Edgier works for theatre's repertoire

By Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell

Something new and exciting is happening at 16th Avenue Theatre.

Over the past few years 16th Avenue Theatre has been pondering on how to keep theatre fresh and exciting and how to generate a wider appeal for a broader demographic than just the valued community currently attracted to this facility.

This started by putting on more variety of productions like One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Flint Street Nativity and the recent Four Brothers.

This has brought some fresh and innovative talents to the theatre, not only on stage, but also behind the scenes.

For any theatre to grow and to ensure the future is prosperous, not just financially but creatively too, it is important to develop new challenges that appeal to different sections of the community and perhaps away from more mainstream productions.

While the 16th Avenue Committee was thinking about the next steps to develop these needs, along came Jez Jones, who was interested in forming a new subsidiary of the theatre that would target a younger demographic than those solely interested in the core productions, without alienating any sections of the membership.

This is not to say a "youth theatre" as such, but one that can put on more "edgy" productions that would fall outside the 16th Avenue core content.

Some of you will know Jez from the various productions he has stage managed at 16th Avenue or for Liaisons Productions at Te Puke.

Jez emigrated to Tauranga from the UK in June 2010, to work and live. Jez has always had a passion for theatre and this is down to his family and in particular his grandmother who took him to Stratford-upon-Avon to see Royal Shakespeare Company productions at least once a year.

This lead to some appearances in school productions which included, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Strong are Lonely. Then after university, Jez became involved in the local theatre and amateur operatic and dramatic society, where he worked behind the scenes with the occasional odd (very odd!) appearance on stage.

There he developed his work as stage manager for the society and for the theatre in general.

Some of the productions that he was involved in, included The Mikado, South Pacific, Dumb Waiter and Teechers. He became the resident on-call stage manager for this 400 seater theatre for choirs, bands, professional touring companies among others. Since moving to Tauranga he has stage managed Trainspotting, Four Brothers (both here at 16th Ave and at Te Puke), Flint Street Nativity and Bold, Moore and Whitman.

He is also involved in the main productions of 16th Avenue to be staged later in the year.

Teechers is a play within a play where three sixth-form pupils at an underachieving English comprehensive school, fall into drama as a means of getting out of the academia they are not suited to. They are inspired by a newly qualified drama teacher who then decides to leave to take up a role at a neighbouring private school.

As a result of this Salty, Hobby and Gail put on a play about school life, for the drama teacher to show their appreciation for having been actually taught something. The three roles take on 20 other roles (and some of these are played by more than one of the main roles).

16th Avenue Theatre proudly presents a Rehab Production of Teechers by John Godber on October 3-13.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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