THE team at Gisborne Unity Theatre are moving from the drawing rooms of the Tudor era to a contemporary Kiwi woolshed for their next play, for which they will soon be auditioning.
Perusal scripts will be available at Stephen’s PhotoPlus from tomorrow for The Learner’s Stand, playwright David Geary’s story about love (and life) among the fleeces and Unity will need to fill seven adult roles if they are to stage the play in October as planned.
The auditions will be held at Unity’s Ormond Road clubrooms on August 5.
The play will be directed by US import Shannon Friday, who is currently dividing her time between Gisborne and Wellington, where she is studying towards a Master in Theatre Arts while also directing pieces for Toi Whakaari: The NZ Drama School and the University of Victoria.
“I, personally, am very excited about it,” says Unity committee member Heather McIntyre. “It’s great to be doing a Kiwi play . . . one that combines light-heartedness with the exploration of a few ‘issues’.”
In telling his story about a student who joins a rather atypical shearing gang for the summer, Geary drew on the experiences of his own youth where, growing up in a small village in the Manawatu hill country, he got his first taste of “theatre” by listening to the yarns spun by workers in his father’s shearing gang.
His ninth play since his 1988 debut, The Learner’s Stand won him the 1994 Adam Foundation Playwriting Award.
It presents quite a contrast to Unity’s last production — a stage version of the Blackadder television series — with Geary’s tending to lampoon traditional theatre while telling distinctly New Zealand stories, often using physicality as a tool.
Meanwhile, performers of a more musical bent will also soon have a chance to make a bid for their moment under lights. Musical Theatre Gisborne will be seeking a substantial cast for its presentation of raunchy 1966 classic Cabaret, which it plans to stage in early December. Watch this space.