Season of plays in response to refugee crisis
The refugee crisis asks urgent questions of us all, but what role can the theatre play, on stage and off?
In response to this provocation, Centrepoint Theatre launches its first Plays with a Purpose season-within-a-season on Amnesty International Day, May 28.
Over one month, Centrepoint will host three remarkable plays from Iran, New Zealand and Britain, all dealing with two strands of discussion: political oppression and the issue of displaced refugees and the responsibility we have to care for those without a home.
‘‘It’s a grassroots initiative which simply aims to engage members of the Manawatu community in a conversation,’’ says artistic director Jeff Kingsford-Brown.
‘‘We think that being part of a community is a powerful human need and the theatre can help in this. It offers a place to be and promotes a culture of sanctuary within it.’’
Opening the season is the top secret White Rabbit Red Rabbit, presented in association with Aurora Nova Productions.
Some might call it a play. But it’s a lively, global sensation that noone is allowed to talk about.
Forbidden to leave his native Iran, Soleimanpour wrote it to travel the world in his place.
The audience joins each performer on a journey into the unknown; stumbling upon the personal and profound, the limits of liberty and ultimately where theatre can take you.
Centrepoint Theatre will host a wide array of stage and screen talent from Manawatu and beyond for White Rabbit Red Rabbit’s strictly limited two-week tenure, including: Geraldine Brophy ( How To Murder Your Wife), Laura Daniel ( Jono and Ben), Torum Heng ( Go Girls), Chris Tempest ( Shortland Street), the Modern Maori Quartet’s Jamie McCaskill, Sophie Hambleton ( Westside) and many more.
Following from that is the world premiere of Manawatu awardwinning playwright Angie Farrow’s latest, The Politician’s Wife. Shortlisted for the 2016 Adam NZ Play Award, it tells of a woman of great privilege caught up in the refugee crisis.
Torn between her loyalties to her conservative husband and her desire to help displaced people on an offshore island, she finds herself unwittingly at the centre of a national scandal.
‘‘Like many of us, I have been deeply affected by the refugee crisis,’’ says Farrow.
‘‘Sometimes it has seemed overwhelming: watching nightly news bulletins of stranded asylum seekers, trying to make sense of a catastrophe, the scale of which has been beyond comprehension.
‘‘I ask myself, ‘what can be done? What can I do?’’’
Directed by former Massey University artist-in-residence Stephen Bain, The Politician’s Wife plays at Centrepoint Theatre in June for one week before touring to Wellington’s BATS Theatre.
Concluding Plays with a Purpose is a rehearsed reading of the critically-acclaimed Lampedusa by Anders Lustgarten.
For two shows only, Frankenstein star Karlos Drinkwater and Two Fish ‘n’ a Scoop’s Hweiling Ow will put us in the shoes of those whose job it is to enforce ‘‘the rules’’, telling us the story behind the headlines of two strangers finding hope and connection where they least expect it.
Stefano (Drinkwater) follows in the footsteps of generations of fishermen. But in the 21st century, the catch is very different: his job is to pull drowned bodies of migrants out of the Mediterranean.
And in the bleakest corners of the UK, Denise (Ow) tramps from door-to-door collecting pay day loans, witnessing crippling hardship and hearing complaints about immigration.
Plays with a Purpose, May 28 – June 26, tickets: Season pass $69, bookings: 06 354 5740 or centrepoint.co.nz. White Rabbit Red Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour.
Dates: May 28 – June 11, Wednesday 6.30pm; Thursday – Saturday 8pm; Sunday 5pm.
Tickets: Adult $40; under 30/senior/Community Services Card $32; tertiary $20; high school. $18; group 10+ $36pp. The Politician’s Wife by Angie Farrow, tickets: Adult $40; under 30/senior/Community Services Card $32; tertiary $20; high school $18; group 10+ $36pp. Lampedusa by Anders Lustgarten, a rehearsed reading, June 25-26, Saturday 8pm; Sunday 5pm, tickets: $20.
Stephen Lovatt ( Neighbours) in Auckland’s White Rabbit, Red Rabbit.