Centrepoint presents acclaimed play to Manawatu
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.