Green leaves school singing blues


Chris Green used to help his stu­dents at Tawa Col­lege to excel at their mu­sic, the­atre and choral events.

Now the former eco­nom­ics teacher has de­cided to turn his back on the class­room and pur­sue his own the­atri­cal dream.

Af­ter more than 30 years as an eco­nom­ics teacher, he is launch­ing his new ca­reer with a solo show in Up­per Hutt, Coal­town Blues by Mervyn Thompson.

The leap isn’t such a sur­prise though – Green orig­i­nally trained as a drama teacher, ‘‘but ended up teach­ing eco­nom­ics in­stead’’.

‘‘While I may not have taught drama I have cer­tainly been in­volved in a mul­ti­tude of school pro­duc­tions and mu­si­cal shows.

‘‘It was great be­ing able to work with peo­ple like Shona Mur­ray, who was head of mu­sic at Tawa Col­lege.’’

A life­long in­ter­est in mu­sic led to con­tacts in the­atre. He’s ap­peared in numer­ous shows in­clud­ing Cabaret, Lit­tle Shop of Hor­rors, CATS and The Sound of Mu­sic and a re­cent sell-out sea­son of Bur­lesque au Moulin.

He also cre­ated, or­gan­ised and sang in the Voices for Christchurch con­cert.

Coal­town Blues is a story of au­thor Mervyn Thompson’s child­hood in a West Coast min­ing com­mu­nity.

‘‘ I started teach­ing in Grey­mouth. That was where I was first in­tro­duced to the play.’’

He started work on the pro­duc­tion sev­eral years ago but other things came up and he was forced to shelve the idea.

‘‘Coming back to it was fab­u­lous be­cause if I had done it three years ago I would have en­joyed it but the things that have been hap­pen­ing down on the West Coast since then makes it that much more rel­e­vant.’’

The Pike River Mine dis­as­ter in 2010 eerily echoed themes in the play that in­cludes the death of a miner in a min­ing ac­ci­dent and shut­ting down coal mines.

‘‘So it’s got all th­ese other lay­ers now that I’ve come back to it.’’

Green is par­tic­u­larly pleased to have se­cured Lind­sey Rusling as di­rec­tor.

‘‘I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have gone ahead un­less I had a first-rate di­rec­tor.’’

Many would have started their new ca­reer in some­thing less de­mand­ing than a solo show where he por­trays mul­ti­ple characters, male and fe­male.

‘‘I agree – I’ve thrown my­self in the deep end.’’

The show will be the first pro­fes­sional pro­duc­tion in Up­per Hutt Col­lege’s new Cre­ative Arts Cen­tre. If the in­au­gu­ral sea­son goes well he in­tends to tour.

‘‘This is the be­gin­ning. As long as it’s rea­son­ably well re­ceived we’ll plan a na­tional tour.’’

If it even­tu­ates he would like to fin­ish the tour in Grey­mouth.

‘‘It would have this kind of sym­me­try to it. I started the play where I fin­ished teach­ing and then fin­ished the play where I started teach­ing – that would be fab­u­lous.’’

Coal­town Blues, Fe­bru­ary 21 - 24, 7.30pm, Cre­ative Arts Cen­tre Up­per Hutt Col­lege. Tick­ets $20 through or 974 4111.

Top­i­cal theme: Chris Green in char­ac­ter as for his solo show, Coal­town Blues by Mervyn Thompson.

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