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Devonport mums tread the boards tackling The Bard

Flagstaff Team

Comedy meeting history… Aria Harrison-Sparke (left) and Liz Cannon in costume for their roles in outdoor Shakespeare productions at Takapuna’s PumpHouse

Two Devonport mothers are showing their children they are more than “just mums” by acting in outdoor summer Shakespeare productions at Takapuna’s PumpHouse Theatre.

Liz Cannon, a mother of four, plays Maria, a servant, in Twelfth Night. Her friend, Marissa Willson, who has two children, is the Constable of France in Henry V, which plays on alternate nights. “It’s important to show our children that we continue to pursue our passions and interests,” Brown says.

It has been challenging getting to rehearsals, and fitting in all the other activities, like costume ttings and helping build sets, that people don’t realise go into a production, she says. However, the pair wanted to role-model to their children making a commitment and following through on it.

The friends know each other through Takarunga Playcentre. Last year they took an acting course at TAPAC (The Auckland Performing Arts Centre) aimed at bringing Shakespeare’s works to life.

Cannon, who is passionate about Shakespeare, encouraged Wilson to audition for the Shoreside productions. It is Wilson’s debut stage performance as an adult, after enjoying acting at high school.

Cannon has kept up acting after studying English and drama at Plymouth University, in England, performing recently in Company Theatre’s Calendar Girls, as well as One Man, Two Guvnors and Fawlty Towers. Cannon also encouraged her partner, James Carrick to audition, which he did, successfully.

Carrick started acting three years ago, after previously working as a musician and stand-up comedian. In 2015, he won an Auckland Community Theatre Trust award for best male lead for his second-ever play, Humble Boy, with Torbay Theatre. He won the same award again in 2017 for his part in Motel, with Phoenix Theatre.

Carrick says it’s easy to underestimate amateur theatre, but the Shoreside Theatre company’s Auckland Shakespeare in the Park productions are first class. Twelfth Night is romp-through Shakespeare, which makes The Bard accessible to audiences who may be new to his plays, according to production manager Catherine Watson.

Traditionally, the 12th night after Christmas was a rabble-rousing evening of festivity and this has been played up for fun, Watson says. In a case of art imitating life, Carrick plays Maria’s lover, Sir Toby Belch. The two conspire to take revenge on the vile Malvolio, the head servant.

Cannon says her children, who are aged 6 to 16, have already seen the play and loved it. Henry V is a history play, focused on the build-up to the Battle of Agincourt and Henry’s ght to reclaim the crown in France. It features famous speeches, such as “Once more, unto the breach, dear friends…”

The plays run until 9 February at the amphitheatre at the PumpHouse. Tickets can be booked at www.pumphouse.co.nz or by phone (ph 489 8360), Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Source: Devonport Flagstaff 25 January 2019. View Online.