New play questions Olympic dream
I’ve decided it’s time to do something creative again so this has been really exciting, especially working with Carrie Green as the director.
After turning her back on the comedy scene for five years, award-winning writer and comedian Sarah Harpur, of Raumati, returns to the festival circuit with her hilarious oneperson play, The Shit Kid.
Featuring sibling rivalry, Olympic ambition, Mark Todd fever-dreams and a very sexy horse, The Shit Kid
is a one-person play about one mediocre person.
Directed by the award-winning and multi-talented Carrie Green (Nga¯ti Porou), The Shit Kid premieres at Fringe Bar, Wellington, as part of the NZ Fringe Festival from February 22-26, before hitting the Aotearoa NZ Festival circuit.
The performance is a mixture of a play and stand-up comedy with serious messages mixed in between.
“I got into stand-up because it’s the perfect mixture of writing and performing,” Sarah said.
“I love the writing side of it, but stand-up can have antisocial hours when you’ve got kids.”
Taking a break from it for five years, Sarah continued with her writing, doing her master’s in scriptwriting at Victoria University, and since then has worked in communications and written for animated kids shows “and things like that”.
The Shit Kid started life as a short play Sarah wrote while doing her master’s.
“Watching other people perform it, I thought, ‘I wanna do this’.”
With Covid-19 disrupting several creative projects she had been working on, Sarah had more time on her hands.
“With Covid-19 lots of my creative projects I’ve been working on got scuppered, all sorts of things have been cancelled because everyone’s just so nervous.
“So I’ve been pottering away, writing on the side while commuting into Wellington on the train.
“I’ve decided it’s time to do something creative again so this has been really exciting, especially working with Carrie Green as the director.
“Carrie has found interesting ways to bring the story to life.
“She’s really good at slowing me down and making me do things that I would never think of doing by myself.
“She comes in with a fresh pair of eyes and helps me to bring the serious bits to life too.
“It’s been completely new territory for me.
“The initial inspiration for The Shit Kid was the world of equestrian and the lack of access to anyone without a trust fund, but during the ko¯ rero following the Tokyo Olympics, I started to wonder if the Olympic dream is a flawed concept.”
Sarah Harpur as Sharni in
likes of American gymnast Simone Biles pulling out, the death of New Zealand cyclist
Olivia Podmore, and so many more athletes coming out sharing their experiences, Sarah’s original idea was flipped on its head.
“I thought, wow this is what we are told we’re supposed to strive for, but these guys are having a really hard time.
“Why is this the dream?
“Their mental wellbeing is not looked after and that environment is breaking these people.
“It’s probably only fun for a few people, and even then only for a short while.
“All of a sudden what do you do with your life, what’s next?”
The story became more about the character’s motivation for trying
to get into the Olympic world when maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
“It’s about learning to be okay with not being a famous Olympian and maybe that’s a perfectly valid life.”
Sarah has put a lot of thought into the messages shared while questioning the whole illusion of Olympic glory.
“I’m really happy with it, and working with Carrie has been great. “It’s exciting, but also scary. “Carrie is one of the funniest, smartest and talented people I’ve met in the industry.
“I’m so grateful to work with her until she gets too famous and pretends she doesn’t know me.”
The shows will be going ahead in the red traffic light setting with the Fringe Festival planning for the setting by capping ticket numbers to allow for social distancing.
“It means there are less people in the venue, but I don’t care if there are only two people in there, it’s just a chance to practise and workshop the play.”
While her ambition when she was younger was to make comedy and performing her life, Sarah is now content to “potter along with it on the side”.
“I’m pottering away, doing this as a side hustle.
“It’s now more about having a nice balanced life with family and expressing myself creatively when I feel like it.”
The Shit Kid is on at the Fringe Bar in Wellington from February 22-26.