FRESH INK READINGS to Showcase New Zealand Playwrights

As the autumnal chill starts to take over Christchurch, The Court Theatre present a series of new theatrical works.

Over three consecutive Sunday afternoons, and accompanied by mulled wine which will be available for purchase, three brand new plays will be presented as 'works-in-progress'. Following each performance, audiences will be invited to provide feedback and engage in discussion about the work.

The Court Theatre Artistic Director, Ross Gumbley, says, "No work of art can exist in isolation. It's created to be viewed, listened to or witnessed. A play is the same. A script only becomes a play when it's placed in front of an audience and yet scripts have to be created in isolation. The most exciting part of the process is that moment when a script goes from being just a collection of words on a page to existing in space and time in front of an audience. That's what happens at Fresh Ink."

Fresh Ink was previously known as The Mid-Winter Readings and reflects the vibrancy and diversity of new plays and playwrights. The purpose of the readings series is to connect playwrights and their works with The Court Theatre community and audiences in a high-trust environment.

"When we choose plays, we choose them with the playwright and our audiences in mind so we can create that connection and magic with trust and respect on a Sunday afternoon over mulled wine," The Court Theatre Literary Manager, Roanna Dalziel, says. "This year we have three fantastic new works."

The first reading will kick off on Sunday 14th May with Albert Belz's Astroman.

Astroman is set in 1980's New Zealand, where Jimmy, a 14-year-old M?ori boy is confronting arcade games, racism and his own genius. Astroman was originally set in Australia and centred on a young indigenous boy, however with Belz's move back home to New Zealand, the script was rewritten as a New Zealand story. The reading of this fantastic story boasts a strong cast of Tola Newbery (Waiora; Macbeth; Hui), Juanita Hepi (Hui; The Motor Camp), Bianca Seinafo (A Midsummer Night's Dream; Goldilocks and the Three Bears), Tim Bartlett (The Ladykillers; Groundswell), Tania Gilchrist (Waiora; He Kura E Huna Ana) and Roy Snow (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time; Romeo and Juliet). The reading will be directed by Tom Trevella (Exit the King; One Man, Two Guvnors).

The following weekend, on Sunday 21st May, The Court will present the reading for Sean Penn is in His Boat, by Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu.

Sean Penn is in His Boat is set in New Zealand at the time of Hurricane Katrina. The play examines a family drama that unfolds following the matriarch's death.

"What impresses me about this script is that it captures that time of the piece really well. It captures the stillness of that time and the shock and restraint as well as the family dynamics. It's a play that we're really keen to help find its audience," Dalziel says.

Another stellar cast takes to the stage for this reading, with Yvonne Martin (Uncle Vanya; Winston's Birthday), Lynda Milligan (You Can Always Hand Them Back; The Mikado), Stephen Lovatt (Uncle Vanya), Tom Trevella (Exit the King; One Man, Two Guvnors) and Susannah Kenton. The reading will be directed by The Court's Kaihapai Toi (M?ori and Pasifika Producer), Morehu Solomon.

The final reading, taking place on Sunday 28th May, is Troll by Ralph McCubbin-Howell, based on a story by McCubbin-Howell and Hannah Smith of Trick of the Light Theatre Company. The decision to have Troll in the reading series stems out of Gumbley and Dalziel's desire to work with Trick of the Light.

"The work Hannah and Ralph create is incredible. Their brilliance with storytelling and narrative is immense. They know how to enthral, draw you in and delight you as an audience member," says Dalziel.

Troll is set in the digital age and this uncanny tale and darkly comic show brings intricate narrative into a contemporary world.

"We're delighted at The Court that so many of our readings in the past have gone on to form incredibly important parts of future Court Theatre seasons. We've seen MAMIL, Winston's Birthday, Snap, Don't Mention Casablanca and That Bloody Woman all go through the readings development series and become notable performances on the mainstage. We hope that will be the case with the three plays in this year's Fresh Ink series," Gumbley says.

Fresh Ink will help pave the way forward for three incredible stories. Come along and join the discussion. The performances begin at 4pm each Sunday with the tickets priced at $10.

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