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September 24, 2007 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

Angels in America

Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School. Hallowed training ground for actors such as Cliff Curtis, Marton Czokas and a whole bunch of people from Shortland Street. For the first time ever (well since I can remember anyway), patrons won’t have to trek to Newtown for the graduation production for Toi Whakaari’s third year acting students.

If you head down to Courtenay Place and to Downstage Theatre from Saturday onwards you can catch this year’s hottest new actors performing in the world famous Angels in America, directed by one of the most ‘daring and exciting’ directors in the Capital. A heady combination.

That director is Willem Wassenaar, and his company Almost a Bird Theatre Collective is producing the play alongside Toi Whakaari. Willem first came to my attention in 2004, when he dressed a third of our Theatre 204 class in nude underwear and wrapped them in glad wrap.

Granted it was for a production of German expressionistic play Masses and Man, but it’s not an image I’ll forget easily. He first came to capital-wide attention with his Fringe award winning production of Delicates (2004). Set in a Newtown dry-cleaners it featured Toi Whakaari actors such as Matt Whelan (who some of you may recognise from C4’s My Story – I know I will (man I was obsessed with that show)), Dan Musgrove and Sophie Roberts. All of these kids are again working with him on Angels. A surrealist production of The Glass Menagerie followed, along with Antigone in this year’s Fringe Festival. Earlier this year, the company headed to the Netherlands to perform at the Oerol International Arts Festival. All very cool for Willem who is originally from the Netherlands and came to New Zealand to study for the Masters in Directing from Toi Whakaari and Victoria University.

Tony Kushner’s Angels in America Part I: Millennium Approaches (to use it’s full title) was the winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for best drama and Tony Award for best play. Kushner mixes reality with fantasy, politics with humour, and managed to make having a giant angel in a serious play not seem ridiculous. It’s 1980s conservative New York, and through a raft of characters, the play tackles huge issues including, most famously, the AIDS crisis. And yes, it was made into a TV series awhile back.

Finally, we get to see an awesome, culturally relevant play at Downstage. Let’s hope these future theatre-makers continue to…well, make this kind of theatre. Willem agrees, “There is no other play than Angels in America that reflects so deeply the huge identity crisis that we as the world, a society and as individuals are experiencing at this very moment.”

29 Sept – 6 Oct
$18 for students (2 hour standby)
Bookings: 04 801 6946 or


About the Author ()

Well hello there. Eleanor was the Theatre Editor in 2007, now she writes the Women's Column and just generally minces about the Salient office. Eleanor is currently an Honours student in Theatre (with a touch of gender). She also has a BCA in Marketing but she tries to keep that on the d-low (embarrassing, because she loves academic integrity and also perpetuating the myth that she's a tad bohemian). If you've got a gender agenda, woo her by taking her a BYO Malaysian. She lies, if you show any interest at all she'll probably tackle you in the street and force you to write a column.

Comments (2)

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  1. reta bladnie says:

    Apostolic Greetings !!!

    God will grant you the willingness and interest to diggest this humble narrations though it might be so surpprise and strange to beleive my story but i knew by the reason of the almighty you will humbly understood and accept to proceed with my proposal though we have not met or seen each other before.

    My name is Mrs. Reta Bladnie widow to Mr.Turlough Bladnie who was a competent business man here in Abidjan Cote d’ivoire,we were married for many yrs without any child till his death in october 2005 after a brief illness.

    Due to the promise which i revered to him on the alter at the day of our church wedding i decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which is against the holy bible.My happiness is that my late husband lived a life of a true & worthy christian and he has this plan before his death which he pleaded with me to appropriate it to accomplishment.He took this decission with me to use this fund in building an orphanage in his name that will accomodate thousand’s of children,and also to use part of this fund in helping the lessfortunate and to spread the gospel of the lord to the remote places of the world.

    He made this deposit of $( 2.7 Million )USD Two Million Seven Hundred Thousand in a Finance Security Company here in Abidjan.Recently,my Doctor told me that i would not last for the next 5 months due to cancer & stroke illness. Having known my condition i decided to seek for a competent and reliable God fearing person or church to entrust this fund to utilize this fund the way i narrated above as my late husband desired.

    The Bible made us to understand that “Blessed is the hand that giveth”.I took this decision because i don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my late husband’s relatives are not Christians and I don’t want my late husband’s efforts to be used by unbelievers.

    I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision.I am not afraid of death hence i know where i am going.I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband’s relatives are around me always. i don’t want them to know about this development.

    As soon as i receive your reply i shall give you the relevant documents that will legalize you to have access over this fund.I will also issue you an affidavit that will proove you the present beneficiary of this fund in the Finance Security Company.I want you and the church to always pray for me because the lord is my shephard.

    My happiness is that i and my late husband lived a life of a worthy Christian.Whoever that Wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth.

    Please always be prayerful all through your life and pray to God to forgive me my sins.Contact me on my private email bellow,any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for another church or a God fearing person for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as i stated herein.

    Hoping to receive your reply.

    Your’s Sister In Christ,
    Mrs. Reta Bladnie.

  2. Rich says:

    We are rich !!!!!!!!

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