90 Plus Group: the people behind the play

Our 2023 production

Play: The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People.
Theatre: Circa Theatre, Wellington
Dates: 25 November 2023–16 December 2023


Photo of a smiling woman with bobbed white hair and a carved Maori bone pendant: Kate JasonSmith
Kate JasonSmith

Producer: Kate JasonSmith has spent most of her working life in theatre, film and television, as an actor, designer, director, writer and producer. She has been employed as a production designer in theatre, film, and for TVNZ, BBC TV (London) and RTE (Dublin).

Kate was the originator and producer of the highly successful Hens’ Teeth Women’s Comedy Company that entertained NZ audiences for over 13 years. In 2021 she produced and MC’d the acclaimed The Older the Better at Circa Theatre. This very popular show starred three performers in their 90s and various guest performers in their 70s and 80s.

Her solo play I’ll Tell You This for Nothing – My Mother the War Hero premiered at BATS Theatre in Wellington September 2018. Kate has since given 96 performances, including Edinburgh Fringe 2019, Adelaide Fringe 2020, (Best Female Solo Theatre Show), a 2022 season at Circa Theatre, and a command performance for Gov. Gen. Dame Patsy Reddy.

Kate JasonSmith on Wikipedia

Photo of a smiling woman with glasses and short ruffled grey hair, looking to the side: Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine

Playwright and Associate Producer: Rachel McAlpine is the author of ten poetry collections, five plays, five novels, and nine books about writing and writers. Her first play was performed in Wellington, May 1980. Rachel’s latest and most popular collection of poems is How To Be Old (Cuba Press, 2020). She was a pioneer in digital content and taught thousands through her company, Contented Enterprises. Since 2015 Rachel has focused on writing and performing poems around the theme of aging. She also dances with Crows Feet Dance Collective and has an active blog, Write Into Life.

Bibliography: books by Rachel McAlpine

Robin Payne

Director: Robin Payne has been actively involved in theatre ever since leaving school, as an actor, director, innovator and educator. She trained at NIDA in Sydney and did post-graduate training in London at the Central School of Speech and Drama, and joined a group of avant-garde writers and theatre people. She returned to Wellington and taught voice at Drama School, then was head-hunted to Melbourne, then Perth. Returned to New Zealand in 1991 to be Director of Toi Whakaari from 1991–1997. Internationally acclaimed as an actor and director, she has continued to create her own works, direct other plays, and galvanise young actors through the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festivals.

Photo of a smiling, relaxed woman with white hair and a spotted top: Mary McCallum
Mary McCallum

Sponsorship Manager: Mary McCallum is a Wellington writer and publisher. She is the co-founder of Mākaro Press, Publisher of the Year 2021, and the force behind the award-winning hit Auē by Becky Manawatu, and These Two Hands, the memoir of playwright and novelist Renée. She is also the co-director of rising indie publisher The Cuba Press, which published the bestselling How To Be Old by Rachel McAlpine. She has won awards as a novelist and poet and is a supporter of theatre, amateur and professional. Mary’s modus operandi is to nurture the stories of Aotearoa New Zealand and the writers behind them, and to see more New Zealand stories read in books and experienced via performance. She vigorously promotes New Zealand works through social media, special events, and publicity in newspapers and magazines and radio.

The Cuba Press

Photo of a woman ruffled fair hair and interesting glasses and a dramatic necklace: Annie Ruth
Annie Ruth

Associate Director: Annie Ruth, MNZM, PhD has been a major force in New Zealand Theatre for many years. She first worked as an actor and an improviser. Then, seeing what she could contribute to Toi Whakaari as a trained teacher, she joined Toi Whakaari as an acting tutor, becoming Head of Acting Department. Then for 14 years she was Director of Toi Whakaari, overseeing its development from training actors for the stage to training practitioners in all branches of the profession for all media.

Annie’s PhD research looked at how tikanga Māori can be integrated into actor training and theatre production. Recent work includes performances in Welcome to the Death Café, and her own solo show, The Book Addict, and directing Silent Spring by Jan Bolwell, 2021 and 2022.

More about the 90 Plus group

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