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L_circa2014_hikoiThere are many advant­ages to writ­ing for the stage. The feed­back of a live audi­ence is dir­ect and often undeni­able. It is easi­er, at least if you’re not look­ing to be paid, to get a play per­formed than a book pub­lished or a film pro­duced. As theatre, in most cases, is a com­mun­al cre­at­ive pro­cess, it can be a lot less lonely to write a play than it is to write most oth­er things. These things can also be disadvantages.

A play isn’t really a play until it’s been per­formed, spoken into the world. Since most plays exist entirely in per­form­ance, they also exist around the script between the play­wright and the act­ors, and between the play­wright and the audi­ence, and there is a pretty big struggle when it comes to get­ting bet­ter as a playwright.

Com­pound­ing that struggle is the fact that it’s a lot harder to hide your fail­ures, because plays have to be per­formed for you before they are even alive. Oth­er writers can do their learn­ing in private, filling note­books and folders with stor­ies and poems the world will nev­er see. Play­wrights have to learn in pub­lic, in the harsh theatre lights expos­ing their work to audi­ences. They have to do their train­ing, their learn­ing and their improve­ment right in front of all of us.

So it’s very import­ant that there are nur­tur­ing sup­port organ­isa­tions and events for just this kind of devel­op­ment. Times, places and people that allow works for the stage their time in the air, so that faults can come to light in sup­port­ive and under­stand­ing envir­on­ments. Such things, of course, do exist but are rare enough that we should nev­er for­get to cel­eb­rate them.

This month, Circa (Circa Two, in fact) fea­tures one of these events. Tawata Pro­duc­tions, who have made it their core busi­ness, in some ways, to facilic­ate the devel­op­ment of new works by new voices for the theatre, are hold­ing their now annu­al Matariki Devel­op­ment Fest­iv­al from 23 June to 5 July. There will be rehearsed read­ings of new plays from Hone Kouka and Moana Ete, as well as a full devel­op­ment sea­son of Aroha White’s play 2080. That these play­wrights have an incub­at­or for their works, some­where they can be tested and refined but every­one knows what the deal is, is wonderful.

And it works too. Play­ing at the same time — 28 June to 12 July — in Circa One will be the premiere pro­duc­tion of Hikoi, Nancy Brunning’s debut as a play­wright. This play came through the Matariki Devel­op­ment Fest­iv­al last year and is now ready for prime time. It even won co-run­ner-up at the Adam Awards, the most pres­ti­gi­ous awards for unper­formed indi­vidu­al plays we have in this coun­try, along the way. So I implore you get down to Tawata’s Matariki Devel­op­ment Fest­iv­al to see and sup­port these blos­som­ing works. Your very pres­ence will help these plays become bet­ter, more them­selves. Then get to Hikoi to see the kind of stuff that your sup­port and feed­back will help create.

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