new zealand electronic poetry centre


Alan Brunton



Letter to Sally


Dear Sally,

Wanjiku and I still see the bugger ambling down the street towards the surf club for a rigorous rehearsal.

This is a bit of what Alan meant to us (and I may not even get around to Big Smoke): when Wanjiku got away from Kenya with curious sponsorship from public figures acting in a private capacity (and disappointedly randy), and tried for RADA, they asked her for a Shakepearean piece. She did a bit of Julius Nyerere's translation of Julius Caesar, in kiSwahili. Fortunately, you might say, RADA wasn't convinced. The only time so far that Wanjiku has seen much point in Shakespeare was when Alan directed the more-or-less Samoan version of Romeo and Juliet.

When the two hopefuls in Nelson contacted me wondering if I would play Monk O'Neill in A Stretch of the Imagination, I told them not without a director, which surprised them. It was Wanjiku who proposed Alan. I can't imagine any other person working in theatre in New Zealand (well, or anywhere else) who could have been more simpatico, more closely on a tricky wavelength.

Sally, it was the crowning performance of my acting life. There's a parable in that. Very few people came. Those who did were knocked out (if you'll excuse the metaphor). The accolade I treasure above all came like this: Alan had been back home, he came down to Christchurch for the Court season (we'd insisted on this) and I did a run-through. I interrupted myself from time to time -- it was like running a rough cut of a movie, before the final edit, you know? Alan rushed up and hugged me, said That was virtuoso, and Sally that was it. Now I knew I was an actor, I had no-one to bow to -- and if I didn't want to, I need never do it again.


Martyn Sanderson
Otaki, July 2002

Last updated 05 December, 2002