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Geography – The Cure To All That Ails

Geography – The Cure To All That Ails

The show Geographical Cure starts simply. A couple head off in a car somewhere up the coast to settle their differences. Before long they find that they have forgotten the time and where they are going, and their differences have settled themselves as they watch the geography change around them.

They have been geographically cured.

Geographical Cure weaves the stories of a number of individuals through songs and theatre. The brainchild of innovative music group, Verona and Downstage Theatre Director Murray Lynch, it is one of the local works commissioned by the New Zealand International Arts Festival 2004 and is a co-production with Downstage Theatre.

The six member band Verona and two actors explore on stage the idea of Geographical Cure in separate vignettes linked by theme through the use of live music, dialogue, animation and film.

“Changing geography is seen as the cure to all that ails. In search of a better life, to move away from danger or to make a life change, people often make a move geographically. Geographical Cure explores, through a number of individual stories, the promise of an escape to a different life or the realization of a dream. The stories look at our country and ourselves from a current and historical perspective,” says Lynch.

“Some of the stories are based on true and often horrifying stories of life in New Zealand culture,” says Composer Dan Adams from Verona. “Some are well known, such as New Zealand inventor and visionary Richard Pearse wanting to fly.”

“A lesser known story is about the adventures of the Richardson sisters – Fanny, Ethel and Lillie who were daughters of a Victorian sea captain. They had a love of nature and were tomboys who would often travel to different places. In the show we catch them on a day admiring the ferns at Jackson’s Bay on the West Coast. The lyrics for the song were taken from Ethel’s diary and the King James Bible.”

Another song, Million Dollar View, looks at “naming your price for a piece of the sky if it’s something that your money could buy,” as a way of escape.

Verona and Downstage presented their ideas for Geographical Cure at a New Zealand International Arts Festival Show and Tell where artists wishing to have work commissioned put their show ideas in front of the Festival and other presenters. It is a process, funded by Creative New Zealand, designed to develop the quality and quantity of New Zealand work being produced for national and international presentation.

Carla Van Zon, Artistic Director for the New Zealand International Arts Festival, said Geographical Cure captured the imagination of those watching the Show and Tell process.

“The whole concept for the show was so inventive. It got people thinking and talking. The piece about inventor Richard Pearse’s obsession with creating a flying machine taps into New Zealanders respect for inventors and people who have a “can-do” attitude. “

Verona is a band with a theatrical focus. Their Fringe Festival 2002 show Storm with local string quartet Chamberpot and Radio New Zealand announcer Peter Sledmere received the Golden Horn Music Award.

Daniel Adams composed the majority of the music for Geographical Cure. He has been writing songs for 15 years and has a BMus in music composition from Victoria University and a BA in English Literature. Daniel is Verona’s lead singer and front man. The rest of Verona are Douglas Voon on drums and vocals, Allan Street on bass, Nic Marshall on organ and fender Rhodes, percussionist Jeremy Fitzsimon, and Dan Lambert is on guitar and he wrote the show’s dialogue. The two guest performers are Janet Roddick and Peter Rutherford.

Sound Design is Nic McGowan, lighting design by Martyn Roberts, set and costumer design by Nicole Cosgrove and animation by Craig Speakman

Geographical Cure’s director Murray Lynch has worked at nearly every major professional theatre in New Zealand since the 1970s and has more than 100 writing credits to his name. He was Artistic Director of Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North and the Maidment Arts Centre in Auckland. In 1989 he became Associate Director at Downstage Theatre, then became Director following a stint at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. For the Festival he directed Waiora (1996) and Blue Smoke (2000). He was voted Best Director by Wellington critics in 1991 for his Downstage Theatre production of Taming of the Shrew. Geographical Cure plays at Downstage Theatre from 28 February – 6 March. The New Zealand International Arts Festival runs from 27 February to 21 March.

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