Sam is un­stop­pable

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS ETHERIDGE

‘‘NOT be­ing able to get a sen­tence out is not a life sen­tence,’’ Sam Brooks says.

It is a mantra the award­win­ning play­wright lives and breathes, be­cause he has al­ways had a stut­ter.

The New­ton res­i­dent says the speech im­ped­i­ment be­came prom­i­nent when he was about 5 or 6.

The prob­lem is not sit­u­a­tional – it stays the same whether he is at a crowded show or chat­ting with friends.

‘‘To be hon­est, it’s kind of uni­ver­sal across the board. I don’t re­ally get ner­vous or pres­sured or any­thing, I’m gen­er­ally a pretty calm person,’’ the 23-year-old says.

Brooks says there are few sit­u­a­tions he has to speak pub­licly in as a play­wright.

‘‘But if I’m ever talk­ing in a group I don’t get par­tic­u­larly in­se­cure about it.

‘‘What I say is gen­er­ally worth lis­ten­ing to, and peo­ple will wait un­til I fin­ish what I’m say­ing.’’

He grew up read­ing books, watch­ing tele­vi­sion shows and play­ing video games but it was the im­pact words can have on peo­ple that drove his pas­sion for writ­ing.

‘‘I read, and still read, lots of books and be­came re­ally fas­ci­nated in the vis­ceral re­sponses that a few care­fully cho­sen words can draw out of peo­ple – whether it’s laugh­ter or cry­ing or any­where on the spec­trum in be­tween.

‘‘It’s also the form of ex­pres­sion that an au­di­ence is si­mul­ta­ne­ously com­fort­able with and the most un­com­fort­able,’’ he says.

Brooks has won back-to­back awards in the Play­mar­ket Play­wrights b4 25 com­pe­ti­tion, been a fi­nal­ist for the ADAM Award and this year re­ceived a highly com­mended prize for his play Rid­ing in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys.

Six of his plays have been per­formed at The Base­ment theatre and one at TAPAC in Western Springs. He re­views stage shows al­most ev­ery week and has worked be­hind the scenes for some of Auck­land’s most re­spected theatre groups.

Brooks is writ­ing a play called The 21st Nar­cis­sus and hopes to do a solo show about stuttering for next year’s Fringe Fes­ti­val.

He says it might be time to take a breather.

‘‘The joke about

me putting on 20 plays a year is a thing I’m aware of, and I’ve more or less been work­ing for two years with­out a break so it might be time to recharge, in terms of my per­sonal life and just cre­atively.’’

Brooks is un­aware of oth­ers in the in­dus­try who stut­ter but en­cour­ages those who do to per­se­vere.

‘‘If you’re com­mit­ted, you’re nice and you’re good at what you do, it’s an in­dus­try that will wel­come you with open arms,’’ he says.

‘‘Don’t let it stop you from do­ing what you want to do.’’

Brooks’ lat­est pro­duc­tion, Wine Lips, is on at The Base­ment from Au­gust 26 to 30 and stars Nic Samp­son and Chelsea McEwan Mil­lar.

Photo: JESS ETHERIDGE

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bournews.co.nz and click Lat­est Edi­tion to watch a clip of Sam Brooks’ pre­vi­ous stage work. Cen­tre stage: Sam Brooks, cen­tre, is di­rect­ing his own show Wine Lips, which stars Nic Samp­son, left, and Chelsea McEwan Mil­lar.

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