November 20, 2013
AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY 2014: IT’S A MATTER OF FAITH
ATC announces next year’s season
Faith – blind faith, leaps of faith, faithlessness, keeping or losing faith – is the thread that ties together Auckland Theatre Company’s (ATC) 2014 season. The intrepid line-up comprises two world premieres of new New Zealand works, two New Zealand premieres, two classic revivals and a masterpiece of remembrance.
2014’s cork is popped with Lisa Chappell and Claire Dougan as two fabulously funny and faithless wives behaving badly in a revival of Noel Coward‘s delicious and stylish, Fallen Angels. When their mutual former-lover, sexy Frenchman Maurice, announces his intention to pay them an impromptu visit, their lives are turned upside down – well, their champagne glasses are anyway (and drained). Directed by the debonair Raymond Hawthorne, Fallen Angels is a fizzy and sophisticated comedy, perfect for Summer evenings.
The intriguing story of one of Aotearoa’s most distinctive iwi follows. Paniora!, a new work by Briar Grace-Smith, follows Te Mamaenui Martinez, the oldest living descendent of Papa Carlisto Martinez – a Spanish whaler who emigrated to New Zealand in 1835 and married five Ngāti Porou women, laying the foundations for a prosperous and proud hapu of Spanish Maori. The Hotai-Martinez family lives in an elegant homestead, speak Spanish, cook tapas and dance the flamenco. Yet beneath their fervent pride there are demons to face and a family revolution looming. With an outstanding cast that includes Miriama Smith, Nancy Brunning and Calvin Tuteao, and directed by Colin McColl, Paniora! opens at the 2014 New Zealand Festival before moving to its Maidment Theatre Season in March.
Other Desert Cities is a Broadway hit, a Tony and Pulitzer nominee, and a knock-out domestic dust-up. In the vein of August: Osage County, Brooke Wyeth comes to celebrate the festive season with her retired Republican Party parents, her apolitical TV exec brother and her liberal, alcoholic aunt. The warm desert air soon turns chilly when news of Brooke’s upcoming memoir to revive a shameful and embarrassing chapter in the family’s history is revealed. Striking a delicate balance between comedy and “thermonuclear family war”, Sarah Peirse, Hera Dunleavy and Elizabeth Hawthorne star in this richly satisfying play; full of crackling humour, intelligence and rich emotion.
As the world turns to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the onset of World War I, ATC have unearthed a masterpiece of remembrance, Maurice Shadbolt‘s Once on Chunuk Bair. On 8 August 1915 the Wellington Regiment commenced an offensive to seize Chunuk Bair, a pivotal peak overlooking Gallipoli Bay. As inept British Generals look on from their battleships, the Regiment captured the high ground. Their success is only fleeting however as the Turks launch a massive counter-attack. With extraordinary courage, the stalwart young Wellingtonians battled to hold off their powerful enemy. Of the 760 men who had reached the summit, 711 became casualties. This is their story.
Vivid and visceral, Once on Chunuk Bair is a searing tribute to the sacrifice a generation made. Directed by the formidable Ian Mune, 24 years after he directed the New Zealand premiere of the same play, this is a tragic yet uplifting story about a battle that defined us as a nation.
In the AUDI season of Bertolt Brecht‘s The Good Soul of Szechuan, Robyn Malcolm leads a large ensemble in the extraordinary dual roles of the golden-hearted tart Shen Te and her ruthless businessman cousin Shui Ta. Shen Te is a compassionate and generous prostitute, even toward people who exploit her virtues. Three Gods reward her – the only good person they can find – with the means to start a little business. But that’s when her troubles begin – everyone takes advantage of her good nature. To survive, she creates a male alter ego. Brecht has created a dark and dazzling parable, packed with glorious characters, great music and song. The Good Soul of Szechuan is being directed by another good soul: Colin McColl.
Auckland Theatre Company’s second main bill commission in 2014 is Arthur Meek‘s Trees Beneath the Lake. Time is running out for William Campbell (Michael Hurst), a disgraced financier with investors and the media baying for blood. Facing an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, he returns to his mother Nieve’s Central Otago home in a last-ditch effort to salvage his relationship with his wife (Theresa Healy), fortune and reputation. However, the place is not what it used to be. In this world première, past and present collide, and startling revelations rip through gentle pleasantries, as a family steels itself once more for a fight to hold onto the past.
The year ends with a large-scale revival of classic rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar. First staged on Broadway in 1971, Jesus Christ Superstar is an immortal of musical theatre. Audiences around the globe have thrilled to its unforgettable soundtrack that includes Everything’s Alright, Hosanna and I Don’t Know How to Love Him. With a contemporary urban re-staging, Oliver Driver‘s intimate yet in-yer-face version of the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpiece will star some of the country’s hottest musical talent.
There are two add-ons in the 2014 season including a rollicking, colourful and wild staging of Margaret Mahy‘s The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate at the Bruce Mason Theatre in the July school holidays. Then, in October, a new production of Victor Rodger‘s Sons, about an Afakasi television presenter who has been raised palagi and is attempting to reconnect with his Samoan heritage, will play at the Mangere Arts Centre.
According to ATC Artistic Director, Colin McColl, “The contract between actors and audience is an act of faith. Both acknowledge the potential for a shared experience in the theatre space that celebrates all the joys, terrors, delights, fears and possibilities of being human. We are very proud of our 2014 season and hope audiences will find many productions they can put their faith in.
“‘Acts of Faith’ also acknowledges the many supporters who have pledged towards the new Waterfront Theatre. We are confident we will gather the final two million of our $35 million target and start construction at the Halsey Street site next year,” McColl said.
Subscriptions are now open for Auckland Theatre Company’s 2014 season. Subscribers are the first to hear about additional offerings and events throughout the year, before they are publically announced. This includes The Next Stage Festival of New Plays in Development, ATC’s youth development experience, Selecta, and the latest community event concept, Neighbourhood Theatre, at the Mangere Arts Centre.
After a hugely successful 2013 season, which includes the thrice-extended season of Chicago currently playing at Auckland’s Q Theatre, subscribers, theatre lovers and arts fanatics can have faith in ATC’s 2014 season. For more information or to order a copy of the 2014 season brochure, please visit www.atc.co.nz.