06 December 2010

The Second Test

After a sold-out season at BATS Theatre earlier this year, Circa is delighted to welcome The Second Test into the final Circa Two slot of 2010. Writer/performer Jonny Brugh takes some time to tell drama on the waterfront about what inspired him to bring this iconic story to the stage.

Jonny Brugh.
DOTW: What drew you to the story of The Second Test?

JB: The drama and emotions surrounding the story. I wanted to bring the story to life for today's younger generations to help put their own sense of being a New Zealander into context.

DOTW: What changes (if any) have been made for this return season?

JB: I wanted to bring the Tangiwai tragedy into the foreground, as initially I had been reluctant to show much of the crash. It’s an incredibly sensitive thing to work with.

I’d also like to bring Bert Sutcliffe into the foreground more, but not as the obvious hero. To paint a clear picture of the continuation of the tour and how the Tangiwai events effected the following months for the players and Bob Blair.

DOTW: What effect did Bob Blair’s attendance have on you and the show?

JB: Having performed the show in Auckland I knew what I had made and how the public had received it. More so from the men who have played cricket with Bob Blair and know him. I had pats on the back from a few very respected men of cricket's past. I was proud of it. I was confident the show would tell the story well and with theatrical effect.

I didn't know to what extent Bob Blair would feel emotionally, which had always been a major concern, that the play would bring up old emotions for him. Opening night at BATS was the most special and important night for me as a storyteller. As I warmed up to “Reserved- Bob & Barbara Blair And Family” across the entire front row, three nights in a row, I felt more calm and ready than I would have a year earlier. In some ways I felt understanding and closeness with Bob having had correspondence through 2009. After that opening night at BATS, Bob told me what it was like to be there on opening night and to have it bring up old emotions. He has given his blessings for me to use creative license in bringing the tale to life after having read the script. During the season Bob and I spent some time talking about the events in person but neither of us needed to talk too much about the toughest of events in 1953/54. Had I been a younger man I may not have been about to understand.

Jonny Brugh and Mr. Bob Blair.
DOTW: What’s your favourite part of the show?

JB: Being the team turning up for role call at the Wellington parliament buildings at the start, full of humour, dry wit and drawl excitement.

DOTW: What can our Circa Theatre audiences expect?

JB: A truthful tale of young men on their first OE, testing their skills against the best in the world. The excitement of that experience ripped in two by one of New Zealand's most tragic events. A window into 1950's NZ at a time of great national pride but told on an intimate man-to-man level. An energetic portrayal of a bunch of men full of Kiwi-isms and humour, ending with a reminder of how we saw ourselves post WW2. A depiction of how sport can be both a silly past time, an obsession and a telling reminder of the split personality of the Gentleman's game. In the loosely quoted words of Dick Brittenden: “If men are to be how we are -we could do a lot worse than play cricket.” 

Tickets are now available for The Second Test, on in Circa Two from 7-23 December. To book, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz

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