Interview: Trick of the Light

[Interview conducted by Phoebe Robertson 17/12/2021]

Trick of the Light Theatre is a New Zealand Theatre company run by Hannah Smith and Ralph McCubbin Howell, which tours locally as well as internationally.  

 Smith and McCubbin Howell were able to make use of the travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia in mid 2021. Smith describes spending hours and hours every day trying to find a spot in New Zealand’s MIQ system. It then became a matter of ‘organizing backwards’ with the couple being assigned dates that they would need to be back by for these MIQ slots. Because Australia was doing state/territory by state/territory mandates at the time, Smith recalls the hassle of getting different documentation in order to fall into all of these mandates.  

The pair “went via Melbourne” in order to visit family on their way to Dream Big Children's Festival as part of Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) in Adelaide. McCubbin Howell admits that in hindsight they were “playing with fire.” And it turned out they were leaving Melbourne on the 19th of May 2021 the day before the city was put into lockdown to try and control the spreading cases of Covid-19. If the couple had left a day later, they would have had to isolate for two weeks and have been unable to do the shows they’d travelled to Australia for.  

Once they arrived at Dream Big Children's Festival it was clear that the festival was much smaller than previous years. Due to the lack of artists from other countries that had been able to attend the festival, they were some of the few “international guests.” The pair participated in Zoom calls with international presenters to try and maintain the touring opportunities that would usually result from festivals. But then McCubbin Howell laughed and explained that “After ten minutes of talking, I'd be like, what are we doing here? We’re not going to be able to come and bring work [to your country].”

Aotearoa NZ Theatre and Covid-19: A Timeline: 2020; 2021; 2022 | IMPACTS | INTERVIEWS | THEATRE SCENES