Playwright extracts literary riches from the landscape
A story of fighting the government and trying to earn a living in the ‘‘brutal’’ Central Otago environment is to be portrayed onstage by the Auckland Theatre Company.
The company will perform former Wanaka man Arthur Meek’s play Trees Beneath The Lake, which follows a family as they lose their battle to save the family orchard from being flooded in the creation of the Clyde Dam.
Meek said the play was a work of fiction but as Central Otago was second home for many years he felt it was a strong New Zealand story which needed to be told.
The play was based in Lowburn and took three years to create.
‘‘It [Central Otago] looks so beautiful but it’s deceptively brutal,’’ Meek said.
Starring Michael Hurst, Theresa Healey and Catherine Wilkin the play includes themes of greed, deception, and family drama.
Meek wrote much of the play while in New York as part of the Harriet Friedlander New York Residency.
‘‘Central Otago is famously beautiful but once you spend time there you realise it’s also deceptively brutal.
‘‘Everyone who’s ever lived there comes face to face with its promise of great riches and the practical difficulty of trying to extract them.
‘‘As soon as I got to New York all my characters made a whole new sense – what they wanted and what they were going to get became clear,’’ Meek said.
He hoped to see the play performed in Central Otago in the future.
ATC artistic director Colin McColl said Meek was one of the bright stars of New Zealand play-writing.
‘‘This smart, powerful and compelling new work we’ve commissioned from him questions what happens to the inhabitants of a small nation who risk everything to dream big,’’ McColl said.
The play will take place at the Maidment Theatre from September 4 to 27.
What lies beneath: Former Wanaka man Arthur Meek sits in front of a production crew working to pack-in the set of his play, TreesBeneathTheLake, which will go on show in Auckland this month. The play follows the story of a Lowburn family who lose their orchard when the Clyde dam was built.