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August 6, 2018 | by  | in Theatre |
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Almost Sober Interview

I sat down with Keegan Bragg and Ben Wilson, the director and the writer of Almost Sober, a new thirteen-person theatre show currently being performed at Club 121 in the CBD. We talked about their show, why theatre shouldn’t just be for theatre people and how Almost Sober is a love letter to Wellington’s nightlife.
Emma: In your own words, give me a description of your show.
Ben: It’s a big scale show with about thirteen people, and it’s about a night in town — in Wellington’s club scene.
Keegan: What I really like about Wellington is that you get some really weird nights here. There’s so many different stories, so many different characters — the idea was to cram in as much as we could in a really short amount of time, in about ninety minutes or so.
E: Why do you think students — in particular those who don’t go to theatre very often — should come and see your show?
B: The aspect of it is that it’s at a club, not an actual theatre and so I think there’s already a part of that “going to the theatre” stigma that’s been cut down by the fact that we’re putting it in a club — especially a club like 121, which is so student-orientated. My friend Cam [one of the club owners] saw my first play and he was so surprised by it — “there was swearing in that! I didn’t know you could swear in theatre! And you took drugs on stage — I didn’t know you could do that in theatre.” It was just so interesting to me that he had this Shakespearean idea of what theatre had to be.
E: So, you were commissioned to write this play?
B: Sort of. I talked to Cam when I was, y’know, under the influence at his club and I pitched it to him — the idea of putting a show on. It was about a month, just me writing everyday, and it ended up at 95 pages. When you have thirteen characters, 95 pages is a good amount.
E: With thirteen characters I presume you have quite a diverse cast. Do you think that any theatre-goer can come in and see at least part of themselves in one of your characters?
B: I hope so. That was a huge thing when I started and when I was talking with Keegan about it — everyone needs to feel like there’s something there. There’s a character that’s eighteen, and it’s her first time in town, and then there’s people who are like 26-27, who’ve been in the city for a very long time. I think it’s very Wellington-specific.
K: I remember when I moved here, when I moved into halls of residences for the first time here — I remember thinking that my whole life was now in this little room — but then you get older and you get more friends — I think this city begins to feel smaller, there are less mysteries in this city. It’s quite a small city, at the end of the day. It’s not as big as Auckland, and Auckland’s not as big as cities overseas.
B: There’s a whole thing in the play about being connected — everyone knows everybody. That’s such a big part about living in Wellington, everyday you’ll see someone that you know, or someone that you know through somebody else —

K: For better or for worse, yeah.
B: And for starters, when you move to Wellington, that’s exciting — but then it just gets old, more and more everyday. You’re sick of seeing people that you know — especially when you’re at your worst, you’re having a really sad day, you don’t want to see anyone you know. There’s a scene with an ex in the play — and that’s such a Wellington thing — to bump into your ex in town after two years. Wellington’s one of the only places where that’s definitely going to happen, you know?

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