Q opens in triumph, Fringe overshadows Festival, Outfit Rise, Rugby, Rugby, Rugby, and the Death of the Theatre. [by James Wenley]
Attending the recent Hackman Theatre awards, Auckland Theatre circa 2011 would appear to be in rude health. Rude being the word, hosts Nic Sampson and Joseph Moore proudly observing it was a record year of nudity on stage, from the very brave Mr. Sam Seddon in The Only Child to the Dame bosoms of the Calendar Girls. It was certainly year that didn’t leave much to the imagination, containing everything from dildos to knitted phalluses, bath tubs to swimming pools.
The Hackmans were a big communal pat on the back for the industry, a brash and bold celebration of a huge year in theatre. As Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Robyn Malcom closed the awards night performing in a Thomas Sainsbury play that he had written under duress that very night, there was a sense that anything and everything was possible.
As a critic moving from Craccum to my own Theatre Scenes blog this year, I’ve welcomed the end-of-year theatre break. Throughout the year, I could often be heard to exclaim: ‘Auckland Theatre: There is too much of you!’. It’s been exhausting going to opening to opening night after night. And immensely rewarding. While containing some duds for sure, my impression of the year is one of great strength and eclectic activity. There was no shortage of things to write about at least. There was always something on. Between fellow blogger Sharu Delilkan and me, we reviewed or previewed 96 different shows, and even that barely scratched the surface.
These Kiwis can Fly! [by James Wenley]
Flightless Birds - clever name. It’s a new play from Catalyst Theatre Company that follows three mates (and a female intruder) on the night before they are all meant to fly off to Europe for their big OE.
Ah, the OE. The quintessential rite of passage for all self-respecting New Zealanders. As Simon (Colin Garlick) observes, fellow kiwis think there is something wrong with you if you haven’t at some point in your twenties hopped on a plane and gone off to see the world. But as Director Jonathan Hodge notes in the program, “Why should you go away just to learn about you are?”.
Playwright Sam Berkley, who himself is about to embark on his OE, has a written a play about the hopes, fears and realities of flying away that is snortingly funny, but is also a play that is as close to the bone about ‘my generation’ and the NZ experience that I have seen in a long time. Roger Hall can sometimes be a dirty word in NZ theatre (tall poppy?), but this play struck me as an edgy Roger Hall for 2011, and I mean that in the best possible way.