DAY THREE – Sunday 17th September
Performance DAY !!
Our Mother Miriam is not well – the Indian dinner from Saturday night is cited as the culprit. We are all praying that she is well enough to perform this afternoon. So we have a very leisurely morning. Ashley and I eat brunch at a little place called Tomboys – AMAZINGLY good food and really healthy too.
Line run late morning – everyone seems focussed. Wait the Wellington WIND is back – not sure how Dr Livingstone’s hair will fare in the high wind and rain on the way to the theatre. We’re all packed and ready to go – props, costumes and scripts in our bags and off to the Hannah Playhouse. There are 4 plays in the afternoon session before us – 2 Youth plays and 2 open plays. One of the Youth plays I’ve seen before on the SE Qld Circuit – In the Tank. We are the last performance of the session just prior to the adjudication.
It’s a bit unnerving performing in another country without the comfort of all our familiar set pieces and props but as we get into costume things start to become more comfortable. The church bell tolls and we’re up – the 45mins flashes past and just like that it’s all over and lots of compliments for the performance. Sunshine Live and RMT – we have done you proud! I am sitting in front of one of the Youth cast groups – they loved the play, the suspense and tension.
It’s wonderful to hear the organisers talk about their plans for 2018 – announcing NZ Theatre month September 2018. I’m so impressed to see such collaboration and such a structured approach to NZ drama at a national level. And then the adjudication and even we are presented with a certificate – which is so thoughtful.
Casual dinner at the pub next door then back to our hotel for a celebratory drink and an early night.
We are all left thinking about the wonderful plays we have seen and the great friends we have made in theatre. What innovations can we take back to our own groups and region?
Agnes of God Team, in New Zealand
DAY TWO – Saturday 16th September
The wind has gone and it’s a bright, clear day – perfect for a walk. We decided on a late breakfast and discovered a great local café which interestingly had the most amazing menu including “boozey shakes” like Silky Johnston (Dark Rum, Salt Caramel, Vanilla and Honeycomb). It’s way too early for a piratical diet but maybe we’ll get a chance to try one of these amazing drinks before we leave?
We have been enrolled into afternoon workshops at the Whitireia Performance Centre and Ashley and I head off to our “STAGE COMBAT” workshop as Richard heads off to Analysing the Text and Deborah joins Improvisation. Our workshop coach Allan Henry has worked on movies and TV shows as well as stage and takes us through how to stage fights and falls and stay safe while telling a story. My attempts at throwing him end in near disaster – as I’m falling and he’s falling all I can think of is how I can deliver my lines as Martha Livingstone from a wheelchair. But all’s good – I survive the workshop and we head back to the hotel to get ready for our evening at The Hannah Playhouse.
Richard has a gift from Sunshine Coast Live – a traditional gift from the Gubbi Gubbi tribe in Australia – to present to the Maori Elders to open the event and then we sit back to enjoy 4 of the finalist plays. There are 2 youth plays and 2 open plays. I am exceptionally moved by a play written by a NZ local called “Bittersweet Love” a script that I would like to be able to take back to our theatre and also enjoy “All My Love Paul” – which I have seen before on the SE Qld Circuit at the Sunshine Coast in 2015 and where it took out a number of awards. This production was also extremely well executed and enjoyable. It’s interesting to see that we share good scripts across the ditch.
- Madeleine Johns.
DAY ONE – Friday 15th September
An early start for everyone off to Wellington on NZ 7914 – departing at 7.35am and arriving at 1pm. Landing at Wellington Airport is often very hairy and today was no exception landing into 90klm winds with the plane rocking from side to side - all the passengers cheered as we successfully touched down.
We arrived at our hotel The Apollo Lodge – a quaint hotel on the side of a steep hill – well after lunch and after settling in we set off to explore the city. It was incredibly windy as we walked along the main street noting the myriad of bars and restaurants and eventually settling on a café called ENIGMA where we enjoyed fantastic coffee and cake. A bit of shopping rounded out the late afternoon and then back to the hotel. We decided it was definitely too cold and blowy to walk back to the city so we opted for the local Thai restaurant a block away for dinner. We celebrated the start of our NZ adventure with a lovely dinner and a great bottle of Cloudy Bay sparkling and we are excited to anticipate the next few days of cultural exchange. We are really looking forward to seeing what the NZ Theatre Festival is like, the standard of the plays and understanding how they have managed to bring all their festivals under the one umbrella.
- Madeleine Johns