Waiheke Playwrights Festival

The Waiheke Playwrights Festival is now in its 4th year and I’ve got two contributions in the programme. Festival-email-promo I was attracted to The Other Flag by Mano Pratt and John McKay because of its subject, The Treaty of Waitangi, something which rumbles around the New Zealand news and media seemingly without resolution after 150 years.  The script reveals things I didn’t know about or had forgotten, buried under white mythology and justification.  On returning to New Zealand I found that people have stopped listening, even though the issue is not going away.  I was also interested in composer John Mckay, whose War is an Avalanche I raved about in ANZAC Arts back in April. John has contributed to the text and written the final song.

Mano and Richard with Te Kara
Mano and Richard with Te Kara

The performers are musicians Mano Pratt and Richard Cannon who play two guys jamming. John can’t get his tongue around Moko’s name and has to have lessons.  This leads to him learning how to say his own name in Te Reo Maori and then to a discussion about the Treaty and onward to the Maori flag, Te Kara.


I wrote a version of The Four Horsemen back in 2012 for something called The Clash Project under the auspices of London New Play Festival.   Back in 2009 I directed the first plays to be written, when writer/ musician, Cheryl White, a fan of the Punk Band The Clash had an ambition to present a programme of short plays, each inspired by a track of their album, London’s Calling.  I had a cast of four actors to do all the plays which played in a fringe theatre above a dodgy Irish pub in Kilburn, West London, one of the few remaining rough spots in town.

By 2012 there were nine short plays ready which we presented as script in hand performances over two evenings.  I’d originally been interested in The Right Profile – an unexpected lyric about the pain suffered by gay actor Montgomery Clift  after his car accident. Someone else had got there first so I went back to the album lyrics and found The Four Horsemen which begins with a rant about grapes and wine leading onto harder stuff and attracting

The Four Horsemen
The Four Horsemen

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, straight from St John’s book of Revelations in The Bible.  Again, this is astonishing material for a punk band to be singing.  That was it – I had to write about Death. I set the original play on an island, using Waiheke Island (New Zealand), a landscape I knew well so it was appropriate to submit the play for consideration here.  I set about cutting more than a minute out, a curiously satisfying exercise, leaving the play with the essentials to reduce it to ten minutes. I have handed the play over to director, Louise Roke, who was very enthusiastic about the play and, more importantly, understood it.  I went to a rehearsal last week and the two guys playing the gay couple are excellent.  It’s shaping up to be a moving performance.

We’re opening at Piritahi Marae on Friday 9th October and again on Saturday 10th @ 7.30pm  bookings at gyo15@vodafone.co.nz Tickets $15



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