Born in New Plymouth, Ruth spent most of her early life in the NP Operatic Society, Little Theatre and dance companies. Subjects such as Latin, maths and history held less appeal for her. From 1974 to 1979, after university in Auckland, Ruth
performed at the Mercury Theatre and Theatre Corporate under the name Ruth Lyster. In 1980, she went to ‘follow her star’ in London, spending the next ten years in repertory, No. 1 Tours and West End musicals with such people as Alan Ayckbourn, Eric Sykes and Lulu, among others.
Ruth was inspired to write this play by the New Zealand playwright Gordon Dryland, and her idea was to give retired actor friends ‘a bit of fun’ without too many lines to learn. Her current life in London focuses on companionship towards the end of life and bereavement counselling at the North London Hospice. She says, “Coming back to Auckland to see it performed is like gratefully returning to my roots.” And we are extremely privileged to have her.
Ruth says there is nothing uniquely ‘New Zealand’ about this play, but it is easier to find a group of similar people living in one house in this country. But actors are actors anywhere in the world, so the situation could apply in any English-speaking country.
As I wrote, the characters became real people on the page because they interest me. They came up in my head. You discard the things that don’t interest you, and the ones that do become real and get onto the page. There are aspects of me in this play, and every incident that is in the play happened to me. It is based on my life experience. I understand them all but I wouldn’t like to pick one that I would prefer to play.
I have ideas for new plays – one about a long-distance walker and another about a funeral parlour. And I have experience of both of those. Currently my life in London doesn’t allow me time to write, but somewhere in the back of my mind there’s another couple of plays brewing.