Tag Archives: Basement Theatre

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.

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 | The fabulous Miss Frisky

Miss Frisky is gracing Auckland again this month for two evenings of karaoke cabaret nonsense, vocal pyrotechnics, and riotous fun. You may remember her from the British musical comedy cabaret double act – Frisky & Mannish – who performed at last year’s Auckland Live International Cabaret Season.

This time, the audience gets to choose the playlist during her performance! The show is all about classic music and why we love it so much. It will allow the audience to offer their random favourite songs, and express why they love certain tracks so much. Miss Frisky admitted: “It’s about getting to use me as a human jukebox and hear your favourites belted live, right in your face.”

When I asked her what she has lined up for the audience, she replied: “Really, it’s about what the audience have lined up for me! I genuinely do not know what I will be singing, it’s in the hands of the audience and I know we’ll all have a brilliant time together.”

After extensive research into interactive technologies, Miss Frisky and her team have decided that the audience will let them know their choice of songs by writing on a post-it note, and sticking it to their heads. Miss Frisky told me how incredibly efficient this method is, “and everyone looks suitably ridiculous, so I enjoy it,” she said. “I’ll then choose whichever songs I feel like singing. Bribes will be accepted.”

Along with the show, she’s super excited to be back in Auckland to visit Ponsonby’s food market, boutiques and brunch spots. She loves Karangahape Road’s vintage shops and the Wharf’s killer oysters and seafood. She also spoke very highly of Waiheke’s vineyards but will be looking for new adventures this year. She said: “All the best days out I’ve had, were suggested by Auckland locals, so write it on a post-it and stick it to your head, please.”

She is one of the biggest voices in cabaret and has performed all over the world, but she still gets nervous. She said: “What’s extra-nerve-racking about the show I’m doing here, is that I am totally in the audience’s hands. We will be making something unique every night, so comfort won’t really be coming into it! But the nerves are the thing that give you superpowers – I cannot wait to see what happens.”

Miss Frisky

Miss Frisky

Miss Frisky performs in Miss Frisky’s Karaoke Experience from Friday the 15th to Saturday the 16th of September at 8pm in Basement Theatre. Buy your tickets here.

After Auckland, Miss Frisky will fly back to London for a short time, before heading to Berlin to host a nightly dinner cabaret show, drink gluhwein and eat currywurst until March 2018.

She said: “I won’t be able to do more karaoke for a little while, so it’s going to be very very special doing these shows.”

 

NZICF 17 | Guy Williams – Why Am I Like This?

This year at the NZ International Comedy Festival, Guy Williams managed to impress with a lively (albeit slightly shouty) sell-out show at the Basement Theatre with self-deprecating ease.

The Basement provided a comfortable setting for Williams’ featured show, engaging the audience seamlessly, and keeping the atmosphere buoyant with a spirited performance. ‘Why Am I Like This?’ begins confidently, with him keeping his material relevant and current throughout.

Williams’ undeniable talent for political heckling remains, and we are updated in regards to his recent antics on social media – blessed. He communicates raw comical honestly which is refreshing when compared to the rehearsed-mood sometimes encountered in the current comedy scene. Although some of the show feels a little rehearsed with music cues and whatnot, he handles improv with ease (twice his performance was interrupted by late-comers, which is possibly not a great thing to happen to the late-comer, but can really work to a comedians advantage).

I have to recommend Guy Williams’ show – go and see him while you can readily acquire tickets; His reach and audience appeal continue to grow, as does his obvious comfort on a larger visible public platform. Also he treats us to more texts from his Mum. Thumbs up.

4/5 Stars   Get tickets for his show HERE.

GUY WILLIAMS performs at the Basement Theatre; His last show Sun 7 May as part of the 2017 NZ International Comedy Festival from 27 April – 21 May. For the full line-up of shows in the Festival head to the Comedy Fest website!

humans of mac+mae: Lizzie Morris

This is my favourite denim jacket, it fits every occasion and can complete every outfit. It’s an authentic retro jacket and was given to me by my Aunty on my last trip to the UK.  I’m not one to value material possessions and often value an experience over things but this jacket is the exception.

I love clothes (especially secondhand ones) and feel that the way that you present yourself is often an extension of your personality or your artistic self. My wardrobe is filled with items that tell stories, but I’d be most devastated if I lost this one.

I was given this jacket by my aunty when I visited the UK for my Grandfathers funeral, it was only about the fourth time I’d ever met her but she managed to give me a jacket that suited my style perfectly.  It used to be hers in the 80’s and as soon as I saw it I fell in love.

This jacket is just like me. It’s quirky, a bit tough, and scruffy in an endearing way. This is also how you could describe the theatre that I make and the projects that I commit myself to – Messy and charming.

Lizzie Morris created and performs in Lucinda and the Cactus Girl in Auckland Tuesday 18 – Friday 22 October.  Buy your tickets here.

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” –    http://bit.ly/HoMaM

humans of mac+mae: Lisa Brickell

This is a photo of my grandmother, Melba Mitchell.

It is special to me because I never met her. She died when my mother was pregnant with me. She had always said she wanted a red-headed grand daughter, but my parents and grandparents all had dark skin and hair. So it was sad she took her own life before I was born -her red-headed grand daughter.

I wish I had met her. I have written a play about her and my other female ancestors. It’s called Mockingbird and is a Black Comedy about Mental Health.

Lisa Brickell is an internationally trained performer with a speciality in Clowning and Mask Work. She also has an MA in Drama from The University of Auckland.  She’s taught at some of New Zealand’s top tertiary institutions and also works aas a trainer of presentation and leadership skills. Lisa has performed extensively in New Zealand, Italy, Japan, France, Brazil and England.

Lisa Brickell performs Mockingbird at the Basement Theatre 4-8 October and Te Pou Theatre 12 October.

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” –    http://bit.ly/HoMaM

humans of mac+mae: Bruce Brown

This is one of my most treasured possessions. My boyfriend discovered this collection of lyrics and hid it away from me until my birthday one year. If I hadn’t discovered the music of Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke, I can say for certain that I wouldn’t have started writing. It was the poetry of his lyrics and passion behind them that inspired me.

He’s always been fearless as a songwriter, sharing the experiences that shaped his unique viewpoint, whether that’s songs about the regret of heartbreak, the loneliness of big cities or the longing for someone you can never have. It was his music that I listened to non-stop when I wrote my first play and it’s his music I go back to whenever I’m feeling stuck or lost when writing.

Bruce Brown’s latest production, a sexy, slightly dirty play, HOOK-UP BOYS runs at Basement Theatre Tues 20 September – Sat 24 September.  

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” –    http://bit.ly/HoMaM