This month The Court Theatre are debuting three brand new Kiwi plays.

The plays, all in various draft stages, will be performed over three consecutive Sundays in May. This is theatre without any of the bells and whistles of a usual Court production – no set, no props; just the audience, the actors and some very fresh words.

The audiences’ reactions and feedback to the raw performances will help the writers grow their stories.

Literary Manager Roanna Dalziel believes Fresh Ink is crucial to The Court Theatre and its audiences.

“One of the key missions for The Court is about celebrating and questioning New Zealand voices. It’s fundamental that we get New Zealand plays up on our mainstage or in The Forge so we’re reflecting on New Zealand perspectives.”

Notable previous Fresh Ink readings include That Bloody Woman and MAMIL (Middle Aged Man in Lycra), both of which went on to have full seasons at The Court followed by nationwide tours. Astroman, a reading in last year’s series, is on course to make the same transition, running for a two-week season on The Court’s mainstage later this year. The Kiwi comedy, set in a time where the best social spot for teens was the local arcade store, opens at The Court on the 27th October.

For Dalziel the benefits for the playwright – and the development of New Zealand theatre as a whole – are obvious.  

“If the audience laughs, you know that you’ve found a vein of comedy; if the audience cries, it’s the opposite - you’ve touched the audience in some way. Not that the two are mutually exclusive! It’s about seeing the impact of your work on an audience.”

For the audience, it’s a chance to see fresh Kiwi theatre delivered in a remarkable way. 

“At this early stage in the play’s development, the plays can often be quite raw and audiences get connected to that rawness. You really get to focus on what is being said.”

The first play of the series, performed on the 13th May, is Siana, written by well-known Kiwi writer and actress Alison Quigan.

The story follows Cassie as she swaps a job in photography for local council work. The move forces her to face not only bureaucratic hurdles but her ex-husband and the haunting memories of her beautiful dancing daughter, Siana.

“At the centre it’s a heartfelt story about family and the impact of the loss of a daughter. Alison has a remarkable ability to tap into relationships and emotions, as you can see from Mum’s Choir, which is coming up at The Court this year as well.”

Following Siana on the 20th May is Karen Zelas’ The Falling.

The Falling relates to the trials of Minnie Dean, the first and only woman hanged in New Zealand.

“Karen wrote a verse biography that we read and then approached her and said, ‘hey, have you thought about dramatising this?’”

Beyond exploring the story of Minnie Dean, The Falling follows modern-day doctoral student Clemency Xavier as she maps out Minnie’s case.

The final play in the series, written by Joe Musaphia, is a little more light-hearted.

Former Shortland Street baddie Mike Edward will be taking on the role of The Sexiest Man in the World.

The comedy begins when hunk Chip Stone (Edward) returns home from LA looking to make amends with brother, Brian, a struggling playwright. Chip’s arrival wreaks havoc – to comedic effect.

For Dalziel, the play is best described as, “Hollywood meets New Zealand with explosive reactions.”

At its heart, Fresh Ink is all about embracing and encouraging Kiwi playwrights. Audience members get to see fresh, New Zealand theatre performed in a way that won’t be seen again and, hopefully, will be moved by what they see. To laughter or tears – or maybe even both.

Fresh Ink runs over three consecutive Sundays in May. Siana will be performed at The Court Theatre on Sunday 13th May at 4pm; The Falling on Sunday 20th May at 4pm and The Sexiest Man in the World on Sunday 27th May at 4pm. All tickets are $10. Click here to find out more and to book now.