2018 Play Extracts

Welcome to our list of plays for the Y&H Tours 
A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES 

The aim of these excerpts is to provoke questions more than present answers, for art’s purpose is to disrupt normality and make us ask those questions. With that in mind we first must ask what normality is – what is normal for you may not be usual for me, especially in a multicultural society like Aotearoa/New Zealand. For a taste of this I have included the likes of ‘Ka-Shue’; some differences are rooted in the same background, so I have included ‘Broken River’; and some show only one side of the coin, such as ‘Wednesday To Come’. All try to bring a range of perspectives, gender, ethnicity, similarity and difference not only in content and theme but in the writers themselves.

Aotearoa/New Zealand has a strong history of playwriting specifically because of our backgrounds within such a small country that span such a wide range. Our list includes Bruce Mason Playwriting Award winners and holders of the Otago University Burns Fellowship. It also includes multiple winners of Playmarket awards as well as many, many theatre awards from around the country.

One of the interesting parts of choosing the excerpts was to find scenes that represent the argument that the play presents succinctly. We read a large number of plays looking for a wide range of perspectives and also some that are not usually presented in schools. Dave Armstrong’s ‘Niu Sila’ and ‘Le Sud’ are excellent examples but in talking with Wellington teachers while I was working for the New Zealand Festival SchoolFest, there was a call for plays that were not the ‘usual suspects’. We also looked at what was being studied and what gaps there were in that list. I was very keen to find as wide a range of plays through the ages as possible in order to make it possible to look at our social and artistic progression both in the writing and in what was being written about. I find it interesting that conversations being had many years ago are still current, and also, perhaps a little saddening too.

The performance aims to present these plays in such a way that students can also discuss aspects of performance itself. We’ll be using direct address, naturalism, hyper realism, and physical theatre. We’ll be using minimal but effective props and costume; choreography to transition between scenes while singing a capella songs to evoke time and place. As we have four actors and a range of ethnicities represented we are interested in questions around the portrayal of ethnicity and gender onstage.

Being part of a multi-cultural society means listening to both halves of the discussion and working together. We hope that this selection provokes thought and furthers your students’ interrogations into New Zealand/Aotearoa and their place in it.

Patrick Davies (Director)

 

Play summaries and notes written by Patrick Davies 

Broken River…………………………………………………………………………………………….by Ralph McCubbin Howell
The Debate………………………………………………….………………………………………..….by Riwia Brown
Ka-Shue (Letters Home)….……………………………………………………….…………….by Lynda Chanwai-Earle
Revenge of the Amazons………………………………………………………………………….by Jean Betts
Sham…………………………………………………………………………………………………….…..by Jess Sayer
The Tutor……………………….…………………………………………………………………..…….by Dave Armstrong
Urban Hymns……….……………………………………………………………………….……..…..by Mīria George
Wednesday to Come…………………………………………………………………………………by Renée