August 22, 2008


Auckland Theatre Company Literary Unit announces the line-up for this year’s developmental workshops, celebrating 7 years of actively supporting New Zealand playwrights.

Over the last 7 years the Literary Unit has worked with 55 different playwrights and 100’s of actors to bring over 70 new New Zealand works off the page and onto the stage. As a proud sponsor of ATC Literary Unit, New Zealand Post is delighted to be playing an active role in bringing New Zealand stories to the stage.

The fantastic 2008 line-up includes Yvette Parson’s intimate solo tragi-comedy SILENT NIGHT, veteran journalist Simon Cunliffe’s absorbing newsroom drama, THE TRUTH GAME and prolific playwright Dave Armstrong’s hilarious what-if- we-were colonized-by-the-French farce, LE SUD.
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by Yvette Parsons, (Auckland)
Directed by Margaret-Mary Hollins

It’s Christmas Eve and somewhere in Sunnynook Irene McMunn is throwing a party.

She’s wrapped the presents, sorted the tree, hung her festive decorations and now she’s waiting for the guests to arrive. Make Irene’s Xmas Eve one to remember and join her as she shares a lifetime of memories and throws in some Xmas craft tips (it’s amazing what you can do with mistletoe and toast!). Silent Night is a play about independence in old age, about those who’ve slipped off the radar and characters you’ll never forget.

75 MINUTES – no interval

Tuesday 7 October, 8pm
Friday 10 October, 8pm
Saturday 11 October, 2pm
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By Dave Armstrong, (Wellington)

Commissioned by The Wanaka Festival of Colour

"C’est terrible! You can’t walk down the main street of Queenstown anymore and hear French being spoken – it’s all foreigners gabbling away. Gerard Depardieu and his film star mates have come over and built vineyards…"

Le Sud imagines New Zealand colonized in a completely different fashion, splitting in 1839 to the British North Zealand and the French speaking South – Le Sud. Thanks to abundant cheap hydro-power and farming subsidies, Le Sud flourishes, but free-market economies and a civil war with the Tuhoe nation mean North Zealand is a third world backwater. So a North Zealand delegation heads to Le Sud to ask for foreign aid and cheap power. What follows is a tense round of negotiations combined with elements of classic French farce with many romances, quarrels and leadership challenges along the way.

90 MINUTES – no interval

Wednesday 8 October, 8pm
Friday 10 October, 10pm
Saturday 11 October, 5pm
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By Simon Cunliffe, (Dunedin)
Directed by Gary Henderson

Frank Stone thinks he knows the truth, but in a rapidly changing online world, is the truth enough?

The Truth Game is a sharp new comedy from Dunedin based journalist Simon Cunliffe. Frank Stone is a hard nosed night editor returning from a quick holiday to find change is afoot at The Advocate. Sassy new marketing executive Belinda demands more bang for her advertising buck, Ralf is half way through his wine column and half way through a bottle of Pinot, while his boss, Bill is dodging the issue and there’s no decent story for the first edition. Then the news comes in off the wires from the Middle East. Now Frank Stone is in his element, but tonight’s deadline will throw up more intrigue than he could possibly foresee.

Thursday 9 October, 8pm
Saturday 11 October, 8pm
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Auckland Theatre Company’s Literary Unit – 7 years, 70 plays

Auckland Theatre Company’s Literary Unit is the powerhouse behind many of the plays premiered by Auckland Theatre Company, bringing the words off the page and on to the stage. The Unit was established in 2001 with the goal of discovering and developing work by New Zealand playwrights, and its output in these last seven years has been nothing short of prodigious.

Over 70 plays have been nurtured through the unit to production stage, including HATCH, MY NAME IS GARY COOPER, WHERE WE ONCE BELONGED, THE DAYLIGHT ATHIEST and now SHIP SONGS. More than fifty-five established and emerging writers have benefited from the Unit’s processes, playwrights including Albert Belz, Michael Galvin, Vivienne Plumb, Stephanie Johnson, Gary Henderson, Pip Hall, Stephen Sinclair, Victor Rodger and Tom Scott to name but a few.

The Unit is continually working through scripts that are unsolicited as well as those forwarded to ATC from Playmarket, supporting the new and existing writers by providing script analysis and dramaturgy, playreadings and workshops.

The Literary Unit hosts monthly PLAYREADINGS where the public are invited along to professionally rehearsed readings to give vital feedback to the writer.

"Last night was the first time I had attended a playreading and just wanted to say WOW! On so many levels Ian Hughes’s talent is mesmerising – both acting and writing! It was great to learn about the processes behind the scenes also. I took 2 friends along who have never been to any Auckland Theatre Company productions – they were blown away! Thank you for the opportunity." 

Liz Binns, Attendee of SHIP SONGS Playreading Session, 2007

Once a year the company hosts THE NEXT STAGE, Auckland Theatre Company’s Annual Festival of new works in development. The new plays for the 2008 NEXT STAGE have been announced and once again represent some of the finest new plays on offer – SILENT NIGHT By Yvette Parsons, THE TRUTH GAME by Simon Cunliffe, and Dave Armstrong’s new farce – LE SUD. These plays will be fully workshopped prior to their presentation as semi-staged readings at The Maidment Theatre Studio, October 7 – 11.

For the last two years the Unit has been supported by New Zealand Post. The impetus that drives people to actually sit down and write a play these days fits well with New Zealand Post’s belief that the age old art of writing is something that should be celebrated. New Zealand Post are the presenting sponsor of the NEXT STAGE, SHIP SONGS and ATC’s end of year musical THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE – which funnily enough is all about words.

"ATC’s Literary Unit helped me transform WHERE WE ONCE BELONGED from my lumpy, over-written first draft into a highly successful and popular festival play. Through their script development process, ATC’s Literary Unit shows that if theatres encourage and develop playwrights early on, then they reap the benefits when these same playwrights become successful." Dave Armstrong (WHERE WE ONCE BELONGED, NUI SILA, KING & COUNTRY, THE TUTOR)

"The ATC Literary Unit does invaluable, necessary work which continues to foster and support New Zealand talent. After a not inconsiderable amount of time being stuck in the darkness with my play MY NAME IS GARY COOPER, the ATC workshop helped me see one of the most beautiful things a writer can ever hope to see: light at the end of the tunnel. Fa’afetai lava!" Victor Rodger (MY NAME IS GARY COOPER, SONS, RANTERSTANTRUM)

The Playwrights
Albert Belz, Albert Wendt ,Brian McNeil, Brian Sergent, Bronwyn Elsemore, Carl Nixon, Craig Thaine, Damien Wilkins, Daniel Gourley, Dean Parker, Denis Edwards, Elizabeth Easther, Ellie Smith. Elspeth Sandys, Fiona Samuel, Frances Edmond, Gabe McDonnell, Gary Henderson, Geoff Allen, Geoff Chapple, Geraldine Brophy, Gordon McLauchlan, Ian Hughes, Jacques Strauss, James Griffin, Jeffrey Thomas ,Josie Ryan ,Kathryn Burnett, Nick Ward, Kathryn Van Beek, Kip Chapman, Kirk Torrance, Lawrence Dolan, Margot McRae, Michael Galvin, Mike Chunn, Murray Lynch, Peter Cox, Pip Hall, Robert Tripe, Sally Sutton, Sandi Hall, Sia Figiel, Dave Armstrong ,Simon Cunliffe, Simon Wilson, Stephanie Johnson, Stephen Papps, Stephen Sinclair, Stuart Hoar, Terry Swanson, Tom Scott, Victor Rodger, Vivienne Plumb and Yvette Parsons

The Plays to date:
A Ladies Man, Advance in Order, Angelo’s Song, Being Here, Bloodlines, Crazy Weather, Disgrace, Drinking Games, Finding Murdoch, Flintlock Musket, Flora, Genesis, Goodnight Elaine, Goodnight Nurse, Greek Fire, Gunsmoke, Hatch or The Plight of the Penguins (previously titled The Oil Factor), Homeland, I Remember, La Cumparsita (re-titled Walking backwards in High Heels), Le Sud, Loyal, Making Friends, Mary’s Gospel, Masquerade, Mike and Virginia, Mother, Mulcahay’s Choice, My Name is Gary Cooper, New Gold Dream, Peninsula, Predicament, Public Sex, Rushton Roulette, Ship Songs, Silent Night, Sister WonderWoman, Small God, Solo, Station to Station, Strange Children, Swan Song, The Bach, The Bellbird, The Big Picture, The Cape, The Cray’s Return, The Daylight Atheist, The Italian Album, The Language of Angels, The Last days of Frank Sargeson – Writer, The Love of Humankind, The Ocean Star, The Orderly Business of Life, The Revisionist, The Secret Life of Mr’s Viljee, The Songmaker’s Chair, The Truth Game, The Undiscovered Ocean, The Venetian Bride (adapted from a story by Maurice Shadbolt), The Viagra Monologues, The Wife Who Spoke Japanese in her Sleep, The Woman Who loved a Mountain, Then Comes Love, Tight, Very Lucky People, Where We Once Belonged, Willy Away, Year of Grants and Yours Truly

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