Former MP takes to the stage to entertain Coromandel audiences

08 Jun 2021

Theatre lovers in Whitianga and Thames will have the opportunity to see environmentalist, former MP and Coromandel Peninsula resident, Catherine Delahunty, in a whole new light as she takes to the stage in an original play written and performed alongside her sister, Sarah.

“#UsTwo - Six Decades of Sisterhood” is based on the two women’s shared yet distinctly different experiences of growing up and negotiating life as women, professionals, mothers and now grandmothers from the 1950s to the present day.

The show has already been performed at the Auckland and Wellington Fringe Festivals, securing a number of awards, and Catherine is hugely excited to share it with local audiences on her home turf. “It was a fantastic process to go through with so much remembering and reflecting, right back to when my sister and I were children in one bedroom, all the changes we have been through, including of course the second wave of feminism which we both experienced differently because of the different paths we went down, her as a playwright and solo mum and me who flounced off to a commune,” she says. 

The Green Party stalwart and passionate activist says the play also exposes the more human elements of being a sitting MP and the challenges that come with it. “When you were doing the job, you were so driven and you always needed to show strength because it was that kind of an environment, no matter how you were feeling you could never show any weakness,” she says. “You wanted to honour that privilege for as along you have it and do as much as you can. But the pressure was enormous and it became extremely draining. So that was something that this creative process enabled me to reflect on.”

Admitting the show covers a lot in short space of time, Catherine says it aims to both entertain and provoke thought, with women almost certain to recognise something of themselves in at least some of the experiences the sisters negotiate. “There is a particular focus on the role of motherhood and how it has evolved and the pressures and expectations that come with it,” she says.

It isn’t Catherine’s first foray into acting having previously treaded the boards in “Question Time Blues,” another collaboration with Sarah, who wrote that play as a humorous spin on political life after Catherine left Parliament. “I don’t think I have a major acting career ahead of me or anything, but of course I am playing myself and telling stories that I know,” says Catherine. “I certainly couldn’t do it without Sarah. She is obviously the professional having had a hugely successful career in playwrighting, so I rely on her to tell me what I need to do. We’ve had a lot of laughs doing it and I have learnt a lot. I think we have to keep challenging ourselves and trying new things.”

Sarah has written many plays which are performed around the country and won the Lifetime Achievement in Theatre Award in 2019 from New Zealand playwright agency, Playmarket. The pair kept their lines refreshed by rehearsing via phone last year when their performance schedule was interrupted by COVID-19. They returned to the stage at the Auckland Fringe Festival earlier this year. Feeling they had a few more performances in them, they made the decision to take the show to Hawkes Bay and Gisborne, and then to the Coromandel. The shows on the Peninsula take place on Friday, 18 June at 7:30pm in the Kauaeranga Hall, Thames and Saturday, 19 June at 7:30pm in the Coghill Theatre, Whitianga. Tickets cost $15 to $20 and are available at the door.

Pictured: Catherine and Sarah Delahunty on stage in their play, “#UsTwo - Six Decades of Sisterhood,” which comes to Whitianga next week.