Darby bit the bullet and hit the stage

Biting the Bullet director Terry Darby takes a break from painting the set at the New Plymouth Repertory Society.
Tara Shaskey

Biting the Bullet director Terry Darby takes a break from painting the set at the New Plymouth Repertory Society.

The first time Terry Darby ever tread the boards he played the role of a tree.

However, it wasn't for a primary school production where most shrubbery performers are found, it was about 10 years ago and he was a grown man with his arms stretched out with twigs in his hands.

He had minimal lines, most of which were the same recurring phrase, and he was scared stiff.

"It was absolutely frightening.

"Until final night, I stood there in the centre of the stage hoping the curtains wouldn't open."

Now with about nine plays firmly under his belt, and evenly matched experience directing, he has come into his own while under the spotlights.

And the process has been completely life-altering, he said.

Darby moved to New Plymouth from Yorkshire, England, in 2000 with his wife and their three children.

Relocating to a new country, where he didn't know anybody and his social calender was lacking, gave him ample opportunity to try his hand at something new.

"I had never done acting before but in that first year we were here it just seemed like I could do anything I wanted to do.

"It was a new start, a fresh start in a completely new place."

His family all picked up various extra-curricular activities and Darby went for an audition for a small role in The Little Theatre's remake of Badjelly The Witch, by Spike Milligan.

"I played the part of a police man who had been turned into a tree," he laughed.

The man, who once wore a three-piece suit complete with shirt and tie, had only ever enjoyed the theatre from the audience.

He said before moving to New Zealand he'd never thought about performing himself.

But the 66-year-old, who now rides a BMW motorcycle and sports an earring in his ear, reckoned the country's infamous, laid-back lifestyle has changed him.

"When you live in a place with 68 million people, you don't realise how stressed out you actually were until you come to somewhere like here that is far more relaxed."

Although rehearsals swallowed up most of his free-time, Darby, who is a trainer at at the National Training Centre for Hearing Dogs in New Plymouth, said directing plays at various theatres around the region helped him unwind.

"Theatre's a very wonderful thing, it's very full on when it's happening but you miss it when it's over, you're left with nothing to do," he said.

"There's nothing more satisfying."

Darby's latest theatrical offering is a show about a married man who suffers a mid-life crisis and leaves his wife.

The New Plymouth Repertory Society play, titled Biting the Bullet, is a combined effort with co-director Gill Weatherall and a stage cast of five.

Darby didn't want to give away too much of the play's synopsis but he did say it wrapped-up with a happy ending.

"Depending on how you look at it," he laughed.

Biting the Bullet runs from November 3 to 14. Tickets are $22 and available through Ticketek.

 - Stuff

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