Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

08/06/2019 - 16/06/2019

Production Details

adapted by Eleanor Bishop from Greg McGee’s Foreskin’s Lament

Greg McGee’s Foreskin’s Lament – our state of the nation play about rugby culture and masculinity –  is the starting point for a new production BOYS, adapted by Eleanor Bishop. A cast of eleven third year actors from Toi Whakaari take New Zealand’s iconic locker room play and ask, ‘what has changed since 1980?’, or more importantly, ‘what hasn’t?’

Using contemporary material from recent high profile cases of sexual harassment from the sporting world to the theatre industry, a group of actors navigate how to stage this enduring play in the #MeToo era. In the process they must ask urgent questions about how we distribute power, who we speak for, and our individual and collective responsibility to end violence.

BOYS, adapted by Eleanor Bishop from Greg McGee’s Foreskin’s Lament, premiered at the ASB Waterfront Theatre in 2017 as part of the Auckland Theatre Company’s Here & Now Festival.

“Boys takes Foreskin’s Lament and slices the Kiwi classic into a postmodern maze of modern masculinity, each act digging deeper into our collective psyches […] what remains is as vital and urgent as the original, evoking anger and empathy in equal measures.” — Nathan Joe, Theatrescenes (on the 2017 production)

Patrons please note that the performance on Tuesday the 18th of June will be a koha show to help raise funds to support the rebuilding of Tapu Te Ranga marae in Island Bay. You can book your tickets online and we will be doing a collection on the night. Ngā mihi.

Te Whaea Theatre, Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington
8 – 20 June 2019
Saturday 8th June – Evening (6pm)
Sunday 9th June – Evening (6:15pm)
Tuesday 11th June – Evening (6pm)
Wednesday 12th June – Matinée (12:30pm)
Wednesday 12th June – Evening (8:15pm)
Thursday 13th June – Evening (6pm)
Friday 14th June – Evening (6pm)
Saturday 15th June – Evening (8:15pm)
Sunday 16th June – Matinée (4pm)
Tuesday 18th June – Evening (8:15pm)
Wednesday 19th June – Evening (6pm)
Thursday 20th June – (8.15pm)
Buy tickets here!
Buy tickets to both shows of the double bill here!
$15 both shows, $10 Adult, $5 for concession tickets
Seating strictly limited.

Advisory: Haze; Descriptions of sexual violence; Coarse language; Strobe


Foreskin / Ahrin – Ahrin Swift‐Mayor
Tupper / TJ – TJ Snow
Clean / Locky – Laughlan Campion
Irish / Zech – Zechariah Julius‐Donnelly
Ken / Michael – Michael Hockey
Larry / Vinnie – Vincent Andrew‐Scammell

Fluff / Moira / Lizzie – Elizabeth Winders
Fluff / J – Julia Pereira
Fluff / Madeleine – Madeleine Knowles
Fluff / Stina  – Stina Lundkvist
Fluff / Pat / Tay – Taylor Rogers

Director – Eleanor Bishop
Assitant Director/Sexual Violence Advisor - Karin McCracken 
Production Manager – Cameron Trigg
Stage Manager – Jamie Moore
Technical Manager – Marshall Rankin
Designer (Costume / Set) – Ella Lincoln
Designer (Lighting) – Jennifer Lal
Costume – Grace Stephenson
Costume – Pauline Nunns
Set & Props – Jacob Keenan
Costume Supervisor – Kaarin Slevin
Production Supervisor – Michael Leger
SM Tutor – Larissa Marno
Violence Prevention Specialist – Karin McCracken
Dramaturg – James Wenley
Assistant Stage Manager – Caitlin McIntyre
Lighting Operator – Mikayla Heasman
Sound/AV Coördinator – Isaac Kirkwood  

Theatre ,

1 hr 30 min

A powerful interrogation of our nation’s state

Review by John Smythe 09th Jun 2019

Greg McGee’s Foreskin’s Lament premiered in Auckland in October 1980 and charged into the wider Kiwi consciousness the following year, in parallel with the anti-Springbok rugby tour protests that were dividing families, communities and the nation. Both challenges to the testosterone-driven national religion were seismic. Politics and sport became inextricably mixed.

Flash forward (backward? spin on the spot?) to the Chief’s ‘stripper scandal’ (2016), cricketer Scott Kuggeleijn’s rape trials (2016/17), the predatory behaviour in leading law firms (2018) … Our collective outrage at South Africa’s racist apartheid has been supplanted by public indignity at the persistence of toxic male sexism much closer to home (not to mention Trump, Weinstein et al).

This insidious misogyny is characterised in Foreskin’s Lament as casual sexism; as part of the verbal furniture; as unrelenting ‘locker room’ talk and behaviour. Now Eleanor Bishop’s Boys inserts the female voice to bring it forward and call it out, by interrogating the text through the actors playing the men and by the women taking on some of the male roles, as well as the two women in the play: lawyer Moira and the coach’s homely wife, Pat. Avoiding antagonistic confrontation, it plays out as a mutually respectful enquiry that raises the consciousness of the men, and the audience, concerning the world females experience on a daily basis.

Initially (with Greg McGee’s agreement, of course) most of Act One of Foreskin’s Lament plays out in the traverse, in a suitably messy locker room setting (designed by Ella Lincoln). The verbally violent barracking during a training run, off, gives way to the wounded first five-eighth and team captain, Ken (Michael Hockey), being brought in by the team manager and masseur, Larry (Vincent Andrew Scammell) and No. 8 Irish (Zechariah Julius-Donnelly). Ken’s knock to the head, how he got it and why, and the question of whether he should play on Saturday or lose the captaincy to prop and vice-captain Clean (Laughlan Campion), form the narrative spine of McGee’s play.

Meanwhile – joined by fullback Seymour/Foreskin (Ahrin Swift-Mayor) and the coach, Tupper (T J Snow) – the typical male antics play out, validating violence in the name of winning at all costs, exhibiting homophobia through unsubtle jibes at Larry, perpetuating racist stereotypes and treating women solely as sex objects. Foreskin, the university student who claims his “poetry through motion” puts him above the rucks, questions all but the sexism. His regular post-practice, balls-centric nightmare blends fear with fantasy with reference to “beautiful blondes” and “one last lovely lady”. Is this sexism too or a poignant insight into male vulnerability?

When it’s agreed wives and girlfriends can come to Larry’s post-match party on Saturday, and Clean refers to them as “Fluff”, the women’s spectacular intervention occurs with a sonic boom and burst of smoke, referencing (as I take it from Ella Lincoln’s costume designs) strong women from history and super-hero fantasy. They claim the space with a highly physical Glee-style rendition of the Scissor Sisters’ ‘Let’s Have a Kiki’ (make of that word what you will but there’s no doubt they are in charge).

Given the level at which we have engaged with, and inwardly judged, the locker room scene then this sizzling response, it feels a tad patronising to be told we have just witnessed homophobia, the glorification of violence and the objectification of women. The sense that we are now in a tutorial is dramatically offset, however, by the swirling haze in the high-angled shafts of light (design by Jennifer Lal) suggesting powerful forces are at work here.

Their stated intention is to present facts concerning the above-mentioned examples of sexual abuse. They then re-enact key parts of the court case where actor Geoffrey Rush sued Sydney’s Daily Telegraph for defamation over its ‘King Leer’ reporting of his alleged behaviour towards Eryn Jean (EJ) Norvill, who played Cordelia to his Lear at the Sydney Theatre Company. The focus here is on EJ’s testimony (as a witness for the defence) and the way the law itself treats her. This scrutiny of the objectification of women in the dressing room and on stage, by people with significant power, brings the themes right home to the actors themselves, on this stage – albeit a peer group on a level playing field … Or are they?

‘Be Mine Tonight’ – a 1979 hit by Kiwi band Th’ Dudes – bookends the contextual sequence, offering another opportunity to consider the themes in relation to popular culture and women’s right to celebrate sexuality without being preyed upon. When attention returns to Foreskin’s Lament, Act Two (on the verandah of Larry’s house), we listen and watch with heightened senses and sensibilities.  

All the women – Elizabeth Winders, Julia Pereira, Madeleine Knowles, Stina Lundkuist and Taylor Rogers – are named in the programme as Fluff and take turns in the role of Moira. Each imbues her with their personal qualities, thus distilling Moira’s essence as an intelligent professional woman who has learned to deal with both venal and mindless misogyny and can still be confounded by it. Lundkuist also has a crack at Clean, and Rogers brings Pat to the fore, briefly.

The confrontation between Moira and Clean comes up for particular scrutiny, raising the important question of whether the point is best made, theatrically, by going for unvarnished truth in performance or reaching for more ideal behaviour – including from Foreskin as the passive observer.

It’s all very well for the titular Boys to claim they are not the guys doing this stuff, not the ones that need talking to, but they/we all need to accept responsibility for a world were women don’t feel safe because they are consistently sexualised and objectified. It then becomes relevant for the Boys to share how their need to express their deeper emotions have been supressed and repressed.

Boys reaches its climax through the final confrontation between Tupper and Clean, a litany of more recent ‘state of the nation’ examples of toxic masculinity and Foreskin’s eponymous lament, culminating in a full cast challenge to all of us with the perennial question: “Whaddarya? Whaddarya? Whaddarya?”

As an interrogation of our nation’s state, Boys is a powerful adjunct to Eleanor Bishop and Karin McCracken’s Jane Doe and Yes Yes Yes


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