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New ART from the Auckland Theatre Company

Media Release

It's Art - for friendship's sake

What do you say to an old friend who has bought a piece of abstract, all white art for $200,000?

Art is an hilariously funny foray into friends' reactions to a seemingly blank piece of canvas. It's a contemporary take on the age-old debate 'what is art?' which probes as deeply into the art of friendship as art itself. Controversial, clever and very witty, Art has created as much debate after, as is seen on stage.

Auckland Theatre Company Producer Simon Prast, directing his fifth production, says Art is the perfect play to open the year. "Getting people thinking about arts and culture is just one of the play's effects on an audience. But it's also about change and how we cope with it and what right or obligation we have to cast judgement on the actions of our nearest and dearest."

Art has been a sell-out success on both sides of the Atlantic, winning both Olivier and Tony Awards. Star studded casts have included Albert Finney, Alan Alda, and Tom Conti. Written in France in 1995 by Yasmina Reza, the rights to Art were snapped up by Sir Sean Connery, after his wife saw the play in Paris. It is rumoured that Sir Sean may take a role in a film version. Art was translated into English by the formidable playwright Christopher Hampton, whose adaptation of his play Les Liaison Dangereuses won an Oscar.

In Auckland Theatre Company's new production, Peter Elliott, best known for his television work on Shortland Street, Gloss and Marlin Bay, takes to the stage after a seven-year sabbatical, in the lead role of Serge, the art buyer. Roy Billing, last appearing with ATC in Foreskin's Lament plays his friend Marc, who takes Serge's art purchase as an almost personal affront. Roy has been nominated for an AFI award for his role in the film Siam Sunset, to be released here on 3 February. Caught in the middle is Yvan, played by Paul Barrett, who appeared in Masterclass and Foreskin's Lament.

Art: first in a series of eight plays in 2000 in ATC's Volvo Wild Child Season.

You are invited to a Backstage Briefing: Mon 7 February, 6pm, Rydges Hotel to meet the cast and creative team and talk about their staging of Art.

'..as rare and invigorating as a fine painting itself....like any masterpiece, worth a second look' David Spencer, NY.

'Anyone looking for a play that is funny, sophisticated, stylish, stimulating and moving should go to Art' The Independent, UK.

Auckland Theatre Company presents Art by Yasmina Reza

* Previews 16 & 17 February * Performances 18 February - 18 March * Maidment Theatre 308 2383 * Tickets $18 - $45

* Director Simon Prast * With Roy Billing, Peter Elliott, Paul Barrett * Set design John Parker, Lighting design Bryan Caldwell

Proudly sponsored by Auckland City Council

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