Tag Archives: performing arts

FRINGE 19 | 5 mins with Eden Mulholland

Eden Mulholland is a well-respected composer, gifted multi-instrumentalist and a sound producer for theatre, film and dance. He’s a creative collaborator at Movement of the Human (MOTH) –  a movement and performance design company developed by Malia Johnston that is about to take over Auckland Town Hall’s Concert Chamber for 4 nights as part of Auckland Fringe arts festival.

Eden has racked up some impressive accolades in the last decade. He was the winner of the 2009 & 2010 Best Music at the Tempo Dance Festival and was nominated for a Qantas Media award for Best Music for a TV series for his work on World Kitchen.

We caught up with Eden to talk Fringe, Spirit animals and other weirdness over a cup of tea with milk – just the way he likes it.

1. Is this your first Fringe Auckland?   How different is an Auckland audience to other audiences?

No. Aucklanders stay out later and drink more.

2. Describe your show in three words or less…

Dance AV CrayCray

3. Fringe Festivals are known for the weird, wacky, and utterly wonderful – what’s the most bizarre thing you’ve come across during your Fringe history?

It’s all a blur sorry..

4. What are your top 3 picks for Auckland Fringe?

Desperate Late Night Energy
Pussy Riot
Hamerkop

5. Where will we find you during the festival?

In a darkened room, or anywhere with a power outlet really, headphones on, being antisocial, but getting lots done…

6. What would we find if we raided your fridge?

Someone else’s food! I’ve been living with colleagues for 3 weeks. 3 to go before I get home. There is always milk though for my tea. I like tea.

7. Tell us about your spirit animal?

Can it be a spirit comic? Larry David for the win. I love LD

8. Word Association:

Fringe – Plug

Fridge – Fudge

Auckland – Snorkland

Festival – Westeros

Lights – Chihuahua

See Eden Mullholland’s work Movement of the Human as part of Fringe Town during Auckland Fringe festival on 21 – 24 February 2019.

Buy your tickets here

FRINGE 19 | 5 mins with Uther Dean

Cmedian and playwright, Uther Dean, is bringing his Uther Dean reads 300 Haiku act to Auckland Fringe Festival   – a new hour of story-telling of emotion, comedy and narrative in 5100 syllables.

One of his previous standout performances, Everything is Surrounded by Water, a monologue co-written and performed by Uther , won him the Best Solo at the New Zealand Fringe in 2014 and was later nominated for Best New New Zealand Play at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards.

We caught up with Uther Dean ahead of his debut at this year’s Auckland Fringe.

1. Is this your first Fringe Auckland? What are you looking forward to about performing in Auckland?

It’s my first time performing in the Fringe in Auckland but not my first time performing in Auckland. Auckland audiences are a lot less forgiving than audiences in the rest of the country. I used to think this was a bug but it is actually a feature. Auckland crowds expect more, so you give more. It’s only being asked to do your best that brings your best out of you.

2. Describe your show in three words or less…

Comedy haiku story-telling

3. Fringe Festivals are known for the weird, wacky, and utterly wonderful – what’s the most bizarre thing you’ve come across during your Fringe history?

There was a show that I think so much about that I worry I’ve made it up. Two decades or so ago, a show applied to the New Zealand Fringe (which is to say the Wellington Fringe) to do a show that consisted solely of interrupting other shows in the festival. The story goes that it’s the only show they’ve outright rejected. Then the people behind the show blew the rejection letter up into a poster and pasted it up around town.

4. What are your top 3 picks for Auckland Fringe?

Picking just three is very hard. It’s an exceptionally strong programme this year. So, discounting the obvious picks that are going to be excellent but I’m sure you already are going to see (Brendon Green, Donna Brookbanks & David Correos, Actressexual, Deacon, Only Bones, PSUSY, Pussy Riot, The Salem Bitch Trials, Two Hearts, Uther Dean Reads 300 Haiku) my top three picks are, in no order:

  1.  The Dice Show & SIN: The Social Improv Night –
    Steven Lyons, the comedian and improviser in part
    responsible for both of these shows (which are on the
    same nights so would make a great double bill), is one
    of the great unheralded talents of NZ comedy. A bright
    light in a grimy world who manages to delight every
    audience he meets.
  2. How to Write an Album – This marathon of music to
    make an album in twelve hours was hit at a previous
    Wellington Fringe and is packed to the gills with some
    of the most exciting creators from down there.
  3. Long Distance Phone Calls – If you see one poetry
    show this year, see mine, but if you see two, see this
    one as well. Programmer Vanessa Crofskey has
    immaculate taste and lined up a Who’s Who of poets
    that you actually want to see read live. This looks to be
    a very special event and I really think you should go.

5. Where will we find you during the festival?

Outside sold-out shows flyering for mine? Hanging around after shows wondering if I know people well enough to talk to them?

6. What would we find if we raided your fridge?

La Croix because I am exactly like you expect me to be.

7. Tell us about your spirit animal?

I’m not comfortable appropriating the idea of a spirit animal. If I was an Eevee I’d hope I’d evolve into a Sylveon but
would probably end up as a Umbreon.

8. Word Association:

Fringe – John Noble not winning an Emmy for Walter Bishop is a crime

Fridge – Another reason to distance yourself from the Kyle Rayner era of Green Lantern

Auckland – Money

Festival – Love

Lights – Turn on the Bright

See Uther Dean Reads 300 Haiku as part of Auckland Fringe Festival 2019 at the Classic Studio on Fri 22 – Sat 23 February.

Buy your tickets here

been | KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil

KOOZA marks the return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil, the company that began in 1984 with a motley troupe of Quebecois street performers. Started by the venerable Guy Laliberte, KOOZA combines two circus traditions – Acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The premiere that took place in Auckland last night was a truly mesmerising experience, proving yet again that Cirque du Soleil company dominates in all aspects of production. They are simply unbeatable.

A dazzling performance that is in equal parts a well paced fable, slowly unraveling the world of acrobatic wonder and magic, while also being an electrifying operatic experience that keeps the audience on its toes throughout. (My eyes wide open, my heart skipped many a beat and I stopped counting how many times I held my breath while watching the action unfold.)

“KOOZA is about human connection and the world of duality, good and bad” says the show’s writer and director David Shiner. “The tone is fun and funny, light and open. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s very much about ideas, too. As it evolves, we are exploring concepts such as fear, identity, recognition and power”

The show starts with The Innocent (A new kid on the block, expertly played by Cedric Belisle) a loner and simpleton who is trying to fly his kite. He’s interrupted by the arrival of a mailman with a curious package – a jack-in-the-box containing a Trickster (Derek Piquette) who summons us into his new land filled with wonder, danger and dreams. He introduces The Innocent to the other colourful and comic characters – The King, The Heimloss, The Obnoxious Tourist and his Bad Dog.

This is where the action begins. Music plays an important part in the production. Inspired by the sounds of western pop culture and traditional Indian music, it complements and adds to the drama of the acrobatic acts.

The main acts covered are  the sumptuous and beguiling Straps performance, Balancing on Chairs, Charivari, Contortion, High Wire, Hoops Manipulation, Teeterboard, Unicycle Duo and ultimate Wheel of Death.

As soon as you might feel the act is over, the performers realising their full human body potential, they up the ante and give you more than you have ever bargained for. The excitement build up is palpable until the very end.

A well deserving standing ovation followed.

Not to be Missed! Kooza by Cirque du Soleil will be performing over the following dates:

FEBRUARY 15, 2019 – MARCH 17, 2019

@ Alexandra Park

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.

been | Close City

The Passion, excitement and unspoken nervous tension of an opening night are heightened in the small crammed studio host to ‘Close City’ – a play produced by Amber Rose Henshall and directed by Egle Simkeviciute Kulvelis.

Written by Marius Ivaskevicius, Close City paints a colourful and provocative tale of marriage most mundane, dominance and submission, all with a decidedly Scandinavian quintessence.

Sheena Irving and Jeff Szusterman play the fragile centrepieces of this play with superb support from Lucy Suttor as the fantastical mermaid, Thomas Sainsbury provides comedy with his character’s quirky swedish anecdotes and bizarre reflective musings, Daniel Watterson plays the dashingly deviant Lars, along with Emma Newborn as the morally corrupt Birgit.

With clever metaphors between glass and the innate fractures of close relationships, parallels pertaining to the distance of cities, (Malmo & Copenhagen) and the journey of discovering another part of oneself previously repressed, albeit far from home, Close City is a story that alongside superb acting, clever and detailed artistic direction that leaves one feeling not quite the same as when they entered.

Thought-provoking and engaging, this is one show of the Basement Theatre’s Spring Season that is a must-see!

close-city-1

Close City is showing at Basement Theatre 6th-17th September

Been | Leilani

From first throes, seated in the back row of a dimly lit and intimate theater, we are drawn into the tragycomedy of Leilani (Irasa Siave), a naive but incredibly loveable heroine, who shares her journey from the onset – the consequences of an unrewarding love, to being down on her luck and cast amongst the undesirables of society.

Director Pedro Ilgenfritz introduces the play and it’s players; Aymee Karaitiana, Irasa Siave & Natasha Daniel and their young, yet uniquely impressive Mahukia Theatre Company.

The use of masks to emulate the emotions of it’s characters, together with the sparse and barren settings of the stage, play a very important part in capturing the core soul of the play.  One that deals with such issues relevant to our own urban culture; homelessness, unplanned pregnancy and despair.

Pedro’s direction combined with the subtle use of choreography, sets just the right pace throughout the 70min performance to engage the audience’s attention and keep us invested in it’s characters and their evolution towards the end.  The inclusion of comedic elements as well as the irony of finding love, acceptance and hope from out on the bleak dark streets, bring too, some light relief to an otherwise grim subject.

Language is not merely confined to just words, language can manifest itself through imagery, movement and music, which is what Leilani successfully achieves as a theatrical experience, one that takes you on a journey through the essence of music reminiscent of silent movies, movement, comedy and a reverent tribute to the Commedia dell’Arte”.

It is an experience that is worth the admission price 10 times over!   A truly moving and polished performance.

Bravo!

***  Leilani is part of the Matchbox 2016 Season and is showing at the Q-Theatre (Loft) from August 4th – Saturday 13th

been | The Book Of Everything

The Book Of Everything returns to the Auckland stage at Q Theatre after a successful run last year. It is an adaptation of a children’s book of the same name by Dutch Author Guus Kuijer. Author and playwright Richard Tulloch has done a fantastic job transforming the book into a play, celebrating the boundless power of imagination while providing a lesson about bravery in life. With superb direction by Sophie Roberts, The Book Of Everything is an entertaining theatrical experience to be sure.