Category Archives: performing arts

been | We Will Rock You

Thunderbolt and lightning! The NZ Musical Theatre Consortium and Bruce Mason Theatre bring the magnificent musical production ‘We Will Rock You‘ to the stage over the next two months.

Created by the lords of rock ‘Queen’, not to mention the genius of ever-evolving writer, Ben Elton –  this West End musical comes to our shores, with the help of an outstanding cast of actors, ensemble and exceptionally talented band.

With an auditorium packed literally, like sardines, the draw and excitement that enveloped the filled-out crowd was almost tangible.  The audience are immediately drawn in to this musical odyssey with flashing projection of words and visuals to set the scene, and to provide a narrative that is reminiscent of the sci-fi classic ‘Star Wars’, with a somewhat post-apocalyptic feel ….

The orchestra (or band) are also projected above the imposing stage.  An element of this stage setting, that I found both impressive and artistically effective.   A chorus of dancers with costumes emblazoned with the song title “Radio GaGa’ were visually striking and immediately piqued my attention as they set the pace for the rest of the show, as did the eponymous ballad  ‘We Will Rock You’, welcoming us to a musical anthology  full of historical humour, that we were set to enjoy for the remainder of the performance.

We Will Rock You is full of hilarious rock-references and clever dialogue that reflects the glory of a by-gone era of music.   With futuristic themes and cleverly placed classic Queen ballads throughout.  One most noteworthy track being ‘Killer Queen’ which sets the stage for  NZ’s own musical royal, Annie Crummer.  Annie exercises her theatre chops with unexpectedly brilliant and powerful delivery!  She is perfectly cast as the arch nemesis of the ‘Bohemians’ a group of misplaced yet passionate rock-loving, breathing beings.  The main protagonists in said group (and indeed the entire musical), are portrayed by William Deane as ‘Galileo’ and his love-interest, ‘Scaramouche’ played by Bridie Dixon.

They are supported by other key members of the Bohemians: ‘Brit’ (Caleb Muller),  ‘Buddy’ (David Mackie) and ‘Oz’ (Rebecca Wright), who alongside the Killer Queen’s right hand man ‘Khashoggi’ and of course the star-crossed lovers Galileo and Scaramouche themselves, entertain the audience with such convincing character portrayals, and moving vocal performances from Queens catalogue of hits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The choreography, lighting and set-design of  We Will Rock You is fantastically polished. The sheer attention to detail, for a production of this magnitude, is no mean feat and the creative team of: Director Emma Carr, Musical Directors, Mark Bradley and Edwin Randall and choreographer, Rebekkah Schoonbeek-Berridge should be applauded for their success!

An ambitious production on every scale, but that is brought together so brilliantly with the energy of it’s entire ensemble, the faultless score from the show’s musicians, and of course Annie Crummer’s seemingly limitless vocal-range.

‘These are the Days of our Lives’ is performed by the entire chorus towards the end of the show, an ominous ode to demise of the legend himself (Freddie Mercury).  Yet within it’s words are a message and a lesson, in living your life whilst also being true to yourself.  A fitting piece of classic Queen to wrap up this musical journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

*4.5 Stars!

We Will Rock You is currently playing at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna:                                                              20th August – 7th September

 

 

been | Basement’s Spring Launch 2019

Soaking up the culture, on an otherwise quotidian Monday eve, myself and friend were treated to a wonderful night of entertainment and conversation, covering a sneak-peek selection of enticing performances and an invitation to celebrate in Basement’s latest inception, the upcoming Spring Season 2019.

Newly appointed Programming Coordinator – Nisha Madhan,  tickled my creative senses within the first ten minutes, as she provided us with a live run-down of the program as well as an introduction to the contributing artists this season, and the latest additions to the Basement family.  Also discussed were; new developments in store for the renowned theatre company – including a much needed boost in funding, increasing creative opportunities and assisting the development of its artists in residence, as well a discussion of the Basement’s commitments for 2019, these included: The sustainability of artists, promoting an honest and genuine representation of the Aotearoa that we live in today, affordability and diversity, as well as cultural responsibility to name a few …

We were indulged with a powerfully stirring excerpt from the very stoic and passionate poet Carrie Rudzinksi, from her performance piece entitled, ‘How we Survive’ which created with collaborator Olivia Hall, is an expression of feminism and power,

A selection of reviews chosen to share by members of the online publication ‘Pantograph Punch’ – was an offering of critical writing, with one of it’s leading contributors, George Fenwick, pushing the importance of pause and consideration within the structure of a review.  Another excerpt which was superbly articulated by fellow Pantograph writer Rachel, reiterates the purpose of the reviewer; acknowledging and encouraging their role in the creative world.  As a budding writer myself,  I found resonance and motivation within these words spoken.

The love and dedication displayed by all artists and collaborators involved in these prospective productions, was both evident and inspiring.

The night was rounded off with another brilliant extract from a must-see show of the season, entitled ‘First World Problems 2.0’ – an anthology of music inspired by their respective homelands and the current state of our world with it’s (questionably) trivial problems. A most engaging and heartening performance.

A low-key, yet resoundingly successful introduction to Spring Season 19, the performers and their supportive networks.  An impressively diverse range of shows, with much-needed cultural inclusion, which left me and I am certain many others, blessed to be part of, and in eager anticipation for the rest of what this season has to offer!

 

Part of the Basement Family: Mya Morrison and Kimmi Rindel

Enjoying the culture-soaked atmosphere: Luke Courtney and Debbie Teale

Basement Proud: Hamish Russell

been | six degrees of separation

MiNDFOOD SEASON of Six degrees of separation by John Guare, presented by Auckland Theatre Company, exposes the vacuous culture of glitz and greed that so clearly defined the ‘80s. “A story based on real life events depicts the lives of suave, sophisticated and wealthy Manhattan art dealers Flan and Ouisa Kittredge. The Kittredges are all about keeping up appearances but their world of comfort and respectability is turned upside down with the sudden arrival of a charming stranger.”

In Six Degrees of Separation, characters from various backgrounds are thrown together in unexpected situations, and we watch them as they endear themselves to each other, enrage each other, and unravel ultimately to a point of self examination brought on by the charming stranger/con artist.

The result is both humanizing and condemning, leaving us to ponder on what we value, who we care about, and why. Exploring existential ideas, the play delves into a purposeless society with friendships driven by agenda, loneliness and Sisyphean task painted by the never-ending cycle of making enough to sustain their carefully constructed world of privilege.

Notably, the title “Six degrees of separation” plays only a small part in the play, and the theme of inter-connectivity between all people falls in behind more dominant themes of class and race.

Jennifer Ward-Lealand plays Ouisa Kittredge with a commanding stage presence, her nuanced portrayal of a Manhattan socialite with confused sense of self, pretentious and greedy on one side to someone with an inner need for authenticity and meaningful relationships is near perfection.

Andrew Grainger’s Flan Kittredge, is Ouisa’s supportive husband desperately trying to ensure their place in Manhattan society. We feel a tinge of pity for him at the start however as the plot unravels, with his character clinging on to his false persona and his refusal to self examine becomes unnerving to watch. 

Tane Williams-Accra plays Paul the charming stranger posing as a friend of Kittredge’s children, his somewhat awkward beginning is promptly overshadowed by his natural charisma that endears him to his unlikely hosts. He enthrals his unwitting ‘targets’ and the audience alike with his thoughtful ideologies on art, literature, philosophy; a stark contrast to the insecure, bratty and over privileged children of Kittredge as we witness later on in the play.  

One of the key symbols explored in Six Degrees of Separation is a double-sided painting, that Flan Kittredge describes as “one side geometric and sombre. The other side is wild and vivid and adds “We flip it around for variety”  The painting is attributed to Wasily Kandinsky, a celebrated artist whose career spanned the turn of the last century. Ouisa Kittredge explains the nature of the painting and how it is symbolic of the chaotic side of the painting’s dualism. She says: “Chaos, control. Chaos, control. You like, you like?” Making this the question that explains the dual role of the play in its relationship to the art. Though it is about the wealthy and their world it is quite apparent that the notion of chaos and control are very cleverly placed in the art symbolism.

Kandinsky painting holds a place in this production as an example of the dual nature of the play and it’s plot. On one side is the security of the wealthy New York family, while on the other side is the character Paul who is from the streets and possesses an extraordinary intelligence, that is used to con the people that he involves himself with. 

 

Overall a highly entertaining, thought provoking and relevant production. Six Degrees of Separation is showing until 30th August at ASB Waterfront Theatre..

been | Like A River

NZ Theatre company MASSIVE and a quintet of up-and-coming  actors, bring the production ‘Like a River’ to the Basement Theatre this season.

Jo Randerson is the creator of this witty and insightful play, alongside direction from Stef Fink and a talented ingenue cast comprising of: Elsie Polosovai, Francesca Browne, Sherry Zhang, Jasper Putt and Seto Ierome.

Like a River, is a commentary on modern reality, which uses the tried-and-tested templates of such contemporary media and reality television as, ‘My Kitchen Rules’, ‘Love Island’ and ‘This is Your Life’ to name but a few …

Gearing the audience into the game-show style of this play, a large and unmistakable image of a clock is set centre-stage, and as it ticks along it becomes a metaphor for one of the show’s underlying themes; being that of a race against time, and also as a competition of popularity and recognition.  Each individual, expressing themselves and their constitution, in order to make an impression and win the game, albeit with just 60 minutes to spare.

Each actor dons a name tag to identify one another, they also use the formula of using a persons ‘likes and dislikes’ to determine one’s character and convictions.  Comedy is also used to engage the audience and express the ideas of the play, with comical impersonations ranging from the glib and smarmy rantings of Mike Hosking to the infamous Donald Trump and late Robert Muldoon.

Opinions are another strong theme relayed throughout the play; thus questioning the right/wrong circumstances in to which voice them. There are also moments of profound hindsight, in which the characters share their regrets about not speaking up for themselves and for what they innately believed was right.

The play encourages audience participation, as a mode of delivering ‘feedback’, and the feedback in turn, drives the subsequent actions of its participants. (In this case the actors).

Self-awareness in a ‘sea of unknowing’.  Modern Life and technology, the positive and negative influences of social media, and the ever relevant issue of sustainability and the environment, are all topical subjects that this play successfully address and invite the audience to question and form their own opinions upon.

A showcase of fresh talent and idealistic vision – Like A River is now showing at The Basement on these following dates:

~ Wednesday 23rd – Saturday 27th July

PDF 2019 | 5 mins with Ankaramy Fepuleai

South Auckland artist, Ankaramy Fepuleai, creates contemporary work with influences of Hip Hop and Pacific elements. His latest work, LALO, takes you through the process of forgiveness in the Samoan custom ‘Ifoga’ – Humiliation in return of Forgiveness, accept it or not. We chat to him ahead of his shows at this year’s Pacific Dance Festival.

What inspired your performance?
LALO is a piece for my own cultural growth. Being an Australian born Samoan raised in South Auckland, we don’t hear much of the traditional customs and practices that still occur in Samoa today. Through Talanoa with my parents, I found out about Ifoga and their experiences being in the presence of it. Being in New Zealand, these customs are rarely practiced here so I took it upon myself to do more in-depth research about the practice. LALO presents my understanding of ‘Ifoga’ from living amongst the Samoan diaspora.

How many hours a day/s a week do you practice your art?
I am a Third Year Dance Studies student at the University of Auckland, so I am constantly in my practice.

What’s your creative process?
My creative process is heavily based on collaboration with dancers, space, time and location. Everything and anything that is present in the space such as the dancers, my friends who sit on the side during rehearsal, to questioning how dark or bright the room is; all these elements contribute to my creative process.

How would you sell the Pacific Dance Festival to someone who isn’t from the islands?
The Pacific Dance Festival is a platform for our Pasifika people and our stories to be told through the art.

Which events will we find you at this festival? Do you have any recommendations?
Find LALO at this year’s MOANA showcase featured in the Pacific Dance Festival 2019 from June 11th to 12th. Also my good friend Ufitia Sagapolutele has an amazing piece called ‘Trip’ featuring some sick Wahine Toa – Funaki Taulanga, Lyncia Muller, Chas Samoa and Natalia Ioane which is in the Triple Bill show on the 14th June.

What’s coming up for you after this festival?
Will still be in the process of finishing my degree in Dance Studies and I will be heading over to Hong Kong and Macau in July with MANU directed by Xavier Breed for this year’s International Youth Dance Festival 2019.

Ankaramy Fepuleai is the choreographer of LALO, performed in the Moana showcase on Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 June at the Mangere Arts Centre, 7pm, as part of the Pacific Dance Festival 2019. Tickets are available from Eventfinda.

PDF 2019 | 5 mins with Ufitia Sagapolutele

Dancer and choreographer, Ufitia Sagapolutele returns to the Pacific Dance Festival with hew new work, TRIP. Inspired by her personal journey and the daily emotions and experiences she’s faced.

What inspired your performance?
I would say this particular work ‘TRIP’ has been inspired by my personal journey and recognising the different emotions and experiences I have faced on a daily. I feel things are shifting in my life and I wanted to capture parts of it before I move on to the next stage in my life.

How many hours a day/s a week do you practice your art?
Every day whether it is choreographing, journalling, thinking, resting, conversing. I would say for an artist, there is always something that contributes to our work on a daily, whether it is intentional or not.

What’s your creative process?
It varies depending on what I am working on. I would say it typically would involve talanoa with my oldest brother Raymond who is an artist himself. I find speaking with him really helps give me clarity with what I want to create next. Sometimes I have so many ideas that it becomes overwhelming so when I converse with Raymond, ideas are narrowed down and I become more at ease.

When I am choreographing, I love to collaborate with my friends. When I have a creative block, sometimes it’s hard to move forward, but when you collaborate, people start to add in their ideas and the result is beautiful.

A lot of my ideas stem from personal experiences. I’ve always wanted my authenticity to come through in each work I present to the public. I then use journalling/creative writing to express how I am feeling and then reflect on what I have written. The words I have written down then become inspiration for when I am choreographing.

I am also inspired by various artists in different fields. Artists like Rosanna Raymond, Jahra Rager Wasasala, Raymond Sagapolutele, FKA Twigs, Pati Solomona Tyrell, Sevdaliza, Solange, and Tyler The Creator help broaden my perspective and challenge my way of thinking.

How would you sell the Pacific Dance Festival to someone who isn’t from the islands?
If you want to be amazed and speechless, then Pacific Dance Festival is the event for YOU. There are always such diverse works featured in the festival, which I find incredible. I also think this festival is such a great platform for emerging artists and there is always something for everyone.

Which events will we find you at this festival? Do you have any recommendations?
My work ‘TRIP’ has been created in collaboration with artists Chas Samoa, Lyncia Muller, Funaki Taulanga and Natalia Ioane. You can find our work in the Triple Bill show which will be on Friday 14th June 8pm at Mangere Arts Centre.

I would recommend seeing LEECHES by Aloalii Tapu and Friends. Every work that Aloalii creates is ALWAYS amazing, and when you see a cast full of iconic Oceanic people, you already know it is going to be amazing.

I also would recommend seeing MOANA. There are two artists in there who I think are artists to look out for – Ankaramy Fepuleai with LALO and Lyncia Muller with FONUA. I am really excited to see these works.

What’s coming up for you after this festival?
I will start rehearsals for Tupe Lualua’s work after my show, and then as soon as that is finished, I will go into rehearsals for my next work which will be presented overseas in August in collaboration with my brother/artist Raymond Sagapolutele.

Ufitia Sagapolutele has created a new work TRIP, performed in the Triple Bill on Friday 14 June at the Mangere Arts Centre, 8pm, as part of the Pacific Dance Festival 2019. Tickets are available from Eventfinda.

 

Been | An Illiad

Wednesday night at the Herald Theatre, a hippodrome filled with culture and history; an ancient tragic chronicle is brought to life, through a dramatic retelling of the ‘An Iliad’ – an epic saga of love, war and loss, first written by the infamous Ionian poet, Homer and reworked for the modern audience by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare.

In this performance, directed by Jonathan Hendry, the weathered and tortured poet is played by the accomplished Michael Hurst .  He appears without warning, albeit unassuming and disillusioned, in the vanguard of a simple and slightly shambolic setting; possibly reflecting the state of mind of our poet and narrator.

Hurst’s ability to create imagery and background to a series of events that catapulted a monumental war, are seamless and superb.  He manages to transfix an entire audience, through his figurative language and dramatic expression, whilst recounting the fall of Troy and the role of the Gods.  The themes throughout the play: Fate, Kleos (glory), Hybris (time), pride & Menis (fury) drive the plot, in particularly the theme of fury ‘rage’ and how it becomes an addiction; fuelling the demises of many, but that is ultimately a vice of no positive consequence.

An Illiad cleverly contextualizes historic sequences, to provide relevance to the contemporary audience; referencing conflicts from the Archean age to current day.   Hurst is also brilliant, at providing some often needed comedic relief from the heavy subject of war, through perfectly weaved narrative.

Once Shayne Carter joins him on the stage and introduces us to his unique musical score, we see how this addition of audio somehow lubricates the poet’s memory.  From this point he becomes more lucid and frenetic.    Shayne’s eponymous style of music is the perfect accompaniment to the passionate and evocative story-telling of Michael Hurst.  The subtle metallic riffs, are fittingly moody and embody the essence of the play.  Creating urgency and chaos as we reach the most pivotal peaks of this epic.  The cleverly executed art direction is also vital to the success of this collaboration; the serpentine silhouette of musician and instrument, metaphorizing the shadow of Homers muse, is definitively striking.

With fierce passion and engagement with each character (embodied by respected artists) the journey draws to it’s fateful end . With Archilles lamenting the death of his dear companion Patroclus, the themes introduced to us: ‘pride, fury and time’ become ultimately, even more significant and poignant.

Two undeniable doyens of the New Zealand live art scene, Michael Hurst and Shayne Carter form an unlikely duo, which results in a truly powerful stage performance.

An ambitious, yet successful theatrical undertaking, ‘An Iliad’ is extraordinary work to see and  is brought to you by Auckland Live and ArtSense Productions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Illiad is currently showing at Herald Theatre – Aotea Centre:                                                                                                ~Wednesday May 29th – Sunday 9th June