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The Manawatu River is one of the lead characters in a new play written by respected playwright Dr Angie and Massey University senior lecturer Angie Farrow, which opens next Wednesday in Palmerston North.
The River is based on the changing health and wealth of the Manawatu and the story of a young girl caught between life and death and the world of farming and corporate ideals.
Dr Farrow says she was driven to write the play after hearing fellow Massey lecturer and ecologist Dr Mike Joy at a community event held to raise awareness of the river's pollution levels and its importance to the communities that live alongside it.
“I was shocked at how little I knew about the degradation of the Manawatu River, which has gone on for decades. This is not a play about politics or how many dead fish there are per square metre – it’s a play with a very local, personal narrative and I hope that it generates debate and controversy, of a good kind.”
“This play is a new perspective on the Manawatu River, but it could be any river, looking at the many perspectives there are on the issue of water, resource sharing, ecology, history, families, commercialisation and competing interests.
Dr Farrow says she has hit a vein of interest with the play, judging from the numbers attending her talks on the creative process and emails she has received.
It took a year to write with five drafts of the story line and many more rewrites of the script. She is delighted with the "strong, muscular central story and the many smaller tributaries that weave around it. The form of the play really is like a river.”
Directed by Jaime Dorne, head of UCOL's Performing Arts School, it has John Downie from Victoria University as the dramaturg, responsible for bringing the play to life with space, scene-setting and lighting. The choral music was created by Suzy Howes.
The River will be performed at Massey's drama workshop at Hokowhitu from November 2-5 and November 9-12. Tickets are $15 from Lynda@smoothpay.co.nz or 06-353-7517 or online at http://www.eventfinder.co.nz/2011/the-river-2-5-9-12-november/palmerston-north
Angie Farrow is a senior lecturer specialising in drama and creative processes. She has been writing plays since she was a student and her career as a playwright was launched when she won the Sunday Times Playwriting Award for The Blue One. She also won a Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 1978 for her play, Privitus. She began writing for professional theatre with The Egg for Britain's Avon Touring Theatre Company. Lost Property, written for the Playwrights´ Company won first prize at the Birmingham Theatre Festival.
She has helped develop the annual Festival of New Arts, a forum for makers of new works in visual and performance arts held in the Manawatu. Her PhD, completed at Exeter University in 2000, was about community theatre in the Manawatu and led to the making of a full-scale community theatre play called Paradise, which won the Minolta Playwriting Award (PANZ) in 2001.
She has also written numerous plays for young people's theatre companies; Bush Telegraph and Travelling Light in the UK and Calico Young Peoples´ Theatre in New Zealand. Three of her plays for young adults are featured in her new anthology, Plays for Physical Theatre: Three plays for young adults with notes for their production.
Her radio plays include All Packed Up, produced at the BBC. In 1993 her play New Zealand Lamb was a finalist in the radio suffrage competition and was subsequently broadcast on RNZ and the ABC. In the same year she co-wrote Looking Forward, an exchange of letters between a woman who lived in 1893 and one who lived in 1993. She also wrote The Beauty Business in 1996 and Speed Of Light, in 1998.