Home > Recent Projects > Blackbird


Presented by Auckland Theatre Company
Auckland, New Zealand, 4-27 September 2008
written by David Harrower; directed by Margaret-Mary Hollins


Watch a powerful scene from the play and an interview with the director.


  Michael Hurst
  Leisha Ward-Knox
  Mary-Margaret Hollins
Set & Costume Design
  Robin Rawstorne
Lighting Design
  Bryan Caldwell

Director's Note

David Harrower's BLACKBIRD is a well crafted and intricate work that explores the grey areas existing in human behaviour and relationships.  Nothing in this play is presented in black and white terms and therefore challenges our innate response to stand in judgment.

This script has led us to shy away from plots, and any formal structure because the material, like a loaded gun, fires bullets of love, hate, confusion, compassion, betrayal, secrets and shock throughout.  We witness a relationship of a past harboured for years, which has made these people who they are, in this factory lunch-room today.

The rehearsal process has been like walking a tightrope where the coded and disturbingly natural language reads like a musical score, guiding the work towards a deep emotional and spontaneous connection.  It takes great talent to work with such raw and confrontational storytelling and I have been blessed with Michael and Liesha.  I have learnt from them as they have taken on this emotional roller coaster of a challenge and bravely exposed the work for all its frailties and humanaity.  It was an exhausting and incredibly satisfying process.

All power to Colin and ATC for programming a work that presents us with this powerful, risky material.  The darkness of the soul needs to be illuminated for us to understand and examine the complexities that exist in our world.

Mary-Margaret Hollins



Home  Recent Projects Future Projects

Reviews of Blackbird

National Business Review: "Michael Hurst was brilliant as the nervous wretched Ray, wringing emotion out of the character.  One has a sense of the man’s mind ticking over trying to make sense of his situation . . . "

theatreview.co.nz: "Michael Hurst handles the various juxtaposed facets of Ray's personality with trademark skill - harrowed yet authoritative, a simple factory supervisor yet astute and almost charming.  As the scoundrel of the piece he does well to elicit our sympathy, albeit mostly in a 'Christ, I'd hate to be you!' sort of way."

New Zealand Herald: "Michael Hurst's performance captures the barely contained torment of a man racked by guilt, desperate to preserve the lifestyle that enables him to control his inner demons."

Lumiere Reader: "Michael Hurst’s portrayal of Ray is restrained and powerful.  He gives a credible impression of a pathetic older man who seems to regret the past.  How can such a pitiable character . . . be the object of continuing lust for the young and beautiful Una?  Yet by the time we come to this, we believe it could happen."

gaynz.com: "Michael Hurst makes Ray both a loathsome and a sympathetic creature . . . His reactions vacillate between seeming remorse and anger at having to face 'all that' again, and Hurst is a master at such changes of gear."