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Jane Austen, Billy T James, teen angst and political drama are all part of the compelling collection of plays that will take to the boards during the Ryman Healthcare 2023 Season at The Court Theatre, Christchurch.
Six of the plays are written or adapted by New Zealand authors in a season that boasts a new Court Theatre commission. With several New Zealand premieres and even an Australasian premiere on the calendar, The Court is truly bringing the ‘new’ to this season.
“We have shaped a season of truly compelling storytelling, designed to reflect and include the diverse audiences of Ōtautahi Christchurch and Aotearoa,” says Chief Executive Barbara George. “All will entertain you. Some may amuse you; others might give you pause to think or even shock you a little, but together they provide something for everyone to enjoy or relate to.”
For Artistic Director Dr Alison Walls, “This season is about creating memorable, meaningful theatre, without compromise.” She and her team have sought out distinctive works for her first Court Theatre season. The Court’s diverse audiences will get what they already love but also be surprised and challenged with something new.
The mainstage season commences with the 2022 postponed Sense and Sensibility, reimagined from the Jane Austen novel by New Zealand’s Penny Ashton. This is followed by an Aotearoa double-bill – a one-woman play called Rēwena (Whiti Hereaka), which invites the audience to share bread, stories and wisdom; and Be Like Billy, in which playwright Rutene Spooner examines his personal relationship with icon Billy T James.
Appropriate, by US writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, masks some gut-punching surprises within seemingly familiar and darkly comedic scenes. This is followed by 2022’s postponed Next to Normal, the multi award-winning rock musical with mental health at its heart.
From Australia comes the inspired-by-a-true-episode event, The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race (Melanie Tait), a comedy set in a small rural community that will feel familiar to many New Zealanders.
Clare Barron’s Dance Nation, which captures the energy and struggles of impending teenage-hood (and fame) has been described simply as “the future”.
The searing documentary theatre piece The Haka Party Incident (Katie Wolfe) returns audiences to 1979 New Zealand before the summer musical rounds out the season. Something Rotten! is a joyous and riotous mash-up of Shakespeare and all things musical that has been nominated for multiple awards.
In 2023 The Court Theatre will bring back the beloved Children’s Holiday Shows, with Cinderella (rewritten for modern Kiwi audiences by Greg Cooper) and Te Kuia me te Pungawerewere (adapted from Patricia Grace’s book The Kuia and the Spider by Jamie McCaskill). Disney’s Frozen Jr., postponed in 2022, joins the line-up for tamariki.
A core part of The Court Theatre’s work is supporting and training new theatre makers and The Court Youth Company will create The Sweet Science of Bruising as part of the new season. Perennial favourites The Court Jesters will be back with Scared Scriptless on Fridays, end-of-year holiday shows and improv for younger audiences in the Early Early Late Show.
Walls describes this season as one that is “defined by artistically and culturally engaged works which share a bold, heartfelt energy that will also inspire our artists and creatives”. Roles in several of this season’s shows will be promoted for open auditions, and The Court is also “looking to provide opportunities to emerging designers and technicians” in the new year.
2023 will also be the last full season presented in The Court’s ‘temporary home’, The Shed, in Addington. “The excitement is growing for our new home in the city and we expect to open our summer musical in 2024 in our new and beautiful bespoke theatre,” George says.
Until then, the Ryman Healthcare 2023 Season promises first-class theatre that will be delivered with the exceptional production values for which The Court is known.
Subscriptions for The Ryman Healthcare 2023 Season at The Court Theatre are on sale at courttheatre.org.nz or directly from The Court Theatre Box Office. Individual show tickets are on sale from 28 November 2022.
The Ryman Healthcare 2023 Season at The Court Theatre
Sense and Sensibility 11 Feb - 11 Mar 2023
Rēwena 25 Mar - 22 Apr 2023
Be Like Billy 25 Mar - 22 Apr 2023
Appropriate 6 May - 3 June 2023
Next to Normal 7 Jun - 22 Jul 2023
The Appleton Ladies' Potato Race 5 Aug - 9 Sep 2023
Dance Nation 23 Sep - 21 Oct 2023
The Haka Party Incident 25 Oct - 11 Nov 2023
Something Rotten! 25 Nov 2023 - 27 Jan 2024
Family and Improv:
Cinderella 11 Apr - 22 Apr 2023
Disney's Frozen JR. 3 Jul - 15 Jul 2023
Early Early Late Show 3-8 Jul and 2-7 Oct 2023 (school holidays)
The Sweet Science of Bruising 9 Aug - 19 Aug 2023
Te Kuia me te Pungawerewere 27 Sep - 7 Oct 2023
Jesters' Holiday Show 6 Dec - 23 Dec 2023
Scared Scriptless Fridays at 10:15pm