Theatre Scenes Turns 5

Happy Birthday Theatre Scenes

Capt. James Hook was honoured to receive the inaugural Pantograph Punch Award for Best Critic at the 2015 Auckland Theatre Awards.
Capt. James Hook was honoured to receive the inaugural Pantograph Punch Award for Best Critic at the  2015 Auckland Theatre Awards.
Capt. James Hook was honoured to receive the inaugural Pantograph Punch Award for Best Critic at the 2015 Auckland Theatre Awards.

5 years ago to the day, I launched Theatre Scenes with a post that asked “Why Theatre, Why Now?“, a question that continues to grow in urgency.

I had finished my Honours in Drama and would no longer be the Theatre Editor of Auckland Uni’s Craccum Magazine. I hoped that by starting Theatre Scenes I’d be able to keep reviewing and writing about the art form that I love.  I am grateful to the companies big and small that gave Theatre Scenes review tickets in those first months, as I got into thick of Auckland Fringe and Festival 2011. A  conversation with Sharu Delilkan outside the Maidment Theatre saw her joining the site not long after launch. Rosabel Tan joined us for a time, and now runs the formidably awesome Pantograph Punch. Matt Baker came on board in 2012 and has been a prolific reviewer ever since.

With an explosion of confidence and theatre productions in Auckland, we were struggling to get to it all, and last year we welcomed Tim George and Jess Holly Bates as regulars. And I am pleased to announce that Nathan Joe, theatre editor of the Lumiere Reader, will also be contributing reviews for us this year.

I think the Theatre Scenes advantage is that our writers know both sides of the stage and know what it is like to have skin in the game. We believe in informed and useful criticism. The size of our team is another virtue – Theatre Scenes readers get to know our voices, tastes and inevitable biases. You know us, and you can trust us. You can read more about our reviewers here.

Also new this year is the What to See page. This features a calendar of recommended shows selected by yours truly. So whenever you have that ‘I need to see some live theatre’ urge, come to Theatre Scenes to find out what’s on first.

Theatre Scenes is unfunded, and our writers are all volunteers. I am so proud that we’ve made it to our 5th Birthday, and I hope we have offered critical food for thought and good conversation starters!

In the spirit of our 5th birthday, here’s…

5 things I’m looking forward to in Auckland’s theatre scenes this year:

  1. The Summer of Shakespeare: The Pop-up Globe grows at a rapid pace from day to day. Even with the steel-supported evidence before my eyes, its still surreal to think that Auckland is getting its own Globe Theatre. And in the Greys Avenue Car park no less! Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Henry V and more, just in time to celebrate Mr Shakespeare’s 400th Birthday. Get a groundling ticket to get up close to the action.
  2. Theatre to Bank on: While the poor players of the Pop up Globe will strut and fret, then it will all be taken down, something more permanent is getting ever closer to opening down by the waterfront. After having to scramble to find new venues after the closure of the Maidment Theatre (again!), no doubt Auckland Theatre Company are counting down to the opening of the new ASB Watefront Theatre. ATC will be announcing their first shows for their new venue later in the year, but in the meantime we’ll have shows like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and Kate Shepherd Musical That Bloody Woman to tide us over.
  3. Festival City: And let’s not forget the Auckland Arts Festival has even more goodies for us come March. The James Plays from Scotland are the headliners to binge on, but locally I am very intrigued what Carl Bland and Ben Crowder (of 360 fame) have in store for us in Te Po.
  4. Silo Punk: Silo’s Auto-play video on their website is an assault on your computer speakers as masked theatre hoodlums graffiti puke-yellow walls. If they can transfer half of this frenetic energy on stage we should be in for quite a season. There are only three new productions, but Medea, Boys will be Boys, and Perspex look very meaty.
  5. Queen of the Civic: Its 2008 all over again when musicals Phantom of the Opera and Priscilla Queen of the Desert both played at the Civic. This time the Phantom is an amateur production, but Priscilla returns to Auckland following West End and Broadway seasons. The Australian show is a megahit for a good reason, and I can’t wait to get back on board this bus!

Can’t wait! – James Wenley.

3 Comments on Theatre Scenes Turns 5

  1. Silo’s auto-play video is annoying as hell! Especially the fact that it’s auto-play. I avoid going to their website because of it, getting whatever information I need from some other source.

  2. Having gotten that out of my system – happy birthday Theatre Scenes! What a great addition to Auckland theatre. Hoping to see many more 5th year anniversaries.

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