Thursday November 9, 2017
Mountaineering women of different eras reach new heights Wellington playwright Jan Bolwell’s new play Taking the High Ground delves into the lives of two outstanding climbers. Australian Freda du Faur was the first woman to scale Aoraki/ Mount Cook in 1910 while Lydia Bradey, a New Zealander, was the first woman to scale Mount Everest solo and without oxygen in 1988. Jan pushes the women together across time to confront each other about their climbing worlds and the challenges they face in both their professional and personal lives. Taking the High Ground is
presented in a very physical way; much of the action takes place high up on a scaffolded set. “I am also a dancer and choreographer and I want the audience to experience the sheer physicality of climbing. It’s a great challenge for the actors,” Jan says. Lydia Bradey, who will be played by Emily Regtien, is still a high-profile member of the mountaineering world and gave Jan permission to use her story. Aro Valley’s Isobel MacKinnon will play the younger part of Freda while Jan will play the older Freda. It has been a busy year for Jan
Bolwell. She directed the hit show Destination Beehive 2017 at Circa Theatre, and has just completed a national tour of her play Bill Massey’s Tourists about her grandfather’s WW1 experiences. She hopes to tour this new play too. “I think it is a tale New Zealanders will relate to. Climbing is in our blood and we have a fantastic heritage in this sport that goes well beyond the familiar Sir Edmund Hillary story. “It’s time we focussed on our outstanding women climbers too.” Jan has a strong team helping
Isobel MacKinnon, who plays Freda, and Emily Regtien, who plays Lydia, in Taking the High Ground. PHOTOS: Supplied
to bring her play to the stage, including Java Dance Company’s Sacha Copland of Island Bay as choreographer.
Taking the High Ground’s premiere season is on December 5-9 at Bats Theatre. Tickets can be purchased through bats.co.nz.
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Cook Strait News 09-11-17