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 […]

REVIEW: The Chorus; Oedipus (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 20, 2016
[Beauty and Terror] It’s nearly impossible to watch Oedipus without already knowing what happens. Even those who haven’t read it know how it goes, its mythology so ingrained in our pop culture, though it’s usually remembered for its outcome and ending more than for its actual plot. Less a story of incest, this is the story of a King who […]

REVIEW: Nixon in China (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 18, 2016
[APO Saves the Day] How wonderful to hear the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO) again in flawless form and to see them front stage in this production of Nixon in China. Never before produced in New Zealand, it is always great to experience new-to-Aotearoa works that are presented with such panache and passion. Despite the sometimes unfortunate sightlines of the Auckland […]

REVIEW: Big Mouth (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 18, 2016
[The Best Words] Peter O’Toole once said that it is an actor’s job “to make the words flesh”. Bringing words to life requires both a studious and innate understanding of not only what they mean, but also what they can represent. Performed and directed by Valentijn Dhaenens, Big Mouth addresses addresses through history, and, in doing so within a prescribed […]

REVIEW: Te Po (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 12, 2016
[Being and Nothingness] There’s something exciting about a play that starts off behind a curtain. Not only is it delightfully old-fashioned, but it also fills the audience with anticipation of what’s to come. Expectations are raised and you can bet we’re expecting to be wowed. So when the curtain is finally pulled back and we see Bruce Mason’s study, I’m […]

REVIEW: Brass Poppies (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 12, 2016
[Chunuk Stripped Bair] What a pleasure to be back at the Mercury Theatre tonight as a fitting period venue for Auckland Arts Festival’s and NZ Opera’s Brass Poppies.  Clearly an important milestone in New Zealand’s development as a nation, and as a catalyst for breaking away from the “motherland” – this piece is brave, important and essential. In true Kiwi […]

REVIEW: Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 11, 2016
[Down where it’s wetter] Entering the Spiegeltent for Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid is an experience in itself- on opening night there was an anticipatory queue even half an hour before the show started. We were ushered into an intimate in-the-round theatre with a thrust stage- my elbows were basically digging into my friend’s side for the whole show- yet this […]

REVIEW: Waves (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 10, 2016
[Lady in the Water] Inspired by her own love of swimming, and developed from an earlier short story, Alice Mary Cooper’s Waves is a piece of historical fiction that disguises itself as a true story. In fact, the presentation of the story was told so earnestly I didn’t realise the full extent of what was made up until I read […]

REVIEW: The James Plays (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 9, 2016
[Scotland plays no games] I have no interest in slaughtering the sacred cow that is the Bard as seen in The James Plays’ marketing and publicity quotes (“Better than Shakespeare” says the review quote on the poster). This is not for concern of offending Shakespearean purists, but due only to the inequitable comparison of three plays and a life’s works. […]

REVIEW: Tar Baby (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 5, 2016
[Invisible Woman] What does it mean to be the other? To be otherised is to be made invisible. To not only be unseen, but also to only be seen for what people think you are. You exist, simply, as blackness or a vessel. A void to be filled with contradictory stereotypes and assumptions. To be pigeonholed, tokenised or, worse, erased. […]
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