Jan Bolwell - Handstand Productions

Friday August 23rd - 8:30pm. Random Stage.

Jan Bolwell has toured this play the length and breadth of New Zealand over the past four years. She has left audiences laughing and weeping as she depicts herself as an adolescent trying to get her reluctant grandfather to talk about his WW1 experiences.

What follows is a gripping, painful and sometimes hilarious tale of a young Kiwi soldier from the Otago Mounted Rifles (one of Bill Massey’s tourists) and his survival from the tragedy of Passchendaele. It is a story that also features song and dance and images of Kiwis at war.

“A terrific script. A great performance. A tale well told. Knocked me for six!”
— Raymond Hawthorne, Auckland veteran theatre director.
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Jan is a playwright, performer, choreographer and director of Wellington’s popular dance company for mature women, Crows Feet Dance Collective. Jan has written six plays. Bill Massey’s Tourists, a solo play about her grandfather’s experiences in WW1, finished a very successful month long national tour with Arts On Tour New Zealand in September 2017. It is the third in a trilogy of solo plays Jan has written about her family. Standing on my Hands tells the story of her father’s WW2 experiences and Here’s Hilda! is the dramatisation of her grandmother’s life which toured twice with AOTNZ. In 2013 her play Dancing in the Wake, featuring Sacha Copland and John Smythe and herself, toured throughout the country with AOTNZ. Double Portrait, her play about ex-patriate NZ artist Frances Hodgkins, also toured extensively throughout the country.

In 2017 Taking the High Ground was staged at BATS, about mountaineers Freda du Faur and Lydia Bradey, and written during a residency at the Robert Lord’s Writers Cottage in Dunedin. In November 2019 Jan’s new play about euthanasia Welcome to the Death Cafe will be staged at BATS.

Her solo play Here’s Hilda was nominated for a Chapman Tripp Theatre Award, and in the 1990’s the dance theatre work Takitoru, directed by Jan, Sunny Amey and Keri Kaa, won a Chapman Tripp for most innovative work.


Creatives Involved

  • Jan Bolwell: Writer/performer

  • Kerryn Palmer: Director

  • Ralph Mcallister: Dramaturg

  • Nicole Cosgrove: Set & Costume Design

  • Laughton Pattrick: Composer

  • Neal Barber: Lighting designer/technician

Many Thanks To

  • Tiziana Stoto

  • Sunny Amey

  • Steve Thomas and Arts on Tour NZ

  • WW100

  • Creative Communities Fund