Hawea Flat Hall, Hawea

30/04/2014 - 03/05/2014

Production Details

Wanaka play explores freedom camping 

Take two for play about number twos

Freedom camping has been called everything from a human right to a blight that fouls our landscapes with human waste. Local playwright Liz Breslin gives both sides an airing in her play It’s Your Sh*t, premiering April 30 at the Hawea Flat Hall.

Pulling up to their idyllic West Coast camping spot, English couple Kelvin and Lara Blethschild have no idea they’re about to step into you-know-what-storm. Local boy Jonno has had it with freedom campers and the mess they leave behind, and he’s not going to take it any more. What follows is a black humour (heavy on the humour, light on the black) take on a serious issue, involving the Prime Minister, an international media scrum and a toilet carousel.

Political, informative and funny, the It’s Your Sh*t script debuted as a reading at last year’s Festival of Colour, where it sold out. Liz said audience feedback after the read-though was invaluable, and the play has evolved since then. “As a result of the reading, I toned down the language, took out some characters and strengthened others,” she said. “I’ve contextualised the word sh*t in different ways in the play. It’s a word that can offend, yet I think people struggle to find the language to talk about this issue. The debate about freedom camping isn’t really about the camping, it’s about the pooing–what they take for granted and what they leave behind.”

The staged version is directed by Anna Shaw, who has just finished a Masters degree in Directing at the Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School in Wellington. Liz said working with such an accomplished director was an “an awesome opportunity” for her and the all-local cast, including Ric Child, Tim Brewster, Marcus Bate, Alice Crowther and Fi Armstrong.

She added that writing the play had been a two-year process. “In the time I’ve been working on it, my family and I spent time freedom camping around Europe, and it still amazes me how otherwise intelligent people have no idea what to do with their poo. And with so many people freedom camping here, I don’t know if we’re giving them the right messages in the right places,” she explained.  As for Jonno’s somewhat misguided treatment of the Blethschilds, she said, “He’s trying to give them the right message, but I question his methods.”

Liz’s first play, The Last Call Centre Ever in New Zealand sold out a three-night run at Wanaka’s Masonic Lodge in 2011.

Catch It’s Your Sh*t at the Hawea Flat Hall,
nightly from April 30 to May 3
at 7.30pm, matinee performance May 3 at 2.30pm.
Tickets $20 ($10 students) available from Pembroke Wines & Spirits on Dungarvon Street.

Jonathon Neville Hood:  Richard Child
Steve Smithers:  Tim Brewster
Ellen Smithers:  Alice Crowther
Kelvin Blethschild:  Marcus Bate
Lara Blethschild (nee Hessock Whyte):  Fiona Armstrong
TVNZ reporter:  Rachel Brown 
TV3 reporter:  Merle Schluter
Maori TV reporter:  Enger Pelosi-Fear
ABC reporter:  Claire Easterbrook
FOX News reporter:  Lynne Christie
BBC reporter:  Dominic Stayne
NHK reporter:  Yumi Sasaki
Meredith Parkes:  Gilly Pugh
The Prime Minister:  Dick Morrish
Bry the Policeman:  Dylan Rimmer 

Producer IT’S YOUR SH*T:  Jimmy Rimmer 
Set design and build:  Jimmy Rimmer
Marketing, design and publicity:  Laura Williamson
Costume:  Anna Shaw / Lauren Rimmer
Props:  Liz Breslin
Front of House:  Liz Breslin / Lauren Rimmer
Tea ladies:  Liz Breslin / Lauren Rimmer

Funny, cheeky and just a bit philosophical

Review by Sue Wards 01st May 2014

I’d like to say this play is full of shit, but there’s much more to it than that. 

The problem of freedom campers defecating around the New Zealand countryside was brought to national attention four years ago when the Hawea Community Association restricted access to a lakeside rest area, so it’s fitting a Hawea playwright has kept the issue alive. 

Yes, Liz Breslin’s play has a message, but thanks to cheek (at times almost visibly bare) and plenty of laughs, it’s not a sermon. 

Some excrement is to be expected in a play about freedom camping’s dark side, and it is here in spades: in descriptors, props, and action. But this fast-paced offering also gives us enjoyable stereotypes (a snooty English tourist, a laconic Kiwi bloke, et al) and entertaining sub-plots (an unsuccessful honeymoon, local politics, etc) which deliver consistent laughs along with dramatic tension. 

We are in safe hands with the five main characters. Richard Child portrays Kiwi bloke Jonno’s outward brashness and hidden depths convincingly, while Tim Brewster embodies his wry mate Steve perfectly. The Minister of Internal Affairs (Alice Crowther) isn’t just one-note ambitious, reflecting her sparring mate Jonno’s hidden side. (Her scene with the opportunistic Prime Minister, played by Dick Morrish, is enjoyably cringey.) British honeymooners Kelvin and Lara (the charismatic Marcus Bate and Fiona Armstrong) are a pleasure to watch (how about a spin-off?).

Complementing the five main characters are a gaggle of TV reporters representing five countries and delivering up equal opportunity insults. Their scenes are choreographed chaos: individual preening alternating with group flocking, like squawking gulls swooping on possible crumbs of information. Some of these performers’ confidence and chutzpah increases as the play unfolds and they appear to begin enjoying themselves as much as the audience members are.

Policemen get younger every year, and the cop at Boondock (where the action takes place) is no exception: Ten-year-old Dylan Rimmer is assured and endearing as Bry.

Director Anna Shaw makes good use of an inventive and judiciously loo-papered set, and has worked to get the best from her performers – veterans and first-timers alike.

It’s Your Sh*t debuted as a play reading at last year’s Southern Lakes Festival of Colour and it is a pleasure to see it developed and staged as a result. Funny, cheeky and just a bit philosophical, it will send you home humming.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council