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The Pragmatic

The Pragmatic

Grubstreet Theatre Presents:

The Pragmatic – an entirely original, unperformed New Zealand play, premiering in the 2009 Wellington Fringe Festival.

Created by Grubstreet Theatre, an up and coming new Wellington Theatre Troupe headed by Harry Meech, recent winner of the 2008 Playmarket New Zealand Young Playwrights Award, The Pragmatic is a wry, and somewhat morose comedy, about life’s little routines, people’s little hang-ups, and the ways in which they try to beat some kind of sense into a chaotic world.

Steve, a down and out briefcase salesman, is stuck in a rut, and he’s not happy about it. When he confides in Paul, his long-time barman, and only friend, he finds little comfort in his reply that ‘Everyone’s in a rut – the trick is finding a rut that you like.’ Desperate for change, and disheartened by the illogical nature of the world in which he lives, Steve reaches out to a stranger in Paul’s bar (the central location of the first act) – Sarah. Sarah is Steve’s polar opposite – joyously languishing in her own idleness, she finds happiness in the simplest of indulgences, and does the things she likes, because she likes them. After a series of strained encounters and fierce debates, tempered by a tense attraction between both parties, Steve finally takes some of Sarah’s advice, leading to a big sale, and a promotion for him at work.

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The second Act begins 2 years later, with a Propaganda video explaining Steve’s quick rise to power within his company, followed by a world-wide expansion that has left him as the effective ruler of the world. Now things become truly interesting, as Steve, previously tormented by his own lack of agency, finds himself the most powerful person on the planet.

This play explores mankind’s frustration with an ungovernable universe through the most simple and intimate character relationships – through friendship, attraction, love, and regret – set against social situations ranging from the most innocuous and common of a lowly corner-bar, to the private office of the ruler of the world. This play asks what power is, how far it extends, and the many ways in which it can change a person.

The Pragmatic is innovative and experimental mainly in its drastic changes of scope. In the early stages of the creation of this show, we decided that we wanted to create real, distinct, 3-dimensional characters that we might encounter in our day to day lives, and then put them in extreme situations that allowed us to explore the most interesting aspects of their personalities. A kind of naturalistic (in terms of ‘theatre as a social laboratory’) play gone mad – real people in extreme situations. This eventually developed, due to the characters we created, into a play about mankind’s desire for control and power in an uncontrollable universe, and the different ways it can affect our lives, and a show in which a character-driven plot is set against the massive scale of a world-government staring at the crossroads of Utopia or Dystopia.


The Pragmatic:
February 14th, 15th, 21st, and 22nd at 8pm each night,
Wellington Performing Arts Centre, 36 Vivian Street,
Tickets Available from Downstage (online and at the box office),
And at the door.

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