March 18, 2010

Your 10 Greatest NZ Plays Ever?

Aaron Alexander              posted 3 Oct 2009, 04:28 PM

 Just for fun, eh?

Here’s mine:

1….Foreskin’s Lament  – Ambitous yet accessible, subversive yet popular, a kick to the nation’s psychic goolies.

2….Middle Age Spread – The start of the phenomenon. A generation (the one that still bankrolls the biz) sees itself in the mirror.

3….Wai Ora – A beautiful mixof the poetic and the prosaic as Māori & Pakeha meet (once again) on a beach.

4….End of the Golden Weather – Legitimised Our Stories in the public eye.

5….Krishnan’s Dairy – Classical technique creates magic within the most everyday of locations.

6….Joyful & Triumphant – A Pakeha  Xmas Carol.

7….No. 2 –  A gifted storyteller takes the audience by the hand into strangely familiar territory.

8….Strange Resting Places – Lyrica, funny and charming and moving. War, eh?

9…Skin Tight – Earthy eroticism. Farming, eh?

10…Have Car Will Travel – A personal pick. A seedy road trip into a race relations nightmare. Excoriating.

That’s mine. Obviously there are hundreds of NZ plays I have neither seen or read. I’m no expert, that’s for sure. Just thought it might get people thinking, and I look forward to being reminded, or introduced to my glaring oversights!

nik smythe          posted 4 Oct 2009, 09:09 PM / edited 11 Dec 2009, 01:37 PM

The Pohutakawa Tree – the first great Kiwi play (?) by the godfather of NZ theatre ; End of the Golden Weather is worthy of note although originally it wasn’t so much a play as a sort of dissertation; it has of course been produced with a full cast since, to great effect)

No. 2 (favourite Toa Fraser so far)

Luv (favourite Sainsbury ” “)

Lovepuke – Duncan Sarkies ; like Luv, not essentially Kiwi but

Moahunting – Kate Parker and Julie Nolan’s devised work ; admittedly I liked the first version more than the later ‘developed’ one.  Their masterpiece ‘the Arrival’ only doesn’t make the list because it’s less specifically indigenous.

Taku Mangai (My favourite theatrical autobiography, by William Davis)

Wednesday to Come (Only play by Renee I have read or seen)

Hide and Seek – Kouka and Ahipene – as good as if not better than Waiora

Skin Tight – no such list could be without it

Apollo 13 – I realize the only things Kiwi about it are the people who made it and their remarkable ingenuity, but it’s quite simply the most impressively original theatre I’d experienced for a long time, from anywhere in the world

Needless to say I’m by no means committed to these choices.  I purposely limited it to one per author to spread it out a bit more, and left out Foreskin’s Lament to give lesser known contenders a look-in.  In other words, it’s a bit rigged.

And of course, like Aaron and anyone, there is much I haven’t seen both current and classic – e.g. I’ve yet to see the celebrated works by Jacob Rajan or Briar Grace-Smith.  Plus I’ve also seen many new works with the potential to be worked into enduring classics, but time will tell…

Katrina Chandra                posted 7 Oct 2009, 04:46 PM / edited 7 Oct 2009, 04:50 PM

Now, 10 is hard and there are many, many great NZ plays but I will list some that had the most impact on me personally for whatever reason.

The Big Blue Planet Earth Show by Gary Henderson (my favourite play ever, ever, saw when I was 19)

Spirals of the Mind by Denise Walsh (hugely impacting when i was 16)

The Hansard Show by Roger Hall (saw when I was 16 and was amazed by this introduction to politics)

No.2 by Toa Fraser (26, one of the highlights of my work with Sharyn Duncan)

How to Score Drugs by Michael Dwyer (one of my best lighting designs ever, great play)

The Flying Clouds by Jo Randerson (Jo’s work always sems to transcend available paradigms of reference for me)

Flush by Kate McDermott (so of its time for me)

A Man, A Woman and a Potato by Duncan Sarkies (genius at Allan Hall)

Cyrano by Theatre at Large (seminal; highly original and influencing the development of future events…)

Idol Adultery by Jeff Addison (can we get Simon B to direct theatre again?)

So yeah, there are many, many others and these may not be what others would call ‘the best’ but they are responsible for my own personal development and continued involvement in NZ theatre.

Pip Hall                 posted 8 Oct 2009, 08:03 PM / edited 10 Oct 2009, 05:28 PM

This is fun. So here’s my top ten.

Skin Tight – Gary Henderson

Nga Pou Wahine – Briar Grace-Smith

Henry 8 – Theatre at Large

Saving Grace – Duncan Sarkies

Cherish – Ken Duncum

Glide Time – Roger Hall

No 2 – Toa Fraser

Strange Resting Places – Paulo Rotundo & Rob Mokaraka

Apollo 13 – Hackman Productions

Krishnan’s Dairy – Indian Ink

sam trubridge    posted 10 Oct 2009, 09:00 AM / edited 10 Oct 2009, 05:27 PM

So top ten play scripts or top ten productions? Here are mine

1: On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me As Her Young Lover – Meros / Arthur Meek

2: Foreskin’s Lament – Greg McGee

3: The Singularity – Miranda Manasiadis

4: Bare – Toa Fraser

5: Nga Tangata Toa – Hone Kouka

6: The End of the Golden Weather – Bruce Mason

7: 8: 9: 10: Wish I had seen or read Jo Randerson, Duncan Sarkies, Briar Grace-Smith, Stephen Bain, No 2, Wild Cabbage, Verbatim, The Lover and the Beloved, Skin Tight, Goldie, and more… because I am sure some would feature in my list here.

I would really appreciate any input from people on making a similar list for design in NZ theatre, since I am working on an international publication that surveys world scenography from 1975 to the present. Aaron’s post has inspired me to start a discussiont to see if I can catch any suggestions and get a feeling for the general opinion on some works that have been produced…

Simon Bennett posted 9 Nov 2009, 02:54 PM / edited 9 Nov 2009, 02:55 PM

 Most influential/thrilling for me have been:

1. Foreskin’s Lament by Greg McGee. Saw the original production when I was 15. Shook me to the core

2. Black Halo by James Beaumont. Rivetted me with its theatricality and daring

3. Jism by Ken Duncum and Rebecca Rodden. My first professional production. Loved it for its anarchy and black humour.

4. Blue Sky Boys by Ken Duncum

5. A Way of Life by Roger Hall. Big risks taken by Roger. Epic.

6. Flipside by Ken Duncum

7. Skin Tight by Gary Henderson

8. Lovelock’s Dream Run by David Geary

9. Bare by Toa Fraser

10. End of the Golden Weather by Bruce Mason

sam trubridge    posted 9 Nov 2009, 03:05 PM

Does anyone have pictures from James Beaumont’s ‘Black Halo’ and or ‘Wild Cabbage’?

Simon Bennett posted 9 Nov 2009, 03:17 PM

 I’m sure that James does. Playmarket will have his contact details.

Maryanne Cathro             posted 26 Feb 2010, 05:22 PM / edited 27 Feb 2010, 09:07 AM

I know this is an older topic but what a great one! I’ve not seen all of the productions listed, and of course it does depend on what cities you live in or have lived in, as to what plays or productions of plays you get to see. here is my pick:

1. Turbine by SeeYd (Tim Spite, Emma Kinane) Not only was this a great play, the production at the Hannah (Downstage) was one of the most perfect pieces of production I’ve ever seen. Loved everything about it.

2. Paua – Perhaps I am a little influenced to put this at 2 instead of 4 or 5, by seeing it after so many years in Christchurch. The use of the Hannah space,  the energy and originality of it, its sheer kiwiness, it was just overwhelmingly wonderful.

3. The Thirty-Nine Steps, adapted for stage by Ross Gumbley -does this count? I think it does! 🙂

4. Foreskin’s Lament – after the Spring Bok tour. Greg McGee updated the script to take into account the impact the ’81 tour had on kiwi rugby. It was amazing.

5.Jism by Ken Duncum and Rebecca Rodden – I’m with Simon on this, I remember it vividly even now, brilliant performances by Kerry Fox and Emma Robinson as cojoined twins. Sorry Simon I don’t remember you in it! 🙂

6. Take a Chance on Me – Roger Hall. Again , maybe time and place are an influence here as I saw it the Maidment on one of the very first dates my husband and I had together so it was a very pertinent piece for us!

7. Little Red Riding Hood- the Panto. This is the only Circa panto I got to see with Julian Wilson as the dame. I put it in the list just for him, although it was all quite marvellous.

8. The Pohutukawa Tree – Bruce Mason. Although I haven’t seen this play in thirty years it still resonates for me. I would put it higher I am sure had I seen a more recent production.

9. The Private War of Corporal Cooper -John Broughton. A short play that packs a lot of dramatic punch.

10. A short play I saw at the Selwyn Short Play Festival in 2007 that I think was called The Butler Did It, but I’m not sure and I don’t know who wrote it but it was bloody hilarious and deserves to be a kiwi icon! What happens when the wife of an amateur actor crashes on the way to the theatre with the scones, and starts to hallucenate. Or is she? Loved it.

martyn roberts posted 27 Feb 2010, 12:00 PM

A list of my current top ten…both influences and/or great scripts

1) Skintight – Gary Henderson

2) Black Halo – James Beamount

3) The Lead Wait – Trouble and Jo Randerson

4) Inside Out – 1989 season at Downstage

5) Cherish – Ken Duncan

6) Peninsula – Gary Henderson

7) Wednesday to Come – Renee

8) Joyful and Triumphant – Robert Lord

9) End of the Golden Weather – Bruce Mason

10) Rutherford – Stuart Hoar

Richard Grevers                posted 16 Mar 2010, 04:47 PM

My list will be biased by having seen very few New Zealand plays in the past 7 years (the curse of living in the provinces).

1) Joyful and Triumphant

2) Skin Tight

3) Foreskin’s Lament

After that it gets difficult: There has to be something by Mervyn Thompson, but should it be Children of the Poor,  Songs to Uncle Scrim? I never saw a full performance of Coaltown Blues – maybe Passing Through, which bundles them all together.

Yo Banfa! (aka Gung Ho!) by Stuart Hoar also gets on my list. I was heavily involved in a production which never happened, and it might still be unproduced, but I think it is some of his best (and most accessible) work.

The Candlestickmaker (being the only one of the trilogy that I’ve seen)

Michael James Manaia still has strong memories.

Children have interrupted my reverie, so I’ll have to leave it there

Dane Giraud       posted 17 Mar 2010, 02:39 PM

I am a fan of James K. Baxters plays. The Band Rotunda and The Wide Open Cage in particular. Far superior to Mason who I feel is incredibly overrated. When was the last time a Baxter play was put on? Difficult subject matter but full of poetry (Ah-Duh), pain, catholic angst and sodden with drink. Beautiful.

Paul McLaughlin               posted 18 Mar 2010, 09:29 AM

Influenced by some of the shows I’ve been lucky enough to work on, and in no particular order:

1/  Michael James Manaia – John Broughton

2/  Peninsula – Gary Henderson

3/  The Lead Wait – Trouble

4/  The Love of Humankind – Brian Sergent

5/  Strange Resting Places – Rob & Paulo

6/  Saving Grace – Duncan Sarkies

7/  Black Milk – (OK, dance; but so deliciously theatrical it crossed genre for me)

8/  SEEyD – SEEyD Collective

9/  Home Land – Gary Henderson

10/ Mouth – Trouble/Paul Pinson

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