Sea­son of plays in re­sponse to refugee cri­sis

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENJOY -

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 cen­tre­ 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.

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