Helen Moulder & Sir John Trimmer in Meeting Karpovsky

Back to previous page

Press Release


Meeting Karpovsky

Created by Helen Moulder, Sue Rider and Sir Jon Trimmer
Directed by Sue Rider.


Two acclaimed New Zealand stage personalities, ballet dancer Sir Jon Trimmer and actor, Helen Moulder, who combined their talents ten years ago, with award-winning Australian director Sue Rider, to create Meeting Karpovsky, have decided to bring the play back after many requests from the public.

“We are delighted with this opportunity to do the play again,” Helen said. “Jon and I have been talking about it for a long time now, but either he was too busy or I was too busy and we never found the time.” Now Circa Theatre has programmed the play in Circa Two for two and half weeks just before the International Arts Festival.

“In the dance of life Sylvia has two left feet, but Karpovsky has arrived to tutor her in hope and grace.

“Years ago, Sylvia travelled the world and its greatest ballet theatres; now she lives alone in a house filled with photographs of her favourite dancer and boxes of her daughter’s unwanted possessions. Sylvia knows all the dances and has all the moves in her head, but is afraid to step out. Then the great dancer Alexander Karpovsky – she has seen him dance 127 times – turns up mysteriously in her lonely room and breaks through her brittle cocoon.” – The Listener

For Helen Moulder, known for her award-winning stage performances in Wit and Vita and Virginia, for Cynthia Fortitude in The Legend Returns, Sister Aloysius in DOUBT, Claudia in Playing Miss Havisham and most recently at Circa as Lady Churchill in Meet the Churchills, having Jon Trimmer on stage with her again in the play she conceived herself, is a double pleasure. Helen first saw Jon dance in Petrushka in 1967, and also worked with him in the television series, The Fireraiser in 1985. “I knew there would be a wonderful connection – bringing together an actor and a dancer,” she says. “And doing the play again enables us to look at it with fresh eyes, taking the characters further and lifting out the story with more clarity.”

Meeting Karpovsky in 2002, was Trimmer’s first role in the straight theatre for a long time. Playing the mysterious, legendary dancer, Alexander Karpovsky, the character is silent and gracious. “The fact that I’m not actually speaking makes my part closer to a ballet role,” Jon says. “However, my responding to Sylvia’s spoken word is something that does not happen in ballet.”

“We are both doing quite different things to what we do in our usual work,” says Moulder. “I find it very challenging and also very exciting.”

Sue Rider, former artistic director of La Boite Theatre in Brisbane, says it is rare to work on a play that has been specially created for the performers involved. “With artists as celebrated as Helen and Jon I knew it would be extraordinary,” she says. “That’s why, when Helen invited me to help write and direct the play, I said yes like a shot. Now I am looking forward immensely to re-visiting it.”

Sue, who has worked with Helen several times in Australia and NZ says, “Helen is a wonderful comedienne, with the ability to switch from being very funny to achingly sad in the flick of an eye. It’s what has always attracted me to her as a performer. Her character in Meeting Karpovsky has never danced before, and some of the funniest moments are when she starts to put steps together. On one hand, this is a simple story of a woman and a dancer. On the other, it is a delicate journey through shifting contrasts - movement and stillness, silence and chatter, fantasy and reality, awkwardness and grace - towards the balance that comes with wisdom and the courage to face the truth.”

Meeting Karpovsky, which is presented by Willow Productions, premiered at Court Two on November 9, 2002. That year the Listener gave the play a Best New Play Award and another fine review followed the Wellington season in March 2003. Helen was awarded Actress of the Year 2003 in the Chapman Tripp Theatre awards for her role as Sylvia in Meeting Karpovsky. The play went on to tour very successfully to eight major centres round NZ in 2004.

Meeting Karpovsky has received rave reviews wherever it has been performed:

“Pure magic ….. together they are magnificent” – NZ Listener

“An extraordinary new work full of humour, delight, drama and surprise, Meeting Karpovsky is an enchanting play. I can’t remember when I last saw a production this heart-warming. I’m still smiling.” - Faith Oxenbridge, NZ Listener

"Strikes a unique chord - a must-see" - The Press

"Delivers the kind of rewards that only live theatre can offer" - NBR

“At the curtain call of the opening night of Meeting Karpovsky the two performers, Helen Moulder and Sir Jon Trimmer, took their bows to loud applause and many of the audience stood and cheered as if they were in a much larger theatre where ballet is usually performed. Only the large bouquets of roses were missing.

“Yet we had neither witnessed any ballet nor been swept away by any grand theatrical spectacle. We had, however, been held, moved and enriched by this beautifully crafted piece of chamber theatre.” - Dominion-Post

Forums with the audience will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday nights during the run.