ASTROMAN Makes Its World Premiere At The Court Theatre Two Hours Ahead Of Australia

ASTROMAN Makes Its World Premiere At The Court Theatre Two Hours Ahead Of AustraliaOn the 27th October Astroman will be making its world premiere on The Court Theatre's stage, just two hours before opening across the Tasman at the Melbourne Theatre Company.

Astroman is a family comedy set in the 1980s written by Kiwi playwright Albert Belz, following a young M?ori boy in Whakat?ne finding his place - and potential - in small-town New Zealand.

Director Nancy Brunning (He Kura E Huna Ana) describes the play as being "about a young M?ori boy genius whose coming of age is influenced by the '80s promise of bigger, bolder and louder. He has a vision of the world that is streaks ahead of Whakat?ne and tries to manage his boredom with getting into trouble."

That trouble lands Jimmy working for grumpy Scotsman Mr Macrae in Jimmy's favourite place in the world, the Astrocade Amusement Parlour. Here, he gets an education of a different sort, with Macrae soon realizing how smart Jimmy truly is.

The play is bringing the world of the 1980s back to life at The Court Theatre, complete with a few video game machines waiting for gamers in the foyer that are sure to transport audience members back in time!

Speaking about where the story came from, Belz says, "I wanted to write a love-letter to the 1980s and Astroman was the result."

Belz's play was always intended to be a New Zealand story, but after moving to Australia, he started working on an Australian version of Astroman. In 2017 The Court picked up the play for its Meridian Energy 18/19 season and the Melbourne Theatre Company followed suit, leading to the simultaneous debut dates.

Talking about how one play can be translated across two cultures, Belz says, "there are some obvious differences in the ethnicity and related dialogue, but the themes it covers are the same. It's very much a family story and wh?nau is universal."

The wh?nau in the play are being brought to life by a group of M?ori actors coming to The Court from across Aotearoa.

Tola Newbery (Macbeth & Waiora) is playing Jimmy, joined by Scotty Cotter (He Kura E Huna Ana) as his twin brother, Sonny. Their sister, Natalie, will be played by Ocean Jones, with Tanea Heke (Waru) attempting to control the teenagers onstage as mum Michelle. Outside of the family, Two Productions' Tom Eason will be playing antagonist Mick; Matt Chamberlain (Shortland Street) as grumpy Scotsman Mr Macrae with Juanita Hepi (The Biggest) returning to The Court as Jimmy's teacher, Mrs Mahara.

"Astroman is all about vulnerability, fear, courage and desires. It's the perfect story for anyone unfamiliar with M?ori storytelling, video arcades, the '80s... you will learn a lot," says Brunning. "Especially about how to play Pac Man, Defender and Donkey Kong!"

Astroman will be running for a limited two-week season at The Court Theatre, from the 27th October - 10 November. Bookings: phone 03 963 0870 or visit www.courttheatre.org.nz

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