Red Scare's UNDER - A Modern Day Memory Play
Red Scare Theatre Company’s final show of 2017 is a change of pace from the wry politics of Yellow Face and the fast and loose satire of M’Lady. Under is a new solo show by Cassandra Tse (Outstanding New Playwright Nominee, Wellington Theatre Awards 2015) and stars Chris Green, renowned performer who toured Mervyn Thompson’s Coaltown Blues nationally for 4 years. The production will be directed by James Cain (Richard II, Horatio).
Under explores an unnamed narrator’s relationship with his wife May - an athlete and an artist who has disappeared. As he tells and retells their story he starts to learn that ‘remembering is a game for two players’.
“Under is about the extraordinary nature of ordinary love” says Tse, “it's about the way memory shapes our identity - it's about the difficulty of loving someone when that person no longer exists.” The play was commended in the PANZ Long Play Award 2017 and shortlisted for Auckland Theatre Company’s The Next Stage. The play's structure mirrors that of a Memory Play, coined by Tennessee Williams when he wrote his classic The Glass Menagerie. In his production notes Williams defined how this kind of play "omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart.". By writing in this style, Tse wished to embrace the self-proclaimed "sentimental structure" to see if it had a place in our modern world, incorporating music and poetry of our day, just as Williams did from his.
Actor Chris Green had seen previous Red Scare shows and was “mesmerized by Cassandra's writing. I took a punt and asked if she would consider writing a piece for me.” Tse, who had worked alongside Chris as a performer, was thrilled at the opportunity; she recalls that “Chris commissioned me to write a comedic musical… I ended up delivering a rather serious non-musical play instead, and am very grateful that he was interested in going ahead with the project anyway!”
The writing process was over the course of two years, while Tse was overseas, doing her theatre internship in New York. Green had figured that the chance had gone and so was overwhelmed when on an early morning he received the script in an unexpected email. “I cried. I knew this was a beautiful work, a remarkable gift to a performer carrying with it all the responsibility of having been entrusted.”
James Cain, Marketing Manager of Red Scare, directs this production. His previous shows include Richard II and teaches Shakespeare to a student collective called The Arden Forest Dwellers, so is well versed in directing poetry. Cain has “loved Cassandra’s writing ever since we met in a scriptwriting workshop at Victoria University. She has such empathy towards her characters and can communicate their pain and struggles so clearly. To have the opportunity to bring the script to life and work so closely with Chris who’s such a giving and focused performer, is incredibly rewarding”
This new work will premiere in Tuatara’s The Third Eye on 30 Arthur Street, just off Cuba Street. Under will be the first theatrical staging performed in this venue, something which both Red Scare and Tuatara are keenly anticipating.
Three years since initial conversations about the piece began, Tse is “very grateful to get to work with James, Chris and the rest of the UNDER team to bring this beautiful little work to life.”
Under is on from the 2-11 November at Tuatara’s The Third Eye, 30 Arthur Street, Te Aro at 7:30pm.
Tickets are now available at: