Black comedy on stage for festival
On Thursday, October 3, as part of the Whanganui Literary Festival, Repertory Theatre is presenting opening night of The Dignity of Risk ,a black comedy, directed by Kerry Girdwood.
It’s about three refugees from the mental health system, searching for their Jerusalem.
“I wrote [the play] in the early 1990s as a film script, says The Dignity of Risk author Joan Rosier-Jones. “Caterina De Nave took an option on the script for the magnificent price of a cup of coffee.”
Caterina liked it and tried South Pacific Pictures, but they deemed it “art house” and said it wouldn’t suit them. So Joan rewrote it as a play.
“The impetus for it was they had shut down all the institutions and put all these [mentally unwell] people out into the world with no back-up system. As time’s gone by they have put things in place but there’s never enough, and today, nothing has really changed.
“So here we have three refugees from the mental health system.”
There’s Dancer (Ronan Shaw), Brains (Ashlyn Morris) and Mack the Knife (Thor Wrigglesworth).
While there are some intense scenes where mental health as it affects individuals and the group is the focus, Joan says there are also some funny lines — where it’s expected the audience will laugh.
Together, Joan and director Kerry Girdwood have refined the script to give it its present shape.
“It’s powerful,” says Kerry. “It’s relevant. Joan writes well, and when I first read through it I could see it wouldn’t take all that much to get it stage ready. I’ve done another of Joan’s plays for Repertory so I was familiar with the sort of intensity she brings to writing for the stage.”
Kerry says she’s enjoying the process very much.
“It’s now beginning to come together and the cast are beginning to inhabit their characters,” she says. ■ The Dignity of Risk is on at Repertory Theatre on October 3,4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 at 7.30pm, and 2pm matinee on October 6. Book at the Royal Wanganui Opera House. Tickets are $25 (adults) and $20 (members/seniors/ students). Door sales available.
The cast of The Dignity of Risk are (back) Richard Hamblett, Chris Stedman, Irene Loder. Front row is Ronan Shaw, Ashlyn Morris and Thor Wrigglesworth. To the right is Allan Chesswas.