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North Otago theatre-goers have been encouraged to head south to see a play written by a man who made a big impact during his time in Oamaru.
Historical comedy Winston’s Birthday, opening in the Fortune Theatre in Dunedin on March 12, is by former Waitaki Boys’ High School rector Paul Baker.
Dr Baker stepped down as Waitaki Boys’ rector at the end of 2011, retiring early due to Parkinson’s disease and ending a 13-year spell during which he was acclaimed as one of the school’s finest rectors.
He was an accomplished playwright, and Winston’s Birthday is his story of a Churchill family gathering to celebrate legendary British leader Winston Churchill’s 88th birthday in 1962.
The Churchills are forced to confront half a century of unfinished family business which includes lies, evasions and resentments, and the play aims to give people an insight into a great man in his twilight years and his dysfunctional family.
“At the heart of Winston’s success is a craving for his father’s approval,” director Lara Macgregor said.
“This launched a lifetime course of self-improvement in an attempt to achieve it. In turn, Winston’s children crave the same approval from him.
“This play is a smart and funny imagining of what mending family rifts in pursuit of parental approval might entail.”Winston’s Birthday is a collaboration between the Fortune and Court theatres, by arrangement with Playmarket.
“We’re delighted to collaborate with the Court Theatre to bring Paul Baker’s hilarious and insightful comedy to local audiences,” Fortune artistic director Jonathon Hendry said.
“I’m struck by the clever balance of fact and conjecture that creates such an enthralling and entertaining experience.”The play features Geoffrey Heath as Winston Churchill, Yvonne Martin as Lady Clementine Churchill, Jonathan Martin as Dr Stephen Jenkins, Hilary Halba as Sarah Churchill/Lady Audley, and Roy Snow as Randolph Churchill.

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