Blog Archives

“The play’s the thing”, Sarah Ross

Ngaio Marsh’s Hamlet: The 1943 Production Script
Polly Hoskins (ed)
Canterbury University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9781988503134

In August 1943, as New Zealand troops in Europe began the Italian campaign, the Canterbury University College Drama Society (CUCDS) performed Hamlet to sell-out audiences at the Canterbury College Little Theatre. Hamlet had not been seen in New Zealand “for a generation”, and it was a roaring success: students were straddling the beams in the rafters, and CUCDS was reproached by the City Council for overfilling the space. The acclaimed season was produced and directed by Ngaio Marsh, the celebrated crime novelist who went on to direct several Shakespearean plays. Marsh embraced the war-time context for the production, featuring modern, military dress. Owing to its success, Hamlet returned for a second season at the Little Theatre, November–December 1943, after university exams were over for the year; and after CUCDS mounted a season of Othello in 1944, both productions toured nationally.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Plays, Review

Seeing how they run, Geoff Watson

When Running Made History
Roger Robinson
Canterbury University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9780815611004

New Zealanders have a longstanding connection with running. Long-distance running was one of the early activities of Māori and, from at least as early as the 1880s, New Zealand athletes were taking part in international competitions. Running has been both an everyday activity and a sport in which New Zealanders have triumphed on the global stage: the achievements of Jack Lovelock, Peter Snell, Murray Halberg, John Walker, Allison Roe, Anne Audain, Lorraine Moller and Lisa Tamati, among others, have been enshrined in national memory. When Running Made History utilises Roger Robinson’s personal memories as a lens to explain how a formerly largely individualistic pursuit became a global phenomenon.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review, Sociology, Sport

Prior tense, Paul Morris

Arthur Prior: A “Young Progressive”: Letters to Ursula Bethell and to Hugh Teague 1936-1941
Mike Grimshaw (ed)
Canterbury University Press, $60.00,
ISBN 9781927145593

A N Prior graduated from Otago University in philosophy and taught there and at the universities of Canterbury (1946-58), Manchester (1959-66) and Oxford (1966-69). At Canterbury, he developed a new form of logic, “tense logic” (1949-1954). Standard logic was atemporal, having no place for timed inferences.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Religion, Review

Wading in the waters, Sam Mahon

Beyond Manapouri: 50 Years of Environmental Politcs in New Zealand
Catherine Knight
Canterbury University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781988503042

The battle to preserve our waters in this country has left us, as a nation, almost as bruised and divided as we were during the Springbok tour. There is a moment in the middle of any maelstrom in which you wonder how you got there; by which wrong move; by courtesy of whose malevolent god in particular. As if in answer, Catherine Knight has elegantly traced the evolution of environmental politics from Manapouri in 1972 to the Ruataniwha dam 30 years later. It is an overlay of torn landscapes, muddied waters, greed and broken hearts; it is a paean of lost opportunities.

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Posted in Natural History, Non-fiction, Review

Jewels and binoculars, Murray Bramwell

Blood Ties: New and Selected Poems 1963–2016
Jeffrey Paparoa Holman
Canterbury University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781927145883

Dylan Junkie
Jeffrey Paparoa Holman
Mākaro Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9780994137807

It is a harsh fact that we live in a world where there is far more published poetry than people willing or able to read it. Over the past 50 years, poetry has ceased to be a common currency. It is less often a core component of literary studies in either high-school or university curricula. For most people, poetry has become esoteric and increasingly formidable. Few nowadays have ever read more than a handful of poems, let alone committed lines to memory. There are many reasons for this. A significant one is that since the 1960s some of the best poetry has gone to live in Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song”; the canon is now plugged into the body electric. Of course, lyrics still matter for people, but only when encased in melody and beats.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Theatre for life Lisa Warrington

Rebellious Mirrors: Community-based Theatre in Aotearoa/New Zealand Paul Maunder Canterbury University Press, $45.00, ISBN 9781927145456 Twenty New Zealand Playwrights Michelanne Forster and Vivienne Plumb Playmarket, $40.00, ISBN 9780908607471 Though differing in approach, tone and content, there are strong connections between

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Plays, Sociology

A quality of incision, Megan Dunn

Lateral Inversions: The Prints of Barry Cleavin  Melinda Johnston Canterbury University Press, $55.00, ISBN 9781927145470 Lateral Inversions: The Prints of Barry Cleavin contains over 120 colour plates and is a beautifully produced book that affords serious consideration to Barry Cleavin’s

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Posted in Art, Non-fiction, Review

How to live in the woods, Don Aimer

Outsiders: Stories from the Fringe of New Zealand Society Gerard Hindmarsh Craig Potton Publishing, $35.00, ISBN 9781877517723 Christchurch Crimes 1850-75: Scandal and Skulduggery in Port and Town Geoffrey W Rice Canterbury University Press, $30.00, ISBN 9781927145395 Google maps don’t have

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review, Sociology

Telling stories Catharina van Bohemen

Singing Historian: A Memoir Edmund Bohan Canterbury University Press, $30.00, ISBN 9781927145319 Sarah Vaughan Is not my Mother: A Memoir of Madness  Maryjane Thomson Awa Press, $35.00, ISBN 9781877551802 Where the Rainbow Fell Down: A New Zealand Memoir Lynette Robinson

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction, Review

Cracking up, David Cohen

Taming the Tiger: A Personal Encounter with Manic Depression Michael Morrissey Polygraphia, $39.00, ISBN 9781877332968   Sing No Sad Songs Sandra Arnold Canterbury University Press, $35.00, ISBN 9781927145067   Michael Morrissey’s account of his long encounter with mental affliction begins

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Posted in Autobiography, Memoir, Non-fiction, Review
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