Living with drama.

I mentioned in my last post that my daughter Lara was staying with me, as she is directing a show for the Auckland Theatre Company – opening night this coming Thursday. That is … if the shocking weather we are currently experiencing here doesn’t put pay to that. I could say, well it won’t be the first time a show has been cancelled, and some of you may even think, so what? I’ll give you some facts here: personal ones. My daughter is an actress and director of stage; whether it be a drama, comedy, or a play with music, as is the current show.

All people associated with theatre in New Zealand have had it exceptionally hard since Covid slipped through our borders. Every show starts way before the curtain goes up, with the programme planned, often years in advance, before the call goes out for auditions. With other careers, during Covid restrictions, many people were able to work from home, thus keeping some consistency of work flowing. For the performing arts sector; face to face auditions could not be held, which meant actors had to video their own audition pieces and send to the director or directors involved. And even if they were accepted for a role, there were no guarantees that the show would go ahead.

To give you an idea of the fragile state of the industry during Covid, Lara lost eleven jobs in acting and directing over an eighteen month period. I offer these statistics as an idea of just how widespread this was for the whole of the Performing Arts community. Seeing my daughter go through such challenges both physically and psychologically, has been most upsetting. She has faced letdowns in her work before, learnt to keep auditioning, even if she had just lost a role, and managed, somehow, to remain up-beat and positive. She developed her photography to a high standard, in order to keep afloat financially throughout the lean times. Little did I think, she would stay with performing arts for so long (all her working life), for such little reward. Yes, she works damned hard, like so many of her contemporaries. I applaud all of them.

There are few handouts in this industry. The backing of the Performing Arts from Government agencies in New Zealand is extremely limited. Imagine filling in grants that take weeks to research, write, and present to the Creative New Zealand Arts Grant fund, to find that the cut-off number of 250 applications was reached just three days after the start date? That happened with the most recent Arts Fund round. How absolutely demoralising! And, I’m just an observer!

The Heartbreak Choir in rehearsal. Clockwise: Munashe Tapfuya, Levi Keremea, Esmay August, Jodie Dorday, Kate Louise Elliot, and director Lara Macgregor front. Not in shot, Dave Fane and Alison Quigan. Photo: Tony Drayton

This latest show, Heartbreak Choir, has faced a different set of problems, with rehearsal and wardrobe rooms flooded during our last ‘weather bomb’, having to find new space, losing time through relocating, then illness affecting the cast, and now a tornado moving across our country wreaking havoc. They have certainly been through enough. But the show must go on – right?

I would like to send my regards to the cast of Heartbreak Choir and wish them packed houses and a terrific response for their performances throughout the season. Kia kaha!

8 thoughts on “Living with drama.

  1. So many challenges for anyone involved in the arts. My piano tuner was out of work during Covid because there were no concerts here in the city. He is formerly from Ukraine. Then the war broke out last year and he was worried about family back home. He started losing his hair because he was so stressed. So I am sending positive vibes to your daughter and hope that the show will be possible and that many will be able to attend. ❤️


    • Thank you for your comment Louise. These last few years living with Covid have been so challenging for so many. Your positive vibes must have worked, for I was part of the audience at last night’s performance, and the show was very well received. One audience member called out at the end saying, ‘this was the best show I have seen!’.


  2. Covid, as louiseaprimeau writes, is a challenge to all and most certainly those involved in the performing arts. Professional dancers and dance students had to train at home. Some were ‘lucky’ and followed internet dance classes in their small apartments. I truly understand the challenges, your daughter and other artists coped with so bravely.
    May I wish Lara, her team and artists a wonderful show. And I hope that the storm and bad weather subsides and that no one is injured. Best wishes to you, Lara and all those effected by the storm.


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