Rehearsing for touring Aidan Theatre’s hard hitting Too Much Punch for Judy from left back Daniel Nodder, Teag Mackay, Austin Harrison. Front, from left, Kate Low and Prea Millar.
Five young actors have given up their day jobs to tour a high impact play about drink driving around South Island high schools because they think it is vitally important.
Kimble Henderson, the owner of Aidan Theatre in Timaru and the show’s director, said the production, Too Much Punch For Judy by Mark Wheeller is documentary style with the script written from the actual words spoken by those affected by drink driving.
“It opens discussions about choices around drink driving or getting in a car with someone who has been,” she said.
In South Canterbury from 2016 to 2020 there were 41 crashes of which 10 were fatal and 22 caused injury. Alcohol was a factor in 95.12 per cent of crashes, according to New Zealand Transport Authority’s Crash Analysis System.
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Henderson’s daughter Prea Millar, who lives in Wellington, is the producer and plays two roles, Vi and Jo. They have worked together on productions a number of times
Millar said though the message of the production was harsh it was also enjoyable to watch with some light hearted moments.
The play is about a teenager who kills her sister in a drink driving incident and what happens afterwards.
Former Timaru actor Kate Low, who now lives in Auckland, plays the role of the surviving sister, Judy.
“Choice is something we have control of, the choice to have a drink and then drive. It’s important how one accident affects so many people, the ripple affect. Drivers are so worried about getting caught (drink driving) they’re not worried about killing someone.”
Actor Austin Harrison who plays a nurse said the play was intense because it was documentary theatre.
“It has real words and experiences. It has real power and it’s our responsibility as actors to do right by it.”
The actors have had their own brushes with the effects of drinking driving in real life.
Harrison’s cousin lost his licence for driving over the limit and causing a crash which hospitalised someone while Daniel Nodder who plays a first responder, said some of his acquaintances were drink driving, hit a bank, and both ended up in hospital, one in a coma.
Henderson has staged the play previously, for the first time in 2015.
South Canterbury Road Safety is funding the tour in the region and its co-ordinator Daniel Naude said the play presented “a crucial message” of making the correct choice when came to drink/drug driving.
“Drink/drug driving still to this day causes so much harm in our communities. I’m hoping that the message to abstain from driving when impaired in any way will get through.”
To fundraise towards the rest of the tour, the Sail and Anchor Bar and Cafe will hold a quiz night on Thursday.
The season starts runs at South Canterbury high schools from June 11-18 with an additional public performance on June 18 at Craighead Auditorium at 7pm. The show then travels throughout the South Island, ending back in Wellington for a final show on August 21. Tickets can be purchased online through Humanitix and booking fee proceeds will go to A Better Start for Disadvantaged Māori and Pasifika Children.