Jack the Ripper finally comes to Auckland, and he’s got a knife… [by James Wenley]
When I met Anders Falstie-Jensen during his lunch break from rehearsals at the Basement, he was beaming and full of enthusiasm for his latest project. The play he is directing, Yours Truly sounds like a ripper. Jack the Ripper to be precise. Written by Albert Belz, the play promises to be one of the scariest and darkest thrillers from a New Zealand playwright.
But other than the subject matter, there is something else for Anders to be excited about – the play marks a significant milestone for Anders and his theatre company The Rebel Alliance (whose Fringe offering Standstill I really enjoyed). For the first time, thanks to a grant from Creative New Zealand, Anders can go to paid full time work, 9-5, as a theatre director…
Yours Truly has been a long time coming to the Auckland stage. It debuted at BATS Wellington in 2006 and won Best New Zealand Play at the Chapman Tripp awards, but save for a production in Whangarei it all but disappeared. Playmarket had first alerted Producer/Director Anders Faltsie-Jensen to the play in 2008, but due to busyness it lay unread on his desk for three months. “When I finally got around to reading it – as soon as I finished it”, Anders says, “I biked down to the office and said I really want to do this show.” Unfortunately, Anders was told that the rights were no longer available.
Surely kicking himself for not reading it sooner, Anders was presented with another opportunity when the rights went back up, but with a catch. A guy called Sam was also interested in the play...
Answering Q's about Q [by Sharu Delilkan]
I’ve known James Wilson for the past four years while he was Producer and General Manager at Massive Company. So when I heard that he was taking on the role of Executive Producer at Q, I naturally wanted the lowdown.
Having only joined weeks before Q’s official opening on August 26, Wilson admits he’s “like a kid in a sweetshop at Christmas.
“I’m really enjoying walking around the building and having my face light up when I see the endless possibilities.”
And it’s these endless possibilities that makes Wilson proud to be part of the latest addition to Auckland’s arts venues which is not only unique not to our city but to the country.
“We are hoping to attract not only the performing arts community, but anyone who would like to use our venue, to do wild and wonderful things with these new spaces.”
More than just 'Invincible' [by James Wenley]
At the age of 19, George Nepia earned himself a place in Rugby history. As fullback on the All Black squad during the tour of Europe in 1924/25, he played in all 30 matches, and the All Blacks won them all. The team would be hailed as the ‘Invincibles’ and Nepia as the best full back of all time.
That’s the legend. What I, George Nepia gives us is the man. Nepia, as interpreted by playwright Hone Kouka, director Jason Te Kare and actor Jarod Rawiri, is worlds away from the hype. Rugby was never his dream and he’s humble and self-effacing about his on field achievements – so much fuss about a ball made out of ‘cow-hide’. His greatest achievement: Fatherhood, what else?
Kouka uses the framing of Nepia in the afterlife (at a Rugby stadium no less) hoping and waiting to meet his deceased son. Here, he reflects on his life, the story told from both the older, wiser perspective as well as the in-the-moment wide eyed and young Nepia.
On the boat to England we meet a Nepia entirely at odds with his portrayal as legend. He has all too human fears – not being good enough, and not fitting in with his team. The return to the ‘motherland’ that drives other team mates is lost on him, he finds himself a Maori in a strange land, the story becoming a deeply personal odyssey where he must travel away to find himself (a foundation New Zealand rite of passage if ever there was one!).
Double dose delights [by Sharu Delilkan]
You can’t go wrong with two for the price of one.
But when both the products are not just great value but great quality, you know you’ve struck gold.
In this case watching two separate but cleverly intertwined operas, Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci more commonly referred to as Cav/Pag, is not just value for money but a great night filled with drama and intrigue. A show definitely worth traipsing into town for, even amidst all the Rugby World Cup malarkey.
So I think by now you would have gathered that I really enjoyed the latest production of the NBR New Zealand Opera.
Slick, sick and sexy [by James Wenley]
Amy Waller, Claire Van Beek and Julia Hyde are a talented and triumphant trifecta. Starring as the Cheer Blacks in their play Death by Cheerleader, they deliver a 10/10 performance not only showcases some great acting and comedic flair, but some high energy and impressive cheerleading routines, restricted only by the height of the Basement.
When the preshow music has Rihanna’s ‘Rude Boy’ rocking loudly through the Basement, you know you are in for a good time.
The second of the ‘Rugby’ orientated plays on at The Basement this week (we at TheatreScenes promise to stop mentioning the Rugby soon!), Death by Cheerleader follows a dysfunctional cheerleading team who win the chance to cheer for the All Blacks in the 2015 Rugby World Cup in Dubai (nicely sidestepping any need for reality) after the mysterious death of the other three place getting cheer teams.
Amy Waller, a real life cheerleader for Sky City and NZ Breakers, must have had great fun skewering her sport. These cheerleaders are sick, twisted, deluded and very, very good looking – a dangerous combination. If anything, the play proves that the IRB should stay well away from cheerleading, and people should stay away from cheerleaders in general.
Try, but no conversion… [by Sharu Delilkan]
Admittedly I was apprehensive about reviewing this show because rugby is definitely not my forte. However I decided to go for it in the same spirit that the playwright of The First Asian AB (FAAB) Renee Liang chose to write the play. But just in case I surrounded myself with the right people for the show – two fellow Malaysians as well as Alex Broun, a screenwriter and one of the world's leading ten-minute playwrights, who also happens to be a renowned rugby journalist.
Enough about me, and onto the show.
The two hander, where two actors play a multitude of characters, stars Singaporean Ben Teh (The Bone Feeder, Odd Socks) who plays Malaysian-born Willy Long who comes to study in New Zealand and Samoan Paul Fagamalo (Pollyhood in Mumuland, Romeo and Juliet, The Factory, Where We Once Belonged) whose character is Samoan-born Kiwi Mook.
Luckily for me the show is not purely about rugby but about two friends growing up, who also happen to be immigrants.
The First Asian AB Ticket Giveaway winner announced [by James Wenley]
With theatre going a bit Rugby mad at the moment, I wondered what would happened if we put the boot on the other foot. To win tickets to The First Asian AB, performing this week at the Basement, I asked readers "Which ALL BLACK would you like to see perform in a theatre show?"
Runner ups were Becky, who nominated Piri Weepu: "Boom. How hilarious is that guy? Hilaaarious. "
And Jamie, who wanted to see Kevin Mealamu: "He has a heart-warming smile and is articulate enough for the job. I think he would make a good guru type figure.. "
But the winner of the Webb Ellis Trophy (and a double pass to see The First Asian AB on Wednesday night) is Anzel, who chose not only the actor but the show he should star in...
A Yellow Brick Road worth following [by James Wenley]
We're off to the see the Wizard. I’ll get you my pretties. Dorothy. Scarecrow. Lion. Tin Man. Toto.
The songs, images, lines and characters from The Wizard of Oz are burned in technicolour into the memories of generations of people for over 70 years. While deviating wildly from L. Frank Baum’s 1900 original book (turning the whole thing into a dream for one), the 1939 movie musical is arguably perfect cinema, and it is this interpretation that has taken hold of popular culture.
Still timeless, the memorable characters light up the screen in technicolour, and the story rewards both the young and the young at heart. Who hasn’t, like Dorothy, longed for a place where the “dreams that you dare to dream really do come true”.
And the Western world has continued to be fascinated by it. Andrew Lloyd Webber has put his own spin on the musical, Wicked revealed that the Wicked Witch of the West was actually rather nice, and there’s a new ‘prequel’ movie coming out starring James Franco as the Wizard.
But nothing has surpassed the film. Mess with this property at your peril.
Interview with Benjamin Teh and Paul Fagamalo about acting, culture and RUGBY! + TICKET GIVEAWAY!!
[by James Wenley]
After 200,000 fans shut-down down-town for the Rugby World Cup Opening Night celebrations there is no denying it anymore. The Rugby is here, and Auckland has gone mad for it.
And if you can’t beat em, join em. Or so it seems to be going for theatre. With this unprecedented event taking over Auckland and the country (silencing even the politicians), it’s all a bit of a gamble as to how Auckland’s theatre will fare.
Will our theatres be left empty, its audiences flocking to the RWC events, or staying home to watch on the telly? Or will our theatres be able to capitalise on the ‘going out’ culture and an increased number of international visitors. Will Rugby we the winner on the day, or will the Arts be winners too?
Q’s Loft loses its virginity [by Sharu Delilkan]
Everyone is familiar with the Roman goddess Venus, that’s often associated with love, beauty and fertility.
So naturally I was bracing myself for an evening brimming with decadence, desire and debauchery.
And coupled with the excitement of Q’s new studio space The Loft’s first show Venus Is..., the evening promised a spicy piece of history in its making.
I was surprised by the nervous anticipation I felt when I arrived. “What could we expect?” I wondered, from the nationally renowned aerial theatre company The Dust Palace’s latest show Venus Is... But I soon realised I was not alone. The palpable excitement in the air, as everyone gathered in the lobby space outside The Loft, was akin to one witnessing an historic event.
Venus Is..., as billed, is a lecherous, steamy, athletic, naughty, poignant landscape of sex, lust, sadness, literature and song.