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 2023–17 December 2023

The 90 Plus group stands for Theatre Against Aging. We’re a tiny group behind the much larger Single Venture Partnership involved in this production.


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

Playwright and 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. In December 2019 she performed in The Older the Better, a sell-out variety show at Circa Theatre. 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. She is known as a networker supreme.

The Cuba Press

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

Actor and 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. Like Rachel McAlpine, she performed in The Older the Better, starring three distinguished and beloved nonagenarians.

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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