Tag Archives: Auckland

interviewed | Sananda Chatterjee for Dara

Throwing both light and darkness on a crucial moment in world history, the acclaimed Prayas Theatre Company stages a battle for succession that cuts right to the heart of what it means to be devout, with the magnificently ambitious and highly affecting epic DARA.

With over a decade with Prayas, Sananda Chatterjee has seen it all. Starting off as an unsuspecting usher, her love for storytelling has seen her progress from Usher to Director. We spoke to her ahead of Prayas Theatre Company’s latest production, DARA – on at Tapac until Sunday 24 June.

Tell us about your journey starting as an usher to becoming a director…
I was helping out Prayas with the ushering because I was told I had to. Amit Ohdedar, who is a founding member, the President and my co-director on this one, is a family friend, so my parents happily volunteered me and my siblings for the role. I got a real taste for the stories that were being told and started wishing that I had more to do with them, curious about the making of it. After ushering for a couple of seasons (2005 & 2006), I went on to become the AD and Stage Manager (and costume designer!) for the 2007 production of The Terrace and 11 years on, the rest, as they say, is history!

Have you always wanted to be a director?
No, not until I started working as an AD, did I get the taste for it. I have always wanted to be a storyteller – it has always been my passion, my addiction. I started by writing, you know when you are younger, you paraphrase your favourites, and palm it off as your own, not understanding plagiarism? I did that with some Edgar Allan Poe stories, the one I remember most clearly being gripped with, was the Tell-Tale Heart. Anyway, that eventually gave way to short stories and poetry. Poetry is my favourite form of storytelling. I get obsessed with phrases or images. I guess the images, lent itself to theatre too. When I was younger, i wanted to tell stories through journalism, but I quickly discovered that you couldn’t really embellish those stories, that was more factual and reporting (I wish I was aspiring to be a journalist in the Fake News era, I would have fit right in!), then I quickly lost interest! Now I tell stories through theatre, to elicit a reaction. I love directing now, I don’t know how I ever lived without it!

What’s been your most memorable production and why?
Oh, toughie! I am curious, so I loved shadowing people as their AD, so whenever I work with other directors, I love it. I am a sponge, having not gone to school for performing arts (except the Dramatic School of Life). I have loved working with autonomy as well! I enjoy bringing elements I enjoy watching and being immersed in pop culture, onto stage through what I do! Couldn’t isolate one for you!

What can you tell us about Dara? Is it suited to mainly an Indian audience or have you adapted it to a broader audience?
What can I tell you about Dara… it is an epic, period drama! If you understand politics of power and religion, you will have no trouble in understanding the play. I think of myself as a child of the global economy, of universal sensibilities & culture, so the work will never be isolationist! The script was performed by the National Theatre in the UK, we have used the same one. I am confident that it will lend itself to a wide range of audience, no matter what their ethnic or cultural background.

What about the music and the costumes?
The music is influenced by the music of the period – taking notes from Sufi, Hindustani Classical and Persian. It also has accents from a variety of Indian instruments to accentuate moods and evoke feelings. There are also some original compositions from our amazing group of musicians, who happen to be performing before the show on the Saturday nights! We are so lucky at Prayas to have an in house band!
The costumes are special. We have gone for a unique overall design. I don’t want to give too much away, but we have had to evoke an era and a feeling without blowing the budget. It is also a medium of that visual storytelling in the play.

Who have you cast and why?
We have open auditions for every show, a call goes out, and basically, we decide how the show will look based on who turns up! We have managed to build up a company of performers and production crew over the last 13 years we have been in operation, and every year we gain more and more performers. We try to match everyone up based on ability, and experience. The people are passionate and come from all walks of life, they give up their time, weekends, post work.

How is this production different to other productions Prayas has done?
Well, for one it is historical epic! We haven’t done one of those before. It is Prayas’ biggest undertaking in years, more daring than we have ventured into before, including some kick-ass fight choreography from Alexander Holloway, fresh from the Pop Up Globe. I am way too excited to see it in the space myself, it is one of those plays!

Why should we go and see Dara?
Dara will be as much entertaining, as educational. If religion and the politics of power is your thing, you will like Dara. If you like escapism and a good spectacle, you will like Dara. If you, like me, are entrenched in pop culture, you will like Dara. If you like Shakespeare, you will like Dara. If you like learning about world history, and things that have shaped the present of the world’s largest democracy, you will like Dara. If you like to see how global cultures are able to shape people, and how family dynamics shape personalities, you will like Dara!

Prayas are committed to taking audiences beyond cultural notions of Bollywood and butter chicken. With DARA, they take the audience right into the centre of history: the world of the largest, powerful and by far the richest empire of the world at the time. See DARA at TAPAC from Thursday 14 June – Sunday 24 June.  Buy your tickets here.

interviewed | Yorick!’s Oliver Delvin

Q Theatre’s Matchbox Season returns in 2018 with Binge Culture’s, Yorick!. Promising to be an experimental, totally unique, and hilarious show about death… as well as a full-on musical with stunning design.

Yorick! is reinventing Macbeth as you know it.

We chat to Music Composer and Performer, Oliver Delvin, ahead of the Auckland Matchbox Season.

What is your role in Yorick!?
I am the musical composer and musician character “Oli” in Yorick!.

How are you preparing for it?
Well, we’ve made all the tunes and just finished our paper tech and packed everything up ready to go to Auckland. So right now I’m doing some much-needed laundry, doing some polishing of the backing tracks, practicing my 5 lines and preparing a few little surprises.

Can you tell us more about the music of Yorick! – have you composed original songs?
The songs, just like the rest of the show, were devised collaboratively. The cast was given provocations, I played some piano and they improvised lyrics and tunes to what I was playing. I took those improvs and shaped them into the musical theatre song form we were going for, and then gave them to Jake Baxendale who arranged them for his hot band of Jazz cats who we’ve recorded into this beautiful backing. In the show, it’s just me on stage playing piano and the cast singing.

Are you a fan of Shakespeare? Do you have a favourite character or play?
I would say I am a keen theatre-goer. I was lucky enough to be taught Shakespeare all the way through high school so feel comfortable enough going to a show. My favourite has definitely been the Bright Orange Walls production of Midsummer Night’s Dream that was put on in the NZ Fringe in 2014. Also, favourite film/stage adaptation/reimagining would have to be West Side Story – huge fan.

You’re a busy man, in addition to your theatre work, you’re also part of a band, Hans Pucket – can you tell us more about that?
We’re a guitar pop band, making pretty thoughtful and sometimes pretty emo songs you can dance to, and we’ve just released our debut album Eczema. You can get it on cassette!

Where would we find you on a Friday night?
If I’m not at a gig or rehearsal, at home making a meal with some friends and probably watching a movie.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Joel has been picking us up to go out to Avalon at 8:00 so I gotta be up! When we’re not doing this my girlfriend works 9 to 5 so I get up when she gets up otherwise I just feel stink. I keep pretty with music and theatre so there’s usually a reason to get out of bed. And when I’m not busy like – oh boy – when all this is over, there’s nothing wrong with having some much-needed rest – am I right?

What’s currently trending for you?
Westworld season 2 is giving me my TV fix. Also, I’ve gotten really into whiskey this year – nothing fancy, just on ice in the evening. Also would love to spend some more time with Samin Nosrat’s cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat. Music-wise I am overwhelmed with the good local stuff that’s come out this year: Womb, Onono, Girlboss, The Beths, Wax Chattels, Estère, Dateline, Being, and Kody and Ruben Neilson obviously forever – great to see them playing together again in UMO.

Catch Oliver Delvin in Yorick! – playing at Q Theatre Tuesday 12 June – Saturday 23 June.  Buy tickets here.

been | Hopeless Fountain Kingdom Tour

Last night, Spark Arena hosted Halsey’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom Tour, with special guest Kehlani.

It was clear to see how this was Kehlani’s third visit in 6 months; New Zealand is definitely not bored of Kehlani and it didn’t look like they would be anytime soon. With her fair share of fans in the audience, she was greeted with raucous rapture. Singing her chart topping tracks, she entertained the crowd her Distraction, CRZY, and Good Life.

With her enigmatic stage presence, she hypnotised the crowd with her sultry voice and sexy moves. It was perhaps her cover of Into You (Fabolous ft. Tmia) that was the most memorable, she performed with such finesse, I preferred her version to the original.

For 23 year old artist , Kehlani performed like a stage veteran, giving us a memorable performance. She also addressed her devoted LGBTQ fans; telling them not to change who they are and to be proud. A fitting message considering this week’s news stories. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw her back here again within the next six months.

Now onto the headliner for the night.

Halsey had a plan for her Kiwi fans last night; it was to make sure everyone was having a great time. A plan she executed meticulously.

Halsey graced the stage as a silhouette hiding behind a great white sheet. As soon as she began singing the first verse of Eyes Closed, the sheet was pulled down and she commanded the stage.

Donning a sparkly spandex leotard, accessorised with a headpiece that can only be described as a glittered thin, translucent balaclava, she performed her next three singles with finesse. Amidst her set, she performed a piano version of Closer (by the Chainsmokers). Towards the end of her set, she surprised the crowd, by jumping off stage and walking the perimeter of the arena floor.

Her show and performance was nothing short of electric. She had iridescent visuals, accompanied with lighting, flames and CO2 cannons; and as the crescendo of the show, confetti bombs to end a memorable performance.

Halsey’s true talent as a vocal artist was showcased at the concert. Her vocal range was diverse and unique. Her stage presence is also unique. At point one of the show, Halsey and her dancer jumped into a shallow water pit, kicking water in the crowd, whilst visually stunning, may not have been enjoyed by the security team in front of the stage. Her story telling skills gave context to the chart topping hits she performed.

Despite being 23, Halsey performed put on a show like those with 20 years of performing experience. For Helsey’s first performance in New Zealand, she’s left the crowd wanting more and will be sure to sell out her next tour here.

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SFS | 5 mins with Milly Tabak

The Miltones front-woman Milly Tabak took a break from writing her bluesy folk-rock ballads to chat with us about her band’s upcoming summer festival debut at WOMAD. You can also find them this summer at MarchFest in Nelson.



Describe your perfect summer music festival in three words

Mud, friends, dancing

Name the top three artists who would make up your ideal festival line-up

The Guess Who, Fleetwood Mac and Janis Joplin

What are you looking forward to most about playing the summer festival circuit?

Showcasing some of the new music we’ve been working on. I locked myself away this summer to write about some stuff I’ve been going through and it’s finally at the stage where I can share it with everyone!

In your opinion, what’s this year’s Summer Anthem?

All the Young Girls Love Alice – Elton John, always.

Out of all your tunes, which one is the one that ‘never fails’?

Gypsy Queen is always a crowd favourite.

What’s are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist?

Nothings Wrong – Haim
Depths – Yumi Zouma
Outstanding – The Gap Band

What’s your personal ‘guilty pleasure’ track

I have sooo many!
That Don’t Impress Me Much – Shania Twain
Ignition – R. Kelly
Ride Wit Me – Nelly

What’s your social media of choice?

Instagram – I’m constantly deleting it off my phone so it doesn’t take over my life. I’m addicted to #cakeporn.

Who do you follow and where?

Anika Moa on Instagram because she’s a funny bitch! I even followed her all the way to America last month to attend the International Folk Alliance in Kansas and she had me in tears the entire time.

What’s your go-to festival outfit?

Anything by the amazing Brook Tyson. Her creations make me feel like a goddess! She’s actually just finished two new pieces for me to rock on stage at WOMAD!

Word association:

  • Music – Life
  • Festival – Dancing
  • Camping – New Years
  • Fashion –  @brooketysonnz
  • Roadie – Singing

Returning for it’s 14th year at the stunning TSB Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Park in New Plymouth, WOMAD New Zealand is a celebration of music, arts and dance from around the globe. Buy your tickets here.

Fringe 18: Triage! A Nursing Cabaret

If an energetic, vibrant and soulful show is what you’re after, Triage! A Nursing Cabaret fits the bill perfectly.

Australian singer Zuleika Khan expertly carries this one-man show, which blends sharp, clever humour with soulful singing sure to captivate. Examining the demanding, high pressure atmosphere of hospitals through the lens of a real-life registered nurse, Triage! carries a definite uniqueness and intrigue.

And while the content may be dark, Zuleika’s adept comic abilities enable viewers to confront themes of death and disease in a smooth and honest manner. The best thing about Triage!, however? The songs. It’s hard to imagine anyone listening to Zulieka’s powerful, confident and remarkably unusual voice without walking away feeling like they have just witnessed something magic.

Hers is the kind of voice that makes you stop and listen; the kind that deserves to be on a big stage. This, combined with Zulieka’s captivating, confident stage presence, guarantees you’ll be not just entertained but deeply impressed.

Add this to your bucket list, people.


Triage! A Nursing Cabaret is running at Q Theatre as part of Auckland Fringe until Saturday 3 March. 

been | St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2018 – Auckland

You know the buzzy feeling you get after a concert or music festival that lasts for a few days after?! Yea that is my current situation.

Auckland was treated to perhaps what felt like the hottest day on Monday with a sweltering 28 degrees Celsius! Being from Papua New Guinea you would think I would be accustomed to the heat but far from it! I avoided getting to the festival until much later when it was slightly cooler. And it seems it may have been a smart move with reports on Twitter about massive queues at the festival entrance and people waiting for up to an hour and 30 minutes to get in. By the time I made my way there, there were no queues at the entrance thankfully.

The organizers have created something special with hosting Laneway Festival right in the middle of Auckland City at Albert Park. The lush trees and gardens make such a huge difference to the whole vibe of the festival, definitely was feeling it on the day.

So onto the music. Who did I manage to see? Well quite a good number of quality acts for sure. Not knowing much about this year’s lineup and what to expect, I came away being a fan of pretty much most of the bands I saw.

Noah Slee – Image credit David Watson

Having read up on Noah Slee I thought I’d check out his set and to see what was up on offer. Slee is based in Berlin and hails from Tonga via Glenn Eden, West Auckland. He definitely tried to work the crowd up with some pretty sweet summer neo-soul tunes and mixed in Erykah Badu and Sergio Mendez tracks to the crowd’s delight. Slee had some great energy and finished off his set with one of his popular tracks Radar.

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals – Image credit David Watson

When I got to the main Rotunda stage 10 minutes early for Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals I was not expecting it to be completely packed out. Actually I haven’t listened much to Anderson .Paak but oh boy I was in for such a treat! Anderson had such great energy and the crowd absolutely loved it, I loved it!!! Mixing up some jazz, hip-hop, R&B, the whole ensemble had such a great vibe and everyone felt it. So I now completely understand why there was a massive crowd gathering around the stage way ahead of his scheduled performance.

TOKiMONSTA – Image credit David Watson

TOKiMONSTA served up some killer beats at the Thunderdome stage. It felt like it was the perfect time for it, riding on the high from Anderson .Paak. I wanted to stay for the whole set but ended up rushing back to Rotunda stage to catch the start of Bonobo.

Szjerdene + Bonobo- Image credit David Watson

Playing at the main stage Bonobo brought a live band with him which was great. Also featured was vocalist Szjerdene who has provided vocals on a number of Bonobo tracks including the sublime Transits. A few issues with Szjerdene’s mic meant it was hard for us to hear her which was a shame. Again, I wanted to stay until the end for the set but really wanted to catch The War on Drugs.

The War on Drugs – Image credit Connor Crawford

The War on Drugs played on the Princess Street Stage and it was a great way to end my night at Laneway Festival. After winning a Grammy for Best Rock Album earlier in the day, Adam Granduciel and the rest of the band must have been on such a buzz. Their set was amazing and I was left wanting more. Playing tracks from Lost In The Dream and their latest Grammy award winning album A Deeper Understanding, it was a definite festival highlight for me.

The War on Drugs – Image credit Connor Crawford

Featured image: Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern – Taken by Max Lemesh


Jock Nowell-Usticke otherwise known as BAYNK is a singer, song writer and producer that burst onto the scene with his track Sundae in 2015. The standout track led to a slot at 2016’s Laneways Festival and he is back again at this year’s festival. Featuring edgy electronic beats, he will definitely be a highlight with the Auckland crowd on the day.

Describe your perfect summer music festival in three words…
Losing my marbles

Name the top three artists who would make up your ideal festival line-up:
Mura Masa
Bon Iver

What are you looking forward to most about playing the summer festival circuit?
Laneway (2018) because that’s where everything started for me.

In your opinion, what’s this year’s Summer Anthem?
Bodak Yellow

Out of all your tunes, which one is the one that ‘never fails’?
Could You

What’s are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist?
Shut Up by Stormzy
I Fall Apart by Post Malone
Dissolve by Kllo

What’s your personal ‘guilty pleasure’ track?
Taylor Swift – Blank Space but there’s no guilt involved

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram – because it lets me put my nudes up you should go check them out @baynkofficial

Who do you follow and where?
What? I follow 759 people on Instagram, 361 on twitter and 1000+ on facebook. Am I supposed to list them?

What’s your go-to festival outfit?
Long baggy singlet. Shorts with deep pockets. Black sunglasses and an old pair of shoes because they always get wrecked. Emergency poncho on hand at all times.

Word association:
Music – Ableton
Festival – Friends
Camping – Mosquitoes
Fashion – Gucci
Roadie – Convertible

This year marks 8 years of Laneway Festival in New Zealand and the second year in its dream location of Albert Park precinct. This boutique inner-city festival boasts a line-up showcasing some of the best new international talent. With four individual stages and an abundance of grass, shade and great music, Laneway Festival is set to be one of greats this summer festival season.

BAYNK’s Soundcloud is https://soundcloud.com/baynk