Heat of original performance recalled

Lighting technician Stephen "Sooty" Kilroy shows a burned spotlight from the 1988 production of...
Lighting technician Stephen "Sooty" Kilroy shows a burned spotlight from the 1988 production of China Wars to actors (from left) Hilary Norris, Simon O'Connor, Patrick Davies and Karen Elliot this week. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A group of Dunedin actors will be checking the fire exits this weekend before performing a play they originally staged a quarter of a century ago.

Karen Elliot, Hilary Norris and Patrick Davies will reprise China Wars, after appearing in the original 1988 production at the Globe Theatre.

"I thought it would be good to do a reading with the original cast. The play has its own history and is strongly connected with Dunedin," director Richard Huber said this week.

"I like the idea of reprising the play sometime. It would be great to celebrate the broader life of the play."

China Wars was written in 1987 by University of Otago Burns Fellow Robert Lord, who died in Dunedin in 1992, aged 46.

It premiered at the Globe in June 1988, before disaster struck at the Cranmer Centre in Christchurch.

"We were getting ready about 30 minutes before the play and then we heard this roaring. It sounded like a train coming. The theatre was an inferno. Thank heavens the audience hadn't arrived," Ms Elliot said.

Lighting technician Stephen Kilroy spent the next three days salvaging spotlights and technical equipment.

"That's when Stephen got his 'Sooty' nickname. He was covered in soot for three days."

The play was relocated and the grateful cast gave complimentary tickets to the firefighters who attended the blaze.

"But they had to leave halfway through, because they got called out to another fire," Mr Kilroy recalled.

Stage South will perform China Wars at 3pm on Saturday in the Fortune Theatre studio as part of its "Read Out Loud" series.

- nigel.benson@odt.co.nz


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