"He's a clever young man. He makes robots that he controls with his phone. He takes after his mother's father who used to work for New Zealand Broadcasting. He can make anything," said Chris Stedman when he was telling me about his talented 16-year-old son, Reuben, a Year 12 student at Cullinane College. Reuben's looking after the sound section for Middle Age Spread, which will open to the public on Friday, September 29 at 7.30pm.
Chris himself has come along to help backstage. What brought him to the theatre?
"Well, I had to bring Reuben in from Okoia so I thought I might as well stay and help, learn new things and socialise with some new people. Yeah, it's fun," said Chris who spends his days as a quantity surveyor.
Chris is disappointed he won't be able to help with our Christmas panto, Jack and the Beanstalk as he's leaving the country just before Christmas on his annual visit to Sri Lanka to spend time with the brother and sister he sponsors in a children's home. They're orphans he's sponsored for several years.
"I love it there. The people have nothing much in the way of material things but they are really happy," enthused Chris.
Does Reuben go to Sri Lanka with him? "I took my boys three times but they now prefer to stay in New Zealand with their grandparents."
Reuben likes to spend his time on computing and robotics. One day a week he travels down to Palmerston North UCOL where he's doing a course in mechanical engineering, helping him gain credits towards his level two NCEA.
Has Reuben been responsible for the sound in any previous productions?
"Yes, I've done the sound for school productions and I did it for the big kapa haka festival at Springvale Park Stadium."
I must say I was impressed with the way Reuben came on board with the show. I didn't notice any slip-ups during rehearsals as he did a job that's not as easy as it might seem. Being the 'sound techie' requires full concentration as you have to closely follow the script to produce the right sound at the right time. I mean it would be rather odd to have the sound of the toilet flushing when it should be a doorbell ringing wouldn't it?
We are grateful for Reuben's talents just as we welcome Chris' calm presence backstage. Thank you Messers C and R Stedman.
FOOTNOTE: Director Kerry Girdwood is keen for audiences to understand that the first scene of Middle Age Spread depicts events that happen at a later time. The scenes following scene one are flashbacks in time. These explain the dinner party scenes as the dinner progresses. Kerry likens the play to a club sandwich with the bread being the dinner party scenes on the outside and in the middle. The flashbacks are the sandwich fillings. Enjoy!