A play about Covid-19, lockdown and the impact on local theatre groups is coming to Taranaki next month.
Director Morris West says he obtained the performance rights to David Tristram's latest play, Lockdown in Little Grimley, as he wants to remind people theatre isn't dead, despite Covid-19 putting a pause on many planned productions this year.
Morris says when he heard David Tristram had written another play he was immediately interested, especially on learning it was about lockdown.
"Tristram's style is very similar to Monty Python and also, in a way, the Goons, so how can it not appeal? Also it gives us a chance to laugh about Covid and the stupid things people did."
David Tristram is a UK based playwright, and Morris' production of this latest play will be the first time it is performed in New Zealand. It isn't the first time Morris has been involved in a play written by David Tristram however.
"I was in Last Tango in Little Grimley, but have also been in a number of other plays by him."
The play is set in the fictional town of Little Grimley, England. The cast of four are the entire Little Grimley Amateur Dramatic Society. As well as directing the play, Morris is playing the role of Gordon, who is chairman of the Little Grimley Amateur Dramatic Society.
Morris is joined on stage by Terry Darby who plays Bernard, a general backstage and minor actor in the society's productions, Lynda West who plays diva actress Margaret and Jenny Lawn who plays the timid secretary of the society who secretly dreams of being in a musical.
In the play, the group decides to put on a play to fundraise for the National Health Service (NHS), a challenging idea given the group has made losses on eight of the last 10 productions they have put on.
While the fictional theatre group are fundraising for the NHS, Morris says the cast in the Taranaki production plan to use the play to fundraise for Hearing Dogs NZ.
"Of the four of us in the cast, three of us are involved with Hearing Dogs, myself and Lynda have been socialising them for 20 years now, while Terry has been a dog trainer with them for many years."
Fundraising for Hearing Dogs NZ, who have their national training centre in Taranaki, is vital, says Morris.
"They get no government funding at all."
To maximise the fundraising, Morris says the actors will not be paid at all, so the only costs are the script hire and playing rights.
The group are now on the hunt for venues around Taranaki willing to host the production without charging hall or theatre hire.
"We are keeping ticket costs at $10, no matter the venue, and all that ticket sale money will go to Hearing Dogs NZ. Venues will be playing their part by waiving the normal hirage fee, instead getting the kudos of supporting a great cause, and helping us prove theatre is alive and well in Taranaki."
Morris says as well as various venues around Taranaki, they would also like to bring the production to rest homes, offering performances at the same low ticket price.
"Normally when it comes to theatre, only the residents who are physically able to go to a theatre can enjoy a production. In this case, we are bringing it to them, so more residents will be able to enjoy it."
The group plan to run Thursday to Sunday for four weeks in October and November, Covid restrictions permitting. The Sunday performances are currently planned for aged care facilities.
"We hope to travel throughout the province to Opunake, Hawera, Stratford and Inglewood, however all facilities will have to buy into the premise that all ticket sales go to Hearing Dogs."
To get in touch with Morris to offer a venue for a performance, contact him at Playing Around Productions on 021 419 956.