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Rediscover Baxter and Sargeson as Playwrights

Rediscover our theatrical past with LANDMARK - New Zealand Play Reading Series #4: THE WIDE OPEN CAGE by James K. Baxter & A TIME FOR SOWING by Frank Sargeson.

“There are two men inside me… One’s a good old codger… The other one’s sad and bad and mad” – Jack Skully, The Wide Open Cage

 This month the Landmark New Zealand Play Reading series includes two plays dealing with alcohol and moral ruin, from two of the country’s greatest literary figures – James K. Baxter and Frank Sargeson – famous more for their poetry and short stories than their plays.

The Wide Open Cage is arguably James K Baxter’s most successful play, premiering at Wellington’s Unity Theatre in 1959 and was performed in New York in 1962. Written shortly after Baxter himself stopped drinking, the play follows reformed alcoholic pensioner Jack Skully’s battle to stay sober and keeping his life on track. Skully’s shack is paid repeated visits by a priest, as well as society outcast’s including prostitute Norah, and drunkard Ben Hogan.

A Time for Sowing played at the Auckland Art Gallery in 1961, with a set designed by no less than Colin McCahon. Sargeson’s play centers on historical Bay of Islands missionary Thomas Kendall (notable for writing the first primer on Maori language), passionate about Maori culture, but himself a deeply flawed character. Kendall’s domestic situation collapses around him as his wife suspects of spending too much time with the native women…

The LANDMARK New Zealand Play Reading Series, part of Director James Wenley’s Masters in Drama thesis project, hopes to rediscover these classic New Zealand plays and see how they stand up for today’s audiences.

All are welcome to attend the free play reading on Monday 25th June at the University of Auckland Drama Studio (Level 3 Arts 1 Building)

The Wide Open Cage – 6:30pm / A Time for Sowing – 7:45pm

FREE REFRESHMENTS will be served in between.

 Permission to stage The Wide Open Cage reading has been granted by the James K. Baxter Estate and licenced by Playmarket. We are grateful to the Frank Sargeson Trust for granting permission to stage the reading of A Time for Sowing.