Over consecutive Sundays in spring The Court Theatre is bringing two renowned plays to the stage for the first time in rehearsed reading series Indelible Ink.

Beginning Sunday 30th September, Pasifika comedy Fresh Off the Boat will kick-start this special event, followed by dark comedy The Last Days of Judas Iscariot on Sunday 7th October.

Running as part of The Court Theatre’s Literary Programme, Indelible Ink is “another opportunity to speak to audiences in a theatrical way that differs from the way we usually present plays,” says Literary Manager Roanna Dalziel

While each reading is directed, there aren’t any costumes or sets – the performers only have each other and their scripts in these raw performances. 

“It's a challenge for the actors and it's exciting to be in the room with that energy,” says Dalziel, speaking about the unique setting. “We’ve selected two incredible plays to read aloud, both relevant and on-the-edge.”

First up on the 30th September is Pasifika production Fresh Off the Boat. Oscar Kightley and Simon Small’s play was Pacific Underground’s flagship production, launching the careers of Kightley himself and performer and writer David Fane. Together, The Court and Pacific Underground are bringing the play back to celebrate New Zealand Theatre Month and this incredible milestone for one of New Zealand’s first Pasifika theatre collectives.   

Fresh Off the Boat follows Charles as he emigrates from Samoa to New Zealand to join his sister Elizabeth and her family, including her palagi (non-Samoan) boyfriend, Mervyn. Elizabeth attempts to keep the peace as two different ways of life collide, but intergenerational, familial and personality clashes soon start to crack open to hilarious – and poignant – effect.

Fresh Off the Boat ends The Court’s celebrations for New Zealand Theatre Month, with Pacific Underground producer and director for the reading Tanya Muagututi'a saying, “this was the first of many plays produced by Pacific Underground that exist 'for all of us'. Our Pasifika stories reflect our communities in Aotearoa and the world. Theatre provides us the opportunity to extend our 'oral' culture and our stories on to the stage.”

Bringing this classic story to life are Sela Faletolu-Fasi (the co-writer and director of 2017’s Matai), Y|NOT Pasifika Theatre Collective members Albany Peseta and Jake Arona (recently seen in Ē Toru at The Court), with Muagututi'a’s own daughters Talia-Rae and Josephine Mavaega taking on the roles of Elizabeth’s children. Talia-Rae and Josephine are bringing characters that their mother and aunt originally held back to life, giving a historical and familial connection to this celebratory production. Rounding out the cast is Roy Snow as Mervyn, returning to The Court after his performance in Roger Hall’s Easy Money alongside Peseta earlier this year.  

Continuing the series the following Sunday is courtroom comedy and international sensation The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

“Our Artistic Director Ross Gumbley has been saying for as long as I have been Literary Manager ‘you must read The Last Days of Judas Iscariot’ to anyone who will listen,” says Dalziel. “He had a fantastic night of theatre when he saw it on stage and we want to share that.”  

Set in a fictitious world called Hope - a purgatory between heaven and hell -  lawyer Cunningham petitions to retry the case of infamous sinner Judas Iscariot, bringing forward a litany of witnesses including Mother Teresa and Satan himself.

Speaking about the cast taking on these infamous roles, Dalziel says, “the casting’s just through the roof. Really excitingly Jeremy Elwood is coming down to play Judas, with Associate Director and Court Jester Dan Bain as Satan and Eilish Moran (currently in Mum’s Choir) as the lawyer, Cunningham.”

Talking about why he was so keen to programme the play, Artistic Director Ross Gumbley says, “It’s one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen performed and I can’t wait to see it at The Court in Indelible Ink. The whole purpose of Indelible Ink is to be able to bring you plays which may be a little beyond the bounds of the company to stage. The Last Days of Judas Iscariot has got a very big cast and it would be very hard for us to mount a full production of the play, but Indelible Ink gives us the opportunity of bringing large-scale plays of real challenge to Christchurch audiences.”

Indelible Ink runs over two consecutive Sundays, starting with Fresh Off the Boat on the 30th September at 4pm and followed by The Last Days of Judas Iscariot on the 7th October at 4pm. All tickets are $10. Click here to find out more and to book now.