Tag Archives: wellington

Wellington is built on rubbish


Inspired by Te Radar’s Eating the Dog, I have found this photo of the progress being made on the “Winter Show Association’s extensive buildings and grounds”, a building I now work in. It was published in the Evening Post, 4 June 1928. According to other articles, it was originally a gully but was filled in by refuse from the tip just down the road, and spoil from the construction of the Mt Victoria tunnel. Reading other articles there’s a theme of land being landscaped with rubbish, and spoil in order to flatten it out. Now I wonder just what Wellington looked like for the early settlers.

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Awhi Tapu

On the bus ride home after seeing this play I was mentally comparing it to The Brothers Size.* I couldn’t quite figure out why. I think it’s something to do with the inevitability of the story and the lyrical, rhythmic aspects of the script. Maybe it was the connection to three male characters and one quiet ‘other’ off to the side. Perhaps it’s the connection to the helplessness that some people feel about their situation. I found both shows to be powerful and disturbing experiences.

The story is set in a tiny timber town that has been abandoned by the timber company because of a government decree protecting the forest. The four characters – Wendyl, Raj, Sonny and Girl Girl – grew up together. Under Wendyl’s leadership they are waiting in Awhi Tapu for the world to change and their fortunes to improve. Wendyl (James Tito) holds tight to his tenuous control over the group. Raj (Matariki Whatarau) aka. Casper chafes at the restrictions of small town life. Sonny (Tola Newbery) misses his son (his missus has taken him to Rotorua and shacked up with Sonny’s brother). Girl Girl (Kura Forrester) is traumatised by the disappearance of her father and does not speak.

There is wonderful physical work by the actors, supported by the design team. A pallet is used in several different scenes to augment the emotional intensity. Simple objects used in complex ways. It’s terrifically funny in parts and gut wrenching in others. I liked the script used stories within stories to influence the characters as well as provide the structure for the narative. How are you influenced by the stories that you hear?

An entertaining yet thought provoking show.

Awhi Tapu by Albert Belz, presented by Taki Rua at Downstage to 30 July.
Book at the box office, phone 04 801 6946.

Matinee and Audio Described Performance Sat 23 Jul, 4pm

Tuesday – Wednesday 6.30pm
Thursday – Saturday 8pm
(no shows Sun and Mon)

*The other thing that it reminded me of was Operation 8 which is on at Paramount.

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An Oak Tree


Am going to see this show tonight. It’s an interesting setup – a two hander but only one of the actors has seen the script before the show.

“A man loses his daughter to a car. Nothing now is what it is. It’s like he’s in a play – but he doesn’t know the words or the moves.

The man who was driving the car is a stage hypnotist. Since the accident, he’s lost the power of suggestion. His act’s a disaster. For him, everything is now exactly what it is.

For the first time since the accident, these two men meet. They meet when the Father volunteers for the Hypnotist’s act. And, this time, he really doesn’t know the words or the moves… “

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Meet the Churchills

This is a new play by NZ playwright Paul Baker. It’s set at a fictional luncheon on the occasion of Mr Winston Churchill’s 88th birthday. The family – mum Clementine, son Randolph and daughter Sarah – are all overshadowed and cowed by the great man. The final character is Dr Jenkins who is originally applying to be Randolph’s research assistant but is lured into acting as man servant for the day. Yes, another dysfunctional, pill popping family with domestic help show themselves at Circa.
The script is witty. Ray Henwood (Winston) drawls all the best lines and gets the laughs. Helen Moulder is suitably exasperated as Clementine. Carmel McGlone (Sarah) staggers around the stage calling for another drink while ignoring the one right in front of her. Jeff Kingsford-Brown (Randolph) doesn’t have the intensity that I was expecting but he makes up for it with a forced brashness highlighting the ‘jolly joker’ aspect of his character. Byron Coll is fun to watch as Dr Jenkins. He dips in and out of the action interacting with characters in unexpected ways. I’m not so keen on how it wraps up. I can see where Baker wants to go with it but I don’t think he quite manages it. I also didn’t understand the design for this show. It’s set to the corner so the audience sits on two sides of the stage. The wallpaper is covered with pictures of the Churchills and pictures of the war. Somehow the set manages to be both expensive and cheap at the same time. I found it quite distracting.
Overall, it’s a clever if slightly strange play that is an entertaining, easy night out.

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Buskers, Wellington station


“It happens in an awkward and possibly crowded and noisy place – near public transportation, shops or other distractions…there is often no place to sit and standing around can make you feel conspicuous. We do not know who the performer is or if she is any good. This feeds into the anxiety that many people have about their own perceived lack of taste or knowledge. They do not want to be seen by others to be over-enthusiastic about a mediocre performer or under-appreciative of a good one. It is safer not to listen and thus not to betray any opinion at all…And even if we do stop to listen and enjoy the experience, what would be an appropriate way to show appreciation? Clap? Say “thank you”? Make a contribution? …If you give too little you look stingy; if you give too much you look like an easy mark. All of this makes for a very awkward situation and it is much easier not to stop in the first place. Better to get on with your business.”

Why music moves us by Jeanette Bicknell, 2009. ISBN 9780230209893.

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Meet the Churchills


Off to see this play. I went to a reading of it – last year? the year before? – in Auckland so it will be interesting to see how it works as a fully realised show.

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Boomers behaving badly


The stage is set with a piano, a stool, a small tall table with flowers and a gorgeous velvet curtain as a back drop. Michael Nicholas Williams enters and sits at the piano. He plays and Jane Keller enters singing. The show is about the expereinces that she has had as a Baby Boomer – education, marriage, divorce, life as a single woman… Most of the story is told through song with monologues to connect them.
Almost-snow-leopard Jane Keller has a fabulous Broadway style voice which she pitches just right for the Circa Two space. She has an amazing ability to tell the story through her voice only – no contortions for this performer. Her rapport with the audience seems effortless. Even when she needed a couple of prompts on opening night it felt like it drew us in rather than pushing us away.
Apparently it”s a revised reprise of a show she did last year upstairs at the Saint James.  I didn’t see that one so I don’t know what’s changed but I can tell you that it’s funny, uplifting and you may need a hanky in a couple of places.

Boomers Behaving Badly at Circa
Performed by Jane Keller with Michael Nicholas Williams on piano.
On to Saturday 11th June 2011

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The third show that I’ve seen put on by Long Cloud Youth Theatre. ‘Sheep’ is a series of seven short scenes that were originally workshopped by LCYT then given to playwright Arthur Meek to craft into a script. The scenes are linked together by various developments in the wool industry along with family connections. (The family connections include symbols and names as well as blood.)The most successful parts of the scenes for me were the bits where the actors could be a little quieter and not work so hard to be jolly. My favourite complete scene was set in Dresden where a couple of NZ soldiers encounter a German soldier. It’s played out in English and German and includes some difficult choreography. It was wonderfully acted by Freya Sadgrove, Luke Wilson and Nathan Mudge on the night I went. (There are two casts for this show, and they probably will have switched to the second-half cast by now.) It’s the final production for director Willem Wassenaar before he leaves for Berlin. I am sure he’s pleased with the results.
Special mention to the design for this production – stage, sound and lighting were excellent without being overwhelming.

Tip for parents: don’t call out your child’s name in the middle of a scene, especially if it’s a quieter section or they have, for example, just kissed someone. It’s not funny and you’ll look like a dick.

Sheep by Arthur Meek
Presented by Long Cloud Youth Theatre. Directed by Willem Wassenaar.
On to Saturday 11th June 2011

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Mediated by technology

Earlier this year I went to two shows* that mediated the audience experience using technology. The first was an immersion thing where the audience were the performers and there was no audience except for the mildly puzzled people wandering back and forth to the bathrooms. (At least, that's what they did at Matterhorn where the play was staged.) In 'Etiquette' my friend and were given ipods and told to follow the instructions. (Hard to concentrate on that when we were also given plasticine, eyedropper, glass of water and tiny people to play with. Fun!) Our acquaintance had mostly been mediated through technology so the most difficult part of the whole experience for us was sustaining eye contact. It was short and it was a bit weird but I'd definitely go to the next one.
The second was more traditional in that I went to a theatre and there were paid performers. 'Love you approximately' is a devised show about a long-distance relationship between a woman in New Zealand and a man in Spain. I liked the idea behind it – unfortunately I think the execution of that idea could have used some work in set design (transparent cloth walls for screens were excellent but having the (solo) actress hidden behind the screens was not) and some stylistic choices (where were the self portraits from the funny angles because you're stretching your arm out to take them? Why were some video clips documentary style and others amateur video? JUST ANNOYING.) The man (on pre-recorded video) came across as warmer than the woman on stage and it wasn't until someone pointed out it that he was larger than she was (due to projection vs. real life size) that I clicked that maybe that was why.
I get to go to another show/experience facilitated by technology and presented by Downstage next month – 'Death and the dreamlife of elephants'. It's billed as "an experience across multiple platforms – on the streets of Wellington, on the radio, ??in a city-wide treasure hunt, and by delving into an interactive website." There will be some street happenings facilitated by social media. The website is just counting down at the moment so it looks as though something will happen around Easter. Keep your eyes peeled peeps!

I'm really liking the way that I'm being challenged as audience to reframe what I think of as performance. Very pleased that performance isn't always sitting there, quietly, in the dark, waiting to be entertained.

*N.B. I attended these shows courtesy of Downstage – for Season One I'm one of their Ambassadors which means that I get review tickets to all the shows. Thanks Downstage! *mwah*

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Long Cloud Youth Theatre Dark Forces Season – starts tonight

Downstage Theatre are hosting the Long Cloud Youth Theatre Dark Forces Season. They have "two gothic tales of dangerous exhilaration"* for us this year – Daughters of Heaven which kicks off tonight and The Picture of Dorian Gray which opens tomorrow.

Daughters of Heaven is based on the Parker/Hulme murder of 1954. The story will be familar as it's from the film Heavenly Creatures – although I'll confess I haven't seen it. The Picture of Dorian Gray is based on the book by Oscar Wilde…I haven't read that either. (I'm not worried though since have a general idea of the stories – I like to go in not knowing a lot about the specifics of a show. I think it's more exciting that way.)

I went to the Downstage Facebook event for these two shows. Basically, you rock up and have your photo taken in the style of the posters for the show, then they doctor it so it looks like one of the posters. You can use it for your profile pic. My one makes me look like I'm a criminal so I'm not game enough to use it. :(???? There was a lot of energy from the Long Clouders swirling around the room. It had a slightly hysterical edge – not surprising since they are working 6 days a week to bring us these two plays. Willem Wassenaar (one of the directors) said that the theatre has been wanting to do both of these stories for a while. Unfortunately I didn't get to talk to anyone from DoH (that's what I get for arriving late). An overhead comment about Dorian Gray asserts that "He's a bit of a cunt". Should be fun then!?? The Downstage Theatre attitude is pretty cool too. They said that they like to give?? LCYT the opportunity to work in a professional theatre with a professional crew. (I reckon they probably spot some talent for their own shows too.)

So, two opening nights in a row – marvellous.

* !!!

Book at Downstage box office, phone 04 801 6946

Daughters of Heaven – 3 Feb ??? 12 Feb

Duration – 120 min including interval

Thu 3 Feb ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??8pm??
Sat 5 Feb ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??6.30pm??
Tue 8 Feb ???????????????????? 6.30pm??
Thu 10 Feb ???????????????? 8pm??
Sat 12 Feb ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? 2pm

The Picture of Dorian Gray – 4 Feb – 12 Feb

The Picture of Dorian Gray – 4 Feb – 12 Feb

Duration – 120 min including interval

Fri 4 Feb ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??8pm??
Mon 7 Feb ?? ?? ?? ???? 6.30pm??
Wed 9 Feb ?????????????? 6.30pm??
Fri 11 Feb ???????????????? 8pm??
Sat 12 Feb ?? ?? ???? 8pm

Full price:??$25
Concession/groups 6+:??$20
Double bill (see both Long Cloud shows): ??$40

Disclaimer: I'm SUPER LUCKY that for the Downstage Season One I'm one of their Ambassadors which means that I get review tickets to all the shows. Honestly – I would have been paying for them anyway but this generous gift certainly helps the budget.

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