Auckland Theatre Company announces 25th anniversary season

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Family in all its forms is the theme of Auckland Theatre Company’s (ATC) 2017/2018 progamme, announced yesterday.

The dynamic line up sees mothers and daughters, a father and son, brothers, twins and a grandmother go head to head in ATC’s stellar second season in the ASB Waterfront Theatre.

The 2017/2018 season (October to September) comprises six new New Zealand works, three New Zealand premieres and two classic revivals.

The first event is a new work-in-development series, The Navigators. Three extraordinary New Zealand artists and wahine toa have been commissioned to each develop a ground-breaking new performance work. The Navigators will see the company’s inaugural Artistic Associates, Malia Johnston, Kate Parker and Katie Wolfe, each present a work in the early stages of development, over a festival-style weekend held in early October.

Following the Navigators, November heralds the first play of the season, Red Speedo. The New York times has hailed American playwright Lucas Hnath as one of the brightest voices in a new generation of theatre-makers. With a precision and passion not seen since David Mamet, Red Speedo will kick the 2018 season off with a family torn apart by ambition, drugs and the taste of superstardom.

Director Benjamin Henson (The Effect, Twelfth Night, Not Psycho) will make his ASB Waterfront Theatre subscription season directorial debut, alongside an expert creative team including designer John Parker (Peer Gynt [recycled], The Importance of Being Earnest, The Glass Menagarie) and sound designer Eden Mulholland (Peer Gynt [recycled], August Osage County).

The stellar cast includes Chelsie Preston-Crayford (Angels in America, Underbelly, The Inland Road), Wesley Dowdell (The Curious Incident in the Dog in the Night-Time, Outrageous Fortune, Once on Chunuk Bair) and Scott Wills (To Kill A Mockingbird, The Light Between Oceans, Dirty Laundy), alongside ATC newcomer Ryan Carter (Shortland Street, Power Rangers).

Families and fans of Maurice Gee’s Under the Mountain can look forward to Pip Hall’s stage adaptation of this much-loved New Zealand novel. The Wilberforces are back, and twins Rachel & Theo must learn to use their psychic powers before Auckland is destroyed.

Under the Mountain was adapted for a 1981 television miniseries and a 2009 film. This world premiere production will be directed by Sara Brodie, whose spectacular stage skills were last seen in Auckland Theatre Company’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Starring Peter Hayden (You Can Always Hand Them Back, Other Desert Cities, Ladykillers, The Fire-Raiser) and Nicola Kawana (Shortland Street, A Doll’s House, Mercy Peak), Under the Mountainwill be a magical, mysterious and thrilling event for everyone 8 years and older.

Produced by UK theatrical innovators Headlong, together with Nottingham Playhouse and the Almeida Theatre, George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984 came roaring onto the stage in 2013 and, since then, has become an international phenomenon. Seen by over 500,000 people worldwide, it has enjoyed three hugely successful West Ends seasons and a season on Broadway. Now Auckland Theatre Company has teamed up with the Auckland Arts Festival and GWB Entertainment to present the New Zealand premiere of this international touring phenomenon as part of our 25th-birthday subscription season.

A literary masterpiece meets sheer theatrical ambition as one of the twentieth century’s greatest novels is given new life by some of British theatre’s fastest-rising stars.

Set in a world where an invasive government keeps a malevolently watchful eye on its citizens, this radical and much-lauded staging explores surveillance, identity and why Orwell’s vision of the future is as relevant now as ever. Orwell’s fiction has become our reality.

Also during the Auckland Arts Festival is David Mamea’s Still Life with Chickens – a beautiful, beguiling and very funny play about loneliness and the resilience of communities. Still Life with Chickens won the Adam NZ Play Award and the Playmarket Best Play by a Pasifika Playwright in 2017.

When Mama discovers a stray chicken enjoying the greens in her beloved veggie garden, her first instinct is to reach for the spade. But what starts as an all-out war develops into a begrudging friendship, as Mama opens up to the chicken about her struggles with her old man, her palagi daughter-in-law, her immigrant neighbours and the grandchildren she rarely sees. Through this unlikely friendship Mama learns there’s more to life than waiting for death.

Actor Fasitua Amosa (To Kill A Mockingbird, Dirty Laundry, Lysistrata) will direct this heart-warming solo show, which will play at both the Mangere Arts Centre and the ASB Cube at the ASB Waterfront Theatre in March.

In May, Robyn Malcolm will make her ASB Waterfront Theatre debut with a revamped version of the feminist classic, Mrs Warren’s Profession. Written in 1893, George Bernard Shaw’s play was originally banned by the censors for its subject matter and the hypocrisies it exposed. What continues to shock is how old taboos stay topical and how little things have changed.

After the huge success of Jane Doe and BOYS, celebrated New Zealand theatre-maker Eleanor Bishop will pull apart this rarely-performed classic with her provactive adaptation and directing style - taking a contemporary lense to centuries old questions of sexuality and empowerment.

Anton Chekhov’s final masterpiece, The Cherry Orchard  is getting a fresh, contemporary revival with Artistic Director Colin McColl at the helm. The laughter-through-tears tragi-comedy premiered in pre-revolution Russia; its prophetic passion and intimations of the social upheaval to come have a striking resonance for a modern audience in times of change.

With a stellar cast including Te Kohe Tuhaka (Deadlands, 6 Days, Find Me A Maori Bride),Andrew Grainger (Nell Gwynn, Billy Elliot the Musical, Chicago, Lysistrata) Alison Bruce (Nell Gwynn, Angels in America, The Almighty Johsnons) and Hera Dunleavy (Nell Gwynn, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), The Cherry Orchard portrays a tragically funny family unable to cope with change, in this fresh New Zealand revival.

Filthy Business is an epic and indomitable smash-hit family comedy set in East London in the late sixties. A recent West End season received rave reviews, labelling writer Ryan Craig as one of Britain’s major new playwrights.

The versatile Jennifer Ludlam (Boys Will Be Boys, August Osage County, Shortland Street) will play Yetta Solomon, the quintessential refugee who survived the un-survivable, then toiled in sweatshops to make her way in the world. Starring alongside Jodie Dorday (Billy Elliot The Musical, Westside, Xena Warrior Princess, Burying Brian) Ludlam will portray a formidable matriarch facing her toughest battle yet, presiding over warring sons and a younger generation who can’t wait to move on.

Led by Artistic Director Colin McColl, the expert creative team includes award-winning costume designer Nic Smillie (To Kill A Mockingbird, A Doll’s House, One Thousand Ropes, Insider’s Guide To Love) and set designer Dan Williams (When Sun & Moon Collide, Boys, Pitchfork Disney).

Auckland Theatre Company’s 2017/2018 season finishes in September with the world premiere of Rendered, a new work from renowned New Zealand playwright, novelist and librettist Stuart Hoar. Winner of the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award, Hoar’s latest work is a taut, tight, torn-from-the-headlines thriller, where domestic events play out on a world stage.

From an unnamed Middle Eastern desert to the Auckland Writer’s Festival, six lives are inextricably entwined in a world-wide web of intrigue, clear and present danger, and espionage. Director Katie Wolfe (Waru, The Women, Luncheon), will collaborate alongside designer John Verryt (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Book of Everything) in this gritty and topical new New Zealand drama.

Subscriptions are now open for Auckland Theatre Company’s 2018 season. Subscribers are the first to hear about additional offerings and events throughout the year, before they are announced publically.

For more information or to order a copy of the 2018 season brochure, visit www.atc.co.nz.
 
SEASON INFORMATION

The Navigators
 
Works by: Malia Johnston, Kate Parker and Katie Wolfe
Season dates: 6th – 8th October
Design: John Verryt, Eden Mulholland, Rowan Pierce

Red Speedo
 
Written by: Lucas Hnath
Directed by: Benjamin Henson
Season dates: 31st October – 15th November
Cast: Chelsie Preston-Crayford, Ryan Carter, Wesley Dowdell, Scott Wills
Set and Costume design: John Parker
Music design: Eden Mulholland
 
ASB season of Under the Mountain
 
Written by: Maurice Gee
Adapted by: Pip Hall
Directed by: Sara Brodie
Season dates: 7th February – 21st February
Cast includes: Peter Hayden, Nicola Kawana
 
1984
 
Written by: George Orwell
Adapted by: Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan
Season dates: 9th March – 25th March
 
Still Life with Chickens
 
Written by: David Mamea
Directed by: Fasitua Amosa
Season dates: 8th March – 24th March
Venues: Mangere Arts Centre and ASB Cube, ASB Waterfront Theatre
 
Mrs Warren’s Profession
 
Written by: George Bernard Shaw
Directed by: Eleanor Bishop
Season dates: 1st May – 16th May
Cast includes: Robyn Malcolm
Design: Tracy Grant Lord
 
Kensington Swan season of The Cherry Orchard
 
Written by: Anton Chekhov
Directed by: Colin McColl
Season dates: 12th June – 26th June
Cast includes: Te Kohe Tuhaka, Andrew Grainger, Alison Bruce, Hera Dunleavy
 
ASB season of Filthy Business
 
Written by: Ryan Craig
Directed by: Colin McColl
Season dates: 14th August – 29th August
Cast includes: Jennifer Ludlam, Andrew Grainger, Jodie Dorday
Set design: Dan Williams
Costume design: Nic Smillie
 
Giltrap Audi season of Rendered
 
Written by: Stuart Hoar
Directed by: Katie Wolfe
Season dates: 18th September – 3rd October
Set design: John Verryt