Don and I met as we started our teaching careers in 1962 at Linwood High School, Christchurch. He was and is a multitalent in English, Drama and Painting. No sooner had we met than he had me acting - as Othello! Later as he began producing plays in the city he asked me for music. Later still we were colleagues again at the Teachers Training College where we were able to mobilise students to take part in various projects: The Bacchae, 1789, etc. Probably the most interesting of all the stage works that I was involved in were productions of Brecht plays—which call for frequent “Verfremdungseffekte” through the songs that the players have to sing. Don produced The Good Woman of Setzuan and Mother Courage.
Don also produced several of my stage works including the comic opera The Fisherman and his Wife and the Christmas oratorio Christophorus.
In 2002 when I turned 65 I was officially farewelled from the Zurich Conservatory and was honoured by a concert of works of mine and by contributions of different sorts including a special painting by Don McAra showing some of my works especially from my time in New Zealand:
I am portrayed as Christophorus (with the Christ child on my shoulder), sitting on my arm are the three gods from The Good Woman of Setzuan, under them is a Norman boat from Harold and William (Linwood High School production) and under this Shen Te also from The Good Woman of Setzuan. Below her some of the log drums I made while at the Christchurch Teachers College and at the bottom left corner is Akhnaton and his sun god (also a Linwood High School production) and at the end of the sun’s rays are stones like those on the stone curtain of my Stone Poem. Works on the right of the picture starting from the top are: WHALE, The Fisherman and his Wife (with a large man-eating fish constructed by Don for the performance) and under my left hand Hubert the Clockmaker, The Bacchae and Mother Courage (sitting on her wagon).