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A man of many ideas

Thu 11 Nov 2010 In: Performance View at Wayback View at NDHA

Sam Shore Twenty seven-year-old Sam Shore is not only the "general minion" at Rainbow Youth, he is also an incredibly talented playwright and his creation The Idea of America is currently onstage at TAPAC in Auckland. He chats to First of all tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do at Rainbow Youth? Ok well, I guess the general run down on me is I'm 27, grew up in rural NZ in a town voted the most boring place in NZ - Levin. I lived in Wellington for a number of years before jumping the ditch and setting up shop in Melbourne for five. I came to Auckland last year to do my post grad in writing and directing for theatre, and was lucky enough this year to get a job working at Rainbow Youth. As far as what I do there... well it's pretty varied which is one of the reasons I love it. But I work predominantly as the office coordinator and general minion, as well as a bit of project facilitation stuff. It may sound boring to most people, but I get to work with some AWESOME people, so it never is. Tell me about your history as a playwright? I started writing plays just after I graduated from Drama School in Welly. There wasn't enough work to get me through, so I had the massive realisation that if I wanted to actually sustain myself as an artist I needed to have a few more strings to my bow. So I wrote a play which picked up several awards and was developed into a pilot TV series. I wrote a few other bits and pieces, did some short works while I was over in Melbourne, but in truth The Idea of America feels like the first work I have actually really come into - if that makes sense. It feels like only now that I'm starting to hit my stride as a writer. What are the biggest challenges of being a playwright in NZ? It's a small community so the opportunities here can feel a bit limiting at times. We also have a tendency to want to brand everything with that big old New Zealand branding iron, so there can be a bit of pressure to write stuff that is set in our own backyard. This isn't something I am knocking as I think it's massively important that we are telling our own stories, but I think it's equally important that we aren't limiting creativity or creating works that aren't accessible to a wider audience. I think the biggest challenge though is, and always will be, getting in the audience. You've already had huge raps for your shows, how does it feel to have something you have created so well received by critics? Pretty amazing. I'm really proud of my play, but at the same time I won't kid myself on the fact that it would be nothing without the amazing cast I have driving it. The words you write are only as strong as the people who deliver them. It's quite strange though, since its opening I have been approached by people as far flung as Singapore. You also direct the show yeah? Is that a challenge – putting your OWN vision and story on stage? Massive challenge!! It was the first thing I had really directed. Walking into a room and having a bunch of people look at you to tell them what to do is kinda freaky, and something I hadn't thought about before I decided to take it on - which is hard for me being a little bit introverted. At the same time though I have such a strong vision for this show and how it should be that I'm stoked I'm the one who gets to bring it to life. Are there any changes since the March season? Yep heaps! We have two new cast members for starters; Chelsie Preston-Crayford and Harry McNaugton have both joined us for this season. They bring a really awesome new take on the characters, as well as some pretty cool new energy - both super talented people who I'm pretty chuffed to get to work with. We have also been tinkering with some of the ideas behind the show, extending it out and taking it in new directions. I won't get into the details as it will probably make me sound really wanky. But yes, plenty has changed. Tell me about The Idea of America, what is the gist of it for you? The Idea of America began as my written reflections, and the conversations I had with myself on the topic of disappointment. Into this disappointment I unleashed my love of words, all my favourite words, the ones I couldn't seem to drop into casual conversation. The amalgamation, a fifty-year-old alcoholic with a penchant for show-tunes, and whether she stands as a testament to supreme inspiration or the murmurings of a wig wearing inner-demon...I am drawing no parallel. A lot of people have asked me why I chose to write a play set in America, but it was here that I felt resided a miraculous inability to separate what we dream from what we live. It was through the American culture and the American dream that I saw all the ways we measure ourselves up against perfection, and all the ways we so often fall short. What should we have, how should we look, and what should we attain in a lifetime? I am not saying that this is a true reflection of America, and I certainly never set out to capture one, but as the title suggests this is an idea, a piece of the America in my head, one that I dreamed up, because I like to dream, and one that I wrote, as the great thing about imagination is it lets you go anywhere you want to. Tell me about the gay character? Sean is the son of the lead character who has pretty much been left to run the household and look after the youngest sister Maureen. He is very much a 'Keeping up appearances' kind of guy who spends his time projecting the image he thinks everyone wants to/needs to see in order for things to keep ticking along. He has also been secretly exploring his sexuality in the night-time parks of Chicago, and I think this swing in the extreme stems from the fact it provides such an opposite to the cultivated nature of his normal day to day life. He is someone who is just looking for affection, but in all the wrong places. I think there are a lot of things to be learned from him, but I don't want to say what those are as I think everyone who sees this play takes away something different. You must be excited about the play taking the stage during the Outgames? It's going to be so much fun!! I'm pretty chuffed! I get to compete, have my show on and catch up with all my mates down there and the ones coming over to play. Plus Bats is an awesome venue. Can't ask for much more than that. You've already achieved a lot for someone so young – what are your dreams for the future? Hmm... that's a tough one... I have so many! My immediate dreams would be to writing my own TV series and finish off my book (have been working on for past six years - aargh!). I would also love to have my own theatre company with a focus on nurturing and supporting emerging New Zealand talents within a professional environment. There are some amazingly talented young people out there not getting the support or opportunities they should due to the closed door nature of working in such a small industry. It would make me very happy if I could create a company that provided equal opportunities for all... but that's a long way down the track. Oh yeah, and I want a dog. Any advice for young people who want to get into the arts? Push for yourself! It took me a long time to realise that you get a lot more if you ask for it than you do if you if you say nothing and just hope it comes your way. Jacqui Stanford - 11th November 2010    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Thursday, 11th November 2010 - 2:51pm

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