April 16, 2012

Rediscover our theatrical past with
LANDMARK – New Zealand Play Reading Series
#2: Overtime by Claude Evans 

“We can’t have you overworking. It’s a bad habit.” 

Christchurch playwright Claude Evans’ play Overtime ran for only one week in 1954, performed by the Canterbury Repertory Society. That year, it was voted by its audiences as the society’s most popular production. 

A comic farce with serious social themes, cantankerous old Ted is a relic in the Blaxton Furniture Company where he has worked since a boy – a craftsman that does all his work by hand and with exacting pride. But Ted’s livelihoods and traditions are threatened by machinery, an accountant, time sheets and unionism. Both Ted and his boss Arthur begin to stay late at the Factory – Arthur to have an affair with his secretary, and Ted to work unpaid and unknown overtime to continue to produce his same quality of workmanship.

Claude Evans, in his time, was New Zealand’s most published playwright. For most of his career, Claude Evans was typical of New Zealand playwrights of the 40s and 50s – writing comedies set in a romantically imagined Britain far removed from life in New Zealand. Overtime marks a shift in Evan’s focus, capturing New Zealand’s changing society. 

Bruce Mason lauded the play as one that could “be produced anywhere in New Zealand with equal success and relevance”, but no subsequent productions followed. Famous British actor Alec Guinness was interested in starring in the play with the New Zealand Players, but went to make The Bridge over the River Kwai instead.

The LANDMARK New Zealand Play Reading Series, part of Director James Wenley’s Masters in Drama thesis project, hopes to rediscover this classic New Zealand play and see how it stands up for today’s audiences.

All are welcome to attend the free play reading on
Monday 30th April,
7pm at the
University of Auckland Drama Studio (Level 3 Arts 1 Building)

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