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The Waste Land

Presented by Auckland Theatre Company at ATC Studio One,
Mt. Eden War Memorial, Auckland, New Zealand, 7-11 December 2011

A theatrical presentation of the poem by T.S. Eliot
Adapted and directed by Michael Hurst

The Thinkers
The Chorus
The Establishment
The Sibyls
Don Bassett
  Margaret Adams  
Ferooz Afshar
  Margaret Blay
Susie Dowling
  Angela Bampton  
Vincent Broom
  Heather Campbell
Peter Goodier
  Eileen Barrington  
Joaquim Francino-Arenillas
  Audrey Coubray
Kerr Inkson
  Margaret Devlin  
Randall McMullan
  Joyce Irving
Maggie Maxwell
  Elizabeth Pendergrast  
Susan Sanders
  Patricia Noonan
Rex McIntosh
  Angela Reading  
  Annette Perjanik
Sunny Morete
  Julie Ryan  
  Pat Quirke
Kevin Murray
  Marianne Simpkins  
  Heather Simpson
  Kay Spencer  
  Rosalie Williams
  Karen Staniland        
    Noeline Webb        

  Michael Hurst  
Assistant Stage Manager
  Amo Ieriko
Musical Director
  John Gibson  
  Leisha Ward-Knox
Set and Costume Design
  Jessika Verryt  
  Anna Nuria Francino
Lighting Design
  Simon Coleman  
  Rex McIntosh (piano)
Participation Coordinator
  Amo Ieriko  
  Joaquim Francino-Arenillas (guitar)
Stage Manager   Natalie Braid   Star cloth   Pat Quirke

Director's Notes

This production of The Waste Land has been a fantastic adventure for us all--as I knew it would be.  Working with such a generous and switched on group of, yes, senior citizens, has yielded moments of passion, of pathos, of humour and of revelation.  It has been a thoroughly enjoyable and enriching process for me, and I hope, for them.

The poem itself defies any kind of pocket analysis.  It is profound, sly, moving, complex and puzzling, at times indulgent, passionate, cynical, funny, profane, spiritual, mundane, grammatically brilliant, dream-like, incisive, purple, lyrical, inexplicably apt, psychologically disturbing, full of hidden meanings yet at the same time completely disclosing of the nature of the human condition...need I say more?

This is one version of the poem.  As the piece is profoundly personal, so this production is of a personal nature.  Were we to start again, we would probably end up in quite a different theatrical place, though the centre will always burn brightly.

I would like to thank John Gibson for his inspired music--a kind of divine madness.  My thanks must go also to Lynne Cardy and the Auckland Theatre Company for providing the opportunity to do something different and (slightly) dangerous, and to Natalie, Amo, and Simon.

Michael filled in for a cast member who was unavailable to perform in the matinee on 8 December; seen here in rehearsal before the performance.

Most of all, my thanks and appreciation to the marvelous, dedicated cast, who have risen to the occasion of a brilliant work of literature, and have put up with my constant notes, changes of mind and bad jokes.  It has been a pleasure.

Shanti Shanti Shanti

Michael Hurst

Photos below by Michael Smith   

Thinkers (Susie Dowling, Peter Goodier, Kerr Inkson, Don Bassett, Maggie Maxwell, Sunny Morete)

Thinkers (Kevin Murray, Rex McIntosh, Susie Dowling)

Thinkers (Peter Goodier, Kevin Murray, Rex McIntosh)

Thinkers (Sunny Morete, Kevin Murray, Maggie Maxwell)

The Establishment (Ferooz Afshar, Susan Sanders, Randall McMullan, Vincent Broom, Joachim Francino-Arenillas)

Vincent Broom as Tiresias
Susan Sanders as the voice of Tiresias

(Joachim Francino-Arenillas, Marianne Simkins, Karen Stanliand)

Chorus ladies (Noeline Webb, Margaret Devlin, Elizabeth Pendergrast,
Angela Reading, Marianne Simpkins, Kay Spencer, Karen Staniland, Angela Bampton)

(Margaret Adams, Noeline Webb)

(Kay Spencer, Elizabeth Pendergrast)

Sibyls (Annette Perjanik, Rosalie Williams, Pat Quirke, Margaret Blay, Heather Simpson)

Sibyls (Joyce Irving, Patricia Noonan, Heather Simpson, Heather Campbell, Audrey Coubray)

Kevin Murray and Pat Quirke (as Madame Sosostris)

Ladies of The Waste Land

Joyce Irving (as the head Sibyl) and Vincent Broom (as Tiresias)

About The Production

This theatrical interpretation of T.S. Eliot's classic poem is the first performance event to emerge out of ATC Participate, Auckland Theatre Company's new programme of community engagement.

"No experience necessary and no audition--the only requirement is to be over 65 years of age and willing to join us on a challenging journey of discovery".  Responding to this call for brave volunteers, the cast of The Waste Land first came together as relative strangers ten weeks ago.  Since then this group of talented individuals has grown to become a compelling and cohesive ensemble.  What you see is the culmination of all of their hard work.

Whilst some of the cast have had acting experience, for others this is a new and daring adventure.  Under the drive and guidance of Michael and John and with the support of their peers it's a fair bet that everyone working on The Waste Land has surprised themselves at some stage along the way.  It's a very brave thing to be an actor and I congratulate them all for staying in for the long haul.

Congratulations too to director Michael Hurst and musical director John Gibson for their inspiring vision and to set and costume designer Jessika Verryt and lighting designer Simon Coleman for transforming the ATC rehearsal studio into the most beautiful space to showcase this work.  Thanks to Amo Ieriko and Natalie Braid for their tireless work behind the scenes (and graceful pyjama wearing) and special thanks to Paul Nicoll, the ATC production team and ATC Box Office for their support.

We hope you enjoy discovering (or rediscovering) the poem and the show!

Lynne Cardy - Creative Development Manager



Metro Best of Auckland 2011;  "BEST NEW CAST:  Director Michael Hurst's production of T.S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land in the ATC studio put on stage 34 actors, all over 65 years of age, along with an assortment of elegant chairs, tables, lamps and the odd musical instrument (under the care of John Gibson).  It was exquisite, profoundly creative, joyful, tragic and remarkably skilled.  A national tour should be organized forthwith".

Theatrescenes, Looking Back: 2011 - A Theatrical Year in Review:  "The Waste Land, the debut performance from the Participate program, is the most exciting development from [Auckland Theatre Company].  Director Michael Hurst and his company of 34 65+ year olds was a profound theatrical event".

ASB Trust Annual Report: "Auckland Theatre Company took community participation to giant scale when it put 33 people, aged from 65-91, on the stage to produce The Waste Land.  . . . After eight and a half weeks of rehearsals ATC presented six shows.  Initially only three were planned, but it quickly became clear that audiences would demand more".


Theatre Scenes:  "I find experiences like these are all too rare, but it's what keeps me coming back to theatre: the promise of being taken out of my body, to be transported to an undiscovered territory, to feel something new.  . . . The poem is given a startling voice and vitality in a theatrical interpretation by director Michael Hurst".

Theatreview:  "The five part dramatic monologue form is well suited to performance and Hurst's clever and accurate interpretation makes even the densest and most convoluted passages--and there are plenty of them--clear.  . . . Hurst's lucid and unambiguous direction ensures that this 50 minute, in-the-round . . . production is always visible, audible and accessible.  . . . Eliot is all about the narrative, the imagery, the interrogatory, the classical provocations and the language and this is where Hurst's production truly shines."