From The Globe to The Bach

UPSTANDING: Laurel Mitchell wanted a break from Shakespeare so she took on the role of Hana in the James Packman-directed comedy, The Bach. The part comes with its own challenges, she says. Picture by Elenor Gill

AFTER several years of in-school immersion in Shakespeare’s plays, Laurel Mitchell took on the role of a budding Maori radical in Unity Theatre’s production of Kiwi comedy The Bach.

The play involves four characters thrown together during a holiday at a beach location.

Mitchell was in Hamilton when she heard Unity Theatre was about to hold auditions for a production directed by James Packman. She knew nothing about the play at the time but was keen to get involved. She contacted Packman and was cast as Hana, a young woman who struggles with her Maori and European identities. Mitchell enjoys the challenge of the role.

“I decided to do it because Shakespeare is all I’ve done during my five years in drama at school. It’s been a challenge to get away from Classical drama and into a play with a lot of swearing.”

Hana is a complicated character who is proud of her heritage but knows nothing about it, says Mitchell. This aspect of Hana’s character is almost Shakespearean in itself, particularly for a non-Maori actor who is playing a Maori character brought up in a European family.

“Hana is kind of like a character who is acting a part,” she says.

Hana is PA to screen-writer Sally, who is on a break with husband Simon while they sort out their marital issues.

Hana and Sally, played by Melissa Andrew, have a good relationship, says Mitchell.

“Sally’s character is very accepting and open to new ideas. They are the only two characters in the play who are still on a good footing by the end of it.”

The same can’t be said of Hana’s relationship with Michael (Aiden Malon), Simon’s under-achieving, younger brother.

“You kind of have to dislike him,” says Mitchell.

“He flirts with my character but he’s quite racist. The whole idea of the play is to bring attention to things people keep under the surface. A lot of people are politically correct in certain environments. Put them together in another environment and you see another side of them.”



AFTER several years of in-school immersion in Shakespeare’s plays, Laurel Mitchell took on the role of a budding Maori radical in Unity Theatre’s production of Kiwi comedy The Bach.

The play involves four characters thrown together during a holiday at a beach location.

Mitchell was in Hamilton when she heard Unity Theatre was about to hold auditions for a production directed by James Packman. She knew nothing about the play at the time but was keen to get involved. She contacted Packman and was cast as Hana, a young woman who struggles with her Maori and European identities. Mitchell enjoys the challenge of the role.

“I decided to do it because Shakespeare is all I’ve done during my five years in drama at school. It’s been a challenge to get away from Classical drama and into a play with a lot of swearing.”

Hana is a complicated character who is proud of her heritage but knows nothing about it, says Mitchell. This aspect of Hana’s character is almost Shakespearean in itself, particularly for a non-Maori actor who is playing a Maori character brought up in a European family.

“Hana is kind of like a character who is acting a part,” she says.

Hana is PA to screen-writer Sally, who is on a break with husband Simon while they sort out their marital issues.

Hana and Sally, played by Melissa Andrew, have a good relationship, says Mitchell.

“Sally’s character is very accepting and open to new ideas. They are the only two characters in the play who are still on a good footing by the end of it.”

The same can’t be said of Hana’s relationship with Michael (Aiden Malon), Simon’s under-achieving, younger brother.

“You kind of have to dislike him,” says Mitchell.

“He flirts with my character but he’s quite racist. The whole idea of the play is to bring attention to things people keep under the surface. A lot of people are politically correct in certain environments. Put them together in another environment and you see another side of them.”



Unity Theatre presents Stephen Sinclair’s comedy The Bach, directed by James Packman, at Unity Theatre, Ormond Road, November 24, 28-30, December 1, 7.30pm. Matinees November 25 and 26, 4pm. Tickets available from i-Site.

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