No sets, costumes or props - just Fresh Ink
It’s raw; it’s grassroots; it’s never been seen before.
Fresh Ink, brought to Canterbury audiences by The Court Theatre, showcases three in-development plays. The series presents brand new Kiwi theatre and helps playwrights see what’s working on stage – and what’s not.
The plays, all in various draft stages, are performed over three consecutive Sundays in May. This is theatre without any of the bells and whistles of a usual Court production – no set, no props; just the audience, the actors and some very fresh words.
This is theatre without any of the bells and whistles of a usual Court production – no set, no props; just the audience, the actors and some very fresh words.
The audiences’ reactions and feedback to the raw performances help the writers develop their stories.
Literary Manager at The Court Theatre, Roanna Dalziel, believes Fresh Ink is crucial to The Court and its audiences.
“One of the key missions for The Court is about celebrating and questioning New Zealand voices. It’s fundamental that we get New Zealand plays up on our mainstage or in The Forge so we’re reflecting on New Zealand perspectives.”
Notable previous Fresh Ink readings include That Bloody Woman and MAMIL (Middle Aged Man in Lycra), both of which went on to have full seasons at The Court followed by nationwide tours.
Astroman, a reading in last year’s series, is on course to make the same transition, running for a two-week season on The Court’s mainstage later this year. The Kiwi comedy, set in a time where the best social spot for teens was the local arcade store, opens at The Court on 27th October.
The process of Fresh Ink isn’t suitable for every play, but for this year’s participating playwrights (Alison Quigan, Karen Zelas and Joe Musaphia), Dalziel is sure that it will be.
“For suitable plays it’s beneficial to hear actors say the words out loud and for testing audience reactions in the moment. If the audience laughs, you know that you’ve found a vein of comedy; if the audience cries, it’s the opposite - you’ve touched the audience in some way. Not that the two are mutually exclusive! It’s about seeing the impact of your work on an audience.”
For the audience, it’s a chance to see fresh Kiwi theatre delivered in a remarkable way.
“The audience are the first to hear the plays and they get to be part of a process where the playwright’s being incredibly brave. To be an audience member and to see that bravery and be around that honesty is inspiring. At this early stage in the play’s development, the plays can often be quite raw and audiences get connected to that rawness. You really get to focus on what is being said. Beyond that, all the plays have got fabulous casts – the wealth of talent that’s going to be in the room for each reading is extraordinary.”
At this early stage in the play’s development, the plays can often be quite raw and audiences get connected to that rawness.
The first play of the series, performed on 13th May, is Siana, written by well-known Kiwi writer and actress Alison Quigan.
The story follows Cassie as she swaps a job in photography for local council work. The move forces her to face not only bureaucratic hurdles but her ex-husband and the haunting memories of her beautiful dancing daughter, Siana.
“At the centre it’s a heartfelt story about family and the impact of the loss of a daughter. Alison has a remarkable ability to tap into relationships and emotions, as you can see from Mum’s Choir, which is coming up at The Court this year as well.”
Following Siana on 20th May is Karen Zelas’ The Falling.
The Falling relates to the trials of Minnie Dean, the first and only woman hanged in New Zealand.
“Karen wrote a verse biography that we read and then approached her and said, ‘hey, have you thought about dramatising this?’”
Beyond exploring the story of Minnie Dean, The Falling follows modern-day doctoral student Clemency Xavier as she maps out Minnie’s case.
The final play in the series, written by Joe Musaphia, is a little more light-hearted.
Former Shortland Street baddie Mike Edward will be taking on the role of The Sexiest Man in the World on 27th May.
The comedy begins when hunk Chip Stone (Edward) returns home from LA looking to make amends with brother, Brian, a struggling playwright. Chip’s arrival wreaks havoc – to comedic effect.
For Dalziel, the play is best described as, “Hollywood meets New Zealand with explosive reactions.”
It’s exciting for the writers, all of whom will be attending the readings and watching the stage - and the audience - closely.
Siana writer Alison Quigan is ready to take notes. “I want to see what works on the floor and where the gaps are in the story.”
For her, like The Court Theatre, New Zealand theatre is something that needs to be supported and treasured.
“The role of theatre is to show the audience they are not alone. As New Zealanders we must tell our stories, reinforce our lifestyles, our sense of humour and our language.
Fresh Ink allows writers to make sure their stories are doing just that.
Fresh Ink runs over three consecutive Sundays in May at The Court Theatre:
Siana Sunday 13th May, 4pm
The Falling Sunday 20th May, 4pm
The Sexiest Man in the World Sunday 27th May, 4pm
All tickets are $10. Find out more or book now.
Written by Laura Trethaway