Channel Magazine's Liz Cannon talks with Geoff Allen, Manager at The Rose Centre, and James Carrick, Devonport-based playwright and actor, whose one-act comedy, Welcome to Hellansville, will be premiered at The Rose Centre as part of the Fringe's final week.
Geoff Allen, Manager at The Rose Centre
Channel Magazine: You must be delighted to be hosting The Auckland Fringe Festival at The Rose Centre this year - what does this mean for the North Shore?
Geoff Allen: It actually supports the idea that we are one city. It breaks down the barrier of the bridge; the harbour is the barrier, the bridge is the connection. Now we are connected to the wider art scene. More than that we are growing our own theatre. In time perhaps, just as in the music scene, we may grow our own style of shows and scripts - a North Shore style.
CM: What will be on offer at The Rose Centre?
GA: Professional improv comedy 'The Dice Show' with Steven Lyons, Penny Ashton's acclaimed 'Austen Found', Suzy Sampson's fabulous 'Shakespeare's Will', 'Welcome to Hellansville', a new local play by James Carrick, workshopped at The Rose, and 'Confessions of a Masseuse' by Chante.
CM: What's your advice to our readers to make the best of this amazing festival?
GA: Check our website, book early, support the programme, and create your own pieces for next year. Help us grow the homegrown.
James Carrick, 'Welcome to Hellansville' playwright and actor
Channel Magazine: To have your one-act comedy premiered at the Auckland Fringe Festival at your local theatre must be amazing - congratulations! How does it feel?
James Carrick: It’s absolutely thrilling, especially as it's a family affair too, with my partner having edited and now directing the play. Watching 'Welcome to Hellansville' come to life has been an absolute joy, especially as the cast are superb and have drawn nuances out of the characters I hadn’t even considered. It’s very exciting.
CM: Can you tell us a little bit about your play?
JC: It’s my own, very tongue-in-cheek examination of faith. Heaven and Hell are collaborating in order to tackle the same problems that we have here on earth: cost of living, environmental crises and over-crowding. The powers-that-be have come up with a new after-life destination choice, designed to cater for souls who are not quite good enough to get into heaven, but are nowhere near evil enough to be sent to hell. That place is Hellansville. Enter an angel, a demon and an atheist, each with an unwavering belief that the faith they subscribe to is the right one. Heaven and Hell's representatives compete to sell Hellansville to the most stubborn atheist, all under the watchful eye of the mysterious Maureen. Ultimately, the chance of an 'after'-life time is totally rejected, with disastrous consequences for all.
CM: Why should people come to see it?
JC: First and foremost, it’s very funny! Secondly, it's not a play that takes lazy pot-shots at anyone who does have faith, but rather a thought-provoking and comedic approach to the subject; it’s been written to entertain, not to offend. It will be a great night out and I hope an experience that will draw out lots of laughs, and perhaps some healthy post-theatre debate too.
'Welcome to Hellansville' will be performed at The Rose Centre, Belmont on Wed 14th, Thurs 15th and *Fri 16th Sept 2022 at 8pm.
Tickets available from iTicket www.iticket.co.nz/events/2022/sep/aklfringe-hellansville
*The final show will include a post-show cheese and wine event where you are invited to a Q&A session with the writer and director.