American dramatist Lanford Wilson’sBook Of Daystells the story of Ruth, a bookkeeper in small-town Missouri who lands the leading role in a production of George Bernard Shaw’sSaint 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’sBook Of Daysproduction, 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.