02 March 2015

Zany caterpillars and the world’s most magnificent beard at NZ’s biggest arts festival for children

“One week left until the Festival begins and the opening performance, Caterpillars, is selling fast!” says an excited Capital E National Arts Festival producer, Melanie Hamilton. “And we were met with more exciting news when we got to the office this morning…”

The Kallo Collective’s Caterpillars at the Capital E National Arts Festival, opens Sat 7 March at Circa. Photography by Gemma Tweedie.
Following a fantastic season in Auckland, where Caterpillars saw its New Zealand premiere; the production by Kallo Collective and produced by Show Pony, won Best Costume and Best Theatre Production at the Auckland Fringe. With only 27 tickets left to the 10am show this Saturday (7 March) at Circa Theatre, bookings will be highly recommended as this show WILL sell-out.

Show Pony has produced another production as part of the Capital E National Arts Festival, also on at Circa Theatre. On Friday of last week at Anvil House, Beards! Beards! Beards! invited an audience of eager school children to preview the hilarious play, in which our heroine, Beatrix, tries to grow the world’s most magnificent beard.

Beards! Beards! Beards! preview at Anvil House.
“Children are the most honest critics of work, and we were thrilled to say that they enjoyed a high energy sneak preview of what’s to come to the stage very soon.” – Melanie Hamilton

Even at E Central on Queens Wharf, children are coming in to create their own beard. Open daily from Monday – Saturday form 9.30am – 3.30pm.

There are only two public performances of each Capital E National Arts Festival production on at Circa: Caterpillars on 7 March at 10am and 11:30am, and Beards! Beards! Beards! on 21 March at 10am and 1pm. To book for either, contact Capital E on 913-3740 or visit www.capitale.org.nz

The Pianist: "You may witness some fighting knee-nuns, a few seconds of bull-fighting, wine tasting, a trick that took two years to be able to do, and maybe some piano playing. Possibly...."

This week on drama on the waterfront, The Pianist co-creator and performer, Thomas Monckton talks about his hit show that has travelled the world and is now back for a return season at Circa.

Tell us a little about your background – you trained as a clown?

TM: Yes but that doesn't mean I'm available for children's birthday parties or that the movie It is relevant conversation. That's the equivalent of when you're overseas and someone asks where you're from and you say "New Zealand" and then they start telling you about that time they went to Australia. Just so we're clear. I have a red nose but that's just natural because I'm ginger. We get sunburn even in moonlight. I don't wear big shoes or wigs, and I couldn't make a balloon animal if my life depended on it - except maybe if you asked for a tapeworm. 

I have trained in acrobatics, bounce juggling and aerial straps at CircoArts in Christchurch and in physical theatre at the school of Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Being a clown was always my main aspiration from quite an early age. I'm not entirely sure why. At one point at about 11 years old I wanted to be a zoologist even though I didn't really know what a zoologist did (I still don't).

How does a work like The Pianist develop from an idea to an whole show?

TM: The director (Sanna Silvenoinen) and I had the piano as a prop and the context of a piano recital to start with and then we just played around with all the different physical elements of the piano and the piano stool and sheet music to see what ideas we could come up with. We choreographed individual pieces and then put them into a cohesive order which I then performed and realised that I may have been slightly over-estimating my physical fitness level. 

Physical theatre looks ... physical. How do you prepare to go on stage?

TM: Usually I just stare blankly at a wall and think to myself "it would be useful to do some stretches now" and then I go on stage and do the show and then afterwards I lie face down on the floor in a puddle of sweat and think to myself "I should have stretched before the show".

What can audiences expect from The Pianist?

TM: You may witness some fighting knee-nuns, a few seconds of bull-fighting, wine tasting, a trick that took two years to be able to do, and maybe some piano playing. Possibly.... 

You’ve taken the show to some pretty great places – tell us how the show was received in Edinburgh and London?

TM: I wasn't really expecting much from Edinburgh Festival since it was my first time there and it's such a massive festival but it was great! The Queen of Holland came one show and I unwittingly clambered over a princess. She was cool with it. And the show was nominated for a Total Theatre Award for best circus show. 

I have always wanted to be part of the London International Mime Festival so I was stoked to be programmed. I wish I had time to check out all the other shows in the programme because it looked amazing. The Pianist sold out and the audiences were really up for having a good time...The weather was terrible. Absolutely dreadful. Gosh.... (I picked up some English while I was there). 

The Pianist opens in Circa One on 7 March and runs until 21 March. To book, please visit www.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992.

23 February 2015

"Grab a wine, grab a seat, and make sure you see Yep, Still Got It!"

This week on drama on the waterfront, co-writer Sandy Brewer talks about working with Jane Keller on Yep, Still Got It!

Sandy Brewer.
There is nothing quite as self-affirming as being able to look at yourself in the mirror and say Yep, Still Got It! So after her last 3 one woman shows, Jane Keller has demonstrated that she has still got it!

Jane and I have been friends for years and have always enjoyed each other’s company and sense of humour.  Jane is a wonderful performer so when she started talking about her next one woman show, her fourth, and said she would like me to co-write it with her I was thrilled.

Our production meetings in the early stages were always at our favourite restaurant with plenty of good food and liquid refreshments. My husband at one stage said, “this show is costing a fortune and you haven’t even started writing it yet!”  Well, good things take time and we were ensuring we were feeling suitably creative!

Jane and I discussed many ideas, topics, situations, issues, and acknowledged that we have all had embarrassing moments in our lives, felt heartache, and wondered what next. In the early phases of Yep, Still Got It! we workshopped themes that face women of all ages, like, cosmetic surgery, shapewear, and the costs to maintain ourselves in a world of creams, Botox and serums. 

Sandy Brewer and Jane Keller.
There were so many possibilities. We loved the idea of celebrating the fact that as we are aging the conventions of what is and isn’t age appropriate, or what is expected of us at a certain age, no longer apply. Sixty is the new forty so they say and there is no need to have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
In Yep, Still Got It! Jane is approaching retirement age and has started asking those questions about what next. Being the vivacious person she is she is not likely to slip on her flannels and curl up on the couch. No, Jane has plenty of options to explore. What about an encore career, or a little life coaching?  The possibilities are endless and the resulting stories and songs in Yep, Still Got It, will ensure more than a few belly laughs.

Regardless of what age you are currently, Yep, Still Got It! will appeal. I am a few years behind Jane so have enjoyed the fact that the show confirms once and for all that age is just a number and attitude is everything. Jane has plenty of attitude and it's infectious!

Jan Keller, Alan Palmer and Michael Nicholas Williams in rehearsal for Yep, Still Got It!
Working with Michael Nicholas Williams and Alan Palmer has been a treat, with rehearsals filled with laughter, music, creativity, and blushing, but that’s a whole other story….. If you have been to any of Jane’s previous shows you know to expect some risqué (but not filthy) moments!

So, grab a wine, grab a seat, and make sure you see Yep, Still Got It!

- Sandy Brewer  - co-writer of YEP, STILL GOT IT!

 Yep, Still Got It! opens in Circa Two on 28 February and runs until 21 March. To book, please visit www.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box office on 801-7992.

17 February 2015

Wake Up Tomorrow: Chicken’s off the menu

This year as audiences embark on the journey of a lifetime with Wake Up Tomorrow, chicken or fish won’t be served. Chicken’s cut because the youth no longer want to play poultry, instead they’re guns blazing, more confident than ever before.

Julie Sarros & Jasmine Waetford
During the team’s newest workshopping session’s different personal experiences were brought out. For Jasmine Waetford, one of her most fearful moments in life was her first solo journey getting from Lower Hutt to the city.

This year Jasmine’s already overcome so much, moving into her first flat and deciding that she wanted to keep living in Wellington by herself. Her mum’s moved up north but Jas couldn’t bear the thought of losing her friends…or not being in Wake Up Tomorrow. Jasmine was new to ACTIVE in last year’s version of the show and so had a smaller part, this time around she’s been involved in crafting a whole lot of new characters.

Janiece Pollock & Catherine McBride
Janiece Pollock shared her experience of standing up at school to do her speech and just freezing. She’s now so confident in the devised script she’s been supporting others when they stumble. She was adamant after the last version of Wake Up Tomorrow she would no longer play a chicken. She’s proven herself so much to the team that the story’s now shaped around her character.

Tess Francis & Duncan Armstrong
ACTIVE Airlines is calling all remaining passengers to board the airplane and buckle in for this surreal long-haul flight spectacular that is WAKE UP TOMORROW.  21-28th February.

To book for Wake Up Tomorrow, visit www.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992.