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The Coven on Grey Street
By James Cain
Presented by Red Scare Theatre Company
Directed by Harriet Prebble
Starring Irene Wood, Helen Moulder, Hilary Norris and Peter Hambleton
Must we three meet again?
It’s been a long time since the Weird Sisters parted ways and settled down in Hamilton. But Daphne (Helen Moulder) is getting married to Shakespearean scholar Ted (Peter Hambleton), and she’s invited Sybil (Irene Wood) and Fay (Hilary Norris) along.
These three witches will find that supernatural hurly-burly is a piece of newt compared to lunch with the whānau.
A comedic riff on everyone’s favourite witches, written by James Cain (Movers) and directed by Harriet Prebble (Dungeoning & Dragoning). Join Irene Wood, Helen Moulder, Hilary Norris and Peter Hambleton in this delightful romp about sorcery and sisterhood. Produced by Red Scare Theatre Company.
“James Cain’s writing is incredibly well-observed”
— Regional News
29 April–27 May
Tues – Sat 7.30pm & Sun 4.30pm
$30 – $55
Audience Care: ‘The Coven on Grey Street’ features mild swearing, fake blood, descriptions of suicidal thoughts, misogynistic language and supernatural violence.
Runtime: 90mins (incl. 15min interval)
What was the inspiration for writing The Coven on Grey Street?
I always find the way everyday conversations go really fascinating. Everyone is talking over each other and half listening and I’m always keen to try to capture those nuances in my plays. Pairing that with mythological beings was a really fascinating contrast, hugely fantastical with very ordinary, mundane conversations. I’d also written a play with three men and I really wanted to wrote three rich, female characters and that turned in Sybil, Daphne and Fay.
Why did you choose Shakespeare? What’s your connection with his work?
Shakespeare was a big part of my high school experience. I went to a super cool school (shout out Hillcrest High!) and a large part of the drama was the Shakespeare productions. I was ravenous for it and learned everything I could about iambic pentameter. I was also one of the lucky few to get to go to the Globe with the Young Shakespeare Company so his plays had a big hold on me. I’m still a big fan of his works but I’ve also come to realise that there’s other incredible writers out there, particularly New Zealand writers which I feel a perogative to uplift because they don’t always get a lot of love. I should know, I’m one myself!
I picked the witches because they’re really fascinating figures that we don’t know much about in Macbeth. I imagined what their dynamic was like as sisters that you had to tolerate for eternity. They’d know each other intimately but likely couldn’t stand each other and that dynamic was an interesting tension.
This is your first time working with Harriet as a director, but you’ve worked with each other as actors, right?
That’s right! We met during a production of Caryl Churchill’s Far Away, a really strange, fascinating dark fairytale. And recently I was lucky enough to be on the D&D streaming channel The Road Unknown with her. I really enjoy working with her because she brutally honest, very funny with great taste and high standards. The fact that she has an acting background means she understands what her cast are tackling and can empathise with the process. Plus she loves cool nerdy things and making it as awesome as possible.
How has the whole process been?
It’s been a dream. Everyone involved has a real passion for the show which is incredibly heartwarming. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself that everybody is working so hard on my silly little play.
What can audiences expect from the show?
They can expect a super fun time! You don’t need to know anything about Shakespeare to enjoy it, if you’ve ever had an argument with your family about absolutely nothing, you’ll see yourself in this.
You’re a playwright in your 30s and you’ve written roles established actors. Are you drawn to writing roles like this?
I’m always keen on trying to write roles different from myself, so long as I feel like I have a good grounding as to who the characters are. I’ve met plenty of people like Sybil, Daphne, Fay and Ted and it’s possible to represent them as full human beings while still poking a bit of fun at them too.
Are you working on anything new?
I am! It’s a psychological thriller, I’m having a lot of fun doing something completely different. Playing with tension and ratcheting it up is good fun but it’s very early days, check back with me in a couple years!
If you were immortal like the three witches, what would you do?
I’d do a lot more travelling, meet plenty more people and learn languages. And EAT. Gotta try all the cuisines.
Image by Aimée Sullivan Design & Photography