Court Theatre Presents PACIFIC POST World Premiere, Oct 20-Nov 10
The Court Theatre brings a heart warming story of love against all odds to the stage in PACIFIC POST, a new play by Stephanie McKellar-Smith and Ross McKellar.
PACIFIC POST tells the story of Bud and Hazel, a married couple in 1940s Westport whose happiness is threatened when Bud is conscripted and sent to Fiji to assist with the war effort. Separated by an ocean, the two must communicate through letters through a time that tests the limits of their courage.
PACIFIC POST is a deeply personal project for both: the work was inspired by a letter McKellar-Smith’s grandfather sent to his wife while he was stationed in Fiji during World War Two.
“My mother found the letter in the back of a cupboard after Granddad passed away. It was really amazing, particularly because none of the rest of the family had seen it before,” says McKellar-Smith. “The instant Ross and I saw the letter we knew this story would make a wonderful play.”
The couple have spent four years developing the script. “We’ve been working together since 1984,” says McKellar, “I have huge admiration for Stephanie as a director, dramaturg and editor. We both know our jobs, we do them well and we respect each other.”
McKellar-Smith directs and McKellar plays the role of Bud in the romantic drama.
McKellar says “I knew Bud, so my role on stage (and in writing) is to capture the essence of the man. It’s an honour to play someone I respect and admire.”
McKellar-Smith has found directing the play "A fulfilling and exciting process. It is fantastic to finally get to approach the play, not as a co-writer/creator, but as a director and to have the time to fully explore the characters' stories. I constantly marvel during rehearsal at the new sub-text which is being revealed through the committed work of four wonderful and gifted actors."
PACIFIC POST had a number of development workshops to which was public were invited – it was clear from their reactions that the play resonated with audiences.
“After the reading we hosted in The Forge I was approached by numerous people with tears running down their cheeks telling me I had to programme the play,” says Artistic Director of The Court Theatre Ross Gumbley. “Considering I was moved to tears as well it was simply a matter of when.” PACIFIC POST is The Court Theatre’s third consecutive world première.
All of the cast have been involved in the script workshops before taking part in The Court production. Michael Lee Porter says “it has been an honour to help bring this script to the stage” and Amy Straker returned from performing in the UK specifically to perform in the show. “There is a real family feeling among everyone involved in this production,” says Straker.
The cast and crew travelled to Westport during the rehearsal period to see the setting of the play, including the Smith family home, and meet people who lived through the events – including Hazel’s sister Jean. “She’s 106 years old and was a bit disappointed she couldn’t perform in the play,” says Juliet Reynolds-Midgley, who plays Jean in the production.
Gumbley is eagerly anticipating the opening of PACIFIC POST. “Stephanie and Ross have added to the canon of New Zealand theatre a wonderfully singular story from their own family. And it is because of the play’s singularity that it speaks so widely to all of us. I thank them for their courage and hard work in bringing this story to the stage.”
PACIFIC POST opens on 20 October.
CAST: Ross McKellar, Amy Straker, Michael Lee Porter and Juliet Reynolds-Midgley
Set design: Julian Southgate
Lighting Design: Leanne Hawkins
Sound & AV Design: Andrew Todd
Stage Manager: Jo Bunce
Props Manager: Anneke Bester
Costume Design: Pam Jones & Pauline Laws – The Costumery
Set Construction: Nigel Kerr, Richard Daem, Henri Herr, Maurice Kidd, Richard van den Berg
Wardrobe: Bronwyn Corbet
Production Manager: Mandy Perry
PACIFIC POST by Stephanie McKellar-Smith & Ross McKellar is directed by Stephanie McKellar-Smith and runs 20 October – 10 November, 2012. Show times: 6:30pm Mon/Thu, 7:30 Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat (2pm matinee Sat 27 October) at The Court Theatre, Bernard St, Addington.
Tickets: Adults $48 | Senior $41 | Groups (20+) $39 | Under 25 $29 | Child $19
Bookings: 03 963 0870 or www.courttheatre.org.nz.