Toitoi - Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre 101 Hastings Street South, Hastings

21/10/2020 - 21/10/2020

ASB Waterfront Theatre, 138 Halsey St, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland

09/09/2020 - 13/09/2020

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2020 (Harcourts)


Production Details

Award-winning playwright Stanley Makuwe brings us a gripping drama about war, politics and colonialism.  

“We must make it possible for every individual to lead the good life, to win a place in the sun.” – Sir Garfield Todd  

Expat New Zealander Sir Garfield Todd said these words in his final speech as Prime Minister of Rhodesia in 1958. Ousted from politics for being a “black lover”, Todd’s ongoing fight for racial equality led to his house arrest in 1965, the starting point for Makuwe’s story.  

Compelling and reflective, Black Lover explores the courage to stand against injustice in a nation experiencing deep racial divides.

Black Lover was proudly developed with the support of Auckland Theatre Company.

Tickets to Black Lover are now back on sale. The Back on the Boards festival will go ahead from Sept 9-20.  ASB Waterfront Theatre will strictly adhere to all government advice for Auckland’s level 2 event mass gathering restrictions which includes separate defined spaces of up to 100 and social distancing. We ask all ticket holders to read their pre-show email instructions carefully before arriving at the theatre.

The government has recently specified in more detail how venues must comply with Level 2 restrictions in Auckland. We have found a solution that allows us to continue with the remainder of the festival. All ticket holders have be contacted directly and advised of new seating arrangements.

If you have any queries about mass gathering restrictions for public events please check the ministry of health website here.

ASB Waterfront Theatre
Wednesday 9 – Sunday 13 September 2020
Times alternating with Still Life With Chickens

Dentons Kensington Swan presents Back on the Boards, celebrating the return of live theatre.

Auckland Theatre Company’s return to ASB Waterfront Theatre stage will feature a remount of the beloved and award winning Still Life With Chickens by D.F. Mamea, a show that steals hearts wherever it is performed around the world.  The highly acclaimed play Black Lover by Stanley Makuwe, the premiere season of which sold out out during the 2020 Auckland Arts Festival but was cut short by the global pandemic, will also be remounted. Back on the Boards also features a brand new work 48 Nights on Hope Street, a direct and exciting response to this time from a diverse company of young writers, actors and musicians.

Three brilliant New Zealand works celebrate good people, profound relationships and what it means to be human. Come and see one, two or all three shows to once again enjoy a stellar night out at the theatre.

Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival 2020

Opera House – Toitoi
Wed Oct 21st
Adult:  $54.00
Concession:  $49.00
Group – 10 or More Tickets:  $48.60

Concession = Gold Card Holders, Community Service Card Holders & Full Time Students with ID
Child = 16 Years & Under (selected shows only)
High School Student = (selected shows only)

Rating: 16+ Loud Sound Effects

If you have any issues buying your tickets, please contact the festival office on 06 651 2487 between the hours of 9am – 4pm or email the team

Cameron Rhodes: Garfield Todd
Simbarashe Matshe: Steady

Stanley Makuwe: Playwright
Roy Ward: Direction
Rachael Walker: Set and Costume Design
Rachel Marlow: Lighting Design
Sean Lynch: Sound Design  

Stage Manager – Catherine Grealish
Technical Operator – Spencer Earwaker
Set Construction – 2Construct 


Theatre ,

1 hr 15 min

A tense, funny, brilliantly political narrative

Review by Amanda Jackson 22nd Oct 2020

Playwright Stanley Makuwe’s Black Lover is set in the mid 1960s, at the time Garfield Todd was under house arrest in Rhodesia. In every respect is disturbingly topical and could equally be set today, in other places of the world. Subtle links between what is now Zimbabwe and our own experiences of colonisation in Aotearoa are explored in the conversations between the two characters, Steady (Simbarashe Matshe) and Garfield Todd (Cameron Rhodes). 

Against an historical background, Black Lover explores not only what happened during the ousting of Garfield Todd in Rhodesia, and how volatile the conditions were when it happened, but also how little progress has been made in the political and social spheres of countries still troubled by racism and effects of colonisation. We don’t have to look far afield to recognise the precarious human condition in the themes that play out in contemporary society all around the world and which are represented on stage. That impact, in itself, is startling.

Scenes of sweet domesticity and subservience with dollops of humour contrast with moments of anger in a sudden escalation that is shocking. Swift shifts from trust to indignation, as the overwhelming evidence of prejudice threatens to go out of control, fuelled by the horror of witnessed atrocities, are skilfully performed by both actors as the power changes hands, when kindness turns to fear and trust to vengeance. Incredibly, all of this unfolds in a household, distilling in miniature what was and is a problem of gigantic proportion. The production is skilful and coherent, illustrative and engaging, and all the nuances of theatre come together in a tense, funny, brilliantly political narrative.

The set (Rachael Walker) is simple and clever, reflecting the bewitching colours of an African sky in a peaceful sitting room that does nothing to indicate the depth of drama that will be played out. The lighting (Rachel Marlow) sucks the warmth from the stage as the mood changes.

Matshe has the energy of an athlete, radiating exuberance and fun, explosive in his sudden change. Rhodes is the tired, beaten and benevolent Todd, frustration and sorrow weighing heavily in his posture.

Director Roy Ward has directed a powerful play that has an awful lot to say without being didactic or unnecessarily theatrical and the ominous soundscape (Sean Lynch) adds an element of foreboding and chill.

A thoroughly unforgettable night.


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Unearthing the realities of Anti-Black Racism

Review by Maulik Thakkar 14th Sep 2020

Black Lover is a tale about colonial violence during the mid-1960s prelude to Zimbabwe’s fight for independence, sparked by increasing resistance to rule by a White-only minority. Written by Stanley Makuwe, it follows the fever-ridden agitation of Rhodesia’s former colonial leader, Garfield Todd (Cameron Rhodes), who is trapped at home due to a house arrest order issued by the incumbent leader Ian Smith. The play traces his experience of confinement, and how much it differs from the sub-human status accorded to his cook and servant, introduced to the audience as ‘Steady’ (Simbarashe Matshe). [More]


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Wholly compelling

Review by Nik Smythe 12th Sep 2020

This noteworthy professional debut of local Zimbabwe-born playwright Stanley Makuwe is an intimate two-hander exploring the friendship of two culturally diverse men, against the broader violent backdrop of 1960s Rhodesia.

We open on the sleeping figure of a late-middle-aged white man, jolted awake by distant gunfire. Soon after, a second man enters: a local native so (understandably) hysterical from an all-too-regular atrocity he has just witnessed that it takes him some time to calm him down at the behest of his Caucasian acquaintance. From this point, throughout the 70-minute real-time scene, we are privy to quite a rollercoaster of tension, humour, resentment, compassion and personal, political and religious social discourse.

Cameron Rhodes’ sympathetic portrayal of former Prime Mister of Southern Rhodesia, Garfield Todd (not yet Sir), presents a typically conservative man of his time, browbeaten from years of battling fierce opposition to his radical politics. His belief that their country’s millions of indigenous peoples should be entitled to all the basic rights of the powerful white minority he himself at one time led, has resulted in his being under house arrest and forbidden from associating with any blacks. 

Also Zimbabwe-born actor Simbarashe Matshe’s passionately animated depiction of Mr Todd’s houseboy ‘Steady’, a native of the local village, is very much in contrast to Todd’s more controlled, some might say repressed demeanour. 

The dynamic of their relationship is more complex than the cut-and-dried separatist law would have it, illustrated by Mr Todd trying in vain to get Steady to leave while he can for his own safety. Steady’s response is stubbornly defiant, demonstrating a paradoxical conviction that his domestic duty to serve his master outweighs his obligation to obey any request or order to the contrary.  

The ensuing interaction reveals various aspects of their personal family lives and their respective places in the ongoing social chaos. Their inherent regard for one another is clear as they relate with respect and humour, belying the brutal environment in which they are trapped. However, intermittent and increasingly near sounds of artillery continually pull their and our attention back to the desperate reality. 

The not unpredictable conclusion comes after a rather jarring and difficult to fathom attitude shift on Steady’s part, possibly a result of a sugar rush following cake and sweet tea. His pivot seems illogical after all he and Mr Todd have discussed – although I only remember later how unimaginably traumatised he was when he first entered.

Rachael Walker’s semi-abstract set places the functional, period-fitting furniture of a colonial farmhouse against walls depicting African plains and trees, rendered in burnt reds and browns evoking a sunset that may be read as analogy to the political times.  

I confess that pretty much all I knew about Rhodesia before seeing Black Lover was that it was the previous name of modern-day Zimbabwe and Zambia, and subject to political turmoil. A quick study between watching the play and writing this review has been quite a revelation. For instance Sir Garfield Todd, real-life Kiwi-born Protestant missionary and PM of Southern Rhodesia in the fifties (before the events of this play circa 1965), ran a Mission school in the thirties at which future infamous Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe was a teacher. 

Finding no historical reference to the character, I assume Steady, who reveals his actual name to be ‘Ingwé’* in a peak of outrage late into the piece, is fictional. In any case, the intense performances of Rhodes’ long-suffering would-be white saviour Mr. Todd and Matshe’s exuberant, insistently subordinate Steady, and the story they embody are wholly compelling enough, regardless of any prior awareness of the contemporary reality.

There is so much more to unpack in this work than I have touched on here. Overall the two actors, under the adept direction of Roy Ward, do an impressive job of drawing us in to their personal worlds in the somewhat spacious arena, although I’m left curious how much more engaging and affecting it would be played in a more intimate venue. They are nonetheless engaging throughout and the climactic moments pack a sufficiently emotional punch.

*Anglicised spelling guessed.


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