Skip to content

Performances of A Brief History of Madness

Stasha-lee Beukes and Heather Fletcher

Initial performances of A Brief History of Madness will take place at
The Regent Theatre, Greymouth/Mawhera, September 17-19, 7.30pm.
The mad (people who are ‘out of their minds’) have always been an uncomfortable presence for ‘normal society’, for they judge that normality and penetrate its facades.
In Medieval times they were seen as part of the continuum of society and were part of the conversation. They are regulars in Shakespeare’s tragedies (Lear, Ophelia, Lady MacBeth…), and every court had its fool.doctors3 caroline2 Mikaere jimmy
But then the mad were incarcerated in asylums and isolated from ‘normal society’. Then Freud and the talking cure appeared and it was believed that madness could reveal the mechanics of human society and human personality formation.
That in turn went out of fashion as modern medications dulled the wild impulses and people could be managed into performing normality. The mad no longer have anything to teach us.
Except that it is currently proposed to consider their employment future as a commodity to be invested in and speculated upon via social impact bonds, which would seem to indicate a society truly out of its mind.
These are the themes we explore in this theatre piece, written by Paul Maunder. Our motivation? In an increasingly moderated and compliant society, when all and nothing is possible, the very concept of subjectivity seems politically charged, as the realities of climate change, inequality and barbarism penetrate the unconscious.
The structure of the piece is simple. We take some typical Coast stories and run them through different settings: In Part One, Seaview in the early 1930s; in Part Two, a current hospital.
Cast: Heather Fletcher, Jason Johnson, Frank Wells, Caroline Selwood, Elisa Wells, Mikaere Hana, Francis Darwen and Stasha-lee Beukes. Design: Paul Kearns.
Because of the setting, audience numbers for each performance are limited so it will be wise to book at The Regent.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of Creative Communities.

Rehearsals begin

Rehearsals have begun for our new play, A brief history of madness. Set in a fictional Seaview Asylum it investigates the treatment of ‘the insane’ in two different periods. Performances are set for September 17,18,19. Pictured: Stasha, Caroline, Frank and Mikaere.


Tour for March, April, 2015

Schedule: Hokitika Repertory Theatre, Revell Street, March 7th, 7.30pm

Riverside Community Hall, Motueka, March 21, 4.00pm, 8.00pm

Naval Point Club, Erskine Point, Lyttelton, April 11, 8.00pm, $15/$10

NBS Theatre, Westport, April 18th, 7.30pmOn tour in Motueka. Photo: Jane Wells

Ted, Poppy and World War Two review

Ted, Poppy and World War Two
written and directed by Paul Maunder
presented by Kiwi/Possum Productions
at The Regent Theatre, Greymouth
August 28-30. 2014
Reviewed by Karen Grant, 28 August, 2014
A rich tapestry
Last night’s production of Ted, Poppy and World War Two was most enjoyable, and it was a step back in time to be welcomed into the “hall” in the ritual manner (I’m not giving it away – you need to experience it).
Kiwi-Possum Production’s set layout brings the audience into a shared space; like a community coming together. The cast moving freely within the central space were not directing their performance at me, so, like a fly on the wall, I felt I was witnessing the stories being told.
Paul Maunder re-enacts the weekly radio talks from actual transcripts of Ted Kehoe’s eloquent and interesting observations on many of our beautiful birds, on Rata and Kowhai, and of his dismay at the native bush being “blindly burnt” to provide poor farmland. I found these parts of the production most engrossing and educational, my eyes gazing but not seeing as I focused on listening to the ‘radio’.
The play intersperses slices of Ted Kehoe’s radio shows with the story of Greymouth- based Sister “Poppy”, the sister of James Joyce played brilliantly by Heather Fletcher. These lesser known elements of Greymouth’s rich history are further interlinked with moving vignettes of true stories from the war; Elisa Wells throwing herself with passion into her many roles. Tying the whole together is the fictional interplay between Ted Kehoe and Poppy. The play moves along at a cracking good pace, cutting from one story to another and maintaining audience interest well.
The set is very simple with minimal props but this is quite appropriate to the story-telling. Sound effects were used well, subtly enhancing the scene, be it the bird-filled bush, the sea-side cave of the Punakaiki conscientious objector, or fighter planes and bombs. The costuming is convincing and the cast all performed very well on this, their first night.
So I followed the threads of these stories as they were chopped and interrupted by the next until at the end, with birdsong ringing clear over the beautiful Albinoni Adagio in G, the stories were complete and a rich tapestry woven.
After the play Stewart Nimmo facilitated a good group discussion on what heritage is and what it means to people. Some common themes emerged, reiterating Paul Maunder’s play. What I took away from this night was that heritage is the connection maintained by telling the story. If we don’t tell our stories to keep them alive, we lose the meaning and history of the things around us. We forget their value and we lose our heritage.
Two more showings are to run at the Greymouth Regent Theatre, tonight and Saturday night, with each show starting at 7:30pm and closing with a facilitated discussion. A tour of Ted, Poppy and World War Two is being planned for early 2015.
Cast: Heather Fletcher, Paul Maunder, Caroline Selwood, Frank Wells, Francis Darwen, Elisa Wells, Mikaere Hanna.
Design: Paul Kearns
Sound: Jason Johnson
Operators: Mike Hutson, Helyn Beveridge

Premier of Ted, Poppy and World War Two – stories from Greymouth/Mawhera.

This year’s production focuses on heritage. ‘We discovered two interesting people,’ states Paul Maunder, the group’s playwright. ‘Ted Kehoe, a teacher at Grey Tech, was an early conservationist, who gave a weekly radio talk on native birds, the bush and Maori culture.

‘Transcripts of his talks were found in a box in the Grey District Library. And then we discovered that one of the Greymouth-based Sisters of Mercy, during this same period, was the sister of famous Irish writer, James Joyce, who had nick-named her, Poppy.

‘Given that this was also the period of World War Two, it was possible to bring in some war stories, and tie it all together by creating a fictional relationship between Ted and Poppy. ’
It is then, a piece of collective story-telling, with the theme of heritage, a current topic of controversy. Each performance, will be followed by a discussion on heritage: what is it and how do we value it? – facilitated by a local leader in the area.
The play involves returning to an earlier era technologically, a time when listening to the radio of an evening was an essential recreational activity. Audience members are encouraged to bring some knitting, crosswords etc, to help recreate that time.
Cast: Heather Fletcher, Paul Maunder, Caroline Selwood, Francis Darwen, Mikaere Hanna, Frank Wells and Elisa Wells.
Technical: Paul Kearns and Jason Johnson.
Supported by Creative Communities.
Enquiries and bookings: 732 401 0 or final-page001 The production is supported by Creative Communities.

The Judgement of Ben Alder

Our new play premiers at The Regent Theatre in Greymouth/Mawhera, Wednesday October 30th, running till Friday Nov 1. Described as a political thriller, the play, scripted by Paul Maunder, looks at the closure of Spring Creek Mine and the struggle by miners to keep it open. Cast: Jason Johnson, Heather Fletcher, George Super, Francis Darwen, Prue Bowen and Paul Maunder. Each performance will be followed by a discussion on regional economic development, chaired by a local leader (Wed- Colin Smith of DWC, Thursday- Mayor Tony Kokshoorn and Friday- Trevor Bolderson – ex Spring Creek delegate). Entry, $10 at the door. Image

Double Bill for Motueka Arts Festival

We will return to Motueka and the hospitality of Pat and Jane for this coming Queen’s Birthday Weekend where we will present The Cave Above The Pa/Te Ana I Te Runga I Te Pa and The Waihi Oratorio as a double bill on the Saturday and Sunday nights.