American dramatist Lanford Wilson’s Book Of Days tells the story of Ruth, a bookkeeper in small-town Missouri who lands the leading role in a production of George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan. Soon, her community is faced with a dramatic murder, and Ruth decides to investigate. We asked Elsie Edgerton-Till, director of the New Theatre’s Book Of Days production, about what to expect.
Talk us through the concept of Book Of Days.
This play is about community. How the content folks of a small fictional town respond to challenge and change. Do they pull up the drawbridge or head out on a crusade?
The play seems brimming with comedy, violence and intrigue – how much of a challenge is it to engage with Lanford Wilson’s text?
At times, like walking a tightrope! Wilson’s work shifts rapidly from deep pathos to comic truths. The cast handles this wonderfully active writing with a deftness which is a delicious feat to behold.
Does Book Of Days look to close the book (pardon the pun) with a moral, or does it ask more questions than it answers?
I am all for the puns! This play doesn’t moralise. Each character in the play has a strong – and differing – moral compass. Through the character’s personal relationships, morals and blind belief are challenged and questioned.
It’s your debut production with New Theatre – what’s your history as a director and actor?
I began my working adult life as an actor in New Zealand almost a decade ago. I’ve performed in everything from long seasons in musicals to Chekhov and new writing. Over the past few years I began directing more and more – here and in New Zealand.
What’s the experience been like directing this cast so far?
If I serve them up a pun, I can be certain of a returned volley! Honestly, it has been a true privilege working with such an experienced, top-notch cast. You’d be crazy to miss their work.