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World Premiere Of Things That Matter Takes The Stage This August, Resuscitated After Cancellation Due To 2021 Lockdown

“There is one question at the heart of it all – what does a healthy New Zealand look like?” Dr Rafal Beckman, Things That Matter

Thought-provoking New Zealand play Things That Matter by Gary Henderson is getting the jumper lead treatment, following its abrupt cancellation almost two years ago to the day.

Following the heartbreaking cancellation, the much-anticipated Things That Matter has finally been brought back to life, running from 11–27 August at ASB Waterfront Theatre.

With an election around the corner and a health system in crisis, there’s never been a more meaningful time to reflect on Aotearoa’s struggling healthcare system and its dedicated staff who are doing their best in unprecedented times. Things That Matter is an empowering new play about human connection and all there is to celebrate in life.

The gripping play is based on former Middlemore Hospital intensive care specialist and advisor to multiple Health Ministers Dr David Galler’s best-selling 2017 memoir Things That Matter: Stories of Life and Death.

Aptly, Dr Galler has also recently been working as the executive lead on the Te Mauri o Rongo – New Zealand Health Charter, which is due to be tabled in Parliament at the end of July. The charter’s aim is to capture the hearts and minds of the healthcare workforce to make a real change and positive impact for the future together.

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Things That Matter shines a powerful light on the extraordinary patients Dr Galler met during his 30 years on the frontline, the struggles society faces in caring for them and the power of human connection.

The play, that renames Dr David Galler as Dr Rafal Beckman, cleverly weaves the story of some of this incredible doctor’s working life, full of compassionate insight gained from working at the country’s busiest hospital, with that of his Jewish, Polish immigrant father and his mother (who survived Auschwitz concentration camp).

Dr Galler says he’s thrilled the play is coming back and audiences will finally have a chance to see it.

“In the time since the play was first set to run, the issues in the health system have deepened and are more pressing than ever before, but with that comes a greater opportunity to make change and progress in a purposeful way,” Dr Galler says.

Award-winning playwright Gary Henderson and award-winning director Anapela Polata’ivao have joined forces for this tender and insightful look into the compassion and change needed in our beleaguered healthcare system.

Anapela Polata’ivao says there’s never been a more relevant time to see the play, which also addresses inequity and racism head on.

“There are some hard-hitting truths about racism and the impacts of the system on those living below the poverty line. It’s hard to hear these discussions but they need to be heard and the play gives a voice to these issues, which ultimately affect us all,” she says.

The experienced cast stars veteran Kiwi actor/director Ian Hughes (The Brokenwood Mysteries, Ship Songs, The Lord of The Rings) as Galler’s fictional on-stage character ‘Raf Beckman’, with David Aston (Heroes, Enlightenment, The Matrix), Michaela Te Awa Bird (The Brokenwood Mysteries, Think Tank, Nora: A Doll’s House ), Semu Filipo (’Kura, The Justice of Bunny King, The Worm), Margaret-Mary Hollins (Owls Do Cry, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time, Kid Sister), Jen Huang (The Wilds, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Life is Easy), Greg Johnson (Much Ado About Nothing, Outrageous Fortune, The World’s Fastest Indian), Nicola Kāwana (One Lane Bridge, North by Northwest, Apex Legends), Shaan Kesha (Kura, Snort, My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak), Petmal Lam (Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, The Savage Coloniser Show, Teine Sa: The Ancient Ones), Stacey Leilua (Young Rock, The Savage Coloniser Show, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt), Donogh Rees (The Gulf, Julius Caesar, Shortland Street) and Elsie Ropati.

Auckland Theatre Company’s absorbing, bold production is a timely reminder of the challenges Aotearoa’s healthcare system is facing and the things that really matter – the people.

The world premiere season of Things That Matter plays at ASB Waterfront Theatre from 1127 August 2023. Tickets are on sale now. Visit or phone 0800 282 849 for tickets and information.


Healthcare Worker Ticket Price

Healthcare workers are invited with up to 50% off standard ticket prices to see the show from $45. Offer applies to A and B Reserve tickets only (healthcare workers will need to show their healthcare identification).


David Aston – Simon/surgeon (Rowshan)/Minister/ensemble

Semu Filipo Sol/Chris/ensemble

Margaret-Mary Hollins - Judith/Stephanie/ensemble

Jen Huang Dr Edie

Ian Hughes Dr Rafal Beckman

Greg Johnson – Leon Beckman

Nicola Kāwana Carol, head nurse

Shaan Kesha Dev

Petmal Lam Seleni/ensemble

Stacey Leilua Ana

Donogh Rees Roza Beckman

Elsie Ropati – Tusi/ensemble

Michaela Te Awa Bird – April/ensemble

Creative team:

Written by: Gary Henderson (adapted from Dr David Galler’s memoir)

Directed by: Anapela Polata’ivao

Assistant Director: Petmal Lam

Costume Designer: Nic Smillie

Composer: Poulina Salima

Production Designer: Filament Eleven 11: Rachel Marlow, Bradley Gledhill

Dramaturg: Philippa Campbell


Director: Anapela Polata’ivao

Playwright: Gary Henderson

Auckland Theatre Company


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