SCENE BY JAMES: 2021 – A Theatrical Year in Review [PANDEMIC EDITION YEAR TWO]

December 31, 2021
[Weathering the Storm] On the 20th April, 2021, the Prime Minister, the Deputy PM and Aotearoa’s leading epidemiologist converged at BATS Theatre to watch an uncanny mirror image of our country’s 2020 Covid-19 lockdown. The play was Transmission, created by Stuart McKenzie and Miranda Harcourt, which used verbatim extracts of interviews primarily with Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson and Professor Michael […]

SCENE BY JAMES: When will Arts in Aotearoa get the Green Light?

November 20, 2021
In the same week Auckland Theatre Company and Basement Theatre confirmed they were closing for the rest of the year, I attended a one night-only performance of Back to Square One? at the Tahi Festival of Solo Performance at Wellington’s BATS Theatre. Back to Square One? is a Covid show, inspired by writer/performer Anders Falstie-Jensen’s conversations with his 95-year-old grandmother […]

SCENE BY JAMES: The Lion King vs the NZ Theatre Industry

March 20, 2021
[Still Working on our Roar] An international production of The Lion King coming to Auckland is a vote of confidence from the world that New Zealand is the ideal place to put on live performance during a global pandemic, but what are the implications for the local theatre sector? As a Musical Theatre obsessed kid in the 90s and early 2000s, […]

SCENE BY JAMES: 2020 – A Theatrical Year in Review [Pandemic Edition]

December 31, 2020
[Out of the Box and Into the Box: Aotearoa Theatre Enduring a Pandemic, and Dreaming of the Future] Suddenly the opening exchange of Anton Chekhov’s 1895 play The Seagull made sense like never before: “Why do you always wear black?” “I’m in mourning for my life” There on my laptop was Masha (Bronwyn Ensor), rocking the no-longer-care lockdown look. What […]

When the Show Doesn’t Go On

March 19, 2020
When people ask me what I’m into, I struggle to list anything beyond “theatre.” I’m a theatre obsessive. A tragic. I decided long ago to make it a core part of my identity, and I’ve stubbornly stuck to that pact ever since. In those moments when I take a hard look at my relationship with theatre, wondering if it would […]

SCENE BY JAMES: 2019 – A Theatrical Year in Review

December 30, 2019
[What could we do with sustainable practice?] The challenges of making a living out of the performing and screen arts are well known to the industry, but there is something about seeing the facts in black and white that throws the problem into stark relief. I’m talking about research commissioned by Creative New Zealand and NZ on Air released in […]

SCENE BY JAMES: Resonance and the New Zealand Fringe, Wellington 2019

April 1, 2019
[On the Fringe: Shifting and Singing] Content Notification: Discussion of the Christchurch terror attack, sexual violence, and suicide. But also hope, and joy, and singing, and the rejuvenating potential of performance. Can you take the pulse of a city through the shows performed on its Fringe? Can you judge the heart of a Festival by the visitors who have come […]

SCENE BY JAMES: 2018 – A Theatrical Year in Review

December 31, 2018
[Representation Matters] Silo Theatre’s production of Mr Burns presented a vision of theatrical futures. In the play by American writer Anne Washburn, survivors of an electricity-ending event band together to form a travelling theatre troupe specialising in the recreation of classic The Simpsons episodes. I begin with Mr Burns here because, while it presents a bleak image for our planet, […]

Six Degrees of Gender Separation: The Problems with Auckland Theatre Company’s 2018-2019 Programme

October 29, 2018
[Where are the Women at the Waterfront?] During the uproar over the Pop-up Globe’s decision to use an all-male cast while invoking #MeToo in their promotion, Auckland Theatre Company did a Facebook post “Celebrating the amazing women of our 2017-2018 season!” ATC name checked their lead actors – “phenomenal matriarchs of the stage” – Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Alison Bruce and Jennifer […]
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