Macandrew Bay Hall, 1 Greenacres St, Dunedin

08/11/2020 - 08/11/2020

Port Chalmers Library, Cnr Beach and Grey St, Dunedin

07/11/2020 - 07/11/2020

Otago Pioneer Women's Hall, 362 Moray Place, Dunedin

05/11/2020 - 06/11/2020

Production Details

“I invite you to join me in a voyage into the past, to that territory of the heart we call childhood.”

The End of the Golden Weather stands tall as a cornerstone of NZ theatre history. We meet a family, community and place, through the eyes of a boy as he revels in the joys of a Summer Christmas, and takes his first steps into the adult world.

Wow! Productions present Bruce Mason’s original solo version, directed by Lisa Warrington and performed by award winning actor Matt Wilson.

In response to the challenge of Covid-19 and with the generous support of Creative New Zealand, Wow! Productions are pleased to gift this fully professional work for free/koha to Dunedin audiences in local venues.

The End of the Golden Weather is a hilarious and touching tour-de-force of theatre, and we look forward to bringing this NZ classic to you, celebrating the return of Summer.

With special thanks to the estate of Bruce Mason and Playmarket for their support.

The End of the Golden Weather by Bruce Mason
5 to 15 November 2020
Dunedin Tour to multiple venues
Wednesday to Saturday 7pm
Sunday 2pm
No Shows Mon-Tues
Run Time approx 2 hours 15min

Thurs 5 Nov, 7pm Pioneer Women’s Hall, 362 Moray Place
Fri 6 Nov, 7pm Pioneer Women’s Hall, 362 Moray Place
Sat 7 Nov, 7pm Port Chalmers Library, Cnr Beach and Grey St
Sun 8 Nov, 2pm Macandrew Bay Hall, 1 Greenacres St

Wed 11 Nov, 7pm Downes Room Mosgiel Library, 7 Hartstonge Ave
Thurs 12 Nov, 7pm Nth East Valley Bowling Club, 139 North Rd
Fri 13 Nov, 7pm Oamaru Grainstore Gallery, 9 Harbour St
Sat 14 Nov, 7pm Waitati Hall, 26 Harvey St
Sun 15 Nov, 2pm Portobello Hall, 853 Portobello Rd

Bookings and Pricing
Koha / Free
Pre-Booking is recommended as seating is limited.
To book email with your name, contact phone, number of seats and venue and date you wish to attend.

About this Production

Wow! Productions are proud to tour Bruce Mason’s iconic The End of the Golden Weather to a selection of Dunedin venues this November.

In September 2020 Wow! presented an edited first half to local schools, with a tailored educational pack for NCEA level students.

In November 2020 The End of the Golden Weather in its entirety will play in venues over the wider Dunedin area, with one night in Oamaru The rights to perform the full-length play are not often granted. Wow! are very pleased to bring a fully professional, entirely Dunedin based creative team together, to present this classic NZ work to our community.

Heartbreaking, hilarious, and a masterpiece of modern literature The End of the Golden Weather is an evocative glimpse into our collective past and an ode to growing up in NZ.

Quotes attributable to Lisa Warrington, Director

“One thing that keeps striking me in rehearsals is the absolute relevance of the section called “The Night of the Riots”. Mason was writing about the era of the Great Depression – a time of massive job losses, extreme poverty and social and political unrest. The words of the play resound powerfully in our present day, where the world is in chaos and pain and loss thanks to the effects of COVID-19, amongst other things.”

“The play is set in a ‘present’ which was the end of the 1950s when Mason wrote it, and in memory, going back to the 1930s of Mason’s own boyhood. But there is much common ground to be found. A lot of this comes through the celebration of summer beach holiday life, as seen through the (initially innocent) eyes of the play’s 12-year-old narrator. The things that give him joy and delight have never really changed, nor have the things that puzzle him, especially in the wayward behaviour of adults.”

About the playwright

The contribution of Bruce Mason (1921-1982) to NZ theatre can hardly be overstated. A prolific director, performer and critic, he wrote 18 stage plays and was also a performer, director, journalist. editor and critic.

He championed NZ culture and worked over many decades for the development and advancement of a New Zealand theatrical voice and identity. In 1980 he was awarded a CBE for services to the Arts.

The End of the Golden Weather is his best-known work, which he performed over 800 times.

Mason’s approach was manifest in his touring of The End of the Golden Weather. He brought his work to communities throughout Aotearoa, sometimes even into people’s homes, with the core belief that “Culture is something we do together, something shared.”

About the Director

Lisa Warrington is one of NZs most experienced Directors, with hundreds of professional directing credits to her name. She is also a published author, Associate Professor in Theatre Studies University of Otago (retired) actor, and founding member of Wow! Productions. She has been named ‘NZ’s Best Director’ by The Listener and directe d numerous shows for Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre and for Wow! Productions.

About the Performer

Matthew Wilson graduated from Toi Whakaari:The NZ Drama School in 1999 and has performed throughout NZ and in London. Winner of a Chapman Trip award for ‘Outstanding Performance’ for his role as Vincent in Vincent in Brixton – Circa Theatre, Matt has toured the South with The Drawer Boy , performed in numerous productions at The Court Theatre and the London Premier of Stuart Hoar’s Bright Star . His many roles for Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre include Moonlight and Magnolias , Stones in his Pockets and the titular role in Hamlet .

About the Sound Designer

Over 45+ years in the professional theatre and 100+ productions, Matt has garnered numerous local, national and international awards for both his sound and scenic designs, as well as his original scores. Highlights include: Sound Designer and Technician at Steppenwolf Theatre Co. (Chicago) Resident Sound Designer and Technical Director for Denver’s award-winning Curious Theatre Company and more than a dozen productions at Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre.

About the Stage Manager & Production Manager

Katrina Chandra is a performing arts practitioner with over 30 years experience in production, design, project management and programming. Recently in Dunedin she has been technician and venue manager for The Dunedin Fringe Festival and Production Manager for Arts Festival Dunedin

About Wow! Productions

Wow! Productions is Dunedin’s premiere theatre collective. It was formed in mid-1996 as a co-operative of actors, directors and other theatre & creative practitioners with a shared vision to provide a professionally-constituted creative forum. Wow! is overseen by a Charitable Trust, the current board of which comprises Martyn Roberts, Cindy Diver, Alison Finigan, Hilary Halba, Lisa Warrington, Donna Agnew, Courtney Drummond and Liesel Mitchell.

Wow! presents an eclectic programme of plays and events which respond positively to the theatrical climate of Dunedin.

Wow! are proud to be supported by Creative New Zealand for our 2019-2020 Season of Works .

We are also very pleased to present The End of the Golden Weather, our third and final show in our 2019 – 2020 season of works.

To find out more about our work visit

Director: Lisa Warrington
Performer: Matt Wilson
Sound Design: Matthew Morgan
Stage Manager & Production Manager: Katrina Chandra
Producer & Publicist: Rosella Hart

Theatre , Solo ,

2 hrs 15mins

A triumph

Review by Barbara Frame 09th Nov 2020

Out of all the solo performances I’ve ever seen, this must be one of the longest. It’s also one of the best.

In just over two hours, we get to know the many characters in Bruce Mason’s classic New Zealand play, from the unnamed 12-year-old who is the central character and his conventional family to residents of their small seaside town. They include the comical policeman, the English teacher who doesn’t recognise creativity when it’s staring him in the face, the church minister whose egotism won’t allow a troubled boy to pray, the respectable women with their petty snobberies, and Firpo, the simpleton whose painful ambition dominates the second act.

Matt Wilson is, simply, brilliant. Wonderfully expressive, he brings all of these people alive, fully engaging the close-quarters audience for every second, and is especially good at conveying the impetuousness, exhilaration and self-belief that go with being a kid. Projected images, recorded sound and a chair supply everything else.

The New Zealand of the late 1930s seems faded, small and remote, but some aspects, such as social inequality, reverence for sport at the expense of culture, and reluctance to engage with the person who seems different or difficult are all too familiar. The slow-paced life of the beach community, similarly, is something most of us can relate to, either through experience or just from being a Kiwi.

A nice touch was provided in the interval when members of Wow! Productions brought in a tea trolley, poured tea for the 40-strong audience and handed around wrapped sweets similar to those mentioned in the play.

Directed by Lisa Warrington, this production of one of our country’s most performed and most respected plays is a triumph. The season will run until November 15, with performances around the greater Dunedin area and in Oamaru. Thanks to generous funding from Creative New Zealand, entry is free. Bookings are advisable. 


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A luminous, compassionate production

Review by Terry MacTavish 09th Nov 2020

This is at once the most sophisticated and the simplest of theatre experiences: a brilliant professional actor at the pinnacle of their craft, but also just one of the family, telling their story to friends.  One of the country’s leading directors, Lisa Warrington, shows her customary finesse by merging both aspects in a show that has us marvelling at the dazzling technical prowess of actor Matt Wilson, while cosily seated among the locals in a typical unpretentious community hall.

It enhances the experience that this particular Hall serves the little seaside community of Macandrew Bay, but Bruce Mason’s luscious script is so evocative of childhood summers at the beach that an audience anywhere in WOW’s touring programme will be convinced they breathe in sea-air. Matt Wilson’s virtuoso performance is as sublime as the script, playing all the idiosyncratic characters that share the beach of Mason’s Te Parenga, but especially engaging as the unnamed 12-year-old narrator.

As a little kid I was among the hordes of schoolchildren taken to see Bruce Mason perform his classic in the 1960s. I was all open-mouthed astonishment when a grown man galloped clumsily across a bare stage, tossing imaginary hair and hallooing as mad Miss Effie, whacking her thigh as if she were her own jockey – this was theatre?? – but how vividly I still recall that moment of transformation.

Out of work and desperate, in the barren years after The New Zealand Players folded, Mason determined to do what Kiwis are so good at – improvising with little or nothing. Touring costly? Play in any venue, to any audience. Scrap the scenery, do it with words. Casts expensive? Be your own, all forty parts! Write your own authentic story, a story of your childhood: The End of the Golden Weather.

This hall, under the very competent stage management of Katrina Chandra, is actually a pleasant space: white-painted wooden boards embracing a little stage with one chair and three screens that present a fragmented beach scene, the waves washing ceaselessly onto fictional Te Parenga, or Mason’s Takapuna, or our own St Clair. Spotlights right and left create shadows on the wingless side walls, of the actor in each vivid manifestation, while on the floor we are surrounded by the cheerfully lit faces of fellow patrons.

Underpinning the performance is a soundtrack, by Matthew Morgan, of subtle beauty, from lapping waves with the odd seagull crying to the loud burst of Hallelujah on Christmas morning, when behold, the pillowcases conceive and bear presents, forcing a massive effort of goodwill at 5 am.

At over two hours, The End of the Golden Weather presents an extraordinary challenge to a solo artist, but Wilson’s performance is immaculate, the moment when he pauses and unselfconsciously asks ‘Line?’ merely enhancing the near-miraculous feat of memory, like the tricky way an acrobat will pretend to fail at first, to draw attention to their skill and build tension before their ultimate triumph. His energy is amazing – he gives his all to hilarious scenes like Dad on a Sunday evening doing his comic turn as a Mad Doctor to delight his offspring.

Wilson possesses a voice of rich timbre and great range, from unctuous Rev Thirle and snooty Mrs Atkinson to the squeaky children, and is an admirably physical actor, with expressive hands, engaging grin and well-controlled long limbs, speedily contorting himself for each startling new characterisation. But transcending these undoubted physical assets is a subtle understanding of the tidal surge beneath the bouncy portraits, of a society in change as the boy changes, developing into adulthood.

The first half celebrates a golden summer through the eyes of child, with just hints of adult troubles and inexplicable casual cruelties. That gilded time ends with the boy’s fearful glimpse of the Depression, the Queen Street Riots that touch even his secluded community. Wilson is unforgettable as Sergeant Robinson, helmet askew on Sundays as cheery ‘Robbie’, now the powerful symbol of the law on his huge horse, metamorphosed from a chairback, as like Atticus he confronts ‘grey-faced, eyeless men’ well known to him, deterring them from violence even though he comprehends the depths of their despair.

Despite the darker moments Warrington guides us unerringly towards the sunshine, and the salty tang of Wilson’s delightful humour keeps the hall in ripples of laughter, cockles of the heart palpably warming. Christmas Day provokes waves of delighted empathy, especially the gorgeous account of the evening entertainment, and the children’s hopeful concert including ‘Living Wax Works’ for the tipsy parents, sabotaged by rotten little brother.

The tea trolley is wheeled out at interval, and we are treated to the toffees posh Mrs Atkinson employs as bribes. A chance to catch up with old friends, star-spot famous Otago Peninsula identities, share concerns over Covid 19 and the climate and the crazy US Elections – what generation has not had its trials? – and hear all around exclamations of unbridled delight in this stunning presentation of Mason’s well-loved play.

The second half will tell the heart-breaking story of Firpo, ridiculed but dignified, just released from an institution yet determined to train as an Olympian athlete. Warrington and Wilson avoid an easy sentimentality, but like many near me I find myself fighting back tears, and realise anew why this is one of New Zealand’s iconic stories. “Firpo will have his day” indeed.

As John Smythe writes in The Plays of Bruce Mason (Playmarket/VUP):“In this microcosm of Pākehā New Zealand society between the wars, Mason uses the boy’s rite of passage to explore themes of justice, compassion and a fair go without overtly questioning the status quo. He leaves his audience…to empathise and wrestle with the dilemmas anew.”   

Wrestling with 2020’s dilemmas of Covid control, climate crisis, interracial violence and world leaders as bizarre as any fiction could dream up, this is a perfect time to revisit the 1930s, the desperation of the Depression and social inequity, and the innocence of children who believe the adults know everything.

Beside me sits a friend old enough to remember her mother trying to explain to her five-year-old the thin, sad-eyed men who came to the door selling matches. What explanations will we make to our children?*

As I write, Biden, the new President-elect of the world’s most powerful democracy, is proclaiming, “It is time to see each other again. Time to hear each other again.” This luminous, compassionate production provides just that opportunity. It should tour the world. 
*Still trying to think what I should have advised the nineteen-year-old who announced yesterday she felt she should learn to drive a manual car in case of a zombie apocalypse… 


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