Meet The Man Who Rocked The World
Michael Hurst leads a large, star-studded cast in Auckland Theatre Company’s biggest and boldest production of 2021; The Life of Galileo
Arguably Bertolt Brecht’s greatest play, The Life of Galileo captures a brilliant discovery by a brilliant mind that changed our understanding of the universe. Eventually.
One of New Zealand’s finest theatre actors Michael Hurst (The Daylight Atheist, Amadeus, No Holds Bard) stars as Brecht’s charismatic and quick-thinking Galileo, with New Zealand stage and screen favourite Rima Te Wiata (This Town, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Billy Elliot the Musical) also in the outstanding ensemble cast.
ATC Creative Director Colin McColl (ONZM) says, “We are lucky to have an actor of Michael Hurst’s calibre keen to take on this demanding role. His rigorous intellect, curious mind, consummate craft and physicality make him perfect to play Galileo. Far from being an austere, cloistered dry scientist, Galileo is an earthy, amusing, devious and flawed character, with a lust for life and discovery.”
In 17th century Europe, the famous and visionary mathematician, physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei found himself in hot water with the Catholic Church for supporting heliocentrism: the idea that the Earth revolves around the sun, not, as was the belief at the time, the other way around. He also proposed that the Earth was not the centre of the universe, as espoused by the church. Cue major drama.
Galileo was forced by the church to keep quiet, retract his heresies and was placed under house arrest. It wasn’t until a century later that the church finally backed down on its opposition to his theory.
Joining Hurst and Te Wiata in the stellar cast are actors Ravikanth Gurunathan (The Downs and Ups of Peep and Squeak, 48 Nights on Hope Street, A Fine Balance) and Amelia Rose Reynolds (The Wilds, Burn Her, Macbeth) as Galileo’s student Andrea Sarti and daughter Virginia respectively. Cameron Rhodes (Black Lover, The Luminaries, The Audience), Taungaroa Emile (Once on Chunuk Bair, No. 2, Whale Rider), Roy Ward (The Audience, Shortland Street, Burn Her), Hera Dunleavy (The Gulf, The Audience, Filthy Business), Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson (Savage, Still Life with Chickens, Hibiscus and Ruthless) and Bryony Skillington (Le Basement XXXmas Cabaret, Pleasuredome The Musical, Billy Elliot the Musical) making up the experienced ensemble of principals. A chorus of eight additional actors completes the large company.
The experienced creative team led by Director Colin McColl, includes award-winning set designer and Head of Design and Arts Management at Toi Whakaari Dr Sean Coyle (Pakaru, Hui, Paniora). Sean will be bringing his extensive design nous to create the vast and expansive world of Galileo on stage.
Costume designer Elizabeth Whiting (The Daylight Atheist/Joan, Nell Gwynn, Jesus Christ Superstar), lighting designer Jo Kilgour (The Haka Party Incident, Six Degrees of Separation, Amadeus) and composer/sound designer John Gibson (The Master Builder, Nell Gwynn, Billy Elliot the Musical) complete a formidable creative team for Auckland Theatre Company’s largest scale production of the year.
The themes in Galileo are more relevant than ever today. At a time when scientific facts and inconvenient truths about our world are being dismissed by some in power, we can look to the past as a reminder that we need to stop history repeating itself. Arrogant leaders - be they religious, government, or big business - who refuse to accept the findings of science, should be challenged, and held to account by society.
A showcase of bold ideas and brilliant theatricality, Auckland Theatre Company’s season of The Life of Galileo opening 22 June at the ASB Waterfront Theatre celebrates a man who looked to the stars, risked heresy, and changed how we see the heavens.