Live play readings are igniting a fresh love for New Zealand playwrights, in a new monthly arts event in Rotorua called Play On.

A first for the city, Play On steers away from the full theatre production style, with actors reading and acting the script on the spot, having only one read-through before the performance.

The concept was launched by Rotorua woman Simone Walker who aimed to create a "relaxed, fun environment to expose Rotorua to the incredible scripts written by Kiwis, and to see a range of writing styles, genres and performers".

"By cutting out rehearsals, sets and props to save both time and money, it's easy to assume that a play would be less entertaining, but the response has been quite the opposite - the delivery is spontaneous and fun, and we're able to deliver a new play each month.

"Our first play, Crims by Thomas Sainsbury had an incredible turnout while our second play, Never Never by Jackie van Beek had a full house."

Abracadabra Cafe and Bar owner Nadia Goldbert got on board with the concept and offered the cafe's garden bar space to Play On.

"Play On gives creative types a chance to get together and our customers are loving it - they can check it out at no cost, and normally end up staying until the end as they are enjoying the play so much."

Play On uses a mix of well-known Rotorua actors and other locals, some who haven't dabbled in the art since high school.

John Paul College English and Spanish teacher Charlotte Morris said she was nervous when Ms Walker asked her to act in a leading role, because she hadn't been on stage since high school.

"The casual nature of the play reading, the supportive audience and having the script with me made it less daunting. I loved acting alongside the other talented women, and I felt privileged to be part of such a great initiative showcasing New Zealand playwriting talent.

"I hadn't performed in so long and I got a buzz and a sense of relief to have portrayed the character and delivered the storyline successfully."

While the performance is free, a koha (donation) contributes towards the price paid to licence the plays.

WHAT: Play On presents The Hand Job by Conrad Newport
WHERE: Abracadabra Cafe and Bar
WHEN: December 20, 7pm
COST: Free, though donations are appreciated