Downstage Theatre, Wellington

03/08/2012 - 03/08/2012

Production Details

Live at Downstage Sam Neill talks acting, wine, friends and ‘other foolishness’

8.00pm  Friday 3 Aug 2012

In 1970, pre-Sleeping Dogs, Sam Neill performs in two productions under the Downstage banner:  Marat/Sade and The Bacchae. Both shows play at the Star Boating Club while the brand new Hannah Playhouse is under construction.

In April 2012, Sam Neill, now one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, visits Downstage in his capacity as proprietor (or ‘Prop’ for short) of the Two Paddocks vineyard in Central Otago. He tours the Hannah Playhouse and discusses the changes at Downstage and the role of theatre in society with Director/CEO Hilary Beaton.

At the conclusion of that meeting, a decision is made. Sam will return and appear on stage, for no fee, in support of Downstage fundraising.

Sam has asked long-time friend and Radio New Zealand film critic Simon Morris, (also generously donating his time), to join him on stage to share stories of the long journey from Downstage to Two Paddocks vineyard, by way of Hollywood. With a capacity audience of just 240, we are anticipating an informal, conversational night with laughter, memories, and an opportunity for audience members to put a question to New Zealand’s most accomplished film actor.

Auditorium:           $95
Balcony:      $65

Book here:

Invitations to the pre-show Two Paddocks wine-tasting are limited to 40 donors to the Downstage Theatre Society. For information on making a donation and securing an invitation, contact 

Extended quote from Sam Neill below:

“Forty two years ago in Wellington, I took a deep breath before takingOn Friday August 3rd I will wobble back on there, and try and account for what happened in between.

The play was The Bacchae; oddly enough about Dionysus, wine, mad women and cross dressing. Very prescient as it happens – all of that is what happened next [the cross dressing…maybe not so much].

What also happened was an entirely accidental international career of sorts, muddling through over a hundred films and television productions [I know that because I just looked it up], some success, plenty of disaster, more laughs than I imagined , more friends and kindness than I deserved, much craziness, much dumb luck …as Vinnie Jones would say ‘it’s been emotional’. A perplexing vivid unbidden adventure.

Along the way I have learnt a few things – others I fear I will never learn. I know a little more now, for instance, about acting. I know a lot more than I did about people in general, and actors in particular. I suspect I still don’t know enough about myself. And women remain a complete bafflement.

I asked Simon Morris to do this with me because he is a very old friend, he makes me laugh, and he is a sharp interviewer. He is also my cruelest critic and I hate him.

This is to support Downstage , a place that gave me early encouragement, and their ‘commitment to local artists, local voices’, and in support of live theatre in Wellington in general. No city is worthy of its name without a vibrant theatre culture, and Downstage has been at the very heart of Wellington life for nearly 50 years.

Before I lurch back onto that same stage again, I may need a bracing drink first. If you’re coming, and please do, if only to support Downstage, you might need one too.” (Sam Neill, July 2012) 

Sam Neill D.C.N.Z.M., O.B.E, is not only an actor  he is also a wine producer: Two Paddocks wines from Central Otago.

He has worked with a vast range of actors including John Gielgud, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Sheen, Helena Bonham Carter, Holly Hunter, Nicole Kidman, James Mason, Isabelle Adjani, Lawrence Fishburne, Channing Tatum, John Clarke, Sean Connery , Mel Gibson , Robin Williams, Ian McKellen, Robert Downey Jr , Peter O’Toole, Sophie Okenado , Rachel McAdams and such directors as Jane Campion, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Claude Chabrol, Robert Redford and  Fred Schepisi.

He has played roles as  diverse as wizards, priests, antichrists, vampires, spies, psychopaths, sailors,  cardinals, finger choppers, and a gynecologist overly fond of dogs. You may have noticed him in The Piano, The Dish, Alcatraz, Merlin, Hunt for Red October, Jurassic Park, Reilly Ace of Spies, Sleeping Dogs, The Vow, The Hunter, My Brilliant Career etc.
He has been in bed with Meryl Streep on more than one occasion.

Event page:

Wellingon City Council
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Creative NZ
Auckland City Council