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Rogues and Vagabonds by Elspeth Sandys at Circa Theatre

17 August 2012

Circa and Playmarket present a rehearsed reading of

Rogues and Vagabonds by Elspeth Sandys

Directed by Ray Henwood

Circa Two - Saturday 25 August 2012 - 2pm The third play in the Circa Theatre and Playmarket Reading Series 2012 is Rogues and Vagabonds by Elspeth Sandys - a tale about history’s uncanny ability to repeat itself; the enduring capacity of human beings to believe in miracles; female liberation; sexual and economic oppression.

Set in Auckland at the close of the nineteenth century, Rogues and Vagabonds tells the story of the Maude Peach Touring Troupe - three out of work music hall actors who conspire to carry out a daring scam to beat the poorhouse, and live in comfort for the rest of their lives.

The Boer War is raging, arousing patriotic fervour for the Empire, and rumblings of discontent, in almost equal measure. The long depression of the 1890s has hit the poor hard. As the new century approaches there is talk of Armageddon and the Second Coming.

Against this background Maud Peach - Male Impersonator, Bridie O’Faolin - Queen of the Emerald Isle, and Little Tom Higginbottom - Juggler and Trick Cyclist, devise a scheme…

Elspeth Sandys: The idea for Rogues and Vagabonds first came to me at the time of the invasion of Iraq. I found myself thinking about other illegal and/or unjust wars and started reading up about the Boer War, a war I knew very little about. The more I read the more these two imperial wars seemed to me to have striking similarities. So I decided to vent my feelings about the Iraq War (and about the abuses of capitalism which were beginning to be uncovered at the same time) through the prism of a war that took place over 100 years earlier.

The question of how to tell this story was quickly solved. Having years ago seen and been blown away by the film of Joan Littlewood's Oh What a Lovely War it struck me that the best way to tell my story was to set it in the 19th century Music Hall. That way I could use song as well as action, taking advantage of the often seditious nature of Music Hall turns. My three Music Hall characters - Maud Peach, Bridie O'Faolin, and Tom Higginbottom - ambushed me from the outset. At one level they are composites of many of the Music Hall characters I read about, but they have always seemed to me to have their own noisy autonomy. Their sacking on the eve of the new century, followed by their encounter with the feisty sufragette, Gloria Abernethy, daughter of the man who has just put them out of work, provides the dramatic start point for the play. What follows is, I hope, a celebration of the enduring power of Theatre to reach out to hearts and minds.

Elspeth Sandys has published eight novels and two collections of short stories. She has written numerous plays for the BBC Radio and Radio New Zealand as well as writing for stage and television.

In addition to her position as theatre reviewer for The Listener, Elspeth works as a mentor for NZSA and Whitereia Polytech.

Elspeth has received many awards and fellowships in recognition of her work and in 2006 was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature.

Rogues and Vagabonds was selected for the 2005 London International Playwriting Festival.

Rogues and Vagabonds
By Elspeth Sandys
Rehearsed Reading
Circa Two
Saturday 25 August 2012, 2pm
$5 – contact Circa Box Office to book or 04 8017992

Ray Henwood
Peter Hambleton: Major Abernathy
Jane Waddell: Stella Abernathy
Lyndee-Jane Rutherford: Maud Peach
Alison Walls: Gloria Abernathy
Victoria Abbott: Bridie O’Faolin
Nathan Mudge: Tom Higginbottom


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