February 20, 2009


For the past two years a passionate team of theatre practitioners have been creating edgy, challenging and dynamic theatre. In its 2009 season, The Forge at The Court Theatre continues to proudly present a line-up of contemporary theatre that will challenge, stimulate and entertain audiences.

Artistic Director Ross Gumbley feels that the Eureka Trust 2009 Forge Season presents a vivid mix of contrasts while still holding the high production standards and quality of material that The Forge has become renowned for. "Our aim every year is to keep raising the bar for ourselves," says Gumbley "and this season offers fantastic opportunities to explore what theatre is capable of."

Newly-appointed Associate Artistic Director Lara Macgregor will be directing many of the plays in the Eureka Trust season. Macgregor agrees that "the previous Forge seasons have brought new ideas, new audiences, new playwrights and new chemistry into the space. My new role enables me to build upon The Forge’s existing foundations while taking the lead in shaping its future."

The 2009 season contains a wide range of new and contemporary work from New Zealand and overseas.

  • The first play in the Eureka Trust 2009 Season is THE TUTOR, by NZ stage and screen writer Dave Armstrong. This comedy of (bad) manners, modern education and parenthood follows the clash of personalities when a ruthless businessman hires a left-wing teacher to save his self-involved son’s math’s failing grades. This critically acclaimed, "laugh out loud, upwardly mobile kiwi satire" (Newstalk ZB) launches the season on 13 March and runs until 11 April.
  • The Court Jesters keep the laughs coming with THE EARLY EARLY LATE SHOW from 30 April – 9 May. With Scared Scriptless about to enter its twenty-first year, this is the perfect time for audiences to see why Christchurch is home to New Zealand’s longest-running comedy show (while still getting home before 10pm) and see the Jesters create scenes, stories and songs out of thin air using only their wits in an interactive extravaganza.
  • MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE shifts the tone to the intensely personal. Rachel Corrie was a young peace activist killed in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli military bulldozer while defending the home of a Palestinian family. Adapted from her own emails and letters by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner, this one-woman play is a moving testimonial from a woman who lived – and died – according to her beliefs. This powerful and provocative drama stirred controversy in the US when a planned Broadway season was cancelled, leading to allegations of censorship due to the political nature of the piece. This NZ première season runs from 29 May – 27 June and will include a tour of local high schools.
  • ANGELS is an exciting new production presented by The Forge in conjunction with Pacific Underground as part of the 2009 Christchurch Arts Festival. A world première, this Samoan comedy is a journey of family, music, friendship, loyalty and forgiveness that will enjoy a season in Aranui before transferring to The Forge from 22 July – 15 August. Robert Gilbert (of the Aranui Theatre Company) will direct.
  • A TRUE ACCOUNT OF THE REGRETTABLE CIRCUMSTANCES AND MYSTERIOUS DEMISE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE explores the mystery of Poe’s last days – the celebrated author disappeared for almost a week before being found raving on the streets of Baltimore and dying in hospital three days later. Commissioned for The Forge, this debut full-length play from Christchurch improviser, comedian and writer Jeff Clark creates a scarily funny tale of madness, murder and a stuffed raven. …POE opens on 11 September and runs until 10 October.
  • BACKSTAGE is the second world première that The Forge has secured from English playwright Roy Smiles, author of Year of the Rat (The Press’ Play of the Year 2007). Smiles proves his versatility as a writer with this farce set backstage in a 1930s music hall. The Liebman family have toured their hit vaudeville show around the US for twenty years, but when you have a decidedly dysfunctional family of womanisers, nymphomaniacs and borderline psychotics – not to mention actors – sooner or later things are going to explode. BACKSTAGE bursts on stage (under the direction of Ross Gumbley) from 30 October – 28 November.
  • Ringing in the end of the Forge Season is the third season of The Court Jesters’ A VERY MERRY SCRIPTLESS. After last year’s take on Scrooge, the Jesters go for the reason for the season with an improvised recreation (and reinterpretation) of the Nativity Story guided by audience suggestions. Full of irreverent charm, this is a festive treat for all ages to enjoy.

In addition to the seven scripted pieces, The Forge will continue to host initiatives to foster new theatre. Rehearsed Readings are scheduled during August for three scripts in development:

  • Two Fish ‘n a Scoop by Carl Nixon (Sunday 9 August, 4pm)
  • Jack and Jill by Patrick Evans (Sunday 16 August, 4pm)
  • Don’t Mention Casablanca by Michelanne Forster (Sunday 23 August, 4pm)

As part of its commitment to fostering new theatre, tickets to these Forge Readings (followed by forums where the playwright and practitioners discuss the play with the audience) are only $6 each.

Another initiative is the Young Playwrights’ Workshop, to be held later in the year, fostering the next generation of talent. Similarly, several other projects are being planned to make The Forge "the place to be" for the act of creation and of moving forward.

As part of making theatre more accessible to the next generation, The Forge has also started a new initiative: The 30-Under Club, in which young theatregoers can receive a membership card that entitles them to special offers – in some cases being able to purchase tickets for $12. "For the Under-30s we’re competing with a wide range of multimedia" says Macgregor "so we’ve made it cheaper than a night at the movies."

2009 also marks the introduction of the Forge Ahead offer, where patrons can reserve tickets for any scripted show in the season at a discounted price. "With many patrons already coming to every show in each Forge season we wanted to reward that dedication and devotion – as well as make it easy for them to get their friends hooked as well" says Gumbley.

Macgregor is looking forward to the challenges of the 2009 Forge season and is certain audiences will find plenty to respond to "it’s a season of excitement, fun, danger and a year of unforgettable theatre."


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