From Page to Stage Short & Sweet Theatre

My friendship with writer Judith Cowley grew during the rehearsal period, what with skype and mobile phone conversations, we discovered that we agreed on so much relating to script development and with the input from actors Sheena and Mike, the text came alive for us more or less in the way I’d first imagined it.

Mike Howell & Sheena Irving Photo by Shouik Nandi
Mike Howell & Sheena Irving Photo by Shouik Nandi

There were nuances which the actors discovered without my help and underneath the layers there were more delights to discover.  We explored the emotional journeys of the two bereft characters June and Bevan moment by moment throughout rehearsals.  They’ve lost their son Cody through addiction to sniffing spray cans and their relationship is in tatters.  Bevan visits with an important objective, but he’d also like to move back in, even if it’s only in the Sleep-out.  Bad idea, that’s where Cody slept and died watched by his dog.

Photo by Shouik Nandi
Photo by Shouik Nandi

The dog is the only connection Bevan has to his son, so he want’s desperately to get him out of The Pound, but June hasn’t the money and has had enough.  They reminisce, enjoying the happy times but it soon comes down to reflection of their failure as parents.  June struggles to keep in control, only just managing to send Bevan away to sort himself out before breaking down to deal with her own grief.

 

Photo by Shouik Nandi
Photo by Shouik Nandi

It might have been a risky thing to put in front of an audience, expecting them to love it, but they did, and you could hear them listening.  Four plays from week one were chosen to go through to the final Sunday gala performance, two from the Judges and two from the audience choice. To my great surprise, we made it on an audience vote.  It just goes to show that audiences can be discerning and recognise quality writing.  The other audience choice was the hilarious Threatened Panda Fights Back.  The poster boy for the WWF refuses to mate, until confronted by a pair of reconstituted Dodos about to lay eggs.

 

Photo by Shouik Nandi
Photo by Shouik Nandi

We had a week off, though I continued to travel to Auckland to see theatre and swim.  I’d entered the Taupo Masters Swimming Brown Trout meet which meant catching the early car ferry and driving to Taupo for a 1pm start.  I stayed the night in a motel, swam an 800m freestyle race in record time (for me) then drove back to Auckland in time for a 1pm rehearsal of In the Pound at the theatre.  The judges judged the plays (6 from week 2) at the 3pm performance with me watching from the lighting box.  At 7pm, we had the final show followed by the prizes.

Photo by Shouik Nandi
Photo by Shouik Nandi

Sadly we didn’t win anything but we did explore white heterosexual working class social realism – currently under represented.  Judith Cowley came up to Auckland for the second time and loved that the play had grown so much since the opening night.  Thanks to my theatre friends, Liz, Richard, Raymond and Johnny and Elizabeth, who gave us such positive feedback.

The team: Mike Howell, Sheena Irving, Judith Cowley, Christopher Preston
The team: Mike Howell, Sheena Irving, Judith Cowley, Christopher Preston

 

Festival-email-promoWhat now?  Well, I’m already into the Waiheke Playwrights Festival, directing The Other Flag and my play The Four Horsemen is in the programme.  Just to show that I am into diversity, The Other Flag is about Maori issues and Four Horsemen in about a gay relationship.

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