Dialogue Before Sunset, created by transdisciplinary artist and researcher HT (Shannon Xiao) and her company Temporary Show, describes itself as a ‘live art journey’ that connects Ewengki and Māori narratives and traditions. It claims to blend improvised sound and spatial installation with walking, filmmaking and participatory theatre to honour the pūrākau of the Wellington Harbour taniwha.
Kicking off my 2024 New Zealand Fringe Festival by seeing a show that hits a little too close to home (or should I say flat?) ONE BEDROOM AVAILABLE IN SUPER SUNNY CENTRAL WELLINGTON FLAT $260 PER WEEK EXCLUDING EXPENSES is theatre company P I V O T’s first show and it’s quite the debut.
Moonroe’s Happy Hour is a variety show featuring song, circus and a touch of burlesque created and performed by Laura Oakley and Jackson Cordery. Variety is the name of the game with this show, with some acts proving to be genuinely astonishing while some were found lacking.
Powersuit Productions’ touring show The Culture written by Laura Jackson is a warm and pacey inside view to the relationship of two flatmates as they navigate their past traumas and dating in the modern world. It is billed as ‘a story about deep and enduring friendship’, and it’s exciting to be able to sit in on the New Zealand debut of this Sydney-set production.
According to the entry on the Fringe website, ‘something unexpected has come to life in Martin Luckie Park’. Barbarian Productions’ latest venture, U R Here (directed by Jo Randerson), describes itself as an open-world-video-game-inspired showing where you can pick your own path through the park with friends, and based on the company, the cast and Barbarian’s resources, I have high expectations.
3 Steps Back, written and performed by Emma Katene (Ngāti Kahungunu) and directed by Kate Anderson, is a sharp and generous solo that attempts to map Katene’s experience with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) since her formal diagnosis in 2020. At once performance poetry, physical theatre and vocal show, Katene invites us to ‘sit back and perhaps even eat some snacks, while [she] sings and dances her way through the feeling of two dimensions colliding. Watch out though, you might even see some of your own pathways reflected.’
Hell School: The Musical is an original musical created by a collective of students from the theatre programme of Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington and is directed by James Wenley.
Where the Water Lies by Continuum. Theatre Company is a meditation on time and place and the compulsory nature of ‘chance’. Writer and performer James Ladanyi says that this show has been in the works for almost three years, and the crux of the show is really in its own making – the creative process, just like life, requires the right ideas and conditions at the right times. This is the kind of show that has you musing over the sum of moments that has brought you to the room, and to tell you the truth: it has my heart from those first two familiar notes of ‘Babys’ by Bon Iver.
Sexy Golf Boy is the latest in George Fenn’s portfolio of bizarre, experimental works. Fenn’s shows are usually highly interactive fever dreams full of surprise and unknown. This one is no different.
Who do we actually make theatre for? Whenever I put on a show I wilfully delude myself about my audience. I imagine hordes of strangers coming in blind and walking out as deeply emotionally affected converts. In reality, 90% of my audience will be one degree of separation away from me or my cast. That’s local theatre, baby. Ultimately we make it for our loved ones, which while ego-bursting, is somewhat beautiful. It’s all one big school play.
The Big HOO-HAA! Pōneke is a competitive improv show (a-la Theatresports) which was originally created in Perth, Australia and has migrated onto our shores for its New Zealand premiere in this year’s New Zealand Fringe Festival. Despite some opening night wrinkles, it’s a rambunctious, rollicking good time starring some of the city’s finest improv talent.
Heartstrings, produced by award-winning contemporary circus company Inverted Citizens, is an immersive aerial performance that pitches itself as ‘a human experience that transcends the barriers of language and culture’ – bold words. Aerialist Jackson Cordery invites an audience of twenty or so to ‘step inside a beating heart’, and for fifteen minutes we are curtained off from the outside world (namely, The Circus Hub) by a beautiful red tent that, for what it’s worth, really does evoke ‘vital organ’.
It’s 2022 and this year’s Fringe has over 20 online offerings, including C-Arts’ programme of international events from around the world. Finding myself in isolation because of you know what, I’m excited to take a digital dive. My first online show of Fringe is DGP Production’s Satan vs God. This production is beamed all the way from Florida, USA, and I regret that I’ll have to teach them the meaning of “yeah…nah”.
GAG REFLEX is a (more or less) one woman show, created by Rachel Atlas, and directed by Sabrina Martin. GAG REFLEX takes us through Atlas’s experiences as a performer, a sex worker, and a survivor, in a world that often feels like it is not built for women like her. This is Atlas’ first venture onto the stage as an actor, and I must say, what a strong entrance!
New Zealand Theatre Live’s MILK OF THE GODS is the show where the audience is given agency through water (and milk) balloons, and it is a welcome sequel to their frenzied 2021 Fringe season of MILK!
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.