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May 2009

Pilgrim Productions share faith through laughter

By Cory Miller

Cheeky college boys, girlfriends, a tea party and an elderly aunt set the scene for what proved to be an award winning theatre production. On March 21st the Auckland Community Theatre Trust presented Pilgrim Productions with the AMI Best Comedy Award, for their performance of ‘Charley’s Aunt’.

Charley’s Aunt also received nominations for Best Director and Best Costume design.

Directed by Gwyneth Glover, Charley’s Aunt tells the story of the escapades of a handful of young English college boys. As they attempt to find a chaperone for a tea party with their girlfriends, plans go awry and cosmic confusion reigns.

Pilgrim Productions chairperson Marion Hines says receiving the award for best comedy was gratifying.

"By sharing this award with our wider community we can say thank you for all their generous support. We have been greatly encouraged by the active support, prayers, and good will of many people."

An ecumenical theatre society based at Pitt St Methodist Church, Pilgrim Productions has produced and performed major plays and musicals throughout central Auckland since it was established in 1978. As well as its annual production, Pilgrim Productions also performs one act plays in local churches. Rather than sermons they use drama to present the gospel in refreshing and lively ways.

Pilgrim Productions is run by a committee whose members come from many different churches - Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Community Life and Catholic. Some committee

Pilgrim Productions won an award for its performance of Charley Aunt.

members have no religious affiliation.

Together they produce dramas that double as a means of advancing Christian values. The theatre group focuses on being uplifting, entertaining and educational. They look for works that speak of new beginnings and hope for the world.

Because sharing faith is central to their mission, they hold open auditions for cast members. The effort to include people from outside of the church in their plays means new people are touched by its vision.

Marion says selecting which works to perform is one of Pilgrim Productions’ biggest challenges because they aim to produce plays that are both entertaining and relevant to the needs of present day society.

Previously this has resulted in rather serious performances. With Charley’s Aunt, however, they decided to break this mould and produce a comedy. "There is no harm in just being entertaining," says Marion.

This year they will continue on this path by producing the New Zealand premiere of ‘The Day They Kidnapped the Pope’. This new comedy is to be performed at the Theatre Pitt at 78 Pitt Street, June 3rd to 13th. It promises to be another barrel of laughs, with warm and believable characters who will without a doubt reach out to the audience.