Hewison describes Lungs as “the best play I have ever read.” Importing the play marks a new challenge for Hewison, who often directs his own work. He says that the novelty of directing Lungs has not been easy, but has provided an opportunity to explore the mysteries of a script alongside his performers. The seasoned cast - Aidee Walker (Outrageous Fortune) and Arthur Meek (Hilary Clinton/Young Lover) -- are the main event in Lungs. The story is told in a pared-back, naturalistic style through interactions between the two performers onstage, named “Man” and “Woman”. The playwright mandated minimal lighting, set and sound design, which Hewison appreciates as allowing space for the simple power of bodies and voices.
Roberts explains that part of what connected her to this play, among the three or four others she would see each day at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was that the audience had to work hard to stay engaged. With this focus came a deep satisfaction – the audience are not called to be passive receivers of Lungs but to laugh and cry and disagree in communion with it.
Much like the characters they are bringing to the stage, Roberts and Hewison describe a desire to "make “good” decisions”. After attending the Women in Theatre Hui at Circa last month, the creators found themselves reflecting on what role they had to play in this group of theatre makers. In a climate where satisfying female roles are still relatively rare, Hewison describes Aidee Walker’s character “Woman”, as strong, complex and loveable. In addition to the roles onstage, Roberts and Hewison are proud to have a 50/50 gender split in their design, production and acting teams.
Hewison admits that the show is written from the perspective of young, straight, educated protagonists. He and Roberts have asked themselves what kind of an audience will come to Lungs. They do not claim to be speaking for everyone, but they hope that audiences will connect with the honesty of the piece.
The questions of who we are as makers and who we are making for, are important to being an artist in New Zealand today. We live in a country that is challenging itself to meet the needs of colonised people: people who exist within cultural, ethnic, gender minorities and those who are generally underserved by the status quo. It is a challenge to know and to care if you are perpetuating this status quo, actively breaking it down or perhaps transcending it. Dean Hewison and Adrianne Roberts speak with excitement about sharing their production of Lungs. It is a play that has done for them what many theatre-makers hope their work will do: validate and challenge its audience. The human connection present in Macmillan’s story is a universally fascinating one, and is sure to touch Wellington audiences as it has done overseas.
Lungs is on at Circa Theatre from the 22 Oct - 19 Nov.
To book, visit http://www.circa.co.nz/package/lungs/
For more information about Show Pony Productions, visit http://showponynz.com/