Eureka! A new idea for a play
The bathtub is where budding playwright Catherine Smith comes up with some of her best ideas.
Ms Smith is about to graduate from the Unitec bachelor of performing and Screen arts, majoring in writing for theatre and screen.
Her graduation play Burnt Pears, which she has been working on since the start of the year, opens tonight.
It’s the unusual story of an old man living in a burnt pear orchard who catches a little blind girl in his fishing net while fishing in the orchard’s river.
“He convinces her she’s died and gone to heaven so she won’t leave and he has to find a way to bring her sight back.”
The 21-year-old Mt Albert student is also co-directing the production and says her ideas just pop into her head in the tub, or while walking to school.
Her passion for writ- ing goes back to her childhood in Timaru, when she wrote to Disney Studios proposing they make a film of the Roald Dahl book Matilda, with herself playing the lead role.
She got a letter back explaining the legalities of using other people’s ideas as films but she wasn’t deterred by the setback and kept writing.
“I wrote my first play quite young.
“I found it was a much quicker way to write stories.”
She also started directing shows while at high school and performed a self-devised monologue at various South Island festivals.
Theatre writing tutor Gary Henderson says it’s unusual for a student playwright to direct their own work for the Unitec degree.
“It’s just the tradition that writers write and directors direct. Catherine has chosen another model, working with two directing students and the three of them staging the play.”
He is so impressed with the way it’s working that he is looking at using it as a model for next year’s students and has enjoyed watching Ms Smith’s progress.
“It’s been really interesting to watch her work and develop over the three years.
“She has a style about what she does that is hard to define.
“There’s always quite a poetic nature to what she’s written.”
Next year Ms Smith plans to attend teachers’ training college so she can support herself as a primary school teacher while working on theatre projects in her spare time.
Burnt Pears will be on at Unitec’s Dance Studio 2, Gate 1, Carrington Rd at 7pm tonight and Friday night and 4pm on Sunday.
The Unitec School of Performing and Screen Art’s graduation seasons runs until November 29.
Tickets are available at www.iticket.co.nz.
Budding playwright: Catherine Smith’s play Burnt Pears is set in a burned out pear orchard.