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UCOL graduate becomes prime minister


UCOL graduate becomes prime minister


UCOL graduate Tony Wyeth is too young to remember former Prime Minister Keith Holyoake but he’s using skills acquired at UCOL to play him on stage.

Tony is appearing as Keith Holyoake in Centrepoint Theatre’s new play The Gods of Warm Beer by Peter Hawes. The play, which opens in Palmerston North on Saturday night, is set on the West Coast in the ‘fifties and centres around rugby league. Tony also plays the part of Pook, a very un-PC Westport bloke “who has all the best lines”, according to Tony.

To study for the part of Holyoake, who was prime minister briefly in 1957 then from 1960 to 1972, he says he drew on what he learnt at UCOL. Tony studied for the Diploma in Performing Arts in 1999 and 2000, under “brilliant” tutors Bert van Dyk and Simon Ferry, now Artistic Director at Centrepoint.

His preparation included getting a feel for the former prime minister by studying internet-based audio and video of him. “I also asked my mother and older friends who were around at the time and they dredged up descriptions and stories.”

Since Tony completed his diploma, he’s had a run of successful appearances in theatres around New Zealand and in feature films. He’s proud of his work as “Smithy the acrobat” in The Laundry Warrior, now in post production. The film stars Kate Bosworth and Geoffrey Rush. Tony says it was obviously a buzz to work alongside such well known actors.

He appeared in the New Zealand film The Last Great Snail Chase and in the upcoming indie Western film Broken, “playing a bad guy.” Tony also plays in the band Smokey Feel with UCOL singing tutor Kane Parsons.

Tony says the training at UCOL was particularly valuable because it covered film as well as theatre work. “We were also encouraged to take responsibility for our own learning and to take ourselves seriously as artists. That really helped me when I got out into the wider world.”

UCOL now offers a Certificate in Performing Arts, a six month programme providing foundation knowledge and skills in acting, dance, singing, musical theatre, voice and acting for camera.


ENDS

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