Old cowshed lends a dramatic hand

An old Gordonton dairy shed has been ransacked* to adorn the stage of a post-apocalyptic play being held at Waikato University next week.

The “loot” includes two hand sickles, one scary-looking goat skull, an impressive wooden mallet, milking buckets from yesteryear and more.

The rurally rustic collection is to add authenticity to Disco Panda Station – an absurdist comedy play by third-year arts student Conor Maxwell.

“The inspiration for it is something like MASH – it’s set in wartime so you think there will be a lot of action and gun battles, but there isn’t. It focuses on the quiet moments of war instead,” Conor says.

Disco Panda Station is the first play Conor has written, though he has now finished a second and is working on his third.

“So far all the plays I’ve written are dark comedies. My second is set during a zombie outbreak and the one I’m writing now is in a women’s prison.”

The cast of seven, comprised of former and current Waikato University students, have been rehearsing since November.

Disco Panda“Disco Panda Station isn’t a play about war-time heroics. It’s an absurdist comedy about a bunch of incompetent soldiers who, when facing an imminent battle to the death are a little out of their depth. The play features a handful of bizarre characters, including an immortal Spanish Corporal, a Sergeant who fancies himself as the next William Wallace and the world’s last-surviving left-handed person who has an obsession with chocolate biscuits.”

As for pro-tips for writing plays, Conor has a few suggestions.

“I usually start with a concept, then I figure out the ending, and who dies,” he says. “You always need to know who dies. In my second play I changed my mind about killing off a character and had to rewrite the whole second half, so that wasn’t so good.”

Disco Panda Station will be staged at the Newplace Theatre on March 19, 20 and 25 to 27 at 7.30pm. Door sales only, ticket prices are $5 waged, and unwaged by donation.

*With the farmer’s permission, of course!

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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