Gliding On to knighthood

June 3, 2019

Decades of successful playwriting have been recognised with a knighthood for Roger Hall:

He has delivered dozens of hit plays and just received a knighthood, but Sir Roger Hall says there’s no secret formula but “putting your bum on the chair in the morning and working hard”.  . .

He paid tribute to his wife’s support throughout his career for theatre and television, especially before he made his name with sold out public service satire Glide Time in 1976.

“She’s been a very loyal supporter for all those years when I was struggling to be a writer and make myself known. When I was teaching, I came home one day, and she was sitting at home with a baby in her arms and I said, ‘I’m sorry, I want to give up teaching and go writing full-time.’ And she said, ‘Well, that’s what you better do,’ which was a brave decision.”

He followed up his debut play with a string of other hits featuring middle-class “everyman” New Zealanders, including Middle-Age Spread, which played in London’s West End for 15 months. It was also made into a film, with American magazine Variety describing the star, Grant Tilly, as an “Antipodean Woody Allen”.

Several of his works were successfully adapted for the small screen (Gliding On, Neighbourhood Watch, Conjugal Rites, Market Forces) and he won a script-writing award for his work on Spin Doctors.

He organised the first New Zealand Writers’ Week and successfully campaigned for the introduction of New Zealand Theatre Month, which was held for the first time in September 2018.

All this from a man who sailed from England to New Zealand at 19.

“I owe everything to New Zealand, really. It gave me a good university education and it got me away from the class system and it gave me a feeling I could do anything here if I wanted it.”

The late great comedian John Clarke once described Sir Roger’s work as “identifying faults and follies which highlight small monsters in ordinary people, and sometimes excite our sympathy as much as our laughter”.

“John is a very shrewd observer and I was very flattered to get that comment. That sort of comedy has always appealed to me, the mixture of funny and sad.” . .

I saw Glide Time at Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre and have been to almost every other play Hall has written since.

In each of them I remember thinking I’ve heard conversations like that, and then thinking I’ve had conversations like that.

This is one of the secrets of his success – an extraordinary ability to write about ordinary people in a relatable and entertaining way.

The full Honours List is here.


Alas poor Fortune I knew it well

May 1, 2018

One of Dunedin’s cultural gems, the Fortune Theatre, has announced its immediate closure:

Employees were told at 9am the theatre company would close today, with no further shows to be performed there.

Fortune Board of Trustees chairwoman Haley van Leeuwen said the board had been through an exhaustive process of reviews, and had closed the theatre because it was no longer financially viable.

According to its website it employed 11 permanent staff.

“We would like to acknowledge our staff during this difficult time who have worked hard towards the goal of securing the future of the theatre.”

“We have looked at many different avenues to avert closure, however theatres and their audiences have changed over the years, and we must now take stock, with the goal of keeping the tradition of local professional theatre alive in Dunedin.”

“Whatever future development arises it will be in a new format that represents the future model of theatre in New Zealand.

Fortune Theatre is New Zealand’s southernmost professional theatre and was established in 1974 at the Athenaeum in the Octagon.

It moved to its present location at the Trinity Methodist Church in 1978. . . 

 This is very sad for those directly affected, the arts community, the city and wider Otago.

The first play I saw at the Fortune was Roger Hall’s Glide Time (which later spawned the popular and long-running TV series Gliding On).

It was the first live play I had seen at a professional theatre and the first New Zealand play I’d seen performed.

I was a student then and continued going to the theatre until I finished university.

When I moved back to North Otago a few years later I began going down to Dunedin for plays when I could.

I returned to university about 10 years ago and for the next couple of years two friends and I would have a quick meal before going to Tuesday’s 6pm performance.

Those early evening performances worked well when I was back home, enabling a car load of us to see a play without being too late home.

But alas, in the last few years I wasn’t a regular theatre-goer and the Fortune’s fortunes show that too few others were too.

I am very sorry to read of its closure and hope that efforts to resurrect it are successful.


Friday’s answers

April 13, 2012

Thursday’s questions were:

1. What was the name of the 1980s TV series about the public service called?

2. Who wrote the play and TV series?

3. What was the name of the main female character?

4. Were those the good old days?

5.  It’s rire in French, risata in Italian, risa in Spanish and katakata  in Maori, what is it in English?

Points for answers:

Greg won an electronic bunch of flowers with five right.

Alwyn also won an electornic bunch of flowers with five right and a bonus for more information.

Paul got four and a smile for the guess.

Ray got flowers too (presuming as above meant he nknew the answers Alwyn & Paul gave) and a grin, even though I’m not sure I know his wife well enough to extract the full humour.

PDM got four and a bonus for added comment and not smoking.

Grant also wins an electronic bunch of flowers with five right – that will teach me not to be specific with the questions:)

GD gets a bonus for popping in.

Adam got four and a bonus for positivity with #4.

 

Answers follow the break.

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Tuesday’s answers

June 8, 2010

Monday’s questions were:

1. Name the five Play School toys.

2. Name the programme set in a North Island timber town which starred Dame Pat Evison.

3. Name the drama set in a fictional publishing firm the stars of which included Ilona Rogers and Miranda Harcourt.

4. Who used to say “by hokey” and what show did he compere?

5. Name three of the four people who shared an office in Gliding On.

Rob got two right 1/2 of #4 and 2/3 of 5 though I’ll give him a fraction for the Welsh one.

Adam gets a point for lateral thinking.

G got four right.

Gravedodger got 4 right plus 2/5 of #1 and a bonus for all that extra information.

PDM got four right and an on the right track for #1 – the opening of Play School went: Here’s a house, here’s a door, windows 1,2,3,4; knock, knock, turn the lock, Playschool! (Why can I remember something I haven’t heard for 20 years but not what I heard a few mintues ago?)

Teletext gets the electronic boquet with a clean sweep.

Ray got three right plus 3/5 of #1 and I’ll let him away with Raewyn  for #5 because although she didn’t share the office, she was in and out often enough to count, and a bonus for touring with exchange students.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break.

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