Play favours The Brave [by Sharu Delilkan]
Massive Company’s latest production The Brave marks a number of firsts for the cast’s oldest actor, Jonny Moffatt.
The show is a milestone in the 30-year-old’s acting career as he will not only be debuting with Massive Company but also at Q and the Mangere Arts Centre.
Moffatt says “Although I have never worked with the company before I could sense the collective energy when I stepped into the rehearsal room on the first day. It immediately felt like we were on the same page.
The Brave also marks Massive Company turning 21. In keeping with the spirit of Massive’s devised theatre style, the show is created from true confessions – baby teeth to mortgages – where eight men front up on a bare stage ready to risk it all, stripping away every facade.
The Brave’s cast members include Todd Emerson (My Wedding & Other Secrets), Beulah Koale (Havoc in the Garden), Scott Cotter (TV3’s Brown Bruthaz) and Dominic Ona-Ariki (Shortland Street) as well as newcomers to the stage Andy Sani, Leki Jackson Bourke and Neil Amituanai.
The ‘sense of play’ or as director and Massive Company founder Sam Scott refers to as ‘le jeu’ – the French word for game – is an element of the process that Moffatt has really relished.
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.
Havoc on the Stage! [by James Wenley]
From the outside looking in, our lives must seem bizarre, rushed, and incomprehensible. Havoc in the Garden cuts open houses and allows us to peek into other people’s lives. A brilliant scene shows people living their lives in parallel, unaware of each other, all talking and behaving in their own little bubbles. It’s chaotic and fascinating. At other times the play necessarily blocks out the rest of the noise, focusing in on different family groups and their lives and dramas. Out of this intense focus, emerges some sort of meaning and insight into the human condition. And it’s not pretty. That’s damn good theatre.
Sean Coyle’s set is some achievement, squashing a number of living spaces from different houses on the ‘hills’ onto the smallish Herald Theatre stage (the show is travelling to and ), and the play follows a number of different characters and storylines. What connects all the characters is an event that shatters their neighborhood – a woman screaming, a series of gunshots, and the order by the police to stay in their houses.
There will be Havoc. In the Garden.
HAVOC IN THE GARDEN rehearsals look like crazy fun. Each day starts with the most high-stakes, intense game of handball I have ever seen, making my high-school handball games look like a game for, well, kids. There are shouts, and loud howls of triumph when director Sam Scott is finally vanquished out of the top square. She pulls the 14 actors, made up of experienced and emerging actors, into a circle to discuss the day’s rehearsal. Actress Kura Forrester assumes a childlike alter-ego and affectionately strokes the director’s cheek. Wesley Dowdell (so good as Aaron in Outrageous Fortune) is congratulated for his role in kiwi film Love Birds. Miriama McDowell (This is not my life) talks about a difficult photoshoot did for Metro Magazine. Meeting over, Sam announces that one of the youngest actors, Beulah, is going to take the cast for a Zumba workshop. “ZUMBA!” - Scott Cotter is very excited. The cast give the Latin moves their all.
If it all sounds like fun and games, the youngest and freshest actors of the cast Beulah Koale, Jake Toaga, Tuyet Nguyen, Olive Asi and Loretta Aukuso are quick to point out just how tough, draining, and fricking hard work the process can be for making a show for the Auckland Arts Festival.
Havoc in the Garden is a play about family. Five different family groups are exposed through the story. “They all have something they’re hiding and not telling each other” says Beulah. He and Jake are part of a family of Samoans - “they try to cover up everything, they think they’re tough, but not really, deep down inside they are hurting…. They just don’t want to show it because they’re big tough Islanders.”
Olive, Loretta and Tuyet play a loose ‘family’ of friends. “We’re not really a family, but we’re friends, we’re all just friends.” As for the other families? “Not as cool as us” says Jake, but there’s a brother and sister, a family that reunites, and Scott Cotter who “is on his own doing monologues!”.
Havoc in the Garden has been written especially for, and with the cast members. English playwright Lennie James, who previously collaborated with Massive Company on the Sons of Charlie Paora, was inspired by the actors’ own life stories. The process began with initial workshop auditions with a larger group of Massive actors:
Beulah: He gave us provocations – What’s family to us? What’s home for us? We’d answer these provocations however we like. Some people had stories behind it. Then he picked out stories from people – oh this might go well with this guy’s story – it’s a collective story, broken down, edited.
Jake: Most of them are all true stories.
Beulah: Everything’s true.
Olive: There was like a process. We had two workshop auditions for the show and during that process we had to talk about our own personal life stories. We showed what we wanted to give to him, and then he went away and he chose who he wanted to develop a play with I guess, and he used our stories as ideas, and that’s how he came up with the script. It’s basically being ourselves and giving what we have to give to him.
Beulah: But then he adds his own flavour…
Olive: He’ll do a draft, and then he’ll come back to us and we’ll read it and do a video blog sort of thing and send it off to him and tell him what we felt wasn’t us, or what he needed more to add on or something and then he’ll tweak it again and send it back to us, another draft. We’ve had like five drafts so far.