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A Short, Incomplete History of a Very Long Street

A Short and Incomplete History of a Very Long Street

Sundays at 11 am
Corner of Victoria and Jackson Streets, Petone
Entry by Koha

Did you know that Jackson Street originally had a kink in it? That it has a plaque commemorating a speed skating record holder? That it has links to the origins of the 40 hour week?

These may be some of the fascinating facts to emerge in The Improvisors’ Fringe Festival show Jackson Street – A Short and Incomplete History of a Very Long Street.

“Jackson Street is rich with history and fantastic stories – it was very near the original Wellington settlement of Britannia,” says show performer and Improvisors Artistic Director Greg Ellis. “And we want to share some of these with an audience.”

The audience in question will be led on a walking tour of Jackson Street Petone by two performers. Along the way they’ll fill people in with some of the stories of the street and inspired by the streets that intersect it, its people and its buildings. The audience will also get a chance to give input into the show and be part of the action – it wouldn’t be an Improvisors’ show if they didn’t. “We want to give people a chance to share their own stories or create completely new ones, we relish the challenge,” says Ellis.

The Improvisors’ style is always comedic and improvisational. They use audience suggestions, and for the braver souls, participation to make their shows come alive. No two shows are the same and this formula seems to be successful – The Improvisors have some history of their own having worked in Wellington and the Hutt Valley for 19 years.

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The Improvisors’ secret historical weapon lies in the family ties of performer Ian Harcourt to the region. Family tradition has it that a distant descendant of Ian’s John Wallace was one of the first people ashore in Petone and owned a lot of land in the region. He gives his name to such areas as Wallaceville and John and Wallace Streets in Newtown. In addition the Hutt’s Harcourt park was originally a great uncle’s hobby farm so Ian is well and truly part of the show’s history already.

The show is one of the few Fringe shows to be staged in the Hutt Valley. “We really wanted to do something in the Hutt,” says Ellis. “It seems they always miss out on the big festivals.” With the support of the Jackson Street Programme, and Creative New Zealand the show is also incredibly cheap. Its street theatre and so audience members need only to contribute a gold coin or small donation.

The only limiting factor is the tour size. “Jackson Street is a busy street and to limit congestion we need to keep our group sizes to about 30 people – so make sure you’re on time,” warns Ellis. “Its a show you don’t want to miss out on.”


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