Soldier's lost letter inspires Pacific Post
A soldier’s letter that lay in the back of drawer forgotten for many years has taken centre stage as the voice behind Pacific Post, premiering at The Court Theatre on 20 October.
The production, created by CPIT National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) staff Ross McKellar and Stephanie McKellar-Smith, has already earned high praise from the Court Theatre’s Artistic Director Ross Gumbley.
“One of the standout plays in the 2010 Fresh Ink season, I've seen this play three times in readings or workshops and been moved to tears each time,” Gumbley said. “This is a play with a large heart; wonderfully nostalgic and life affirming.”
The letter was discovered by McKellar-Smith’s mother, Cathy Smith, and shared with family members. “We could immediately see the theatrical potential of a story,” McKellar-Smith said. “Written in February 1942, at the height of the Japanese push into the Pacific, this 21-page letter from Bud Smith to his young wife Hazel was a remarkable and intimate insight into their lives and feelings about the world they were living in.”
The play is a very personal account of how one average, small-town Kiwi family coped with the effects of war on their every-day lives, McKellar-Smith says. “This intimate perspective allows the audience a glimpse into the pain, fear, anxiety, grief, love and laughter experienced during this turbulent time in New Zealand’s history.”
Pacific Post was initially written as part of a Master of Arts project and was first staged in a workshop version in the small studio at NASDA. It was selected for the Fresh Ink reading series of new works at The Court Theatre and subsequently developed into a full professional production with McKellar-Smith directing and McKellar playing Bud. The cast also features NASDA staff Juliet Reynolds-Midgely and Michael Lee Porter and NASDA graduate Amy Straker.
McKellar and McKellar-Smith are no strangers to the Court Theatre. Amongst numerous acting credits including the Billy T James Show and Shortland Street, McKellar appeared in Home Land by Gary Henderson at the Court. He currently directs and lectures in acting and voice at NASDA. McKellar-Smith has directed a wide range of plays and musicals for NASDA and many professional productions including, at the Court Theatre, The Raft by Carl Nixon, Home Land by Gary Henderson and Blackbird by David Harrower.