Inquisitive eyes etched on paper in thin, cross-hatched strokes study me as I enter Thistle Hall. A slender ceramic pot with pursed lips judges my sock and shoe combo. Celia Kent’s first solo exhibition Expressive Features: The Nose Knows presents portraiture and pottery. Each piece is unique and screams character. The walls are adorned with her black and white illustrations while the anthropomorphic pots add soft blues, greens and foliage upon their tall plinths.
With I, Will Jones, comedian Eamonn Marra steps beyond stand-up to create a piece of theatre that expertly explores the feeling of desperately wanting to be somebody else. When Eamonn Marra was 12 years old, Will Jones was the coolest kid in his school. Will was great at sports, he had a girlfriend and his name was unmockable - everything Marra wanted. I, Will Jones is Marra’s recount of stories from his adolescence that centre around his desire to be Will Jones instead.
The stories are at once autobiographical and magical and the production introduces us to Marra’s past youth with style and humour. Entering the theatre, we are treated to a messy tweenage bedroom with a clothes-strewn floor, skates and a child-sized desk. Eamonn enters with amusing spectacle on a bicycle, immediately capturing the audience’s allegiance. His over-the-top entrance as a fully grown man dressed in boys’ shorts and a Planet8 hoody, coinciding with ridiculous welcome-to-the-stage flashing coloured lights, sets us up for a show that approaches recollections of juvenile life with a blend of merriment and regret.
Dusty May Taylor
I sat down with Kate McGill and Frith Horan to discuss their tongue-in-cheek, pop-inspired brainchild Album Party, aka The Better Best Possible Album Party That Anybody Has Ever Been Two. Coming to Wellington’s BATS Theatre from 13-17 December, Album Party is launching The Besties Tour, a brand new collaborative venture between BATS Theatre in Welly and The Basement Theatre in Auckland. Winners of the 2015 Auckland Theatre Award for Best Entrance, Wellington natives Kate and Frith (with the help of their lovably demented characters TYLA and DENI$) are more than up to the challenge of spearheading a new initiative.
Richard II is a Shakespeare play that many, including myself, may be unfamiliar with. Even without a formal knowledge of its background, Sceptre Theatre’s rendition of Richard II is an incredibly enjoyable and interesting performance. Directed by James Cain, this iteration focuses on a dialogic approach with music and lighting used sparingly all working to the play’s best advantage.
Mental Illness. Those words conjure images of black holes and dark thoughts. Well attempts to shed some light on a subject that is deep and personal to many people. A devised theatre piece made from the interviews of over 30 volunteers that speaks to the fears of those with mental illness and the misconceptions of those without.
Dell Mitchell & Laura Ferguson
Enigma is a one-man comedy show starring (in his own words) the world's greatest pickup artist. Performed by Alexander Sparrow, Enigma is an incredibly well developed and believable character, so much so that others at my table spent a reasonable amount of time trying to place his American accent.
MOM - Meet Our Mum is performed and devised by the Third Year students of Applied Arts at Whitireia and it is a challenging and thought-provoking performance. It covers a plethora of main issues we have in our world today, using interesting and unique ways to discuss them.
by Laura Ferguson
HYDE is a show that, like the novella it draws inspiration from, is complex in nature. This is a new iteration of the Jekyll/Hyde story, a “what if” scenario of it. In this case, what if the Hyde gene became a genetic trait within the Jekyll family?
The best children’s theatre gives its intended audience ample entertainment value, fascination with the theatrical art form and hopefully a life lesson that will help them develop into better human beings. The trick is to trying to weave these elements into something that’s easily digestible yet not unsubtle. And using this rubric, Kapitall Kids’ Theatre’s Dino Rock succeeds pretty well.
Courtney Rose Brown
Dust Pilgrim is a devised work with a focus on interweaving physical performance and theatrical magic. Presented by Red Leap Theatre and directed by Julie Nolan and Kate Parker, it is a simple story of a young woman named Panuelo’s fight for freedom. Dust Pilgrim is an enchanting production which is devised by Alison Bruce, Ella Becroft and Tom Eason. The creative team weave magic with their craft and the audience is captivated.
by Laura Ferguson
“When you look at me, what do you see?” This is the most important line in The Politician’s Wife. This play, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Adam NZ Play Award, causes us to think about this question not only in terms of the characters in the play, but also of ourselves. This brings a state of that, while melancholic, provides an intellectual stimulus that the audience of the opening night appreciated, judging from the applause we gave at the show’s conclusion.
Courtney Rose Brown
Power Plays, directed by Leo Gene Peters, is part of the Ensemble Impacts 2016 school tour. The team of four performers: Katrina Wesseling, Calvin Petersen, Johanna Cosgrove and Shane Murphy have helped devised a structure around five of Arthur Meek’s plays to give bite sized servings of The Cottage, Charles Darwin: Collapsing Creation, On the Upside Down of the World, Mando the Goatherd, and Sheep. The cast present a satirical spin on the works, framing the extracts within the familiar form of a self improvement seminar as the audience is cast as students studying NCEA standards.
Courtney Rose Brown
Mana Wahine concludes 2016’s Kia Mau Festival, performing a sold out season at Circa Theatre. Presented by Okareka Dance Company, the production is directed and choreographed by the talents of Taane Mete, Malia Johnston and Taiaroa Royal. Drawing inspiration from Te Aokapurangi’s story of courage, the productions chronology is threaded through the stories of the performers and inspiration from the choreographers.
Reviewed by George Fenn
The BATS Studio is alive with a new energy this Saturday. I ascend the stairs to an arena in a teacup. A crowd rises to the challenge of the thrashing pre-show playlist bantering amidst the radical lighting state. Being handed a knife as I enter, albeit a plastic one, I could not help but get the feeling that this was going to be a more hardcore night of improv than I had experienced in a while. Our host Jennifer O’Sullivan excitedly announces the commencement of the first ever Late Night Knife Fight, revealing a chopping block of a trophy.
“We’re even gonna but their names on it. It’s gonna be awesome”
Courtney Rose Brown
SolOTHELLO is part of the 2016 Kia Mau Festival that is taking Wellington by storm this Matariki. Presented by Te Rēhia Theatre Company alongside the British Council, SolOTHELLO is a one man show performed by Regan Taylor and directed by Craig Geenty. As the name suggests, the show is William Shakespeare’s Othello, performed as a solo. However, Geenty and Taylor transform what could have easily been an ego trip, (tackling one of Shakespeare’s most ambitious plays solo) into something that is beautiful in the simplicity of deft storytelling. With the use of Te Mata Kokako o Rehia (traditional Maori mask) Taylor reclaims the story of Othello into the lands of Aotearoa, in telling the audience that William Shakespeare is a thief. SolOTHELLO is one man’s retelling of the jealousies and manipulation from Othello in a new and innovative way which brings an exhilarating life force to the text.
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