Not typecast, says Unity actor

TAKE-DOWN: Cast as gone-to-seed Hautapu High School PE teacher Laurie Connor in Unity Theatre’s production of Kings of the Gym, Trevor Shaskey (left) gets a laugh from Kate Adams, who plays born-again Christian and star netball player, Annie Tupua, during an arm wrestling sceme in rehearsals. Picture supplied

For the play Kings of the Gym, Unity Theatre director James Packman needed someone who was 50 and unfit to play physical education (PE) teacher Laurie Connor, says actor Trevor Shaskey who landed the role.

“I said ‘why are you asking me?’”

The part of the non-PC character was made for him though, he says.

His gone-to-seed, TV-watching and gambling character is head of Hautapu High School’s PE department. He is also a thorn in the side to Gina Ferkins’ politically correct character, principal Viv Cleaver who is intent on transforming the low-decile school.

“Playing Laurie has been a lot of fun,” says Shaskey.

“During rehearsals we go off-script and play with our characters.”

In performance, the cast will stay true to script of course but the opportunity for the four actors — including Simon Marino, as unambitious PE teacher Pat Kennedy, and Kate Adams’ fit, born-again Christian, netball player, Annie Tupua, to go off-script enabled them to explore their characters and relationships with one another.

Shaskey brings a little of himself to Connor though — and relishes the opportunity.

“The racism and sexist stuff doesn’t sit well with me but in my eyes the world needs to toughen up. I’ve written on the whiteboard ‘bring back Buck’.”

The catchphrase refers to former All Black Wayne “Buck” Shelford, one of the hardest men to ever play rugby union and who played on even after a boot aimed at his groin tore his scrotum and he lost several teeth at the bottom of the same ruck.

“We need more of that intestinal fortitude,” says Shaskey.

The actor also enjoys the potshots his character takes at a fictional figure he suspects is based on Destiny Church leader Brain Tamaki.

Connor is not all louche behaviour and red neck attitude though. His sometimes cringe-worthy worled view and rough vocabulary is subtly balanced throughout the play by genuine concern for his students.

Kings of the Gym opens tomorrow at Unity Theatre, Ormond Road and runs until November 30. Tickets are $20 from i-SITE.

For the play Kings of the Gym, Unity Theatre director James Packman needed someone who was 50 and unfit to play physical education (PE) teacher Laurie Connor, says actor Trevor Shaskey who landed the role.

“I said ‘why are you asking me?’”

The part of the non-PC character was made for him though, he says.

His gone-to-seed, TV-watching and gambling character is head of Hautapu High School’s PE department. He is also a thorn in the side to Gina Ferkins’ politically correct character, principal Viv Cleaver who is intent on transforming the low-decile school.

“Playing Laurie has been a lot of fun,” says Shaskey.

“During rehearsals we go off-script and play with our characters.”

In performance, the cast will stay true to script of course but the opportunity for the four actors — including Simon Marino, as unambitious PE teacher Pat Kennedy, and Kate Adams’ fit, born-again Christian, netball player, Annie Tupua, to go off-script enabled them to explore their characters and relationships with one another.

Shaskey brings a little of himself to Connor though — and relishes the opportunity.

“The racism and sexist stuff doesn’t sit well with me but in my eyes the world needs to toughen up. I’ve written on the whiteboard ‘bring back Buck’.”

The catchphrase refers to former All Black Wayne “Buck” Shelford, one of the hardest men to ever play rugby union and who played on even after a boot aimed at his groin tore his scrotum and he lost several teeth at the bottom of the same ruck.

“We need more of that intestinal fortitude,” says Shaskey.

The actor also enjoys the potshots his character takes at a fictional figure he suspects is based on Destiny Church leader Brain Tamaki.

Connor is not all louche behaviour and red neck attitude though. His sometimes cringe-worthy worled view and rough vocabulary is subtly balanced throughout the play by genuine concern for his students.

Kings of the Gym opens tomorrow at Unity Theatre, Ormond Road and runs until November 30. Tickets are $20 from i-SITE.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you agree with the Government’s new guideline for police, to not prosecute drug users when a therapeutic approach would be more beneficial or there is no public interest in prosecution?