated. Hopefully (like all relationships) it

Home Page and click on ‘Script Search’. This

will be one based on mutual respect, be creatively

page has a useful number of variables with which

stimulating and mutually satisfying.

to refine searches.

If you are a Playmarket client don’t forget to let

But back to playwrights and their quest to get

us know to whom and when you have sent

their plays on: on Playmarket’s website there

scripts. It’s preferable to let us know before you

is a ‘Production Advice’ page. Included here is

do this as we don’t want to double up on this

advice for playwrights working with groups who

process. And we also have useful information

are devising their own work (and of course what

about the institutions and people who will receive

group of devisers wouldn’t want to work with a

your plays (both here and for overseas producers)

playwright?). You will find access to a very

which can help you in a much more precise

useful guide from The Play Press on the rights

targeting of your script.

The other page on Playmarket’s website I’d like to recommend is ‘Opportunities’, with information about Playmarket’s competitions (encouragingly all the winning plays for the last three Adam NZ Play Awards have had professional productions as have three of the runner-up plays from the past three years). There’s also information about Playmarket’s Brown and Asian Ink opportunities and links to theatres looking for plays to develop with an aim to production, as well as links to various international opportunities and competitions.

“In the real world, as we know, it’s a little more complicated” And finally, as we all know, there are many more plays than available slots for productions. Be proactive, be diligent, be tenacious, be patient. “Artists know that diligence counts as much, if not more, as inspiration; in art as in politics, patience counts as much as revolution.” Tony Kushner.


THE LAST WORD

Kate Louise Elliott on being better at the business in show business Artistically, we do things in this country that are ground-breaking. We are really good at innovation. I could name countless practitioners and their projects here. We are also extremely good at supporting each other artistically. We will lend skills and talents. We are a small family, and expect that we will have done for us what we have done for others. If one project enjoys success we all benefit, right? Where we do ourselves a disservice is sometimes in the business side of our show business. We sit under a cloud of not really being respected or taken seriously by the government or civvies (civilians). The general public still has a perception that NZ theatre is substandard. I wonder if to a certain degree we find some comfort in this. We don’t have to take ourselves as seriously as we might. It means we don’t have to be smarter with the business. Yet if we don’t act smart, we can’t expect to be treated as seriously as other businesses. How many of us really understand tax, public liability insurance, sponsorship and complimentaries and what they really cost us? Do we understand how much ACC, insurance and tax costs us and are we accounting for that when we set our ticket prices? I see too often for example the value of tickets given away is far more than the value of the sponsorship given in exchange. We give away the one source of income we have. I think we should have a standardised $5 ticket rate instead of comps (this is the bare minimum for small independent companies). Comps can become a thing of the past. This rate is affordable instead of asking for a comp: 50 $5 tickets is $250 we were going to give away. What is Creative New Zealand’s role? We’re pretty used to blaming CNZ if we don’t get funding – I’ve certainly been very vocal in the past – without sometimes really understanding the process. How about Playmarket’s role? Sure, information on funding can need its own tertiary course to explain itself, the same with

Knowledge is key. Knowing and understanding leads to making things work better for us. We don’t place enough importance on fully servicing our projects. We skimp on crewing and teching. Producers are sometimes still a last minute add-on. We fill roles with non-qualified or inexperienced people when we don’t get enough funding to cover them, or we work three or more roles to get the job done. We think we are being smart, but nobody cares when we do this. The shortfalls are visible. We are really good at letting theatre-savvy people know about projects. We aren’t always great at getting to people who have no idea about theatre. Beautiful, expensive posters are a work of art themselves rather than marketing collateral. Do we really know who we are trying to reach? Audience development needs to be renamed Marketing 101. It isn’t about developing an audience – they are there – it’s about us reaching them. I am totally guilty of all of this myself. I had no idea about marketing when I first arrived as Artistic Director at Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North. I just wanted us everywhere. Thankfully, I had a strong marketing manager who’d had no experience with theatre. This was actually a really smart thing. If the marketing didn’t grab her who was it talking to? I also had a really smart business manager who demanded we show true cost. It wasn’t about anyone doing three jobs for the price of one. Three sets of skills needed to be accounted for. With an ever-increasing multicultural society and the greater need for us to learn to understand each other, theatre is an investment in community growth. If we get smart with our business, we are an asset our society can rely on, rather than ‘support’.

“Do we really know who we are trying to reach?”

I want to see the plays of the week on national news the actual ‘plays’ of the week’ – a rundown of what is on offer in each centre. I would like to see New Zealand advertising going to the theatre as the most normal thing in the world.

book title I’ve ever seen is GST made easy).

I’m in awe of the work that practitioners in this country create. I want the world to see it. I want us to own the business.

Perhaps we need to look to our senior, successful

Maybe now Auckland has the critical mass

companies to share knowledge as well?

to support the next generation of playwrights.

insurance, ACC and GST (I think the funniest

ABOVE: Jonathan Brugh and Barnie Duncan in The Thing from the Place by Theatre Beating, Concert Chamber, The Edge. Image: Sacha Stejko.

“You’re not in Palmy now. She’ll never see you here.” Girls Weekend Escape / Alison Quigan PLAYMARKET ANNUAL 2014 : NO. 49 : 40


Profile for Playmarket Incorporated

Playmarket Annual NO.49: 2014  

The magazine of New Zealand plays and playwrights.

Playmarket Annual NO.49: 2014  

The magazine of New Zealand plays and playwrights.

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