Get in on the act

01:42, Dec 04 2012

People are really weird - and really interesting, says a new Blenheim playwright, Amanda Tollemache.

She invites people to workshop a play she hopes to stage in May or June next year in Blenheim. The workshops will be held between 10am and 3.30pm on Friday and Saturday next week at the Boathouse Theatre.

It tells the story of a fictitious family and what happens when Roger, the father, runs off with a teacher from Marlborough Boys' College. That makes life extra difficult for Roger's son, a student at the college.

Tollemache says her script looks at family relationships and who is allowed to fall in love with whom. Roger's daughter, for instance, has an intellectual disability and a chef moves in next door and falls in love with her.

"Is an able-bodied person able to fall in love with someone with a disability?"

People attending the workshop will be invited to share their ideas and give feedback on what she has the characters doing. Having a mix of ages in the cast will be important, too.


The actress, whose most recent work was in Calendar Girls at The Court Theatre in Christchurch, says acting parts get fewer for women as they get older. "Until there's a desert of work," the 49-year-old rues.

The former Aucklander made Blenheim her home a few years ago and, although she had to adjust to life in a small community where everybody knows what's going, she says the town is "full of fantastic people". She hopes setting her play in Blenheim will get them interested.

Producing any original play is a risky business, she says, with people reluctant to attend something they don't know anything about. A Palmerston North acting friend, however, says the theatre in that town has a policy that all new plays it produces are set in Palmerston North - thus luring the punters along.

Cast members in Tollemache's new play will be aged from 13 to mid-80s and ideally two of the girls will have intellectual disabilities, although she is conscious lines might be difficult for them to learn.

A dance company in Auckland and an acting company in Christchurch cater for people with disabilities. She thinks it is important everyone gets a chance to chance to be part of theatre.

The Marlborough Express