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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 No. 3. 15th March 1972

Preview of The Band Rotunda

Preview of The Band Rotunda

Scene depicting a woman kissing a man

Five years ago, James K Baxter as Burn's Fellow and NZ's preeminent poet, had his first play produced in the Globe Theatre, Dunedin. "The Band Rotunda's" main characters are drunks; its main action the poetic unfolding of "life at the bottom".

In the play, Baxter's concern for the plight of man is left to the actor to interpret. Since then, Hemi has taken this concern to Jerusalem and beyond, exposing the sentimental illusions and inadequate notions of law, order, justice and reason that leaves Grady bereft and Jock dead.

Concrete Grady and Jock share their fish and chips and their bottle, but this is their total communication in the play. Theirs is a bleak, lonely world. Defeated by the arrogance of our systems, beyond the reach even of the Salvation Army, those at the bottom sit and wait for their doom to overtake them. This lack of compassion from a more fortunate level, this lack of sunshine that Baxter wrote about then, Hemi is trying to alleviate now.

With his ear for rhythm is the spoken line, Baxter makes poetry of the metaphors latent in ordinary speech. "Get up, mate. Rise and shine !.... To a bright beginning!" assumes a certain poetry, seen through a meths bottle from a park bench in the dawn. The characters range of communication, though limited, is genuine; their forms of language, though violent, are intended to express a bleak, truncated poetry. Their central problem is, as for us, the incommunicable weight of life itself.

Bill Julliff produces the play. Its season is from March 17th - April 1st, including Good Friday. At Unity Theatre.