Taking the Risk [by James Wenley]
“…It was this lack of “weight” (a not too easily defined term which an actor, if not a member of the audience, would understand) that Mr George Henare needs to work on if he wishes to pursue the acting profession. His is a good, powerful voice, he has strong features… yet a lot of these advantages are dissipated by his unsureness in terms of movement, distribution of body-emphasis, and… style.” - Review of Awatea
It would be a brave reviewer indeed who would dare to write such sacrilegious words about Mr George Henare today. That was George Webby, in 1968, in an across-the-board withering attack on the original stage production of Bruce Mason’s Awatea. For Auckland Theatre Company’s 2012 revival, Sharu Delikan called Henare’s acting “flawless” and “truly inspired”, with Henare coming full circle to play blind patriarch Werihe Paku, whose son Matt Henare performed as in 1968. 2012 was a year that in many ways belonged to Henare, with headline performances in Awatea, Peach Theatre Company’s Death of a Salesman, and Educating Rita for the new Newmarket Theatre Company. Henare stocked up on the actor carbs to deliver three weighty performances indeed, along with a lightness of touch and twinkle in the eye, it was breathtaking to see Henare at work.
As I embarked this year on a Masters project looking at forgotten ‘landmark’ New Zealand plays from the 40-70s, Awatea defined my year. I went ‘behind enemy lines’ to see a little of that production come together. 2012 was a year I had one foot in the past, and one in the present. What would 2012 look like, in several decades time?
A matter of pride [by Sharu Delilkan]
A heterosexual woman at the helm of a thrilling contemporary narrative predominantly focussed on the gay issues could have been a point of concern. But nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to Sophie Roberts' role as director for The Pride.
Her history of working on productions with gay themes has made her role in The Pride a natural progression in her career.
“I have done quite a few gay-oriented plays so I am quite comfortable dealing with those issues. I also like working with or highlighting the perspective of people on the fringes of society. I find such work more interesting and enjoy working in that territory. I strongly believe that theatre has a social and political function, which is why I seek out work that talks about these issues. And the fact that the gay marriage bill coming up in parliament gives the content of the play a lot more weight and relevance,” she says.
Shivering and Shaking; The Glittery Black [by Rosabel Tan]
Siggy (Kip Chapman) is the quintessential drifter. He’s spent the past seven years “finding his niche” – that is, working his way through every stage one paper offered by the Faculty of Arts – and he’d happily continue this search, only The Dean (Adam Gardiner) is now threatening to kick him out: Not for his unrelenting dedication to underachievement, not even because he’s a small-time drug dealer catering to staff and students’ appetite for black (a fictional drug not unlike cocaine), but because one of those students – Billy – had a heart condition, shouldn’t have been sold the drug, was sold it anyway, and died as a result.
Siggy’s also dealing with the presumed suicide of his dad, a renowned seismologist whose boat was recently discovered offshore without him in it, but there’s more to it than this – he just doesn’t know it yet. There’s also his childhood friend Katie (Virginia Frankovich), who’s back from Berlin with big news of her own, and you might think: these are some heavy things for a person to deal with. And you might think: I know what kind of play this is going to be, but try not to, because one of the most striking aspects of Eli Kent’s Black Confetti is the way it resists taking you where you expect it to go, both on a scene-by-scene basis and as a whole, and not in ways that feel contrived – just unpredictable, the ground beneath constantly shifting in ways that surprise.
Commissioned by Auckland Theatre Company, who have workshopped it over the past eighteen months, the play is a pastiche of naturalism and caricature, the supernatural and the surreal, murder mystery and thriller, and at the centre of it all, Siggy, played by Chapman with laidback charm. You get the sense that life is something that mostly happens to him: His dad’s brother, Ray (Edwin Wright), is the one giving him black and telling him – and his best friend Elvis (Nic Sampson) – to sell it; He doesn’t meet a girl, a girl – Flo (Julia Croft) – meets him; and when the Haitian spirit of the dead, Baron Saturday (Keith Adams), shows up, it’s clear who’s in control.
Siggy Tardust! [by Sharu Delilkan]
When Kip Chapman saw Black Confetti at Auckland Theatre Company’s The Next Stage programme last year, he knew instantly he had to be involved.
“I approached Philippa [Campbell] as soon as the reading was over because I thought it was an amazing script that reminded me of Odysseus going into the underworld. I was even more impressed that it was written by the young playwright Eli Kent, because it was such a grand idea. I also thought it was incredibly funny with great depth,” he says.
Written by the award-winning writer Kent, Black Confetti is packed full of big ideas and a squillion little surprises. The show about surviving the earthquakes in our lives, which include poetry, mysteries and full-on theatricality.
Besides Chapman the other Black Confetti’s actors include Edwin Wright (Ray), Adam Gardiner (The Dean/Louis/Coroner), Nic Sampson (Elvis), Virginia Frankovich (Katie), Julia Croft (Flo) and Keith Adams (Baron Saturday).
As the main character Siggy, Chapman is a Generation Y casualty. He has maxed out his student loan; university is ejecting him; his uncle is behaving strangely; and his father, a famous seismologist, has disappeared off the face of the earth.
What will the 2012 Auckland Theatre Scene bring? [by James Wenley]
The Auckland Theatre Scene goes deadly quiet in January. In my last post, as I looked back on 2011, I was grateful the curtain had dropped on a particularly busy year for theatre. Now, however, I’m firmly suffering theatre withdrawal. Luckily, the hopeful promise of 2012 productions keeps me going.
Here’s what’s setting off my thea-dar as we begin the year:
2012 is looking a little unusual…
The first thing to note about 2012 is that the early months of the year promises some particularly out of the box, genre-mashing theatrical happenings. I’m always keen to experience things that are just a little bit different, and leave you with many questions (eg: Uh… What did I just see?).
Two events at The Edge have the potential to be particularly mind and body expanding. For those that think they’ve seen it all, these two platforms will provide some surprises…
Bathing with Elephants and other exotic revelries breaks the theatre drought late this month, and gets attention for a suitably imaginative and evocative name, but the shows’ description really has my mind swirling: