Here in Taumarunui, we have a comic-playwright in the mode of Mel Brooks, Canada’s Wayne & Shuster, National Lampoon, Mad Magazine – maybe even the great Aristophanes! Meet Lynelle Kuriger.

Name: Lynelle Kuriger

Creative field: Playwright

Location: Taumarunui, New Zealand

Best known for: Penning plays such as Jersey Girls: Farmed & Dangerous and Farm Supplies & Other Lies 

13521861_1102495093140402_3738013690107727926_n (2)My connection: I first heard of Lynelle during the production run of her play, Jersey Girls, in Taumarunui. While, inextricably, I didn’t go to the play, I was delighted to hear it had been written by a local. During the 2014 Taumarunui Arts Festival, Lynelle attended a Poetry and Prose Evening at which I read from my novel, Te Kauhanga. Later that weekend she purchased a copy and, just like that, we officially met. She has been a tremendous supporter on Facebook and I currently teach her son at Taumarunui High School. Just this past week, Lynelle invited me to attend a reading of her new play, Fleeced, which should hopefully be produced by the Taumarunui Performing Arts group. I also connected Lynelle with artist, Leanne Reynolds, who designed some promotional material for Fleeced.

Inspiration for this writer: The number of writers continues to grow in Taumarunui. For years, we have had a Taumarunui Writers group and work created by the Taumarunui Historical Society, Recently we have seen several novels and a book of essays independently published here. Now we have a playwright in Lynelle. In speaking with Lynelle, I have discovered that, while our work is very different from each other’s, we have an abiding connection in our approaches. Lynelle writes from her context for her context. She is immersed in a rural agricultural area with a town centre, so she writes for small-town playhouses, not for the cities who have access to their own playwrights. Her plays are cheaper for small societies to access – and are more relevant, while also connecting with larger themes. They are steeped in farming terminology – and why not? Lynelle also has a Masters Degree in Plant Science! Her plays are smart, and, best of all, her plays are funny!

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“Jersey Girls” in Taumarunui

Why you should check her out and share with others: Jersey Girls has been produced in other small venues outside of Taumarunui – in Lynelle’s previous community, Opunake, as well as in Te Kuiti, Putaruru, and Masterton. Apparently, in Taumarunui’s long history of plays and musicals, Jersey Girls was the first example of one written by a local playwright. The Opunake Coastal News declared it one of the most successful ever put on by the Opunake Players and it was highly acclaimed in the Waitomo NewsFleeced should do just as well. To quote Lynelle:

“Take disco dancing, seventies music singing, afro wearing romney ewes; versus stuck up, self-loving, authoritarian suffolk rams; with a gender confused wether thrown in for good measure. And you have FLEECED!”

The play is a variation on Romeo and Juliet, but I can assure you, Lynelle’s imagination and risque sense-of-humour takes this story places even the bawdy bard wouldn’t have dreamed of. Check out this sample and look out for Fleeced in a theatre near you. Better still, if you are looking for a funny play for your society to perform, contact Lynelle on Facebook.

Sample of work:

An excerpt from Fleeced, a musical comedy.

(Rear Admiral Bearing, Woolberg, Rameo and Eric are Suffolk rams.  Juliet is a Romney ewe – Rameo is smitten with Juliet and gets advice from Rear Admiral Bearing)

R.A.BEARING          Right lads!  Line up, by the number count!

WOOLBERG             One!

ERIC                          Cough!

RAMEO                     three…(sigh)

R.A.BEARING          Strike the lines!  What’s the matter with you son!

WOOLBERG             He’s given up on the easiest job of all, Sir!  Tupping!

R.A.BEARING          Easy Job?!  It’s no easy job, sailor.

You haven’t been there – year on year.  It seeps into your hide, until it nearly sends you overboard.  Oh you think it’s a great laugh at first – la ti da ti da! Then something makes you look up and you realise the enormity of it all.  Ewes everywhere you look.  All the way to the horizon.  Oceans of them.  Waiting.  After that, every ewe looks the same.  It’s the utter relentlessness of it.  Day after week after month.  They keep coming at you- the great white wave of femininity!  Lord! I’m going to keel over!!

RAMEO                       It’s not that sir! I can tupp all day, Sir, normally.  But sir, I’ll go mad if that’s all I ever do – now that I know how love feels – I want more of it!

R.A.BEARING            Love?!  Love!  Listen up sailor.  Let me tell you what love is. Love is like an enormous anchor.

RAMEO                       Like it steady’s your boat on rocky seas.  It’s the one constant force against stormy water.

R.A.BEARING            No!  More like if you get that thing aboard your dinghy, all it’s gonna do is drag you down and leave you at the bottom of the ocean!

WOOLBERG             See Rameo!  I told you you’ve got to forget her!

RAMEO                       (sadly) Oh. You’re saying I need to leave that anchor behind. (sigh)

WOOLBERG            Now you’re getting it!  No more anchors chained to you!

R.A.BEARING            You’re not very good at listening, are you lads!  I’m saying – you need to build a bigger ship!   You’re trying to float that big old heavy anchor of love in a little wee tin tub relationship. You need a vessel big enough to get out of the harbour!

Go find her, boy!

RAMEO                     Really?

R.A.BEARING            And while you’re at it, find some decent planks and build yourself a solid ship – something that can take the weight.

RAMEO                       But what if she hates me?  I’m a Suffolk and she’s a Romney.  We were never meant to be – were we?

R.A.BEARING            What’s the matter with you – why are you trying to rock the boat?  Help me out here, you lot

SONG:         ROCK THE BOAT

RAMEO                       (shouted over the others singing) You really think I should go after her?

R.A.BEARING            What other choice do you have?  You’ve set your anchor already, sailor!  (Singing) Rock the boat!  Rock the boat!

(RAB exits with the others, Rameo stays behind and hides under the woolshed when he sees Juliet appear on the top step of the woolshed)

RAMEO                     There she is…

JULIET                         What do you think you’re doing Juliet?  Getting all steamy eyed over a mere ram.  Or is he even a ram?  He did have that coloured wool on…   But that was just a trick!  He’s a Suffolk.  A bloody Suffolk!  I can’t fall for a Suffolk!

RAMEO                       She hates me…

JULIET                         And I told him how I feel about him last night! Why did I do that! Although I didn’t know it was him, with the boofy wig!  But great mother of Romneys, I can’t stop thinking about him…

RAMEO                     She loves me!

JULIET                         …and that dirty rotten trick he played on me!  Wait till I see him next – I’ll kill him!

RAMEO                     She hates me!

JULIET                         He’s a dark one!  Not just a Suffolk – but a liar and a cheat too!  He cheated me out of my heart the other night.  With his enormous boofy wig.  And what’s with the coloured wool?   Does that mean he’s…one of them?

RAMEO                     Juliet  – if only you knew how my anchor is chained.

JULIET                       All these questions – and no answers!  (pause)

Ask the shakey pear, Bo said.  It will tell you.  What were those words?

Um, Rameo, Rameo.  Wether art thou, Rameo?

RAMEO                     No!  Where did she get that idea from?

JULIET                       No, hang on, that’s not right…

Rameo, Rameo.  Where fart thou, Rameo?

RAMEO                     Oh for dags sake…

(shouting) Juliet!  You are my sun!

JULIET                         (looking around in the sky for the voice)  Your son?  Well actually, Universe, I’m your daughter.

RAMEO                       No!  Down here, Juliet!  You are my blazing sun on the ocean of life!

JULIET                         You!  Were you hiding there – listening to me!  What are you doing?  Come to make a fool out of me just like last night!  Dressing up like a Romney and –

RAMEO                       Juliet!  I’ve come to build a ship!   A ship to carry my love anchor

JULIET                         Your what?  What would you know about love!  All you know about is lying and deceit!

RAMEO                       No Juliet!  Don’t you see, all I’ve got is a wee tin-tub, and it’s not enough to take your weight.

JULIET                       Oh! You can add insults to the list now!

RAMEO                       No, No!  You don’t get it.  I mean, I – I see you again and, well, it makes me want to enlarge my dinghy.

JULIET                         You are disgusting!  I get it now, you’ve just come here to mock me.  The only person you’re in love with is yourself!

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The Weekend Name Drop is a weekly feature on this blog, promoting people I have encountered who are doing creative things.

Antony Millen is a Canadian living and writing in New Zealand. He is the author of three novels: Redeeming Brother Murrihy, Te Kauhanga and The Chain.

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