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War Stories Production A First For NZ Theatre

War Stories Production A First For New Zealand Theatre

In a New Zealand first, seven Festivals have combined to commission and produce a unique piece of national theatre about the experiences of ordinary New Zealanders in World War I.

King and Country is a powerful and evocative drama based on personal accounts gathered from letters, poems and newspaper articles of the era. The text is interwoven with treasured New Zealand war songs, sung to the accompaniment of a live brass band.

Written by Dave Armstrong, directed by Conrad Newport and produced by Caroline Armstrong, the work has emerged from the biennial development showcase Show and Tell, a New Zealand International Arts Festival initiative.

“When travelling through New Zealand, the importance of World War I in our history is obvious – every small town in New Zealand has a war memorial, and the number of young New Zealanders attending ANZAC services grows each year. In King and Country we want to tell personal, New Zealand stories and explore the human pain, heartache, humour and horror of the times,” said Mr Armstrong.

Festival directors from Christchurch, Nelson, Taupo, Tauranga, Taranaki, Wanaka and Wellington were unanimous in their support for the production, which stood out at the showcase for its moving simplicity and dramatic impact.

Philip Tremewan, Festival Director for Wanaka, Taupo, and Tauranga, said the co-production was a fantastic step forward for New Zealand theatre and would establish a model for future performing arts development.

Dave Armstrong has extensive experience as a writer for stage and television. He co-wrote the stage play Niu Sila, which won the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Best New New Zealand Play in 2004 and was a writer for TVNZ's Spin Doctors. Dave is also an accomplished trumpet player.

King and Country will be presented in Wanaka in April-May 2005, followed by seasons in Christchurch and Taranaki (July-August 2005), Nelson and Tauranga (October 2005), Taupo (February 2006) and Wellington (February-March 2006).

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