Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Kings of the Gym comes to Nelson

Kings of the Gym comes to Nelson.

Kings of the Gym

Dave Armstrong’s romantic and very funny comedy Kings of the Gym is coming to The Nelson School of Music on Friday April 12.

People who loved Le Sud at the Nelson Arts Festival, Seven Periods With Mr Gormsby on TV and the current Radio New Zealand satire Down the List will know Armstrong as a playwright who makes the audience laugh, while skewering some of the current foibles of New Zealand society. In Kings of the Gym it’s the politics of education, religion, professional sport and 'Best School Syndrome’.

The Auckland Theatre Company is touring this production, which Artistic Director, Colin McColl explains is set at Hautapu High, a low decile Auckland school that’s set to rocket up Metro's Best School ranking.

“The only thing standing in the way is a rearguard action led by the old-school, politically incorrect but hugely popular head of the PE department, Laurie O'Connor,” he says. “Laurie's on a collision course with the ambitious new principal, Viv. She can't stand his work methods or his opinions on education - he still believes kids should learn that sport is about winning!”

McColl says the Auckland Theatre Company is delighted to bring Dave Armstrong’s work to a wider New Zealand audience, describing it as ‘a very kiwi play that is sure to amuse people wherever they may live’. Last year The Auckland Theatre Company presented On The Upside Down of the World during the Nelson Festival, and was thrilled with the response to the production.

Writer Dave Armstrong says he got the idea for Kings of the Gym in the mid 1970s in the gymnasium of the local secondary school where he found relief in the company of the PE teachers:

“They were almost all uniformly contemptuous of modern, progressive education and perhaps therein lay their appeal. After a day of interactive learning I quite enjoyed playing a highly physical and competitive game of now-forbidden bull-rush in the gym. What interested me is that my liberal teachers, whom I really liked and respected, couldn't believe that I enjoyed spending time in the company of the ‘Neanderthals' in the PE department. It was true that these PE teachers could be boorish and insensitive at times, very like Laurie in the play, but I also knew that these kings of the gym really liked kids. And it's very hard to dislike someone who likes you.”

Armstrong says he liked the challenge of setting a rom-com in the scummy, dirty gym of a failing low-decile school, and this got him thinking about a variety of things, from education and politics to wider human issues such as tolerance.

“As I was writing this play, a number of social and religious groups such as Destiny Church, Family First and Sensible Sentencing hit the headlines. Some of the members of these groups are highly intolerant, especially of gay rights groups, liberals, prisoners, schoolteachers and judges, to name a few. But I also noticed a growing intolerance amongst people like me to Christians and other conservative groups.

“What would happen if people from these opposing groups found themselves all in the same place, say in a school gymnasium? It was then that I realised that even though only one of the four characters in Kings of the Gym is religious, this play is really about a battle for the soul. Each character seems to want every other character to think like them and believe what they believe – and are all prepared to fight to get their way. I found this battle both intriguing and at times very funny.”

NSOM Manager Frances McElhinney says it’s going to be a change to have a theatre show on this scale at the School of Music.

“The Auckland Theatre Company is bringing a 20 tonne truck full of climbing walls, balls, ropes and sports gear that will transform the stage into a school gym everyone will recognise,” she says. “It’s going to be a real treat for Nelson people to have a professional show of this scale staged here.”

Tickets for Kings of the Gym are on sale now online at or at the Nelson School of Music in Nile Street, phone 548 9477. Ticket prices (+ service fees) are Adult $35 and Student/Senior $30. The Nelson performance of Kings of the Gym is on Friday April 12, doors and bar open 6.30pm, start time is 7.30pm.

"Armstrong takes delight in completely skewering us…It's thrilling being in the voyeur's seat."- Theatrescenes

"Known for his comic writing which is sophisticated and sharp." - NBR

“Kings of the Gym was a terrifically funny play which made for a great night’s entertainment. Dave Armstrong has produced a very New Zealand comedy.” Kiwiblog


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


13/10: 40 Years Since The Māori Land March Arrived At Parliament

Traffic into Wellington came to a standstill as thousands of Māori and Pākehā streamed along the motorway into the capital on 13 October 1975, concluding the Māori land march to parliament. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Before The Quakes

Remembering Christchurch: Voices from decades past: The Christchurch I lived in for my first 23 years was where four-year-olds walked alone to kindergarten, crossing roads empty of all but a couple of cars per hour. My primary school, Ilam, was newly built on a grassy paddock surrounded by rural land... More>>

6-11 October: New Zealand Improvisation Festival Hits Wellington

Wellingtonians will have a wide selection of improv to feast on with a jam packed programme containing 22 shows, three companies from Australia, two companies from Auckland, one from Nelson, one from Christchurch and seven from Wellington. More>>


Bird Of The Year: New Zealanders Asked To Vote For Their Favourite Native Bird

Te Radar, David Farrier, Heather du-Plessis Allan and Duncan Garner are just some of the New Zealanders championing their favourite native bird in Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition, which kicks off today.. More>>


Werewolf Film: It Follows - Panic In Detroit

Philip Matthews: When you heard last month that Wes Craven had died and you wanted to pay homage, you could have sat down with any one of five of his films that helped reinvent American horror at least three times over three decades... Or you could just have watched one of the greatest recent horror films that would probably not exist without Craven. More>>


Werewolf Music: Searching For The White Wail - On Art Pepper, etc

If the word ‘hipster’ means anything – which it arguably doesn’t – it seems to be more of an impulse than a condition. One always headed for the margins, and away from the white-bred, white-bread mainstream... More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news