Recently opened in Wellington’s Circa theatre is a new version of the fabulous Aotearoa / New Zealand classic play Wednesday to come, written by Renée.
The play is an intimate family drama charting the effects of the 1930s’ Depression on a working-class New Zealand family. It is set against a backdrop of workers’ strikes and rising costs of living and deals with these issues whilst retaining a rich vein of earthy humour. Many of the subjects and themes it explores still have a strong contemporary resonance today.
This beloved New Zealand play was first performed in 1984 and the production features a cast of both fresh faces and household names. Director Erina Daniels leads a powerhouse team of Māori creatives to tell a story written by a wahine Māori, but which has historically been told through the lens of a Pākeha family. A lens which this staging changes a little.
Renée, the creator of this iconic work, has so far written over twenty highly acclaimed plays — many of them works that humanise and centre working-class people and feature women in leading roles. As well, she has published (so far) nine fiction works, including most recently The Wild Card, which was shortlisted for the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards.
Renée’s amazing life is also documented in detail in her recently updated autobiography These Two Hands.
For more information about Wednesday to come, check out the Circa website.
Listen to the interview
This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, the arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. You can hear the full interview, as well as find a wide selection of Renée’s books available to borrow, below:
Wednesday to come : trilogy / Renée
“‘Wednesday to come’ (a play for 6 women and 2 men) shows the effect of the Great Depression on four generations of women from the same family. In ‘Pass it on’ (a play for 3 women and 3 men) the teenager Jeannie from ‘Wednesday to come’ is now a young woman in her 30s dealing with the 1951 Waterfront Lockout. The final play in the trilogy goes back in time to life in Victorian Dunedin: ‘Jeannie once’ (a play for 6 women and 3 men) looks at this world through the eyes of Jeannie’s great-grandmother, Granna in ‘Wednesday to come’. The themes of engagement in social issues and support for the underdog are common to all three plays.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty – who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home – has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered – her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too: the man in the balaclava who attacks her when she starts to investigate, and break-ins at the local theatre where Ruby is playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. As Ruby goes deeper into the mystery of Betty’s death she starts to find answers to questions about herself that she hadn’t dared ask before. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
These two hands : a memoir / Renée
“Renee Paule lives in Otaki and teaches her Your Life, Your Story and her Poem a Week workshops there. This is just one version of her life, her story, told in patches, like a quilt.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Kissing shadows / Renée
“Do we ever really know or understand the motives of the ones we love? When Vivvie Caird is faced by the sight of her beautiful, strong-willed mother lying limp and speechless in a hospital bed, she feels empowered to begin unlocking the mystery that is her fathers legacy. Vivvies nave undertaking soon finds a parallel in her mothers own account of what happened when her husband left home one day, never to return. A family, and a court must confront a devastating event that occurred in the midst of the hard times of last century. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.
The skeleton woman : a romance / Renée
“A baby on the doorstep, a skeleton woman biding time before the truth comes out. Rose Anthony’s life has just become much more complicated. Renee’s latest novel carries the reader on an entertaining roller coaster ride of mystery and intrigue. A rich tapestry of a tale guaranteed to keep the reader hooked from start to finish.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.