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Audiences beware: Wild cabbage and Blood Wedding are coming

08 August, 2018

For those who like their theatre clinging to the edge of mainstream, the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) at Ara have a surprising, intriguing and wonderfully challenging double bill treat in store.


Wild Cabbage and Blood Wedding opens 10 – 16 August at the NASDA Theatre at Ara, performed by the second year students working with young, freelance directors Holly Chappel-Eason and Tom Eason. It’s a fairly rare chance (in Christchurch) to experience the potential of post-naturalism theatre to confound the intellect and reveal the shadows of our human nature. Thought provoking, provocative and very different – although actually nestled in the long-held traditions of experimental theatre that European audiences are more comfortable with. Well done NASDA for offering such a double bill; giving audiences and young actors exposure to some theatrical gems.

Firstly, Wild Cabbage. The cult hit of the ‘80s and Best New Zealand play of 1985, written by James Beaumont, is somewhat of a mashup of styles. The play’s refusal to be categorised is seen in the differing descriptions of what it is: Hilarious, bold and dark (Theatre Stampede), a wacky, idiosyncratic pastiche of heartland rural NZ life v city life (theatre reviewer John Symthe), an innovative and robust comedy about alienation and the ineptitude of manufactured redemption (Playmarket), or a messy, ridiculous and horrendously funny show (NASDA). Open to interpretation, perhaps?

Next, Blood Wedding. Written by Federico Garcia Lorca in 1933 and translated from Spanish by Ted Hughes, it is a dramatic play using surrealism and Spanish folk culture ( or a subtle play of boiling tension, wild emotion and dangerous choices in a world of stiff tradition. The moon and death become people as the forbidden lovers charge through the forest. It’s extreme, surreal, beautiful (NASDA).

Powerful stuff, and yet it’s debatable how useful these descriptions are, because with these (and in fact, most) plays it is the first-hand experience and the charge of physical proximity that is important and most effective in moving audiences.