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Director and playwright Kristina Walton. Photos: SUPPLIED

Thames playwright making ‘magic happen’

Playwright Kristina Walton wrote her new show Legacy for a cast of 13, but after witnessing so many “gems” at auditions, the story was rewritten to make room for eight more.
All 21 actors will now perform Legacy at the Tararu Arts Centre this month, and Kristina has promised no more changes in the weeks before opening night. But being able to adjust the script on the fly was probably the biggest advantage to being the playwright and director, she said.
“Sometimes magic just happens,” she told The Profile. “People get on-stage together and they look really good, so you want to make the most of it, and I’ve got the ability to come home and add or change. But it’s very frustrating for the actors, I’m sure.”
Legacy follows in the footsteps of Kristina’s original piece, The Manbox, which was written before the first Covid-19 lockdown and also performed by Thames Music and Drama.
It tells the story of Doug, played by Thames High School teacher Ewan Grant Mackie, who “ends as miserable as he starts” amid winning $23 million.
His children can’t stand him, he is fighting with his neighbours, and he has no friends.
Summed up, Ewan’s character was an unlikeable lead.
“But unfortunately, Ewan is so good that I still like him even though he is awful,” Kristina said. “I don’t redeem [the character] in any way, I’m more of a pragmatist, and I don’t think people tend to change a great deal.”
Kristina, who lives in the Kauaeranga Valley, started writing plays when she was working at Huntly College. As a “brand new” teacher, she had no budget to buy a play, so she decided to write one.
She taught at Thames High until 2017, and she wrote the school plays there, too.
Legacy was written at her mother’s bedside while she was recovering from an operation in hospital, and Kristina said it was nice to reconnect with community theatre.
“In Thames, particularly, there is not a lot that happens where you can go and be entertained, so I think it’s really nice to go and support the people that are trying to make that happen for you. Our cast is incredible. They are really well worth seeing.”
Joining Ewan Grant Mackie on stage will be a mixture of experienced, familiar faces, and some actors new to Thames Music and Drama, she said.
DETAILS: Legacy will be performed in the Tararu Arts Centre from September 17-24. Seating is limited, so people are encouraged to get their tickets early from