There is a lot about Circa’s upcoming show Con, a new work by local playwright Gavin McGibbon, to be excited about it. It will, no doubt, be filled to the brim with twists, turns and races against the clock. But can it be as thrilling and unexpected as the story of its own creation?
“How it went down,” explains McGibbon, “is that Danny [Mulheron, director of Con] kind of knew of me. I’d wanted to work with him for a long time, but all I had was the first half of the play. We had lunch a couple of times and I said, ‘Look, I want to give you something.’
“I didn’t tell him it was just the first half. At the end I’d written a note: ‘If you like this and you want to know more, you gotta direct it. If you don’t like it, you’re a dick.’
“So we met up half a week later and we were sitting in Sweet Mother’s Kitchen and he said he liked it, he really wants to do it, but what are we going to do, it’s only the first half. And I said ideally I’d like us to pitch it to Circa. He looked at me really seriously and said, ‘You know you won’t have long to write it because Circa will be programming shortly.’
“And I said, ‘Look, give me three weeks, I know what’s going to happen and I can churn it out quick.’ And he looked at me really, really seriously, and I nodded my head like ‘Yes, you don’t know me but I can do that’, and he stood up and said, ‘I’m going to Circa now then.’
“I got a call from him about an hour and a half later, and the first thing he said was ‘How much sleep do you need?’ I said, ‘Not that much’, and he said, ‘Good, they need it next week.’”
McGibbon’s plays have been gracing Wellington’s stage since 2006. Works like Stand Up Love, Hamlet Dies at the End and last year’s Holding On have been bold, confident and remarkably well-hewn entries to the Kiwi theatre canon. In a community where a lot of first drafts are thrown together with little thought given to craft, McGibbon stands apart for his commitment to the refining and iteration of his scripts over time. His plays are well made in the best sense.
What makes McGibbon’s evident and tangible understanding of the theatre all the more surprising is the fact that before he started his MA in scriptwriting at Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters in 2005, he had never even seen a play. If he’s doing work as outstanding as this only eight years into his contact with the form, we can only suppose what is yet to come. Get in on the ground floor of McGibbon’s future canonisation by seeing Con in Circa Two (circa.co.nz) from the 26 October to 23 November.[info]
October Theatre Recommendations
The ImpoSTAR is in Circa One (circa.co.nz) from 19 October to 9 November. It painted the town red as a silly season offering last year at BATS, but no doubt the increased space of the Circa main stage will give Jason Chasland’s galaxy of glorious impressions room to shine even brighter. A guaranteed good time.
Comedian Steve Wrigley’s Kevin – The Musical, a chucklesome and tuneful tour through the morbidly mundane, is at Downstage (downstage.co.nz) on 16–27 October. It has delighted audiences at a few comedy festivals across the country already, so seems like a good opportunity for an outing.
At BATS (bats.co.nz), some of the most promising companies have got together to put on a compilation of short horror plays under the umbrella title Stages of Fear. It runs on 17–19 and 24–26 October. You’re getting four plays for the price of one, so it’s ideal for those who like cheap chills.[/info]