Community focus to programme

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A New Zealand classic, a modern Pulitzer prize-winning American play, and two community events will be presented by Dunedin’s Wow! Productions theatre company in 2019 and 2020.

The programme, which was launched at an event on Friday, combines the considerable theatre-making experience of the Wow! Productions practitioners with a focus on community engagement.

Executive producer Rosella Hart said Wow! was prompted to step up in the wake of the Fortune Theatre closure last year, and had been encouraged by the support of Creative New Zealand.

“We are taking a holistic approach to the season, with a spread of community activity around the shows,” Hart said.

This would include public talks, play readings, schools outreach and family events.

“Wow! is really extending on what it usually produces.

“It’s exciting, but it’s also a challenge to deliver high quality arts for our community without the infrastructure,” she said.

The community outreach has already begun in association with the first play in the season, The Flick by Annie Baker, which will be directed by Lara Macgregor and staged in July at Allen Hall.

A social and oral history project entitled “The Flicks” is under way, gathering people’s stories and memories of the “picture palaces” of Dunedin for a display and archive.

In addition, another of Annie Baker’s plays, Circle Mirror Transformation, will be given a public reading this Saturday, from 1pm, on the ground floor of the Dunedin City Library, Moray Pl.

“This is a good example of how we will be getting maximum values out of each show for the public,” Hart said.

The Wow! Productions Christmas show for 2019 will be Party With the Aunties, which will be held in community venues across Dunedin.

A New Zealand Maori work created by Erina Daniels and company, the show is based on family parties and the songs sung at them.

Audiences will meet Aunty Kahu, Te Manawa, Angus and other lively characters, and prepare to sing and party along.

In mid-2020, Wow! will present Bruce Mason’s classic play The End of the Golden Weather, which will be directed by Lisa Warrington and performed by Matt Wilson.

Finally, in summer 2020 will be The Dunedin Project, an interdisciplinary series of events with the whole of Dunedin as its stage, encouraging audiences to participate and to see the city through new eyes.

Since it began in 1996, Wow! Productions has 30 works, featuring New Zealand and international playwrights.