Category Archives: lifestyle

interviewed | multi-talented Director Leo Gene Peters

Santa Claus is coming to town, literally. Santa Claus is the Basement Theatre’s ninth annual Christmas show, and it’s coming to Auckland from Thursday 30th November to Wednesday 20th December. The show is directed by Leo Gene Peters, director of the award winning independent theatre company A Slightly Isolated Dog. Over the last few years, A Slightly Isolated Dog has been exploring how to make a theatre experience truly alive, by removing all barriers between the audience and performers, and this will be evident in Santa Claus.

The annual Christmas show will include the usual host of secret celebrity guests. Team this with Leo Gene Peters’ raucous, sexy, signature style, and this is a show not to be missed.

I chat to Leo, who has worked as a professional director, designer, technician, actor, tutor, facilitator and mentor, to find out more about the show, his career and how he likes to celebrate.

Q: From your point of view, what is the Christmas show Santa Claus about?

A: The show is a celebration of our ridiculous lives, especially the way we build up expectations around Christmas (and our lives in general) and how the real events rarely ever live up to our expectations… it’s a party that celebrates the childhood magic and the adult disappointment of Christmas… it’s a chaotic romp through the Christmas fantasy into the Christmas nightmare.

Q: Should the audience be worried if they haven’t been good this year?

A: No… well, I mean judgement is coming, Santa sees all. He knows when you’re sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake and he’s definitely coming… but I wouldn’t worry about it…

Q: Tell us a little more about the cast of the show…

A: They’re a great group of performers, really charming and very sexy and very funny… and very French.

Q: How have you explored removing barriers between the audience and performers for this Christmas show?

A: We tell the story with you, so the audience is always a part of what we do… we like there to be no barriers. Even with that, some people just watch the shows, some people play with us a bit… we do our best to make sure everyone has the best possible time. We want you to do what you want and have a great time out.

Q: Can you tell us more about using transformational venue experiences, integration of popular culture and interactivity? Are you doing this again for Santa Claus?

A: We love to play make-believe, then create something together and all buy into a story and tell it together in an exciting and entertaining way. This is something that is inherently in us as human beings, it’s why all the storytelling forms exist, we need to dream and exercise our imaginations. We like to play the way we did when we were kids, to make magic happen by turning one place or object into another. There are very few places for us to do this together and we believe the theatre is a crucial place for this to happen.

Q: What has been a key highlight (so far) in creating and directing the show?

A: We spend a lot of time making each other laugh at ridiculous offers for the show… but I’m enjoying most all the stories of our family Christmases that we’ve been telling/hearing in the making process. It’s such a lovely process to reflect in this way and see other people’s experiences of Christmas, whether they’re good or bad, whether they like it or hate… we celebrate them all.

Q: What do you want the audience to feel/experience/get from the show?

A: A great night out that is different from any other great night out… we want people to come and feel sexy and laugh and have a party that celebrates our ridiculous lives.

Q: What would be your best piece of advice to give to the audience before they attend the show?

A: Meet up with friends, have a meal and some drinks, chat about your Christmas plans with them, tell stories to each other… and come to the theatre expecting to have a great time. We will do everything in our power to make you look as good as possible and to have a great time.

Q: How will you celebrate once the show has finished?

A: Probably Christmas with close friends (surrogate family). A lot of food and a lot of drinks. Once the show opens we may have a few drinks as well…

Q: How does Santa Claus compare to previous shows you have done with your theatre company?

A: It’s delightful to be partnering with Basement to create it – we love working in Auckland and especially with Basement. They’ve created a great energy and community in the venue. The show itself is similar in a lot of ways, but very much its own beast… it’s been different to plays with such well known mythology and cultural events that so many people have a strong relationship to.

Q: What do you have planned for A Slightly Isolated Dog, after the huge Santa Clause show? Will you have a break or are you straight back into planning for another project?

A: We’re always planning for upcoming projects… but we’ll have a bit of a break for the holidays for sure. We’ve got a project coming up for CubaDupa in Wellington that we’re really excited about, as well as a national tour of Jekyll & Hyde. And there are a number of other projects in development.

Q: You have worked in many areas – directing, designing, acting, tutoring, mentoring and much more. How do you manage your time? Does the workload ever get too stressful? How do you like to unwind?

A: I try to make sure there is enough time to work through all the projects that I’ve got going at once, but sometimes I just work a lot of hours to get everything done… other times it feels like I do very little… The workload can be stressful, I try to keep up good practices in my life… I try to meditate, I run quite a bit and I’ve been doing Wing Tsun Kung Fu for a number of years as well. And I also enjoy drinking, which is useful…

Q: If you had to choose just one of the above professions to do full time for the rest of your life (you couldn’t do anything else), which would it be and why?

A: I’d direct/create new theatre… It’s a place for us to come together and share our loneliness. To celebrate all the ridiculous and beautiful things about life – to build community through reflection and imagination. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of. It’s amazing to be with a thriving audience in that way.

Q: Random question – what is your favourite food if you had to choose one item or dish?

A: Tricky… Cochinita Pibil.

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for the aspiring directors out there?

A: Question the purpose of what you want to make. I think it should be for a bigger reason then wanting people to tell us that we’re good. What are you trying to create in the community? Why should we come together for some event that you want to make? These questions seem crucial, but I don’t think they’re often really examined.

The Basement Christmas Show has evolved from a low-key fundraiser, to one of Auckland’s must-do Christmas offerings. The show sells out every year, so don’t miss it. You can get tickets from $32 to $50 on iTicket.

interviewed | Rap Sensation Melvin Bailey

The comedy musical Love Me Tinder is coming to Auckland this week. Stephen Sinclair has directed and produced a hilarious perspective on the path of love in the age of Tinder. The show, who is for anyone with a smart phone and an open heart, was a sell-out at the Auckland Live’s International Cabaret Season last year.

Love me Tinder is the story of Zoe and Daren who meet on the ubiquitous dating site. They are compatible in so many ways, but Tinder’s on-going temptations then threatens to tear them apart. The show lets the audience witness the train wreck of a Tinder date going disastrously wrong.

The musical has been rewritten and developed for this year’s show. I chat to local rap sensation Melvin Bailey AKA Kloos, who has created suave and seductive lyrics for Love Me Tinder.

Melvin, who was just fifteen when he started rapping, explained how the script has been adjusted for the second season, and all of the music is now original. He said: “The show is about relationships and how the advancement of technology has affected the ways in which we communicate.”

Melvin is excited about acting alongside Jennifer Austin and Stephen Lunt, who play Zoe and Daren.

When asked how he got into rapping, Melvin said: “I love music and naturally Hip-Hop suited me, I wrote bits of poetry whilst studying at university and thought why not lay those verses down. It was my new year’s resolution for 2015 to make a mixtape, and once I did that, I simply carried on.”

I asked Melvin about his personal experiences with Tinder. He said: “We were encouraged to download the app last year for research purposes but I lasted less than five minutes. I’m more of a walk up to you and chat kind of guy.”

At last year’s Auckland Live International Cabaret Season, Melvin thought it was awesome to partake in the lively vibe in town. This year, he said he’s excited about “being part of the music once again, and having the opportunity to perform at the Comedy Club, which puts everyone at the heart of it all.”

After the show finishes, Melvin is hoping to get tickets to see Drake and celebrate all of the shows hard work. He will then focus on solo projects. He said: “My debut EP has been in the works for some time now, but the finish line is in sight.”

Melvin gets his inspiration form Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Chance The Rapper, Childish Gambino and Lute. He said: “These guys are skilled and force me to go further with my lyrical content. Through their words, they alter my perspective and I’m left with a greater appreciation of life. I hope that one day I can do the same for someone else.”

Melvin’s advice for aspiring rappers is: “Create tracks that you enjoy and be honest in your output.” He gets his inspiration from life, “each day is a blessing, regardless of what happens.”

Love Me Tinder returns to bar Freida Margolis in New Lynn on Sunday 29th and Monday 30th October, then plays at The Classic Comedy Bar on Queen Street from Thursday 2nd to Saturday 4th November. Book your tickets here.

been | Cole

How much charisma does it take to fill the Auckland Town Hall? If you’re Michael Griffiths, consider the building bursting.

The spirit of Cole Porter lives in Griffiths, who has been portraying Porter for 3 years in this show. From the moment Griffiths stepped onstage – complete with Porter-esque limp – the spell was cast for an hour of marvellous musical magic.

As with the best cabaret, all of the glamour and fun of the genre combined beautifully with hints of melancholy as Mr Porter regaled us with the highs and lows of his life and career; taking in Paris, New York, a marriage of convenience, love lost and found, and the riding accident that nearly ended his career. These moments, retold wittily and wistfully, but never self-pityingly, were touchingly revealing, and Porter’s greatest hits are cleverly woven into the narrative, musically illustrating the story.

Typically matinee audiences are subdued, but Griffiths in mischievous style alternately teased, cajoled and affectionately bullied the assembly until we were transformed into his own private singalong chorus. A gorgeous setting – complete with glittering curtains at the doors, romantic lighting, roses on the tables, and a particularly well-deployed mirrorball– completed the spell.

Like the most pleasing of parties, the hour flew by in the blink of an eye. I didn’t want it to end. Five stars.

Grab tickets HERE.

been | The Food Show

Walking through the showgrounds in Greenlane, your nostrils are hit with a combination of meat, cheese and spicy fragrances; and you can hear the sizzling of oil in pans – The Food Show has come to town.  Forget about the 6 am gym class and bring out the elastic joggers; you’re eating this weekend!

Not having luxury of time, our strategy was clear, visit as many stalls in 2 hours – not clever, as we could’ve easily spent a whole day there.  One tip, before you start open, the booklet and map out your route!

The floor was filled with sample trays. Along with our best loved brands, there were new brands showcasing their products to our fellow foodies.  There was a sample for everything, from cheese and crackers to naturally produced fizz, veggie crisps, turmeric based drinks, delightful kombucha mixes and the freshest baba ghanoush.

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Aside from sampling relishes, condiments and award-winning spirits, there were several food prep and utensil exhibitors, including the most delightful hand-manual chopper.  We’ve never had the urge to make salsa by hand before!

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Some of our favourites included chocolate flavoured gin, Black garlic Aioli, Carrot, orange and turmeric juice and Jersey Cow milk.

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There were cooking demonstrations, shows and cooking classes.

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To ensure you make the most of your food show experience, book-in-advance  to the Berlina cooking class, where a famous italian chef will teach you how to cook pasta the italian way, giving his cooking tips, all in under 15 minutes.

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To make the best of your day, maybe get a lift or taxi in – there are plenty of alcoholic  drinks to sample, and you will surely be over the driving limit.

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Top tips to make the best of your day:

  1. Get in early
  2. Take a large empty bag
  3. Take some cash although most places have eftpos machines
  4. Open the booklet and map out your route!

Check out our photographs and recommendations for the day.  All photos were taken on a #HuaweiP10NZ.

humans of mac+mae: Merv Pinny

Bath Time.  I like this photo because it reminds me why I wrote the song “OB can you hear the children cry”. It is a protest song against war and terrorism. All the suffering the children and the people from these countries have been through, it is hard to imagine. Yet, this dad finds a way to bring some normality into his children’s lives by way of giving them a bath against a backdrop of total destruction.

Some people have found the video “OB can you hear the children cry” upsetting I remember the first time I ever played it to anyone was a group including mothers that were visiting my Studio. Some ended up in tears and I thought I had gone too far, however the song had a message and I was trying to raise emotion to get that message across. I wear a gas mask in these videos, it is a symbol of war and the terror that comes with it whether it is tear gas, or worse chemical warfare. It is designed to make people take notice of “the messenger” and evoke emotions that highlight the message about war that I am trying to convey.

“Wipe Out” my new single is part two of that story and the after effects of someone that grows up in that environment with the anger and frustration that they must have to deal and live with. So the vocal and the lyrics are pretty full on as I try to capture the anger and frustration that they might be feeling.  The video is based on a true story told to me by a once refugee and now new immigrant who reached out to me. He told me the song “OB can you hear the children cry” reminded him of his own life and told me about a dream he had after listening to the song. He had lost his whole family and was feeling isolated and struggling to fit in, he was terrified of the rioting which brought back memories of war and his childhood. He dreamed two dark angels rose up out of the water to help find his lost sister and returned her to him surrounded in fire. I haven’t heard from him for some months but I hope he finds peace and his sister.

I heard many stories after releasing that song however some are too graphic to share. Unfortunately this is the reality we live in today and it is my hope that by bringing more awareness to the effects of war we will be reminded to choose our leaders wisely, in hope to bring peace to our world.

Kiwi rocker, MERVY PINNY has been in the game for a very long time.  Picking up a guitar as early as 10, Merv has evolved his sound over the years.  In the 90s, his single ‘Destiny’ was nominated for a NZ Music Award and won a Waikato Rock Award.

Merv’s latest project takes his musical talent and uses it to address timely world issues of the effects of war, terrorism and refugee immigration on children.  His single, OB Can you hear the children cry was recently named Best Rock Song and Best Rock Video at the Academia Music Awards in Los Angeles.

Inspired by the ‘Humans of New York’ series, we’re talking to our network find out what’s special to them, whether it’s a place, a thing, or a memory – Meet the “Humans of mac+mae”.

heard | On the road with the HuaweiP10NZ

I have a phone that is over four years old, it’s not an artifact obviously, but it’s pretty darn close. I don’t have fancy features like finger print scanning, lightning speed charge, mobile pay, hand gesture controls, 4K recording and more. In truth, I don’t fancy these features, but don’t get me wrong, all the extras add to the user experience and I’m sure it will add to mine. But the thing I am looking for, the thing that will sway me into handing over my money is a phone with a great camera and image capturing capabilities. And here is where the new Huawei P10 comes in.

I’ve been captured, given a device and released. Now with a new phone that posses extraordinary hardware and software features, I am left wondering what I should do with it. How do I feel with all this power in my hands? Like this…

A representation of Sin-Mae with advanced technology – via GIPHY

 

I managed to take a few pictures with the wide aperture features, beauty mode and manual focus. I was impressed to find the manual/pro controls, tracking features and voice command. Below are some pictures I took with the phone.

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Wide Aperature Enabled – f 1.4

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Wide Aperature Enabled – f 2

Many people may like the Wide Aperture Feature, by enabling it you bring up a scroll bar of f 0.95 ~ f 16. I did notice that the the phone did confuse some of the foreground image as the background and blurred parts of it. It happened on the lowest aperture and the highest, I am unsure whether that is a software issue but I think with some practice I will see less of it happening.

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Wide Aperture Enabled – f 0.95

I found any number below a f 2 on the wide aperture feature to be harsh and artificial looking in some pictures. Some objects in focus may have gaps and an outline of clear background then a harsh edging of blur.

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I noticed this happening even on the Huawei P10 Plus used at the official launch. This was on selfie mode layered with Bokeh effect, but once again, I need more practice with it.

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Portrait Mode – Artistic Effect Disabled

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Portrait Mode – Artistic Effect Enabled

There is this funky quick button on portrait mode that makes photos a little more dramatic. Above I tested it on sand to see how the artistic effect plays on the image.

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Wide Aperture Enabled – f 0.95

While using the lowest aperture I found that some angles gave me more of a naturalistic picture. Places with a lot going on in the background makes it harder for the software to blur properly. So far I find the feature works really well with closeups and a single leading line away from the subject.

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Pro Mode – manual focus (length)  3.95 , 1/200, f 2.2

You can’t go wrong with the pro feature, this is great for anyone who knows a bit of photography and wants a bit more control. There is no artificial blurring or wide aperture effect in this feature, well I couldn’t find one yet. But the lowest aperture on the hardware is f 2.2, good enough for most occasions and in my opinion better than any applied blur effect.

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Standard Picture Taking Mode – Auto, f 2.2

If you just want something that is a point a shoot but has great capabilities when it comes to low light situations, then this phone can easily do that. I find pictures taken with the Huawei P10 give me clean crispy images which I can easily edit without loosing a lot of quality on apps like Snap Seed.

This is only a quick review into the images I’ve captured so far. To fully test out the capabilities, I’ll be taking it with me on a roadtrip from Auckland to Wellington in the next few days.  Follow us on Instagram to see what I get up to!

 

 

DocEdge 17 | Max Gimblett : Original Mind

Australia / United States | 2017 | 50 min | English | Rhys Mitchell

‘Max Gimblett : Original Mind’ is a glimpse into the life of Max Gimblett – one of  New Zealand’s most outstanding living Artists – and gives us insight to the workings of his Loft Studio in New York, which he acquired in 1974.

Gimblett talks about some of his earlier inspiration; being influenced by Matisse and starting ink drawing while he was in San Francisco in the mid 60’s, and becoming more strongly influenced by Japanese Calligraphy a few years later, when he was in Indiana. This influence helps us understand perhaps why he moved to Buddhism; He is now an avowed Rensai Zen Priest. These concepts and belief systems are evident in much of his work, and his spirituality seems to be a driving force behind his studio practice, as well as his everyday life.

Gimblett’s approach of creating, doing and feeling before over-thinking results in much of his extraordinarily expressive yet minimalist paintings and drawings. Over the years he has built an impressive and immense body of work, and this is continuously growing – his creative genius seemingly no where near exhausted.

‘Max Gimblett : Original Mind’ is 50 minutes of enjoyment and insight into one of New Zealand’s most relevant and intriguing artists, and well worth viewing.

The 12th DocEdge Festival takes place Auckland 24 May – 5 June – www.docedge.nz