May 21, 2012
Rediscover our theatrical past with
LANDMARK – New Zealand Play Reading Series
#3: THE TREE by Stella Jones
“Richard asked me last night to marry him. Out there. When you were all inside sewing.”
All are welcome to attend the free play reading on Monday 28th May, 7pm at the University of Auckland Drama Studio (Level 3 Arts 1 Building).
After being rejected by numerous New Zealand theatres, Stella Jones’ play The Tree, about a New Zealand family, debuted in Bristol, England in 1957. Ageing Herbert Willis leads a contented retired life with his twin daughters Daisy and Lucy in their family home. When third daughter Hilda returns after an absence of fifteen years, old family wounds are reopened as the action takes us back to the day young Hilda, engaged to be married, fled from the home. A New Zealand play about three sisters, the promise of youth, and the pain of regret.
While local companies showed no interest in the play, a London agent accepted it at once and promptly paid the professional fee. After becoming a hot property overseas, the New Zealand Players, who had earlier rejected it, toured The Tree across New Zealand and it was one of the first full length NZ plays to reach so wide an audience.
The play met with acclaim around New Zealand, the NZ Herald calling at it “An adult, compelling and first-class piece of work”. 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.