A 'HOLE' lot of University connections

HOLE, a play by Lynda Chanwai-Earle, opens at Circa Theatre on 22 September with a host of Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington connections.

The cast of 'HOLE' rehearse. 
Photo: Sam Tippet
The cast of 'HOLE' rehearse. Photo: Sam Tippet

Not only was the play written while Chanwai-Earle was the 2019 Writer-in-Residence at the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), but she was inspired in its writing by several of the University’s scientists, including staff at the Antarctic Research Centre.

Professor David O’Donnell, of the University’s Theatre programme, is the play’s director and the stage manager is Sam Tippet, a Master of Fine Arts (Creative Practice) (MFA(CP)) alumna and now the programme’s Theatre Technician. HOLE’s Intimacy and fight director Carrie Thiel is also a graduate of the MFA(CP). Other Theatre programme graduates on the play’s crew include co-producer Dr Sally Richards and lighting designer Tony Black.

All three cast members—Stevie Hancox-Monk, Elle Wootton, and Sepe Mua’au—are graduates of the Theatre programme. Sepe is also the Māori and Pasifika Support Tutor for the School of English, Film, Theatre, Media Studies, and Art History.

“The Theatre programme’s students, staff, and graduates have made a significant contribution to the arts and cultural life of Wellington for generations. It’s been a great pleasure to work collaboratively with several of our younger theatre graduates and a recent IIML writer-in-residence,” says Professor David O’Donnell.

“This poetic and experimental production exemplifies the interface between science and the arts, and addresses urgent issues including the history of human intervention in Antarctica and the backstory to the climate change crisis.”

HOLE is set in the mid-1980s, around the time that scientists discovered the hole in the ozone layer, French agents sank the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland, and Greenpeace established World Park Base in Antarctica.

The play’s environmental themes are reflected in the relationships between a New Zealand atmospheric chemist (Elle Wootton), a Dutch Greenpeace expedition leader (Stevie Hancox-Monk) and a U.S. Navy Seal (Sepe Mua’au). HOLE makes use of both solar and wind energy in order to be performed entirely off-grid, experimenting with sustainable theatre production practices including a completely recyclable set.

HOLE will be performed at Circa Theatre 7.30pm 22–26 September.

Bookings: https://www.circa.co.nz/package/hole/