Just quietly, I’m really rather excited about 2011 in theatre. Its early days, sure, but there are a heck of a lot of upcoming shows that are definitely on my theatrical radar. My theadar if you will. Here’s what is making it go ping!
Auckland Fringe is starting in a month. This upstart alternative festival launched in 2009 with 75 shows after the theatrical community realized that since Wellington’s had one for ages, there is no excuse for Auckland to not have one for themselves , and, while we were at it, to do it better. Fringe 2011 is out, and boasts quite the smorgasbord with over 100 arts events this time around. Tickets are cheap, and there is much to taste.
Shows that have caught my eye:
Deep in the Forest: A Cautionary Cabaret gets points for the most provocative poster… Nic Sampson is a funny guy and has two shows None Tree Hill and Feel Felt Found… international comedy show The Hermitude of Angus, Ecstatic is a ‘read-along’ comedy… The team behind the excellent Kafka’s The Trial in the lower levels of the Aotea a few years back have come up with When Animals dream of sheep – ‘an outdoor spectacle in an inner city park’… Isla and Josephine, who skewed high school culture in Fringe 09’s Ruby Tuesday, return with Chalk, promising to skewer retirement home culture!… Playwright Thomas Sainsbury acts in his own play Joseph and Mahina… Man Bits will teach you how to do knitting at the end of the show, Motherlock is a fascinating one-woman show… The Sex Show is a show about… sex, evidently… Rebel Alliance throw out a challenge with Standstill, telling us nothing about the show and asking us to ‘take a chance’… and Opera and Theatre are set for an epic showdown as two competing versions of ‘The Turn of the Screw’ go head to head (or stay home and read the novella?)
Auckland Festival has been growing, and growing, and growing and now have a fancy added ‘Arts’ in between ‘Auckland’ and ‘Festival’ this year (So Auckland Arts Festival if that’s not clear). This year I am especially pleased to see such a big emphasis on original New Zealand work, as well as the amazing array of international works that we wouldn’t normally see otherwise.
Festival gives Red Leap Theatre Company something many others don’t get – the investment in time and resources to create stunningly original theatre works. After their international success with the Festival 09 hit The Arrival, they are back with Paper Sky A love story… Massive, an increasing force with their awesome ensemble work have Havoc in the Garden… Oliver Driver gets to go crazy with local artists in Live Live Cinema: Carnival of Souls , making up a live soundtrack from an old black and white film… If you ever wanted to see Bolivian theatre, now you can with La Odisea… the Manganiyars traditionally play for Kings, now they are playing for you in The Manganiyar Seduction… The Interminable suicide of Gregory Church has quite the intriguing title… If Beckett is your thing there are two stage adaptations of his stories First Love and The End with from an authentic Irish company!…Vietnamese Water Puppets (!) take over Aotea Square… I stupidly missed out on the team behind Smoke&Mirrors last time due to their sold out season in the Speigeltent but cannot let his happen this time… and in a personal plug, The Show Must Go On is an unconventional dance show with a soundtrack of classic pop hits.
Auckland Theatre Company has a very strong, kiwi dominated season this year. First up they resurrect a classic New Zealand play Well Hung and are certainly pushing the innuendo… Raymond Hawthorne directs Poor Boy, with music by Tim Finn… Theatre Queens Robyn Malcom and Elizabeth Hawthorne promise the smack down of the year in Mary Stuart… RED has had an amazing critical response overseas, and I’m looking forward to seeing Outrageous Fortune’s Grant Bowler onstage… On the upside down of the world re-examines the Pakeha colonial existence… older ladies get their kit off in Calendar Girls – hot!… and Bruce Mason’s masterpiece The End of the Golden Weather is performed in a company version with Nic Sampson and Keisha Castle-Hughes.
No big international Musicals have been announced yet, but I’ll be keeping a watching eye on that. Wicked is overdue to come here of course…