Original version of classic play gift for community

Lisa Warrington
Lisa Warrington
The "territory of the heart" that is a New Zealand childhood is at the centre of Bruce Mason’s classic play The End of the Golden Weather.

Renowned as a cornerstone of New Zealand theatre history, the original solo version of the play is being given to the Dunedin community by professional theatre company Wow! Productions.

Directed by Lisa Warrington and performed by Matt Wilson, The End of the Golden Weather reveals a Kiwi family and community through the eyes of a boy, as he experiences a summer Christmas and takes his first steps into the adult world.

During rehearsals, Warrington has been struck by the "absolute relevance" of the section called "The Night of the Riots".

"Mason was writing about the era of the Great Depression - a time of massive job losses, extreme poverty, and social and political unrest,"
she said.

"The words of the play resound powerfully in our present day, where the world is in chaos and pain and loss thanks to the effects of Covid-19, amongst the other things."

Wow! Productions chairman Martyn Roberts said the rights to perform the full-length play were a privilege not often granted by the Bruce Mason Estate.

However, Covid-19 had brought significant challenges to the production, which was initially planned for June, but had been postponed due to the pandemic.

"We are relieved that we have been able to keep this project moving along during this year - it has been a real test of endurance for Lisa, Matt and the team," Roberts said.

"They put a huge amount of work into getting the play ready for the stage, only to have to put it on hold."

The ability to continue working on the production was due to the funding support of Creative New Zealand and Otago Community Trust, the support of the Bruce Mason Estate and Playmarket and the hard work of the team.

"They have all been very understanding of the situation."

Wow! Productions board member Rosella Hart said a key breakthrough for the show had been providing it as a gift to the people of Dunedin.

"Having come through two lockdown periods, its a special thing for people to be able to come out and see a professional production for koha or free," Hart said.

In order to provide as many people as possible with the opportunity to see the play, while also being cautious about Covid-19, performances of The End of the Golden Weather will be presented at community halls throughout Dunedin from November 5 to 15.

"The extraordinary flexibility of Mason’s writing makes it possible for us to stage it in so many different spaces - it’s what he would have done himself."

brenda.harwood@thestar.co.nz

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