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'Show must go on': Cosi production manager Sophie Kennedy and director Blaise Barham

By PHILIP CHANDLER

Having mental health as the theme for a play has emboldened Queenstown’s Remarkable Theatre to continue staging it despite the uncertainties of Covid-19 restrictions.

The play, Cosi — being performed at the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall from September 10 till 19 — is set in a Melbourne asylum in 1971 against the backdrop of anti-Vietnam War protests.

Written by Louis Nowra, it revolves around a young director, hopelessly out of his depth, schooling patients to perform Mozart’s comic opera, Cosi fan tutte, as a form of drama therapy.

‘‘We decided to do the play long before Covid came along,’’ production manager Sophie Kennedy says.

‘‘We did have a moment where we said, ‘can we do this or can’t we?’, but we decided it was even more important to go ahead because of what was going on.

‘‘We thought, ‘what better way to provide everyone with some light relief?’, especially with very few events happening.

‘‘And when we were coming to this discussion the Black Lives Matter protests were going on as well — everything was telling us we should try and make this happen.’’

Remarkable Theatre president Blaise Barham, who’s directing the play, says it’s also been therapeutic for the 23-strong cast, including ensemble, ‘‘to be able to focus on something that’s a different world and different characters’’.

He quips with the return to Alert Level 2, which would prohibitively restrict audience numbers if it continued, ‘‘we’ve been having some mental health issues of our own’’.

Kennedy notes one positive from Covid-19 restrictions preventing overseas travel is there was an even bigger talent pool to select the cast from.

She says because of the difficult economic environment, the society’s reduced ticket prices this year.

They’re also fundraising for the Mental Health Foundation — ‘‘people have the option to donate when buying tickets or via eftpos machines [during performances] the MHF is providing us with’’.

Tickets for the eight performances, including one matinee, are for sale via eventfinda.

scoop@scene.co.nz