Tag Archives: Auckland

been | Basement Theatre’s Santa Claus

If you enjoy surprises, impromptu comedy entertainment, and being taken out of your comfort zone, then go and see Santa Claus.

Santa Claus, the Basement Theatre’s ninth annual fundraiser Christmas show is being played until 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 could not have been more evident in Santa Claus.

At around 6.30pm on Friday evening, the wonderfully petite venue saw crowds of (mostly younger) individuals sipping beer and wine before the show. What people didn’t know then was that they should probably sip a little more, to gain some well-needed courage for later on.

The story, which I found quite hard to follow, (after all the laughter and unprepared involvement) celebrated the way we build up expectations around Christmas and showed us how those expectations can then turn into a nightmare.

At the very beginning of the show, each French cast member introduced themselves, chatted to the different audience groups and asked Christmas related questions. They then used the information they had gathered to open the show. Firing statements back and forth from each cast member… “Camilla will be having a friends Christmas this year, as she is visiting New Zealand.” “Well Ben doesn’t enjoy Christmas because…” and so on. As soon as this happened, the audience felt immediately involved in the show, and we were already giggling as we got to know more about other people.

The killer cast of Hayley Sproull, Jack Buchanan, Andrew Paterson and Susie Berry were truly amazing, which was more evident as the show went on. From my experience, each cast member was personally lovely, hilarious and very spontaneous. They proceeded to put the audience members on the spot, encouraged them to be spontaneous (without much choice) and seemed genuinely interested in ensuring everyone had a great time. They were charming, sexy, funny and very French.

The celebrity guest on Friday night was Rose Matafeo, New Zealand comedian and TV presenter. She’s a writer and performer on the NZ late-night comedy sketch show funny girls, and she was a natural in Santa Claus. She was brought into the story of the show in many different forms – as Santa, Santa’s friend and a baby. Each time she provided improvised entertainment in a cool and nonchalant manner.

Many audience members were also brought into the show throughout the evening. One audience member was thrown a New Zealand post shirt to put on and told to run up the stage with wind and snow-like props in his face. Many other audience members were asked to put on a ‘talking’ Santa outfit, and were encouraged to act spontaneously, dance, create handshakes and ‘go with the flow’. A different audience member was introduced into the show as one of the cast’s lovers, which pressed him to think up and share an elaborate tale of how they met.

Overall, the show had incredibly powerful sound effects, and the cast members blasted out some great Christmas songs. You have to go to the show with an open mind, and be willing to join in the fun and act. This play is not for you if you are reserved and don’t like taking part.

Spoiler alert: The show saw us witness one older gentleman from the audience kiss one of the actors in a very passionate, unrehearsed, spur of the moment gesture. It was absolutely hilarious.

The Basement Christmas Show is one of Auckland’s must-do Christmas offerings and sells out every year, so don’t miss it. You can get tickets from $32 to $50 on iTicket.

been | The Weeknd

How do you become a Motherf**kin Starboy?

Canada has given so much to the world….Justin Trudeau, Bryan Adam, Celine Dion, Drake, Maple Syrup and even Justin Bieber!

And another great Canadian graced our shores last night and filled Spark Arena to the rafters….The Weeknd

In his first ever NZ performance, The Weeknd ‘turnt up!” The crowd were treated to one of the best concerts of the year. Accompanied by his live Band, he performed his biggest hits of his career so far. Opening the show with his chart topping single Starboy, the performance set the bar for the rest of his hour long set.

He took the crowd on a musical journey of his career performing singles from his mixtapes – House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence, along with a rare performance of Angel – a favourite single of his, from his second album, Beauty behind the Madness. He also gave breathtaking performances of his other chart topping singles Wicked Games, Can’t feel my face and I feel it Coming. Complemented by the visuals and a triangular, floating lighting rig, made for a showstopping concert.

The Weeknd also appeared to be very humbled by the crowd reaction, whose cheers and calls for an encore were deafening. He thanked the crowd on several occasions promising to return to New Zealand every year.

Let’s hope he sticks to his promise so that many more can see the motherf**kin Starboy!

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.

AWA17: 5 mis with Richard Orjis

Since completing his Masters at the Elam School of Fine Arts, artist Richard Orjis has exhibited his work both locally and internationally.   In 2016, he was the Tylee Cottage Artist in Residence at the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui and earlier this year, he was the Asisa New Zealand Foundation artist in residence at Rimbun Dahan in Malaysia.   His work is held in private and public collections including: The University of Auckland, the Jenny Gibbs Collection (Auckland), the University of Auckland (Auckland), Auckland Council (Auckland), The Film Archive (Wellington), The Wallace Trust collection (Auckland) and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport Collection (Madrid, Spain).

His new work will explore the fundamental concept of connection and how everything can be perceived as intrinsically linked.  Check it out as part of Artweek Auckland.

Describe your piece of work / installation in three words

Queer

Nature

Connectivity

 

What inspired it?

Connections with people through conversations, history and art

 

What’s your creative process?

It can be varied, but basically, it’s a process of absorbing the world around me and creating works of art as a result of that collecting.

 

What do you think of the Art scene in Auckland?  New Zealand?

I think it’s vibrant, active and keyed into a global discourse. It is also aware of its unique position in the Southern hemisphere.

 

Are there any artists / pieces of work that you’re looking forward to seeing this year?

Flora at the Franklin Arts Centre

Shifting Ground at Silo 6

 

What is your social media of choice?

Instagram

 

Who do you follow and where?

Best_of_grindr / Instagram

Palaceofwisdom / Instagram

Tom Sainsbury / Facebook

 

What are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist right now?

It’s too embarrassing, I only listen to doof doof music at the gym and it’s just too embarrassing to mention.

 

Word Association:

Auckland – water

Art – Oh fuck

Festival – too many

Creative – everyone is

Collaboration – complicated

Politics – depressing

Summer – gardens

 

Richard Orjis’ exhibition Salt Felix at Melanie Roger Gallery, 444 K’Road as part of Artweek Auckland.

7 – 15 October, find out more.

been | London Grammar

They say good things come to those who wait and Kiwi fans of London Grammar were certainly kept in anticipation on Saturday night.  

Nearly half an hour later than scheduled, London Grammar graced the stage of Auckland’s Spark Arena and fans were awarded for their loyalty.  Over 5,000 were eagerly waiting to see London Grammar’s first ever New Zealand performance and they weren’t disappointed.

Starting with a minimalistic performance of Rooting for you, Hannah’s unique and mellisonant voice resonated throughout the arena.  Performing songs from both their albums, die-hard fans sang along to every song while the majority of the crowd bellowed to their chart-topping singles; Hey Now and Strong.

The subtle lighting and colour washes, their humble approach, and the emotion on their faces made it a mesmerising performance to watch.  This was further complemented by their unique ability to make the arena performance feel intimate.

My only gripe; after spending hours vocal training at local Karaoke bars, practising for my time to sing-along to their cover of Bitter Sweet Symphony, I was disappointed to hear it wasn’t part of their hour-long set.  Still, London Grammar gave a fantastic performance and I hope we see them on shores again.

Check out all the photographs from their performance here.

AWA17: 5 mins with Mardo El-Noor

Mardo El-Noor is a chai-latte drinking, left-handed, hybrid creative. Armed with a Masters in Art & Design (AUT), Mardo’s work can be found globally.

New Zealand music lovers will be familiar with his conceptual music videos, including ‘Shine’ by the Modern Māori Quartet, ‘Treat you better’ by Theia, ‘Sunday’s best clothes’ by Opshop, ‘Hometown’ by Salmonella Dub, and ‘Jump’ by Kings. He’s also made three animated short films, screening at NZIFF and other film festivals around the world.

Mardo’s most recent work; a series of ground-breaking images with renowned political commentator and editorial cartoonist, Tom Scott (ONZM) can be found in the NZ Parliament Buildings and (next year) at the Waikato Museum.

Mardo was 2016’s ART Venture recipient, an acceleration programme for experienced creative entrepreneurs working in Auckland.

This Artweek Auckland, check out Mardo’s hyper-real photo-illustrations depicting people as characters in elaborately staged scenes that tell their personal stories.

Describe your piece of work in three words
Family-friendly David LaChappelle.

Baby by Mardo El-Noor

What inspired it?
People. People. People. Everyone has a story but not everyone is a storyteller. I’m a curator of people’s stories.

What’s your creative process?
I depict people as characters in elaborately staged, highly-detailed scenes that tells their personal stories (Imagine a freeze-frame in a non-existing movie, with you as the star!). The process starts with a conversation/interview, which leads to a pitch of a sketch, then a photoshoot, then a long post-production process.

Havana by Mardo El-Noor

What do you think of the Art scene in Auckland? New Zealand?
I’m not familiar with it – as my background is in commercial art & advertising. New Zealand market is quite small, which makes it easier to stand out.

Unnamed by Mardo El-Noor

What is your social media of choice?
Facebook. You can customise your newsfeed to follow all your fave websites (& block out all social noise from ‘friends’)

Who do you follow and where?
I mainly follow trending videos on Vimeo, Nowness & the likes. Behance is a huge source of inspiration too.

What are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist right now?
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation (album)
Future Islands – The Far Field (album)
The National – Sleep Well Beast (album)

Word Association:
Auckland – Traffic
Art – Stories
Festival – Festival
Creative – Job
Collaboration – Synergy
Politics – Status Quo
Summer – Recharge

Mardo El-Noor, Personal Stories at Ponsonby Central as part of Artweek Auckland.
2-15 October, Find out more.