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ATC Brings Compelling New Play to Stage in September

ATC Brings Compelling New Play to Stage in September

Starring Michael Hurst, Theresa Healey and Catherine Wilkin

Greed, deception, and family drama are at the heart of Auckland Theatre Company's next production; the world premiere of Arthur Meek's Trees Beneath The Lake.

Playing at Auckland's Maidment Theatre from 4 to 27 September and starring well-known actors Michael Hurst, Theresa Healey and Catherine Wilkin, Trees Beneath The Lake is set in present day Central Otago as financial wizard William Campbell (Hurst) returns to his family home to salvage his golden reputation.

Under scrutiny by the Financial Markets Authority, William is forced to enact an audacious plan to save his marriage, fortune and reputation. But as the family reconvenes to fight for their future, a devastating new light is shone on their past.

Heralded as one of the most exciting new voices in New Zealand theatre, Arthur wrote much of the play while in New York as part of the Harriet Friedlander New York Residency and said that being in the capital of the world financial markets had an influence on the work.

"As soon as I got to New York all my characters made a whole new sense - what they wanted and what they were going to get became clear.

"Everyone in this play is trying to navigate the massive gulf between their reality and their ambitions and no one does that with more cunning than people who live in New York."

Trees Beneath The Lake is set in Lowburn, Central Otago. It was there, when William was young, that the Campbells lost their battle to save the family orchard from being flooded in the creation of the Clyde Dam.

"Central Otago is famously beautiful but once you spend time there you realise it's also deceptively brutal. Everyone who's ever lived there comes face to face with its promise of great riches and the practical difficulty of trying to extract them."

He adds that while the family still resents the government for pushing them off their land, "what the play's about is that while we're distracting ourselves getting worked up about the bloody government, we miss the fact that the biggest threat for most of us, might well be the person we love and trust most in the world.

"William is an 'every son' and he'll do anything to maintain his mother's good impression of him, except change his ways. He finds it easier to conceal his misdeeds than to stop doing them."

Arthur said he is excited to be working with the cast to bring Trees Beneath The Lake to life. "My job I to put words in people's mouths. Being in the room and seeing the script jump off the page and into the actors is the great joy of my life, and more than makes up for all the time I have to spend beavering away by myself."

Trees Beneath The Lake follows Arthur's ATC 2011 main bill debut with his play On The Upside Down of the World which has toured to arts festivals around New Zealand and is currently featuring at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

ATC artistic director Colin McColl said Arthur Meek was one of the bright stars of New Zealand playwriting. "This smart, powerful and compelling new work we've commissioned from him questions what happens to the inhabitants of a small nation who risk everything to dream big."

Directed by Simon Bennett, the cast for Trees Beneath The Lake also includes Brooke Williams as William's lawyer Ruth Laughton, Peter Hayden and newcomer Leighton Stichbury.


About Arthur Meek

Arthur Meek is considered one of the most exciting new voices in New Zealand theatre. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Bruce Mason Award for Playwriting and, in the same year, became the third recipient of the Harriet Friedlander New York Residency. In 2011, his playOn the Upside Down of the World was presented as part of Auckland Theatre Company's main bill season. It has since toured around New Zealand to great acclaim and is currently playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

William Campbell – Michael Hurst
Jennifer Campbell – Theresa Healey
Nieve Campbell – Catherine Wilkin
Ruth Laughton – Brooke Williams
Tom Mayhew – Peter Hayden
Ross Campbell – Leighton Stichbury

Playwright – Arthur Meek
Direction – Simon Bennett
Sound Design – Jason Smith
Set Design – Tracey Collins
Costume Design – Sara Taylor
Lighting Design – Phillip Dexter MSc

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