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.
Feeding the Past [by James Wenley]
I first encountered playwright Renee Liang’s The Bone Feeder in 2009, presented as part of her postgraduate diploma of Arts at the University of Auckland, which I reviewed for Craccum Magazine.
Since then, Renee (known also for plays Lantern & The First Asian AB) has continued to develop and work on the play. More productions followed, and now it makes it’s fully fledged professional debut at TAPAC directed by Lauren Jackson, with a cast of ten, 4 live musicians, and even martial arts wire work.
The initial season of The Bone Feeder was the first time I had been exposed to a little known tragedy in early Chinese history in New Zealand, which has ongoing echoes today. The Gold Rush saw a wave of Chinese migration to New Zealand, many working to send back money to their families at home. Liang says they considered themselves “temporary visitors”, hoping to return one day. Many didn’t, and the remains of 499 deceased Chinese miners were to return home to China in 1902 on the SS Ventor. The miners however were never able to be reunited with their families, the Ventor sinking in the Hokianga Harbour.