30 August 2010

The Next Big Thing: My First Time

Actor Simon Vincent took time from his rehearsal schedule to tell drama on the waterfront all about My First Time … that is, the next Circa One production.

DOTW: What is the basic idea of My First Time? How does this show work?

SV: The initial idea for My First Time came from Ken Davenport, a renowned Broadway producer, looking for ‘The Next Big Thing’. He approached the progenitors of www.myfirsttime.com with the idea to create an Off-Broadway show, using the material from their website. The website itself was well established at the time and had nearly 40,000 posts. People have contributed many stories, some funny, some awkward, some painful and some touching but all extremely personal. The website is completely anonymous and this meant that the people were extremely candid; the whole gamut of human behavior is covered on the website.

Ken Davenport’s idea, like the website, is extremely innovative; he didn’t stop at just editing the stories he found on the website, he decided to give the show another twist. Every night the audience is asked to fill out a questionnaire, the anonymous results of which are collated in real time and incorporated into the show. This is an exciting innovation for us as actors because it means that the show will be specific to each audience and as a result very fresh, we won’t know what to expect and as we all know the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Danielle Mason and Simon Vincent

DOTW: What has the rehearsal process been like?

SV: The rehearsal process has been very exciting, it is always highly technically challenging to take on many different roles and as the stories are real we have spent a lot of time researching the stories online and making sure we are investing each of these characters with real truth and integrity. The cast and director are all great and it has been a very revealing process for us all!

DOTW: What has been the biggest challenge? What has been the best part of the experience so far?

SV: The biggest challenge has been switching between characters and accents, it requires immense concentration and we are required to work very closely together so we all have to be on the same page. The best part of the experience so far has been creating such a diverse range of characters; I always enjoy striving to transform in front of the audience’s eyes using just my voice and body and this play is the perfect opportunity. I am most excited about the last character in the play…the audience!

DOTW: What made you want to be a part of this show?

SV: The idea initially because of its potential to bring audiences something that is interactive and highly original.

DOTW: What can you tell us about your fellow cast mates?

SV: They are all highly accomplished actors and as we have rehearsed we have had to be quite candid about our own experiences, which have brought us closer together…mostly! Some of the stories in the show relate to us but you’ll have to come and see the show to find out which ones…

(left to right) Judith Gibson, Aaron Alexander, Danielle Mason and Simon Vincent

DOTW: What can audiences expect from the show?

SV: An extremely entertaining night out that is a little risqué. The stories are hilarious and touching, at times painful but always entertaining. It will be a fulsome night out and also one that you might find quite surprising, you might find out some new information about your partners and friends.

My First Time runs from 4 September until 2 October. To book your tickets, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.

Tell us about your first time to win a guaranteed great time! Go to www.myfirsttime.weebly.com and fill out the audience survey – not only will you help out with the show, but you could go into the draw for a fantastic prize package!

23 August 2010

Truth VS Truthiness: Shipwrecked!

Fresh from directing the runaway success of last year’s comedy hit The 39 Steps – as well as the return season earlier this year – Peter Hambleton returns to Circa with Shipwrecked! Peter tells drama on the waterfront about his new show, “a big fat lie based on a true story.”

DOTW: What is the story of Shipwrecked?   

PH: “De Rougemont’s astounding story was first published in the London-based magazine wide World in 1898. There were still enough blank spots on the map into which a man of wit and invention could project his own fantasies, and he found a ready audience. The age of adventure had not died and its chroniclers could make fortunes … there were economically valid reasons for embroidering the truth. So what de Rougemont told weren’t lies as such, they were market-driven reality derivatives. In the end, de Rougemont’s tall tales brought him fleeting fame but a notable absence of riches. After a short career as a living curiosity in which he demonstrated, among other things, that you really can ride a giant turtle, he was reduced to selling matches on the streets of London and died in 1921.” (Taken from ‘Swiss Family Rougemont’ on http://strangeflowers.wordpress.com)
                  

DOTW: What was it about this play that made you want to direct it?

PH: Theatricality.  More and more I find I’m drawn to material that really only works in a theatrical context. By this I mean where an audience gathers to experience something that needs their imagination to be engaged, where they join with the performers and each other in this ritual, and the result is some kind of celebration of our common humanity.

DOTW: What is the most challenging part of directing this play?

PH: Responding with enough creativity to the challenge that Donald Margulies throws down for us - how can we stage a shipwreck with no special effects budget?

DOTW: What can you tell us about the cast?

PH: I can’t believe my luck – these three performers are simply amazing. Marvel at the inventiveness, charm and emotion that Nick Blake brings to Louis de Rougemont. Be dazzled by the mind-boggling talents of newcomers Darlene Mohekey and Jackson Coe – they play over two dozen different characters, play all the music and create the sound effects live – and even do their own lighting!

(top) Jackson Coe and Nick Blake. (bottom) Darlene Mohekey.

DOTW: I understand that Gareth Farr created the music for Shipwrecked!  What part does the music play in this production?

PH: Our sound design for this show is an eclectic mix of music specially composed by the fabulous Gareth Farr, with some other tunes you will recognize, plus a wacky range of sound effects - all sound being performed completely live by our three hugely talented actors. Gareth and I first worked together as composer and director on Shakespeare’s Pericles for Toi Whakaari/NZ Drama School some years ago, and it’s been a joy to collaborate again. Listen for the gorgeous theme tune he has written for Shipwrecked! - I guarantee you will be swept away by it!

DOTW: What can audiences expect from this production?

PH: FUN!

Shipwrecked! opens 28 August in Circa Two. To book tickets, call the Circa Box office at 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.

16 August 2010

"The spirit of the novel": The Great Gatsby

Popular Victoria University professor David O’Donnell is the director at the helm of the current Circa hit, The Great Gatsby. David takes some time to tell drama on the waterfront all about his work on this adaptation of an iconic story.

DOTW: What can you tell us about Ken Duncum’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel?

DOD: Ken wanted to adapt Gatsby for the stage because he has a great passion for the novel and felt that there hadn’t been a satisfactory dramatization of it. I think he also wanted to have a go at adapting a literary work for theatre as this was a technical challenge that he hadn’t tackled before. He made some strong decisions which I fully agree with: to separate the role of the narrator, Nick Carraway, into two roles: the older man narrating the story looking back into the past, and the younger man living through the story before our eyes. The narration of the Older Nick allows the beauty and power of the language of the novel to come through in performance. Sometimes the words tell the story for us, other times the action does it. He also wanted an ensemble cast to play multiple characters. This ensemble approach makes all of the actors very focused on group storytelling, taking responsibility for the whole story, rather than just concentrating on their one character. He also wanted to bring the ‘20s era to life for the audience by including musical dance numbers. I love the theatricality of this adaptation, and the fact that it goes into so many different performance modes: monologue, naturalism, musical, comedy, silent movie slapstick, expressionism, dance, etc.

DOTW: What was it about this story that made you want to direct it?

DOD: Even though Gatsby was written in 1924 it seems to have an enormous relevance now. The freedom and excesses of the 1920s preceded the Wall St Crash that created the Great Depression. We’ve just been through a similar boom and bust cycle with American finance people creating another worldwide recession. Gatsby was written before the USA came to dominate world politics but there’s a powerful sense of that American confidence at the same time that Nick Carraway’s increasing disillusionment with the hypocrisy of the wealthy and powerful suggests the demise of the American Dream. Much of what Fitzgerald wrote seems prophetic in terms of world politics.

At the same time that Gatsby works on a global, political level, it also has huge resonance as a personal story about love and the elusive pursuit of happiness. The characters still seem dynamic and original, full of quirks and contradictions that make them very human as well as very memorable. 

David O'Donnell

DOTW: What is the most challenging part of directing this play? Do the expectations of an audience who are likely familiar with – and possibly fans of – the novel add any extra pressure?

DOD: It has been challenging to direct a play set in a multitude of different locations, with many scenes on phones, in cars, restaurants, etc. So with the designers we’ve worked on suggesting the world of New York in the twenties without re-creating it literally. Theatre works best when the audience have to use their imagination, as in the Elizabethan theatre, so I hope that audiences will appreciate the work the actors do to help us imagine the worlds in the play.

This has also been quite a massive collaborative project, with a lot of people behind the scenes. Brian King has designed a monumental set based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s twenties architecture, and with Jane Boocock designed the beautiful, detailed costumes which are so much a part of bringing the twenties alive. Lisa Maule creates a lot of the mood with her complex lighting, operated by Issac Heron who is my hero for mastering so many cues so quickly. Michael Williams is responsible for the singing and music, and also composed a big showstopping number especially for this play, while the soundscapes are created by Stephen Gallagher, taking time out from working in the film industry. And with so much movement in the show, Sacha Copland has been a godsend as choreographer, creating a movement language for the show that does so much to re-create the era. So it’s been a challenge bringing all of these different elements together. For this I have to thank our stage manager Ellen Walsh, who has had a massive management job to cohere the production and make it run smoothly each night.

The audience expectations are daunting, but I know that Ken’s adaptation is completely true to the spirit of the novel, and my aim as director has been to honour his intentions throughout.

DOTW: What can you tell us about the cast?

DOD: We have an exciting range of experience in this cast, from Ray Henwood, a veteran actor who was one of the founders of Circa Theatre, to Guy Langford, freshly graduated from Toi Whakaari. I like the fact that the oldest and youngest members of the cast are playing the same role, giving us a span of experience that hopefully everyone in the audience can relate to! I am also excited about working with Danny Mulheron again, as he is a hugely experienced actor, director and writer who brings a wealth of skills to playing a whole range of roles as well as being our very talented pianist! Jessica Robinson (Myrtle) and Erin Banks (Jordan) play very different women, but both invest them with real passion and truth, while Paul Harrop has pulled off the difficult job of bringing integrity to the performance of an unsympathetic character. I have to tell you that these actors have worked incredibly hard on this show, the rehearsal room floor is stained with their blood, sweat and tears. They have had to train relentlessly in singing and dancing, movement, perfecting the accents, and all playing a range of highly contrasting roles, switching from realism to broad comedy.

(left to right) Jessica Robinson, Nathan Meister, Paul Harrop, Erin Banks, Miranda Manasiadis. Photo by Stephen A'Court.


DOTW: Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan are iconic literary characters. What can you tell us about Nathan Meister and Miranda Manasiadis’ portrayal?

DOD: Gatsby and Daisy are extremely complex characters, and Nathan and Miranda have brought a combination of intelligence and playfulness to create the layers of characterization mined from Fitzgerald’s detailed writing. Gatsby is viewed by Nick as the only decent person among the rich set, yet he’s also a gangster and Nathan beautifully hints that there’s a more ruthless man behind the smooth façade. Gatsby and Daisy represent this vast, impossible romance, and for me Miranda perfectly catches the desperate gulf between the fantasy of being with the glamourous Gatsby and the reality that she’s in this empty marriage to the philandering Tom yet has so much to lose socially if she leaves him. Even though these characters come from the world of the rich and famous, their dilemmas over love and loss are universal.

DOTW: Has the story changed for you at all as you’ve worked through the rehearsal process? Do you feel you have a different understanding of it now then you did when you first walked into the rehearsal room weeks ago?

DOD: Definitely. Rehearsal is a process of discovery, and my respect for Fitzgerald’s writing and Ken’s adaptation grew by the day. The layers of meaning in the script made it very rewarding to work on, and I hope audiences will reap the same rewards by thinking through the complexities of the story. 

DOTW: The Great Gatsby is a story of “the glamourous façade of the American Dream” of the 1920s – how do you think New Zealand audiences will relate to it?

DOD: Because we are so isolated geographically, I think this encourages New Zealanders to think globally. New Zealanders are great travelers and great readers, and therefore I think will love seeing this classic novel brought to life on stage by a New Zealand writer. We are also fascinated by history, and the twenties is such a vibrant era in terms of fashion, arts and politics that audiences are already lapping this up. The play seems to have a strong appeal to young people, because the twenties fashion and liberation still has a sense of style and cool. 

DOTW: Final thoughts … Is there anything else audiences should know about the Circa Theatre production of The Great Gatsby?

DOD: It’s a great romance with real depth in its themes and highly entertaining, brought to you with great commitment by a top team – book your tickets now!


Tickets are available at the Circa Box Office - call 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.


Vote David O'Donnell for Academic Idol! You don't need to be a Vic student, you just need passion for David O'Donnell! Text 'David O'Donnell for Idol' to 027 CUSTARD or email editor@salient.org.nz

09 August 2010

"This fantastic play": Parlour Song

After five years (two of which were spent touring the comedy sensation Le Sud), actor Heather O’Carroll returns to Circa to star as the enigmatic Joy in the current Circa Two hit Parlour Song. She sits down with drama on the waterfront to tell us all about her experiences working on this “fantastic and intriguing” play.

DOTW: What is the basic story of Parlour Song?

HOC: Parlour Song is about a couple who’ve been married for 11 years, Ned and Joy; they don’t have any children and they live in a very suburban area of London. It’s one of those new-built estates where the houses are all very close together and the neighbours are in each others’ pockets, that kind of thing. Ned is a demolition expert, so he blows up buildings for a living, and he’s started to notice that possessions of his are disappearing. He’s a collector, a hoarder; he will go to a garage sale and pick up all this crap he doesn’t need and just hold onto it. But he’s also got some specific items that are pertinent to his and Joy’s relationship that he holds dear, sentimental things. These things start disappearing first: a pair of cufflinks, a soapstone birdbath that he gave Joy on their honeymoon, things like that. He’s also got this problem with insomnia, he’s having bad dreams and doesn’t want to go to sleep, and he’s also having these paranoid fantasies. Then there’s Dale, the next door neighbour, and his wife Lyn, but we never meet Lyn. Ned starts revealing to Dale that things are going missing and he doesn’t know why. So it’s about Ned trying to work out his own mental state and  his relationships with Dale and Joy. And it’s gradually revealed through the play where these disappearing items might be going.

Gavin Rutherford and Heather O'Carroll in Parlour Song. Photo by Stephen A'Court.

DOTW: What was it about this story that drew you to the play?

HOC: First of all, I am kind of obsessed with Britsh theatre. I absolutely love it. I was in London five years ago for seven months and just saw as much as I could possibly see and went to all these places like the Donmar Warehouse, the Royal Court and the National. And I found these really cool little theatres as well in London, like Soho Theatre and the BAC ; places I had heard of that were doing really exciting stuff. I love that kind of theatre, theatre that is contemporary, provocative. I love language; language is probably the biggest thing for me. I really enjoy playwrights who have their own vocabulary and play with language in a way that’s really interesting. In Parlour Song, for example, there’s a lot of repetition, but there’s also a lot of pausing, a lot of moments where what’s not being said is just as important and it’s about the space between the characters and what’s going on in the silence. I really love that kind of stuff. The language definitely really appealed to me in this play, Jez Butterworth is highly influenced by Harold Pinter, so there’s a lot of space around the words. I also have this ridiculously warped sense of humour, really black, so I love black comedy. And I think with Parlour Song, a lot of the laughter comes from the tragedy, from people recognizing themselves and recognizing something darker going on underneath. We’ve had so many nights where there’s been this really nervous laughter, and I really dig that. I mean, there’s some really good laugh out loud moments, and it’s real English humour and there are some really funny physical moments as well in the play. But the moments for me that I really enjoy are the moments where people are really nervous about laughing because that’s exciting. Also, I hadn’t done anything distinctly Britsh before, even though I really love that kind of theatre. Gavin Rutherford and I have just spent the last two years doing Le Sud to packed houses around the country and it was great to exercise those big comedy muscles; you’re on gag alert the whole time, you’re looking for the biggest gag, what’s going to make people laugh. And it’s just literally nonstop laughter during that show. So it’s exciting to do comedy in a way that’s more subtle and more complex. I mean, laughter is laughter, you get a buzz from it; we had 900 people for our closing night in Christchurch for the Christchurch Arts Festival, and having 900 people laugh hysterically is the most amazing feeling ever. You can’t even speak because they’re laughing so much. And Parlour Song is exciting in a different way. Doing something that is darker and more subtle is really cool.

DOTW: What can you tell us about your character, Joy?

HOC: Joy is such an enigma. That’s a word that’s been used in plenty of reviews about her. It took me a really long time to figure her out and I still don’t think I have completely. But I’ve got to a point where every night I can still be figuring her out on stage. And also the audience reaction to her is really interesting, to gauge where you place her. I think the thing with her is that she’s really guarded, she reveals herself really slowly throughout the play. I think at first you would see her very one dimensionally, and people have said to me, “Oh she’s a bitch”, but what I really like is that through the course of the play those walls come down a little bit and we see more of her vulnerability and her desires. She’s a slow burner I think. I always think of that expression, ‘still waters run deep’; she’s got this very cold, icy exterior, and once you start peeling away the layers you start to understand her more and you understand where she’s coming from. And that’s really nice to play. I think it’s beautifully ironic that she’s called Joy because there’s not much joy in her life. You don’t really get to know a lot about her back story, she’s really reflected in her two relationships in the play, through her relationship with Ned and her relationship with Dale. I think another interesting thing is that the three of us are never on stage together in a scene; it’s only ever two people in dialogue. So there’s always this feeling that there’s one person’s perspective left out of any scene, that there’s another person always in the background of what’s going on with these characters. And I quite like that as well.

Heather O'Carroll in Parlour Song. Photo by Stephen A'Court.

DOTW: Do you relate to her in any way or is it a complete departure?

HOC: No, it’s not a complete departure – it’s funny because I said to Chris Brougham one day, “Oh God, you’re not a 100 miles away from Dale are you?” And he said, “Yeah, I don’t think you’re 100 miles away from Joy either!” I think it’s really well cast in that way. I don’t know if you ever play characters who are that far away from you, I don’t know if I’ve ever had that really, cause you’re always bringing something of yourself to it. I definitely think there are aspects of Joy that I can relate to. But like I said, it was so hard to get to know her, but exciting and terrifying too. There was just moments that were like, “I can’t even play this character!” But maybe that is because she’s so like me.  Maybe there are those aspects of myself that I don’t want to admit to or confront. And maybe that’s where the apprehension came from. But it’s been amazing!

DOTW: Are there any particular challenges with this play?

HOC: The challenege we had with this play is that Jez Butterworth, I don’t know if it was intentionally or inadvertently, placed a very complex timeline within the play and it’s only really revealed when characters say things like “six weeks ago …” or “six months ago …” or “a week ago …”, things like that. In the first week of rehearsal we were talking about this timeline and trying to work it out, so I sat down with a piece of paper and attempted to plot the play in terms of its timeline. It got really messy and I got blamed for my timeline quite a bit, and I was like, “It’s not my timeline, it’s Jez Butterworth’s timeline. Leave me alone!” But when you see the play, you’re never going to pick up on that – you’ll see a flashback and you’ll realize it’s a flashback. In terms of the way it sits in the play, people will see the timeline chronologically. But in terms of us trying to figure out where that person is in their journey and in the journey of the story, it was quite hard. But also exciting, because then you get to bring things to scenes that are sort of enigmatic, you create this tension onstage because you’re aware of where you are in the story, which the audience will pick up on and it will feed into their own version of the story and the timeline as they see it. A lot of people have said that the play is intriguing and engrossing, and I think that is because the audience is piecing together the story. A lot of the story is not told overtly, so there is that thing where you sit there and try to piece it together. And I love those moments where a character will say something that the other character doesn’t know but the audience picks up on. Some nights they’re really vocal; there a couple of moments that I have where I say something and the audience will go, “Oooooh!” That is really exciting when you can hear the audience playing along, when you can figure out whose side they’re on, or just when that penny drops, that is really cool when that happens. I had a guy on the street come up to me the other day, he just accosted me on the street and he said, “Oh my God, are you in that play at Circa? It’s so amazing, we loved it so much, we came on the preview night.” You know, that’s really cool that it’s a play that people are so connected to that they want to come up and talk to you about it. Parlour Song is not tied up in a little bow at the end, and I like that because the audience just doesn’t walk out the door and forget the play, they go away and they talk about it. On preview night, we were at the bar having a drink after the show and we had five people who had come together come up to us and they said, “Right, we’ve been discussing the play for half an hour, and now we need some questions answered.” We thought it was great and told them to fire away, but told them we couldn’t guarantee we would know the answers. I think that’s really cool that we can then have a dialogue between the audience and crew so we can all ask questions of each other about it. And we might all have a different opinion about how the play is structured but that’s cool, it makes it unique to every audience member. Any play that you come out of and you’re still talking about is good in my book, the worst thing to have coming out of a play is indifference. I love that this play is something that provokes such reactions and dialogues and discussions.

DOTW: In a previous issue of drama on the waterfront, Gavin Rutherford described his experiences during a day of the rehearsal process of Parlour Song. What was that process like for you?

HOC: It was great. I think Gavin touched on this, but one of the cool things for me is that we aren’t all in scenes together, there’s always one person from the cast watching the scene. It was really nice sometimes if I wasn’t required to rehearse that scene I could go away and learn my lines or do something else and then when I came back, I would see the work that had gone into that scene that day and I could sit back and sort of be an audience member. It would feed into other parts of the story, but it was nice to just observe other people working rather than all being in the same scenes together all the time. So that was really cool. And we just had so many laughs; we were just laughing all the time, which was great. We all just genuinely love the play. Even Rachel, our stage manager, she would say everyday that it was so exciting to come in and watch rehearsals because she really loved the play. And that’s not always the case if you’re just kind of sitting there in the rehearsal room everyday. We all just had a really good time.

DOTW: How is it to work with this team (including director Susan Wilson, lighting designer Jennifer Lal, set designer John Hodgkins, stage manager Rachel Marlow, AV designer Andrew Simpson) on this work?

HOC: I had only worked with Susan once before, on The Cherry Orchard which was here at Circa. Susan’s great, it’s been five years since I’ve worked with her, and it was really nice to work with her again. She’s really open and ready for a laugh and just had some fantastic insight into these characters and the dynamic of the play. She’s really good with the subtlety of it, finding all the little nuances – one of the reviews [link] said that and I really liked that because that’s exactly what it is. It’s finding those little moments that people are going to recognize, and navigating through those moments, like I said before, where people aren’t speaking to each other but there’s so much going on. I’ve worked with Jen and John a million times, and they’re great. They’ve done such a brilliant job with the set and lighting. There’s a big reveal at the end of the play – which I won’t go into – but every night there’s a vocal response to it, which is really exciting. And Rachel and Andrew I’ve worked with before. I directed a show called A Brief History of Helen of Troy last year, and Rachel was my lighting designer and Andrew was my sound designer. Andrew was nominated for a Chapman Tripp Award for sound design for that show. So it was great to work with them again. They’re all fantastically talented people.

DOTW: What can you tell us about your castmates, Gavin and Chris?

HOC: Gavin and I have known each other for a really long time now; after touring with Le Sud, we’ve been in each other’s pockets for the last two years. It’s so good to work with someone you know really well, especially when you’re playing husband and wife. Ned and Joy are supposed to have been married for 11 years, so you have to have that familiarity and that ease with each other. I knew Chris in the industry, but I’ve never worked with him before. The funny thing about Chris, one of the first scenes I have with him – well, both of the scenes I have with him – are intimate scenes, which is always funny when you don’t know someone very well and you have that kind of scene. Especially at the beginning when you have scripts in your hand and there’s not much you can do at that stage. So it is quite funny getting to know somebody just by groping them. But it’s been really great, he’s fantastic. Gavin’s fantastic as well. They’re just really good actors and perfectly cast.

Heather O'Carroll and Christopher Brougham in Parlour Song. Photo by Stephen A'Court.

DOTW: Finally, what should Circa audiences know about Parlour Song?

HOC: Having such an interest in British theatre, I had heard about Jez Butterworth because he wrote this amazing play called Jerusalem, which was just on in London recently and won all these awards. And Parlour Song is right up with Jerusalem in terms of its themes and writing. And I think it’s just really great that Circa allows us to see the best of what’s happening overseas. In 2006 I set up my production company, GladEye Productions – I’ve now produced two plays under that company, A Brief History of Helen of Troy, which was produced with Playground Collective, and a play called Guardians, which I saw overseas, and which I produced and acted in. And I set up that company in order to do contemporary, cutting edge theatre from the international stage, specifically to do international work. I’ve never said I wasn’t going to do New Zealand work, but this company was created because I think we should see the best of what’s happening overseas as well as the best of what’s happening here. Because we can’t shut ourselves off to influences from overseas. And the plays that I choose aren’t specifically from a place, they speak to me through character or language or theme. And that’s more important to me as a human being to connect on those levels rather than only identifying in a national way. I also want to challenge myself as an actor to play characters that are different to me, and not only in terms of character, but also in terms of nationality and of class, all these different things that go to make us as human beings. One of the big challenges in this play for me and I think the other actors is the accent; I love accents. I shouldn’t have to limit myself to only playing a New Zealand accent all the time because accents are another part of an actor’s craft. So I think that’s a big thing; you’re seeing this fantastic play which is not touring here or coming here by any international company, but you’re seeing three top actors here in this country taking it on and presenting it along with all the other elements lighting, direction, everything – to create this great production. And people are really excited by it. I guess, at the end of the day, what audiences will get from it is a really intriguing, great story with fantastic characters, some very funny moments and also some moments that they will really feel for. There is some beautiful, sad, poignant stuff going on in there. And you shouldn’t be afraid of that; it doesn’t have to just be comedy, you should have an emotional experience as well. This play doesn’t sugarcoat it – there are some really funny moments but it’s a very real situation with some very real emotions going on in it and that can be cathartic. 

Parlour Song is on at Circa until 21 August. To book tickets, please call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz. 

02 August 2010

Wharfside Restaurant

Manager Charlie Kakau is one of the friendly staff to greet customers dining at Wharfside Restaurant. Charlie agreed to sit down with drama on the waterfront to tell us about his lengthy experience in the industry and how he’s found the last year at Circa’s waterfront restaurant.

Wharfside Restaurant Manager Charlie Kakau

DOTW: What is your background? What did you do before you came to Wharfside?

CK: I am Maori of Ngai Te Rangi/Ngati Ranginui descent (Tauranga/Mt Maunganui). I left school after completing 7th form at 17 years old and started a Chef apprenticeship in a small restaurant in Auckland. The apprenticeship was moving too slowly for me so I joined the Army where I attained London City & Guilds Qualifications. I left the Army after 11 years of service with the rank of Sergeant.

Some of my employment history is as follows:
·        Food & Beverage Manager at The Wellington Racing Club
·        Head of School, School of Catering & Hospitality at Whitireia Polytechnic
·        Catering Advisor to Ohakea Airbase
·        Catering Advisor/Manager to the East Timorese Defence Force, contracted with the United Nations
·        Catering Supervisor, Eurest, Wellington Convention Centre
·        Commis Chef, Flying Trestles, Post production of Lord of the Rings
·        Sales of Party Hire, Carlton Party Hire

Due to illness I decided to refocus my career at the beginning of 2009, and began to look for employment where I can leave my work at work, have reasonable hours (no such thing in hospitality), and still be challenged.  I was fortunate that the position at Wharfside became available.

Outside of work I have participated in other interests as follows:
·        Judge for the Wellington Region Youth Skills Olympics
·         Judge at National Salon Culinaire
·         Judge at Roy Smith Competitions (NZ Army)
·        Event  planning
·        Catering for private functions including dressing rooms for themed events

DOTW: How long have you worked for Wharfside?

CK: Just over a year, I started at Wharfside on 1 July 2009

DOTW: What challenges, if any, does working at a quality dining establishment in a theatre provide?

CK: Time is the largest challenge. We have limited time to serve guests before they are entertained in the theatre and always try to ensure that their dining experience enhances their overall theatre experience.  In a way, we are the Prologue for the show.  If the customer has a pleasant dinner they will enter the show in a positive frame of mind.

DOTW: Wharfside caters for a lot of events at Circa – whether they are corporate, social group or family events; what do you think of Wharfside/Circa as an event venue?

CK: Wharfside/Circa has a niche market in that we are able to provide entertainment with food and beverages, all in one neat package.  In other venues, entertainment is usually the responsibility of the client and they can be very cliché (such as music). Holding an event at Circa is particularly attractive for smaller businesses, who often have small office parties; why not take your office to a show without having to book out the whole theatre, then have a reserved area for their food and beverages? In this case, the entertainment is already there. It is unique, and for some, it is a new and pleasant experience. They get the benefit of quality entertainment, at a reasonable and achievable cost and still have a reserved area for their staff and or guests.

DOTW: Do you have any favourite stories from your time at Wharfside?

CK: I don’t have any favourite stories but I have had several pleasant experiences, too many to mention.

DOTW: What should potential customers and Circa audience members know about Wharfside Restaurant?

CK: Wharfside is what I would call a “practical” restaurant. This means that our menu and service is designed with the theatre-goer in mind.  At the same time, it is practical in terms of being able to cater for corporate, social and other events for guests who are not attending a show.  We have the flexibility to create menus and packages with client specific needs.

On a practical side, Circa audience members need to know that light meals are not “express meals”. Guests often come into the restaurant late, prior to a show and ask for a light meal thinking that it will be faster than a main meal.


Wharfside Restaurant is open for meals or lighter fare before most performances at Circa Theatre. Wharfside can also cater for corporate or group events. For more information or to make a reservation, please call 801-7996.