Comedy, Drama and All That Jazz: The Court Announces The Meridian Energy 2017/18 Season

The Court Theatre has announced its new season for 2017-2018.

The Meridian Energy Season 2017/18 is one of vitality and joy. It brings together the best of New Zealand writing combined with the hottest scripts from overseas and some of the finest plays ever written.

Artistic Director, Ross Gumbley, says this season will deliver exciting theatrical experiences.

"This is a season of balance. It's a season of plays of the rarest quality. These plays explode on the stage and truly celebrate our humanity. Chekov said it's the role of the writer, or in our case, 'theatre artists', to raise questions and make us think about our existence. I think this Court Theatre season does both of those things."

The Meridian Energy 2017/18 mainstage season kicks off in August with the classic uplifting play, Steel Magnolias, centring on a group of Southern Belles who share life's loves, laughs, triumphs and tragedies. This is followed by a walk down memory lane for many Kiwis with the hit immersive work, Hudson and Halls Live!, which follows Peter Hudson and David Halls in New Zealand's original great gay love story as they record an episode of their hit cooking show. To change up the pace, a cast of two will take on the mainstage with Venus in Fur; an erotic, comedic and powerful play about a theatre audition that quickly takes on a life of its own.

Possibly the most anticipated show of the year for Court Theatre audiences is, of course, the summer musical which will transport audiences back to the grit and grime of the seedy 1920s underworld in Chicago, where fame and betrayal are the currency.

Kicking off 2018 is Roger Hall's newest play, a rejuvenation of the Jacobean comedy, The Alchemist. Set in contemporary Auckland, Easy Money sees two Australian con-artists demonstrate just how easily fools and their money can be parted. Whilst Easy Money is on the main stage, The Court will tackle a special sitespecific season of Shakespeare's bloodiest tragedy, Titus Andronicus; a veritable parade of the Bard's most inventive and grotesque deaths.

The beautiful period piece, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play follows, drawing audiences into a small town in New York state at the dawn of the electrical age. While the play gives a comic and amusing take on the invention of the vibrator, at its essence it is a play about relationships and a couple who are struggling to find their connection.

After starting the season with a play about a group of strong women and their friendship; the Meridian Energy Season finishes with a play about a group of "beta males" and their mate-ship, in Jamie McCaskill's latest work, The Biggest. This New Zealand play centres on a regional fishing competition and the hard-asnails M?ori and pakeha men who enter, despite their lack of fishing skills, to win their mate a boat.

Complementing the work on the main-stage is a delightful line up of shows in The Forge.

"This is a Forge season of diversity. There are plays from more of the different communities we have in Christchurch than any other season we've presented in the past. That makes audiences excited and it makes us as practitioners excited as well," Gumbley said.

Kicking off The Forge season on March 30, Taki Rua present their latest work, He Kura E Huna Ana, which will be performed entirely in te reo M?ori. The story presents a dual narrative: the origin myth of pounamu and a modern-day story about a young woman who must find a way to deal with her own personal loss.

Returning to The Forge after a highly successful season in 2015 is Hamlet: The Video Game (The Stage Show). This genre-bending parody mashes up Shakespeare and video games into a comedy with wide appeal.

Following sold-out seasons over the past two years, The Jesters return with the family-friendly improv offering The Early Early Late Show, hosted in the Christchurch Art Gallery. Then The Forge at The Court hosts New Zealand's first National TheatresportsTM Champs in over a decade. Over four nights, eight highly competitive national TheatresportsTM teams will provide us with pure comedic entertainment and compete to take home the crown.

The Forge will then proudly host Pasifika theatre company, Tulou Productions, in a development season of their new work, Matai, where one young man struggling with family responsibility and seeks to balance traditional and modern life.

For a 'one night only' special event, Scriptless: First Class reunites Jesters not seen together on the Scared Scriptless stage in over twenty years.

Closing out the year will see a return of the highly popular Christmas event, A Christmas Carol, which will see two Court Jesters and one musician scramble through Dickens' famous story with a lot of help from the audience.

The Court will stage four children's shows during school holidays - Snow White, The Ugly Duckling, Puff the Magic Dragon and A Paintbox of Clowns; a series of readings - Astroman, Sean Penn is in his Boat and Troll; and two shows from The Court Theatre's Youth Company - The Crucible and Trios.

This Court Theatre season is a collection of plays, events and pursuits that celebrate, question and challenge the human spirit. Gumbley feels that in "an increasingly divisive climate around the world, the theatre is a place to come together and share our humanity. It might be midnightelsewhere in the world but we believe in the dawn and we want you to come and join us."

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