• Sir Roger Hall in his study.
  • Sir Roger Hall.
  • Annie Whittle and George Henare in Driving Miss Daisy (2013)

Whine and Cheese

Tadpole Theatre Productions partners with The PumpHouse Theatre at the beginning of June to celebrate its tenth anniversary with a special workshop reading of a new work, ‘Whine and Cheese’, by Tadpole Theatre’s patron Sir Roger Hall.

In his inimitable style, Sir Roger hones in on national foibles (and some of his own), in a retrospective that is part memoir/part theatre talk, and which incorporates scenes and songs from his previous plays.

Sir Roger will open anniversary celebrations with an introduction, before handing over to Simon Prast to read the part of Roger. Joining Simon are three other theatre luminaries, Darien Takle, Paul Barrett and Andy Grainger. The reading is directed by Paul Gittins, completing a line-up that pays homage not only to Sir Roger in its skill and experience but also to the achievements of Tadpole Theatre over the past decade.

‘Whine and Cheese’ is a retrospective of Roger’s lifetime in the theatre world, that started with television writing in the early days of television in New Zealand in the 1960s, shortly after he emigrated to New Zealand from England, and has included around 70 sitcom episodes for television, fromGliding On’ to’ Spin Doctors’. His career also includes pantomime (his first theatrical love) and writing for film, as well as stage plays and musicals – almost one a year for many years, many acting as a guarantee to theatres across the country (and in the UK) of full houses and long seasons, such was their appeal. Middle Age Spread’ ran in London's West End for 15 months.

Beyond writing for theatre, Sir Roger was responsible for the formation of New Zealand Theatre Week, and has been a Governor of the Arts Foundation, a Burns Fellow, a Katherine Mansfield Fellow and a member of numerous arts boards. He has won awards in every theatre field, including an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Victoria University, and a 2015 Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement, and was knighted in the 2019 Queen's Birthday Honours for his services to theatre. He has also written over 20 books for children, as well as his 1998 autobiography, ‘Bums On Seats’.

Tadpole Theatre was formed in 2012, aiming to bring quality professional productions to the North Shore. Its founding board was John Antony, Lindsay Mouat, Robert Owens and Louise Wallace. The current board is Louise Wallace, Angela Antony, Janice Finn, Sam Irvine, Diana Petrie, Scott Wallace and Simon Woodard.

Tadpole’s first production, ‘The Lion In Winter’, was staged at The PumpHouse Theatre from 31st May to 9th June, 2012. That production was reviewed as “entertaining and surprisingly funny” and set the standard for others to come.

Since that first production, Tadpole has become a regular fixture at The PumpHouse, staging two productions a year – except during pandemic lockdowns. They have generally opted for plays with broad appeal, and have featured several of Sir Roger’s over the last ten years – ‘Social Climbers’, ‘The Book Club’ and ‘Middle Age Spread’ – alongside productions of ‘Driving Miss Daisy’, ‘Shirley Valentine’ and “Stones in his Pockets’.  Ever aware of the financial fragility of live theatre, Tadpole has focused on highly successful plays with small casts (sometimes one-handers; often two), and has successfully navigated the vagaries of the last couple of years


Whine and Cheese is on at The PumpHouse Theatre on Wednesday 1 June, with readings at 2pm and 7pm.

All tickets are $20, and booking can be made online at www.pumphouse.co.nz or by phone 489 8360.

Tadpole’s next full production is the delayed world premiere of ‘The Campervan’ by Kathryn Burnett, in September.