When a two-month vacancy came on the artist-in-residence programme at 85 Glasgow Street Arts Centre in Whanganui, David Charteris grabbed his chance.

Whanganui is a familiar stomping ground for the Auckland-based writer, actor and director.

"I have lived here before and wrote and performed at the Four Seasons Theatre in the 1970s," he says.

"I was also an arts reviewer for the Whanganui Chronicle in the 1990s and I lived here until 2010."


The residency at Glasgow St has provided a perfect opportunity for him to work on three projects he has in the pipeline.

One is a 10-minute play that has been accepted for the Short+Sweet Festival - touted as Auckland's biggest little festival.

"It's a comedy piece and I'm pleased that people have chortled and guffawed when I've read it to them.

He is also working on a "cross-gender version" of Noel Coward's Private Lives, and a play based on the true tale of a New Plymouth ballet dancer named Frank Rogers.

"Rogers was a dancer who taught ballet in New Plymouth in the 1950s.

"He was married with three young kids and he simply disappeared."

Charteris heard the story from Rogers' grandson when he was at a friend's house for dinner one night.

"He was gay and in the disapproving New Zealand society of the 1950s, he pretended not to be by marrying young and having children.


"He went to the UK and apparently had a successful career there, but by the time his family were able to track him down he was living in a rest home and had dementia."

Charteris thought the story lent itself to being written as a play and he looks forward to working on it while in Whanganui.

Originally from Eltham, Charteris attended Stratford College and has enjoyed a theatrical life as a writer, director and actor.

He says his favourite role in recent years was playing the role of Sir in a production of The Dresser.

"I've also been employed by Cirque du Soleil as a barker.

"I had done it once before and they hired me again because I have a very loud voice and I love using it."

Charteris also got hired as a judge for the recent Whanganui High School battle of the houses at the Royal Wanganui Opera House.

"There is some very impressive talent there," he says.

A coffee connoisseur, Charteris is impressed with Whanganui cafes and said he has enjoyed visiting the Citadel in Castlecliff and loves the revamping of the suburb.