Campbell Smith

Campbell Smith
Campbell grew up and was educated in the Wairarapa. Served trade apprenticeship before attending art school in Christchurch and graduating D.F.A. Taught in schools in London, Waihi and Hamilton. In 1971 Director of Art at Waikato Art Museum. This award-winning writer always had an interest in all aspects of theatre.

The printed text is available through most local libraries. Permission to perform the play should first be obtained from PLAYMARKET, Wellington.

Plays

Mabel

by Campbell Smith

Performed by : Wellington Circa Theatre and others; prize-winning play in the Playwrights Association of NZ 1981 competition; adapted as a school production by Hagley High School, 1990; published by Longman Paul in 1992.

Historical drama; Full-length play.

Characters : There are 25 characters, but a number can be played by the same actor as circumstances warrant.

Setting : The play follows the life of Mabel Howard M.P., so there are a number of scenes. A simple setting would be preferable, with a table and chairs, a box that can suggest a bed, etc. In some productions, a painted set has been used to suggest various locations. Slides have also been used for this purpose.

Synopsis : The play opens and closes at Sunnyside Mental home in 1972 and tells the story of Mabel’s life as an entertainer, a housekeeper, a union official, an M.P. and a Minister of the Crown.

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Soldier’s Song

by Campbell Smith
Performed at : Left Bank Theatre, Hamilton, 30 September 1987, following its win in the Playwrights Association competition of 1986. Other performances include Waikato Museum of Art and History, and Parliament Building.

Historical drama. Full length.

Characters : 3m, 2f. Wife in her sixties, Vera, her daughter, Fred, World War I veteran, Wally, Fred’s best mate, Army Officer.

The Setting is the open verandah of a New Zealand home, style circa 1930s. The time of the play is the 1980s.

Synopsis : Fred is sitting in a chair with a blanket around his waist. He is partially crippled and now under care. Reluctant at first to talk about the past and what troubles him, he relives the life in the trenches and the circumstances that led to Wally being shot for cowardice in the face of the enemy. He defends Wally, who appears before him, and they exchange reminiscences. Fred also argues with the Officer who insisted that Wally was a coward who ran away. In the latter part of the play, Fred dies. His Wife and Vera discover a letter he has written to the newspaper editor, which they read aloud. It defends the memory of those who were shot, without any right of appeal and whatever their mental state which resulted from the appalling conditions of the front line. It also criticises the modern attitude of those who accept the judgments unquestioningly. The two women then plan his funeral as an old soldier ‘along with his mates’.