Cen­tre­point presents ac­claimed play to Manawatu

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR EVENTS AND ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE -

It was The Guardian’s Best Show of 2013, win­ner of the Ed­in­burgh Fringe First Award and awarded five stars by nu­mer­ous pub­li­ca­tions from the Daily Tele­graph to The Metro. Now Manawatu gets to ex­pe­ri­ence this ‘‘ex­tra­or­di­nary and com­pelling’’ play for them­selves.

The Events tells the story of Claire, a lib­eral priest and choir leader who, in the fall­out of one hor­rific act, is forced to ques­tion the na­ture of evil and bat­tle with the con­cept of for­give­ness. It’s a jour­ney that will take her to the edge of rea­son, sci­ence, pol­i­tics and faith.

Each night, a dif­fer­ent choir from the wider Manawatu-Wan­ganui per­forms, pro­vid­ing an evoca­tive mu­si­cal score span­ning tra­di­tional cho­ral hymns to John Browne and Dizzee Ras­cal. These choirs have never seen or read the play nor have they re­hearsed with the ac­tors in it.

‘‘It’s a mes­meris­ing fu­sion of the­atre and mu­sic – an ex­pe­ri­ence that can only hap­pen in the the­atre,’’ says artis­tic di­rec­tor Jeff Kings­ford-Brown. ‘‘It high­lights the im­por­tance of com­mu­nity and our re­spon­si­bil­ity for one another when con­fronted by tragedy.’’

Fol­low­ing the 2011 at­tacks by An­ders Breivik in Nor­way, Scot­tish play­wright David Greig was struck with a sort of enor­mity.

‘‘It very much prompted me to ask, why did this hap­pen? How could a per­son do that?’’ He then vis­ited Nor­way and spoke to peo­ple who had been in­volved.

‘‘The play be­gan there. I was very, very care­ful. A key de­ci­sion was to make it a fic­tional story,’’ Greig ex­plains. ‘‘Some­body once said, ‘fic­tion is the lie that helps you to tell the truth’ and it was im­por­tant to be able to ex­plore the story though fic­tion. I also wanted to avoid voyeurism.’’

Given the preva­lence of mass public killings over re­cent years, any stag­ing of this pro­duc­tion was go­ing to res­onate. Un­for­tu­nately, com­ing so soon af­ter the Or­lando shoot­ings and the mass at­tack in Nice, Cen­tre­point ac­knowl­edges the play will touch on wounds that are par­tic­u­larly raw.

‘‘When we pro­grammed this work late last year, lit­tle did we know how rel­e­vant it would be when we fi­nally got round to stag­ing it,’’ ad­mits Kings­ford-Brown. ‘‘Un­for­tu­nately, it does stress how im­por­tant it is for us to have this con­ver­sa­tion now.’’

The pro­duc­tion comes with a dis­claimer: ‘While the play does not de­pict vi­o­lent acts or con­done vi­o­lence, it does deal with themes, sit­u­a­tions and lan­guage that may not be ap­pro­pri­ate for young au­di­ences.’ Ul­ti­mately though, it is a uni­ver­sal story about hope and un­der­stand­ing.

Fol­low­ing its Auck­land sea­son last year, Metro Magazine raved ‘‘Don’t miss this play. I’ve said that be­fore but I’ve never meant it more. The Events plugs you into the heart of the world. It’s trau­matic, for sure – by the end I was a com­plete mess. It is also mag­nif­i­cent.’’

Cen­tre­point points out that The Events is its Open Stage pro­duc­tion for 2016. Open Stage is an ini­tia­tive pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to those in our com­mu­nity who want to grow cre­atively in a sup­ported yet rig­or­ous learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

It was launched in 2015 with the New Zealand pre­miere of Nick Dear’s Franken­stein, a pro­duc­tion led by two pro­fes­sional ac­tors with sup­port from lo­cal artists and Cen­tre­point’s Base­ment Co, and pre­sented to sold out crowds and critical ac­claim.

The Events runs from July 29 to Au­gust 20, Wed­nes­day to Satur­day at 8pm and Sun­day at 5pm. Tick­ets: Adults ($40), Group 10+ ($36), Se­nior/un­der30/CSC ($32), Ter­tiary ($20), High School ($18). Book­ing 06-354-5740 or cen­tre­point.co.nz

Claire Dougan, who plays Claire, the young priest, lis­tens in to a choir in re­hearsal.

Jo Sale sings the poignant Mem­ory from CATS.

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