BWW Preview: A RELATIVELY UNEVENTFUL EVENING at West Otago Theatrical Society
The world premiere of 'A Relatively Uneventful Evening' will be celebrated with a gala opening this Friday at the West Otago Community Theatre in Tapanui.
Playwright George Arthur-Amohau is excited about this new piece that he has both written and directed.
No stranger to the West Otago Theatrical society (WOTS), Christchurch based Arthur-Amohau was an OSTA nominee for Best Director for his adaptation of 'The Vicar of Dibley' produced by WOTS in 2017.
I had the pleasure of interviewing George.
What inspired you to become a playwright?
I like to watch people. I'm interested in the social rules that they hold themselves accountable to and the way that these ideas dictate certain behaviours at times of conflict. I started to think about the fact that we all have slightly different rules and that these change according to the situation we're in and the company we keep. It's interesting that sometimes our rules become more fluid as we blend with people around us, and other times we hold others accountable to our own set of rigid of expectations.
Tell me how this play came about.
This play is about exploring what happens when a group of quite eccentric and self-obsessed characters have to bend their rules.
Some of the characters took shape as I wrote, but I had such a clear idea of others that their lines practically wrote themselves.
I spent about six months writing the play, beginning with the climax. Unlike other plays I've written, I started this one with a very clear idea of the ending, although it was still the last part I wrote.
I found writing a piece that is set mainly in real time and in only one location - the living room of a particularly beige, upper middle class home quite a challenge but one that has worked well for me.
George, no play ever ends up as you envision. What was your experience?
My initial vision for the story was quite serious, but the characters were easily humorous and during the process of writing I eventually gave in to the fact that I love writing comedy. Unfortunately, by the time I realised this I had created something that was in equal measures a melodrama and a farce... which didn't work at all. There was much rewriting of the first act in the 11th hour, but this resulted in a stylistically cohesive show that is most certainly a farce.
How are you finding directing and travelling from Christchurch?
I have been travelling back and forth to Tapanui every two weeks. I think that sometimes I have a habit of giving too much instruction in my scripts, but this has enabled the cast to continue working on the show in my absence, which has been helpful.
The people at West Otago Theatrical Society (WOTS) are great. I've worked with them a few times now, and it's always a great time. I was chuffed to hear that they'd selected my script and me to direct. I've sent scripts around New Zealand and overseas, which is a bit of a thrill, but nothing beats directing your own show and being a part of the process from start to finish.
The three main characters each have around 500 lines to learn and the pace is fast. There are is a certain level of physicality required in the middle section, and most of the characters work their way through a very comprehensive palette of emotions.
The 'good stuff?
Fortunately, I am working with a very talented cast who have thrown themselves into the play with gusto. WOTS is very lucky in that they have a good sized theatre with a lovely raked auditorium that we're able to use for almost all of the rehearsals. With the set up, the props in and the costumes ready, the final month of rehearsals is my absolute favourite time. I love fine-tuning the timing, where a lot of the comedy lies and watching new layers unfold right up until opening night.
Give us a quick run down on the story line.
After years of hard work and countless rejections, Eleanor's first book is finally published. Her closest, and rather up tight, friend, Addison - who has sworn not to throw a party in her honour - promises an event of conservative proportions and "close friends" only. What ensues is an evening of dysfunction, drama and dismay as secrets are are outed, dreams are shattered and relationships stretched to their limits.
West Otago Theatrical Society
A Relatively Uneventful Evening
West Otago Community Centre