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My Name is Gary Cooper by Victor Rodger

Auckland Theatre Company

Thursday 30 August

By Victor Rodger

“Potent play, a triumph over stereotype… A dark, cutting and ironic vein of humour courses through the drama. ” Evening Post (for Ranterstantrum).

“Rodger meanwhile proves able to be as simultaneously tongue-in-cheek and politically astute as the likes of De La Soul and Spike Lee at their best.” Sunday Star Times (for Ranterstantrum).

“The play is a fiery challenge to decades of playwrighting.” Sunday Star Times (for Ranterstantrum).

When Victor Rodger’s My Name is Gary Cooper was first performed during Auckland Theatre Company’s THE NEXT STAGE series in 2006, it caused a sensation - immediately being hailed by audiences as the most exciting new New Zealand work to emerge in decades. Now, Auckland Theatre Company is thrilled to present the world premiere season of this daring ‘sex revenge’ drama at the Maidment Theatre from September 20 - October 13.

Wide shot – Samoa - 1952. Hollywood legend Gary Cooper sets the Island alight filming Return To Paradise "the great South Pacific adventure". Cut to - Los Angeles - 1973. A young Samoan man charms his way into the lives and hearts of a movie industry family. Close-up - Auckland - 2000. Hollywood cinema Avondale. A revival screening of Return To Paradise throws new light on a family cycle of betrayal and revenge.

Starring Robbie Magasiva in the boldest stage role of his career, My Name is Gary Cooper jumps time zones and cultural divides to challenge our gaudy Technicolor images of island life and Hollywood dreams. Erotic, funny and full of machete-sharp dialogue, one of our most daring contemporary playwrights offers a new insight into the steamy side of Paradise.

“Victor Roger is on the cutting edge of New Zealand playwriting”, says Director Roy Ward.My Name is Gary Cooper is a unique and shockingly funny tale of sexual revenge that showcases some of New Zealand’s best Pacific Island and Palagi talents – this show is not to be missed.”

An exceptional cast of established and emerging actors will join Magasiva on stage for this production. From celebrated performers Jennifer Ward-Lealand (Decadence), Roy Snow (Some Girls), Anapela Polataivao (TVNZ’s The Market, Island Girls) and Goretti Chadwick (The Market, Frangipani Perfume); to up and coming talents Nora Aati, Liesha Ward Knox (The Bomb, Plenty) and Damien Harrison (The Tutor, Shortland Street).

Christchurch-born Victor Rodger is a playwright of Samoan and Scottish descent. His first play Sons won Chapman Tripp Awards for Best New Play and Best New Writer in 1998. He is also the author of Cunning Stunts (1997) and Ranterstantrum (2002) which was part of the International New Zealand Festival of the Arts. Since 2000 he has written for Shortland Street and also for Karaoke High.

Last year he was the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Island Writer in Residence at the University of Hawaii, Honoulu where he worked on a film adaptation of Sons. He is currently working on an adaptation of Witi Ihimaera's novel The Uncle's Story.

Auckland Theatre Company’s production of Victor Roger’s My Name is Gary Cooper will run at the Maidment Theatre from 20 September – 13 October. Book at the Maidment Theatre 09 308 2383 or online at

My Name is Gary Cooper
by Victor Rodger

With: Nora Aati, Goretti Chadwick, Damien Harrison, Robbie Magasiva, Anapela Polataivao, Roy Snow, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Leisha Ward-Knox.

Direction: Roy Ward
Set Design: Mark McEntyre

Lighting Design: Phillip Dexter
Costume Design: Elizabeth Whiting
Composer/Sound Design: Marc Chesterman

Maidment Theatre
September 20 – October 13
Tuesday - Wednesday 6.30pm Thursday – Saturday 8.00pm
Matinee Saturday 6 October at 2.00pm
Sundays 4.00pm

Tickets: $25 - $54 (booking fees apply)



Nora Aati

Nora Aati plays the role of Teuila in My Name Is Gary Cooper. In 2006, Nora Aati graduated from Unitec with a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts. Her theatre credits include Marat/Sade, Black Rock, Three Sisters, Coram Boy, You Can't Surf In Aotea Square, Auckland Theatre Company's NEXT STAGE Where We Once Belonged and her solo show at Herald Theatre Mapaki. Film experience includes Like Milk, Lani from the Block and the television series Ride With The Devil.

Goretti Chadwick
Goretti Chadwick plays the role of T in My Name Is Gary Cooper. Goretti Chadwick trained at Unitec's Performing Arts School in 1995. Acting highlights include Auckland Theatre Company’s productions of Wit, A Streetcar Named Desire, Rocky Horror, Doubt and its NEXT STAGE performances of Where We Once Belonged and My Name Is Gary Cooper. She has also featured in various Pacific plays, including Frangipani Perfume. Film and television acting credits include The Market, Orange Roughies and Sione's Wedding. Goretti is currently the Course Director for BEST Pacific Institute's Screen & Performing Arts Course, based at Unitec.

Damien Harrison
Damien Harrison plays the role of Joel White in My Name Is Gary Cooper. Damien is a graduate of Unitec’s Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts degree. Film experience includes productions of The Seagull, Like Milk, Bob Davis Super Hero and Losing Morning. Damien’s theatre experience includes La Creduta Morta, Monologues, Blackrock, Still Water Rising, Last Laughs, Marat/Sade, Three Sisters, Class Act and Spinning Tales (Unitec) and The Tutor (Auckland Theatre Company). He currently plays the role of Nate Adamson on Shortland Street.

Robbie Magasiva
Robbie plays the role of Gary Cooper. Robbie’s acting career began in Wellington with recurring roles in the television series Cover Story and SKITZ. 2001 was an important year as Robbie starred in his first major film Stickmen and joined the highly successful theatre comedy team Naked Samoans which continues to tour extensively. Robbie’s other theatre experience includes the International Festival of the Arts 2002 season of Ranterstantrum and in 1998 was awarded the Best Male Newcomer Theatre Award for his role in Victor Rodger's Sons. He returned to television in two series of The Strip and in 2006 starred in the hit film Sione’s Wedding. He is currently co-presenter of TVNZ’s Pacific Affairs magazine show Tagata Pasifika. Robbie also stars in the new New Zealand Film Commission supernatural movie thriller The Tattooist which explores the exotic world of traditional Samoan tatau.

Roy Snow
Roy Snow plays the role of Nick White in My Name Is Gary Cooper. Roy is an accomplished stage and screen actor and is best recognised to many for his role as Matt McAllister on TVNZ’s Shortland Street. He performed on stage in a number of Auckland Theatre Company productions including the smash-hit The Rocky Horror Show, High Society, Middle Aged Spread, Hair, Ladies Night, Cabaret and Death of a Salesman. Other theatre credits include Some Girls, This Is How It Goes, The Phantom Of The Opera, Les Miserables, Godspell, Blondel, Grease and The Mikado. Roy’s television experience includes appearances in Outrageous Fortune, Looking For Captain Cook, Xena Warrior Princess, Orange Roughies, National Geographic’s Journeys To The Edge and has had lead roles in several short films, including Splatter, The Incubus, Only Barmen Speak In Tongues, Gift Box, Taken Out and The Package.

Jennifer Ward-Lealand
Jennifer Ward-Lealand plays the role of Connie White in My Name Is Gary Cooper. Since training at Auckland's influential Theatre Corporate, Jennifer has become one of New Zealand's leading actresses and has worked extensively in theatre, film, television, musical and radio. Performances include Agnes of God, The Irving Berlin Show (Mercury), Cabaret (Watershed), The Real Thing, Side By Side by Sondheim (Centrepoint), The Threepenny Opera (Downstage), Tell Me On A Sunday (APO), Into The Woods, The Graduate, The Bach, Twelfth Night (Auckland Theatre Company), Pinter's Old Times and the tile role of Marlene Dietrich in the sell-out production of Marlene ([potent pause] Productions), The Goat and Berlin (Silo Theatre). In 1989/90, she toured New Zealand (NZ) and internationally with The Front Lawn and in the mid 90s she moved to Australia to appear in the comedy television series Full Frontal. Jennifer's film and television work includes The Footstep Man, Desperate Remedies, The Ugly, Fracture, Linda's Body, Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Duggan and Interrogation. Awards include Best Actress (Sitges, Spain) for Desperate Remedies; Best Actress (GOFTA, NZ) for Danny And Raewyn; Best Theatrical Performer (NZ Entertainment Awards); The Evening Standard Best Actress Award for Breaking The Silence (Centrepoint Theatre); and most recently Best New Zealand Actress in the Metro Readers' Poll for her role as Stevie in Edward Albee's The Goat. Jennifer has been touring her cabaret Falling In Love Again to arts festivals throughout NZ and Australia since 2005, most recently performing in The Famous Spiegeltent for AK07 and a sellout season at Downstage Theatre. Jennifer was awarded an ONZM for Services to Theatre and the Community in the New Years Honours List and was recently elected President of NZ Actors Equity.

Liesha Ward Knox

My Name Is Gary Cooper is Liesha's debut performance for Auckland Theatre Company. Trained at Unitec School Of Performing and Screen Arts, Liesha onscreen acting credits include the feature film Hidden as well as roles on Shortland Street and Mercy Peak. Her recent theatre credits include Bad Jelly The Witch, Plenty, Cymbeline, Undine and Orpheus Descending. As a founding member of the burgeoning theatre company Phundmi Productions, Liesha recently performed and co-produced Shakespeare Unbar’d, a delightful show aimed at bringing theatre to the people.

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