Joyful & Triumphant is a very welcome return to the stage for Katherine McRae, after many years away. John Smythe Theatreview
Katherine hasn’t been on stage for 11 years. What has she been up to?
Eleven years ago, in 2005, I played Dot in Downstage’s production of Renee’s “Wednesday to Come”. I was mostly directing theatre around Wellington at that time, mostly at Circa Theatre – productions such as Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” (starring Peter Hambleton and Wi Kuki Kaa), Ken Duncum’s “Cherish” and “Trick of the Light” (starring Michele Amas) and Beckett’s “Happy Days” (starring Jen Ludlum). I was also working as a script consultant at Playmarket.
In 2006 I got cast as Brenda Holloway in “Shortland Street” and, as it was a long contract, my family and I moved to Auckland. After two years, my character was chasing down the serial killer and had nearly worked out who he was – but then he killed her too!! Luckily I got a chance at a new life as a director of the show.
Learning to direct drama for television was a wonderfully stimulating experience. Similar to theatre in many ways (directing actors, liaising with production, crew and publicity people) but also very different as you need to be thinking about the technical aspects of the show at the same time as directing the actors. I learnt screen-craft – making decisions such as what is the right type of shot for the scene. For example, a tracking shot will evoke a different emotion in the audience compared to a fast cut scene of many shots.
Over the next seven years I directed “Shortland Street”, then “Nothing Trivial” and the last series of “Go Girls”.
I have also written and directed a short film called “Abandon Ship” (with Peter Hambleton’s daughter Sophie in the lead). which I shot around the South Coast of Wellington. Later this month it will screen in Toronto as part of the the TIFF Kids Film Festival.
Last year my partner Nick Bollinger and I decided to move back to Wellington as we had missed the city and its people. Nick enrolled to do his MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University.
I have been planning various screen projects and I have also been teaching screen-craft to Film School, Whitireaia and Toi Whakaari students. I also returned to Auckland to work with The Actors Program students to create their screen-project “The Engagement Party“. Recently I have started making corporate videos for a company called 90 Seconds Media.
Since acting in “Shortland Street” I have only had a few small roles (such as a prison manager in “Outrageous Fortune“) and I was no longer thinking of myself as an actor therefore I was surprised earlier this year to be cast in a leading role in a telefeature (I have to keep the details confidential at this stage, sorry!). I loved being back on screen and relished being able to work with the camera in a way that I hadn’t known how to do before I directed for the screen. And once I had warmed up with that role – it was easy to say yes to doing this role at Circa!
I have a soft-spot for play. I remember seeing “Joyful and Triumphant” years ago at Circa and loving the audacious time-jumps which drew me in as I tried to work out what had happened to the various characters over the intervening years. Fascinating.
The people involved in this production were also a huge draw card. I had worked with Sue Wilson and most of the other actors many times over the years, and was also keen to work with Gavin and Lyndee-Jane as I have admired their work for a long time.
- Joyful & Triumphant has 3 weeks left! Closing on the 7 May!