Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Tracey Slaughter’s The Longest Drink in Town

Acclaimed New Zealand author Tracey Slaughter presents The Longest Drink in Town, debuting at The Meteor Theatre from April 27th – 30th.  A dark, lyrical and brooding snapshot of the fallout of a parental affair; The Longest Drink in Town marks the first of Slaughter’s works to be adapted for the stage.

            On the inspiration behind The Longest Drink, Slaughter says, “The situation took place on the roadside of my own childhood: I’d been a passenger in my mother’s car to be delivered for ‘visitation,’ and my new stepmother met us at the drop-off point. The detonation was instant. The two women scrapping it out at the T-bone where a servo met a pub met a fleet of display homes – as a child all I could do was freeze in the gravel  intersection and witness. That set-up became the nexus for a storm of childhood reactions to the everyday spectacle of a ‘broken home,’ taking me into stories that touched the dark core of what divorce is for the small players who don’t get to choose it. The ‘chick fight’ was more than just late Friday arvo entertainment. The scene transfixed me, and never left. It was inevitable that writing would one day drive me back there.”

            Tracey Slaughter is the author of deleted scenes for lovers (2016), Conventional Weapons (2019), and most recently Devil’s Trumpet (2021). She’s received numerous awards, including the international Fish Short Story Prize, the Bridport Prize, the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award, the Landfall Essay Competition and was the recipient of the Louis Johnson New Writers Bursary.

            This exciting project is brought to you by One Question Theatre and Mayhem Literary Journal, who have lifted Slaughter’s prose from the page, without losing an atom of the yearning and the ache of her novella.

            Co-directors’ Dave Taylor and Liam Hinton say of the project, “It’s a tremendous privilege to be gifted such a generous text and to have our shared hand in bringing it to life.”

            On seeing the story alive on stage, Slaughter says, “Many of their stories were fragments of mine. But they weren’t just vehicles for my catharsis – they had bloodstreams and hair-ties, longings and school-shoes, ugly old dollies and busted hearts. They felt alive to me in the writing, and I loved them. To meet them now, walking round The Meteor, is an experience near indescribable. They’re not just suffering – they’re leaping with wildness, wriggling with mischief, and rocking with anger and lust. They are a joy to behold. I’ll always be intensely grateful to the group of actors who took this journey to bring my characters to life.”

Tracey Slaughter’s The Longest Drink in Town

Where: The Meteor Theatre (1 Victoria Street, Hamilton)

Time: April 27-30, 7:30pm

Book at themeteor.co.nz

For Mature Audiences – contains depictions of self-harm, sexual themes and strong language.

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