Auckland Theatre Company 2019 season announced


Stories that pull on your heart strings, drama that sweeps you away and sharp, satirical comedy are on the agenda for theatre-loving Aucklanders next year. The city’s foremost professional theatre, Auckland Theatre Company (ATC), will be playing to its strengths in 2019 - telling big-hearted stories from New Zealand and around the world.

ATC’s 2019 season is a world-class line-up of bold, award-winning works. Presenting what will be the company’s third season in the ASB Waterfront Theatre, ATC’s 2019 programme includes three plays from New Zealand, two British works, an Indian collaboration and a sophisticated American comedy.

Artistic Director Colin McColl says, “It is our great pleasure to bring this clutch of big-hearted, award-winning plays to Auckland next year, offering engaging, entertaining, compassionate and dynamic cultural conversations. Like the best of all possible dramatic experiences, these plays remind us what it is to be human; they hold a mirror up to the world, when the world forgets what it looks like.”

The season launches in February with a tribute to one of New Zealand’s most celebrated playwrights called Tom Scott’s Ma and Da Season, presented by Giltrap Audi. Performed in repertoire at the ASB Waterfront Theatre, the year kicks off with Scott’s The Daylight Atheist which was lauded as an instant Kiwi classic when it premiered. The show will alternate with his follow-up play, Joan.

The Daylight Atheist is a tour-de-force solo play which will star beloved actor Michael Hurst ONZM (Amadeus, Trees Beneath the Lake, No Holds Bard). Based on Scott’s Irish father and childhood, the story swings from uproariously funny to witheringly brutal. Hailed as “the best piece of New Zealand theatre in a very long time”, Scott follows up this hugely successful play 16 years later with a story about his mum Joan.

Joan follows Scott’s mother’s life from a humble childhood in Southern Ireland, to raising six children in New Zealand under difficult circumstances with an angry, alcoholic husband. With real-life mother-daughter acting power combo Ginette McDonald ONZM (The ABC with Honora Lee, Rage, Lyn of Tawa) as the wryly acerbic older Joan, and Kate McGill (The Haka Party Incident, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Auckward Love) as the younger Joan, this story celebrates the glorious and grueling moments of a mother’s life.

Aside from his playwriting, Tom Scott has twice been awarded Political Columnist of the Year, Cartoonist of the Year five times, has published six collections of satirical writings and five collections of cartoons.  He also co-wrote the classic New Zealand comedy movie Footrot Flats with Murray Ball.

The second show in ATC’s 2019 season is the warm-hearted Astroman by leading Māori playwright Albert Belz (Ngāti Porou, Ngā Puhi, Ngati Pokai) - a co-production with Te Rēhia Theatre Company in association with Auckland Arts Festival.

Te Rēhia Theatre honours and celebrates Te Ao Māori through contemporary theatre. Director Tainui Tukiwaho says, “We champion Māori playwrights, tikanga Māori arts practice, te reo Māori and our diverse stories on stage nationally and internationally. Having worked with Albert Belz on many notable productions, we are super excited to bring Astroman to the stage in this unique partnership with Auckland Theatre Company.”

In this new play Belz pays affectionate homage to the decade of Poi E, Walkmans and Michael Jackson. The story oozes ‘80s nostalgia and celebrates the good times of growing up in small-town Aotearoa. Astroman premieres simultaneously at the Melbourne Theatre Company and the Court Theatre Christchurch in October this year.

In 2019, ATC will return to Q Theatre. The first Q show, Astroman, will be led by a brilliant cast, including Miriama McDowell (Cellfish, Burn Her,The Great Maiden’s Blush) and Nicola Kawana (Rendered, Under the Mountain, Brokenwood Mysteries). Astroman is a touching story of family, friendship and courage, with an epic ‘80s soundtrack, spacies throwbacks and tons of Kiwi soul.

May heralds the arrival of royal drama The Audience by eminent British playwright and screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon). Morgan, creator of the Netflix series The Crown, received nominations for Best New Play in the Olivier Awards and Outstanding New Broadway Play in the Outer Critics Circle Award when The Audience premiered in 2015 with the legendary Helen Mirren in the leading role.  

Auckland actor Theresa Healey (Trees Beneath the Lake, Filthy Rich, The Brokenwood Mysteries) has been given the royal nod, with permission granted from the playwright for her to reign as Queen Elizabeth II in the ATC season of The Audience at the ASB Waterfront Theatre. The play takes us behind closed doors to the Queen’s private weekly meetings with each of her Prime Ministers (performed by Ian Mune, Paul Barrett, Cameron Rhodes among others) between 1952 and present day. It’s an unmissable treat for fans of quality British drama.

Mid-winter sees ATC at Q Theatre, collaborating with Auckland’s groundbreaking Indian theatre company Prayas Theatre for the New Zealand premiere of A Fine Balance, adapted by Sudha Bhuchar and Kristine Landon-Smith from the novel of the same name. This moving, deeply humane story by Rohinton Mistry was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and was awarded the 1995 Giller Prize.

A Fine Balance, to be directed by Ahi Karunaharan (Tea, Shoulda Woulda Coulda, Samaroh -The Great Indian Carnival) is set in an unidentified Indian city between 1975 and 1984, during the turmoil of “The Emergency” when President Indira Gandhi's government cracked down on civil liberties and drove thousands of poor from their homes. A thought-provoking work with compassionate universal themes, the play invites the audience to experience a piece of history through brave and beautiful storytelling.

Of the co-production between the two companies, Karunaharan says, “Prayas, Aotearoa's leading South Asian theatre company, is committed to promoting South Asian talent. We are excited to reach out to a new audience by presenting alongside Auckland Theatre Company this enduring tale of the human spirit in an inhuman state.”

The sophisticated American classic Six Degrees of Separation will be performed at the ASB Waterfront Theatre in August, starring the incomparable Jennifer Ward-Lealand ONZM (Lysistrata, August: Osage County).

It takes a rare play to popularise a new phrase and cement it into everyday speech, but John Guare’s title, and the sharp wit of his exploration of social divides, propelled the phrase into popular culture in the 1990’s. After successful runs on Broadway and the West End, winning NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play and the Olivier Award for Best New Play, the play was adapted into a film of the same name.

Based on true events, the play is inspired by the real-life story of a con-man who managed to convince a number of people in 1980’s high society New York that he was the son of actor Sidney Poitier. Six Degrees of Separation, directed by ATC Artistic Director Colin McColl will showcase the outstanding comedy-drama ATC is renowned for.

The final play in the season is one of the theatre world’s favourite and sharpest comedies Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. This British classic by award-winning UK playwright Tom Stoppard is a brilliant, erudite comedy double act, which fizzes with life.

A hilarious take on Shakespeare's Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet’s university friends, have an existential crisis on why they exist - in life and the play. This inside-out, mercilessly funny “game of intellectual ping pong” (The Telegraph) will triumphantly wrap up the ATC season at the ASB Waterfront Theatre.

Subscriptions are now open for Auckland Theatre Company’s 2019 season. For more information or to order a copy of the 2019 season brochure, please visit


The Daylight Atheist by Tom Scott (NZ)
Season dates: 7-23 February, in repertoire with Joan
Cast: Michael Hurst
Director: Colin McColl

Joan by Tom Scott (NZ)
Season dates: 8-23 February, in repertoire with The Daylight Atheist
Cast: Ginette McDonald, Kate McGill
Director: Tim Gordon

Astroman by Albert Belz (NZ)
Season dates: 16 March – 6 April 2019
Cast includes: Miriama McDowell, Nicola Kawana
Director: Tainui Tukiwaho

The Audience by Peter Morgan (UK)
Season dates: 8 – 23 May 2019
Cast includes: Theresa Healey, Paul Barrett, Cameron Rhodes, Ian Mune
Director: Colin McColl

A Fine Balance adapted by Sudha Bhuchar and Kristine Landon-Smith. Based on the novel by Rohinton Mistry (India/UK)
Season dates: 14 June – 6 July 2019
Cast includes: Ravikanth Gurunathan, Rashmi Pilapitiya, Jatinder Singh, Mustaq Missouri, Mayen Mehta, Mel Odedra, Aman Bajaj, Kalyani Nagarajan
Director: Ahi Karunaharan

Six Degrees of Separation by David Guare (US)
Season dates: 14 – 29 August 2019
Cast includes: Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Bruce Phillips

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard (UK)
Season dates: 11 – 26 September 2019
Director: Benjamin Henson

Siobhan Waterhouse