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Shortlisted for Playmarket’s Playwrights b4 25 competition in 2016, Movers by James Cain is a hilarious and heartfelt take on the differences in age, race and class at a moving company.
It’s a common scene: a student gets a job to pay the bills, and finds themselves having to get along with their old(er) co-workers despite massive differences. In Red Scare Theatre Company’s Movers, that student is Tai, a wannabe stand-up comedian who has just finished uni and has no real clue about what to do next. When he takes a job at a moving company to kill time, he meets Oscar and Bruce, two Pākehā blokes as ‘middle New Zealand’ as can be.
Playwright James Cain, a recent graduate from the Master in Scriptwriting course at the International Institute of Modern Letters, was inspired by the interesting dynamics at the little odd jobs he worked at while completing his degree. “It’s like school all over again,” says Cain. “You’re meeting completely different people with massively different backgrounds than you, and you start this dance of trying to figure out how to get along.”
Cain says he “kind of fell in love with small businesses” during his time at university. “One job I had, I wandered into a video store and my friend was behind the counter. He said he was leaving in a couple weeks and to chat with the guy in the dairy across the road, cause he was the owner.” Within a week, Cain was scanning DVDs and sweeping floors. “It was just so casual, the owner gives you a hard stare then goes, ‘Yeah, alright’.”
Director Matt Loveranes says he was drawn to Movers because it “handles everyday microaggressions and tensions regarding class and race in such a modern, refreshing way”. Loveranes is glad to be continue a long relationship with Red Scare Theatre Company after appearing as an actor in Yellow Face (2017) and as the writer of The Showgirl (2015). He’s particularly interested in Tai, a young man of colour who has to juggle millennial and cultural anxieties. “The situational observations are truthful [and] humorous,” says Loveranes. “So often you see these stories and they’re weighed down by this incredibly heavy handed style; Movers sidesteps all that.”
“Movers is a beautiful and subtle piece,” says Sepe Mua’au, who plays Tai. “The familiarity in characters and parallels with experiences in my own life are what drew me directly into the play.” Well-known performers John Landreth and Lloyd Scott round out the three person cast as Bruce and Oscar respectively. “We’re so lucky to have such great established actors on board,” says Cain. “Both John and Lloyd have a knack for presenting a character you love to judge then slowly peeling back the layers.”