SCENE BY JAMES: 2016 – A Theatrical Year in Review

December 30, 2016
[Engaging with our Worlds] The meme that gained exponential currency as 2016 trudged along was that 2016 was a terrible year. Aleppo, terror, celebrity deaths, Brexit, Harambe, and the coming of Trump – what started as a joke seems to have become a genuine expression of the globe having entirely written off this fucked up year. Yes, this contemporary perception is all […]

SCENE BY JAMES: So now we know what’s happening with the Maidment Theatre

November 2, 2016
[RIP Maidment] In his update to staff, the University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon announced today that the Maidment Theatre is to “be closed permanently and eventually demolished”. Opened in 1976, the Maidment had been closed indefinitely since December 2015 after it was deemed an earthquake risk. Until today, the university had been silent on its future. McCutcheon’s internal email […]

SCENE BY JAMES: If New Zealand theatre criticism sucks, then it’s always sucked.

July 12, 2016
[Which is to say, it doesn’t] Yesterday playwright/director/lip sync dynamo and “professional theatre critic” Sam Brooks went full Addison DeWitt against his own profession, dripping venom over the crappy theatre criticism in this country. On The Spinoff he argues: “theatre criticism in this country is fucked… the result: a critical culture muddied by hobbyists, people who aren’t truly passionate about engaging […]

SCENE BY JAMES: To Support the Arts, buy a Lotto Ticket…

April 3, 2016
[More Fool Us] The most dramatically interesting part of the opening night of Auckland Theatre Company’s You Can Always Hand them Back was actually what happened after the bows. The production marks 40 years of playwriting from national treasure Roger Hall, and the occasion was quite rightly used as an opportunity to pay tribute to Hall’s enormous contribution to New […]

SCENE BY JAMES: The 2016 Auckland Arts Festival in Review

March 25, 2016
If for nothing else, I’ll personally remember the 2016 Auckland Arts Festival for a kiss. It was in Tar Baby, when I found myself playing the role of race relations commissioner and sex object. Already I had been called up to the Spiegeltent stage in a group to help re-enact the history of slavery in the Americas, picking up sugar […]

SCENE BY JAMES (and Matt): The James Plays Podcast

March 7, 2016
[Two Critics with the Egos of Three Kings] Critics Matt Baker and James Wenley went to the National Theatre of Scotland’s The James Plays over the weekend and podcasted their experience. Catch their conversation during the breaks of their nine hour theatre marathon. They saw James I on the Saturday night, and James II and III the next day. Find out the immediate reactions from the […]

SCENE BY JAMES: The Pop-up Globe Experience

February 29, 2016
[A Worthy Scaffold] The original Globe theatre has a terrific origin story. Shakespeare and co were leasing ‘The Theatre’ in Shoreditch, but they didn’t like their landlord. A careful reading of the lease revealed that while they didn’t own the land, they did own the playhouse.  A few days after a white Christmas of 1598, the acting company turned up […]

SCENE BY JAMES: 2015 – A Theatrical Year in Review

December 21, 2015
Half Full / Half Empty [by James Wenley] So Auckland, how did we do this year? Were our generously marked up interval drinks full to the brim, or running on empty? If you’d asked me this question at the beginning of September, say between shows at Auckland Live’s decadent Cabaret season, I would have responded gloomily. Programming choices were tepid, and […]

Scene by James: What has happened to the Short+Sweet Festival?

September 10, 2015
[by James Wenley] It’s started to bother me that the promoters of Short+Sweet are still running with the line that if you don’t enjoy one play, it’s okay, the next is just 10 minutes away. The subtext for potential ticket buyers is that some of the plays will be a bit shit. Short+Sweet Theatre has been going in Auckland for […]

Scene by James: Cabaret and Revolution

September 5, 2015
[by James Wenley] What happens when two Cabaret divas have the same song on their set list? Answer: let them both do it! In a quirk of programming, both Yana Alana and Camille O’Sullivan used Leonard Cohen’s ‘Anthem’ as one of their big finishing numbers. With Aussie firecracker Yana Alana costumed only with an electric blue wig and body paint […]
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