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Mates and Lovers coming to Hamilton stage

Thu 7 Jun 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News

Mates and Lovers will return to the stage for three shows at Hamilton’s Fuel Festival later this month. Mates and Lovers is a stage adaption of Chris Brickell’s Montana Award winning book. It tells the stories of gay men in New Zealand from pre-colonial times until now, with limited props and through the skill of just two actors Simon K Leary and Paora Taurima playing more than 50 characters between them. The play has picked up awards of its own on its travels across New Zealand, with Leary winning Most Promising Male Newcomer at the prestigious Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards last year, and the piece winning Best Visiting Production at the Dunedin Theatre Awards. Writer and director Ronald Trifero Nelson says he was chuffed when Mates and Lovers got invited to audition for theatres and festival managers at the Performing Arts Network of New Zealand (PANNZ) in Wellington last March, but knew he had to have a strategy for what he knew was going to be a mostly straight audience. “So while most of the other shows did power points and video screening, Simon and Paora preformed the Johnny and Rangi,” Nelson says. “The scene takes place in 1945 on Cuba Street in Wellington where the American solider meets a local and who introduces him the outdoor pleasures of nearby Mt Victoria. This is our most sexual explicit scene in the show, but it’s also one the funniest. “It was a risk, but I wanted to present gay sensibility with humour to be less threatening to the ‘heteros’. After the massive applause I said ‘No worries, this is about as naughty as it gets’.” Nelson says festivals and theatres in New Plymouth, Nelson and Wairarapa are also interested in presenting Mates and Lovers. While Mates and Lovers is a 400 year history of gay men in New Zealand, it’s actually dedicated to well-known Wellington lesbian Rachael Hadwen. "When I got off the boat nine years ago, Rachael took me under her big ole Lesbianonic wing and tutored me in ‘Queer Wellington 101’. Next to Chris Brickell, she taught me everything I know about Gay New Zealand.” Nelson explains. He is also excited about Brickell’s forthcoming book Manly Affections, The Photographs of Robert Gant, 1885 - 1915. "It's going to be a stunning book. I'm producing the video promo and it's been great to be able to take a peek at these amazing photos. Obviously there's a story there ... a turn of the century English Immigrant shooting Queer S ‘you can't make that sort of stuff up’.” Mates and Lovers will be on stage at the Playhouse Theatre in Hamilton on the 28th, 29th and 30th of June. Tickets are on sale here    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 7th June 2012 - 11:22am

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