31 May 2011

Go and see it: The Lead Wait

A sound editor on many major films, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Chris Ward returns to take the reigns on the sound design for The Lead Wait, after revolutionizing surround sound for the original production at BATS 14 years ago.

DOTW: What is your role in The Lead Wait?

CW: I created the Sound Design for The Lead Wait and was very lucky to be assisted by Gillian Craig, who took care of the installation for me. This was the first time our paths have crossed and I’m looking forward to collaborating in the future.

DOTW: What can you tell us about the sound design for this show?

CW: The house is a character in this play. I went to a friend’s place in Central Hawkes Bay, set up my equipment and left it recording in their empty house for 24 hours. Then I chose the bits that best suited the moods I wanted to create and edited it all together. It was magic to listen back to all the creaks and groans of the house settling at the end of a day baking in the sun. I loved the wind in the chimney flue and the angry fridge motor. Even the birds on the tin roof at the beginning are aggressively fighting for their places.

DOTW: You were involved in the original production at BATS as part of the 1997 STAB festival, for which the sound design was recognized as innovative. How have things changed since then? What is different about the sound design for the current production?

CW: I restored the original design, from old computer backups, as a point of reference before starting the new one. Lots of “library” style sound FX with some original recordings. Looking back at what I achieved then I was pretty happy but also it made me realise how much I’ve learned in the interim. It was the first time I’d ever done a surround sound theatre project, and operated a show on a computer.

The new design is in surround and also computerised but the content is vastly different. This place is a real snapshot of a real place where the closest neighbour is kilometers away and, as Juliet says in the play, no one ever goes there.

DOTW: What challenges were involved in the Circa production in terms of sound design?

CW: The biggest challenge for me was choosing what to leave out. Listening through the recordings there was so much great content to play with. The choice of working in traverse also meant we had to double up the equipment requirements to serve both sides of the auditorium. This also meant we had to play the sounds a lot lower than I intended as the actors dialogue was easily lost if they had their backs to the audience.

DOTW: What is it like for you to return to this show after 14 years? Has your approach changed?

CW: Looking back I had to laugh at some of my efforts from the original design. My approach now is that if I need a sound I go to where that sound is and record it. Where possible I want to present something that people haven’t heard before. These days I also prefer to record in surround formats rather than make up surround content from lots of different stereo or mono elements.

I had a real sense of déjà vu returning to this play. There was a lot more clarity for me in terms of interpreting the writing and how I was going to support that. 

DOTW: Finally, what should audiences know about The Lead Wait?

CW: The Lead Wait is an experience. I wouldn’t call it entertainment. It will stick in your memory and linger there longer than you would like it to. The actors do an amazing job of unfolding this story to the audience every night. This is one of those dark tales that seems to resonate all too easily with us as New Zealanders and wouldn’t be out of place on the big screen. Go and see it. 

The Lead Wait is on in Circa One until 11 June. Tickets are available at the Circa Box Office, 801-7992, or online at www.circa.co.nz. $25 ticket specials on 1 June, 2 June and 5 June - just quote 'Web Promo' when making a telephone or internet booking.

23 May 2011

Boomers Behaving Badly

Jane Keller tells drama on the waterfront all about her show, Boomers Behaving Badly.

DOTW: Please tell us about Boomers Behaving Badly – what is the basic premise of the show?

JK: The basic premise for Boomers Behaving Badly is that we may be in our 50s and 60s but we are definitely not past it. We are enjoying life and having a ball!

DOTW: What was your inspiration for this show?

JK: My inspiration for the show was receiving an invitation for my 40th High School Reunion last year.  I couldn't get my head around the fact that 40 years had gone by and gone by so quickly.

DOTW: I understand you enjoyed a sold-out performance of Boomers at the St. James last year; has the show changed at all for its Circa season?

JK: Yes, we did sell out last year in the St James’ Life Is A Cabaret series.  The Circa show has many new songs added and an expanded storyline.

DOTW: This show has required you to do a lot of shopping - can you tell us about that?

JK: Doing a new show is very expensive. I have had two beautiful new dresses made. I bought two new pairs of shoes. Looked all over town. Good old Kirkcaldies! New jewelry and make-up as well. Lots of fun shopping but spending way too much money.

Had fun with Kevin Rush from Spotlight choosing the fabrics for the curtain. We chose beautiful, rich colours.  I hope I am not upstaged by the curtain! We bought the fabrics but Spotlight is not charging us for the making of the curtain. We really appreciate that.

Michael Nicholas Williams and I went out to the PianoShop in Plimmerton.  He played many of their pianos and we chose a lovely one to use for the show.  Cameron, the owner of the shop, gave us a good deal.

DOTW: What can you tell us about your co-conspirators, director KC Kelly and musician Michael Nicholas Williams?

JK: I came up with the idea for the show and I have done it once at The St James.  Michael, KC and I have really expanded the storyline. We had lots of fun making up stories to link the songs together. I sing 22 songs in this show. There are a lot of words to remember!

DOTW: Finally, what can audiences expect from Boomers Behaving Badly?

JK: Audiences can expect to be entertained! They will laugh a lot. Maybe in the few poignant songs, they might even get a bit teary. I hope so.

Boomers Behaving Badly opens in Circa Two on 24 May and runs until 11 June. Get your tickets by calling the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or going online at www.circa.co.nz. But hurry, the first week is nearly sold out and other performances are filling up quickly!

16 May 2011

The Improvisors present Greg Ellis in Snake Oil

Citizens of Port Nicholson it is with great cordiality that esteemed pharmacologist and adventurer Dr. Artemis Lovelace invites you to the unveiling of a most excellent elixir!

For those of you who, through no fault of your own but through the geographical exigencies of this benighted colony, are unaware of my vaunted reputation allow me to elucidate my reputation.

I am he who braved the blasted frigidity of the far-flung Hindu Kush to bring back a liver cleansing tincture of such efficacy that the Sultana of Marrakech was completely cured of her apoplexy. I commend to you my services as a man of medicine, a pusher back of the murky boundaries of geography, a connoisseur of tea and an old Oxonian.

Prepare to be amazed, delighted and awed at my tales of research in the field and the development of a draught so wondrous it will alter your existence.

Greg Ellis returns to Circa with his second solo improvised comedy show following last year’s successful Holmes Alone. This time he takes you into the world of Dr. Artemis Lovelace: explorer, raconteur, amateur chemist and snake oil salesman.

Snake Oil is a journey into a world of tall tales, bogus cures and Victoriana, as one man attempts to bring to the stage a tale that is too epic to be true!

Part of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2011, Snake Oil opened on Sunday, 15 May and runs until Wednesday, 18 May. Tickets are only $18, so get yours by calling the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or going online at www.circa.co.nz

09 May 2011

The Lead Wait: A show that comes out of the heart of New Zealand

By Jo Randerson

It is a strange experience to have a play re-mounted from 14 years ago. The Lead Wait played at BATS for one season as part of the STAB festival in 1997. Since then the only other performance that I am aware of was at Toi Whakaari (directed by one of the MTA Directing students, Harriette Cowan). Over the years there has been talk of making a film version of this script, so there’s always been the sense that the production is still alive in some way. All of us involved in the show also continue to receive compliments on this piece that we made so long ago, so I am excited to see this re-mount at Circa, as well as slightly nervous. How will audiences respond this time?

This sense of The Lead Wait not being finished was palpable last year when Playmarket decided to publish the text as part of their NZ play series (see www.playmarket.org.nz) so I got to re-visit the script not so long ago. Editing the text for publication involved a general prune and honing of the work, as well as trying to re-sculpt some of the dialogue which worked well with the particular actors who had devised them, but didn’t stand so well on their own in printed form. This script was devised by the company Trouble – Jo Smith, Jason Whyte, Andrew Foster, Scott Wills and Tim Spite with myself sitting out as ‘the writer’. It will always remain a piece that was created by the company, coming out of the particular synergy and history we had created together.

In 1997 I had a real interest with Martin McDonagh’s writing (I had just seen The Leenane Trilogy in Galway). Director Andrew Foster and I had a real desire to make something very naturalistic, very domestic, and most importantly, something very much of New Zealand, the way McDonagh’s plays were so deeply of Ireland. We were very interested in the telling of stories in theatre as well.

While all of our work has since gone in different directions, and my writing has of course changed and developed significantly in the 14 years which have elapsed since the writing of this text, what hasn’t changed is the political motivation in my work. We made this theatre work in the wake of Rogernomics, we were the user-pays generation – angry that we suddenly had to pay through the nose for our educations and health and that the generation ahead of us who had been supported by the state were now efficating policies which meant that their children had to provide for themselves. So the story is one of abandonment, of a small group of children left alone and how they became bitter, selfish, made their own terrible mistakes yet yearned inarticulately for another way of life where people actually cared about each other.

For those who saw the 1997 version, this production will be leaner, more focused and clearer in its thrust, hopefully without losing the intrigue and vitality of that original show. With hindsight, we are more aware of what the piece was striking at with its content, and surprisingly the themes are no less relevant today. For those who did not see the 1997 season, this is a chance to see a show that comes out of the heart of New Zealand and lays bare some serious questions about the way we live together. The piece is surprising, funny and still very fresh and raw. I look forward to audiences’ responses.

The Lead Wait opens Saturday, 14 May and runs until Saturday 11 June, with a $25 preview on Friday 13 May and $25 special on Sunday, 15 May. Tickets are available at the Circa Box Office, 801-7992, or online at www.circa.co.nz

04 May 2011

Theatresports 2011

Theatresports 2011

A Message from the Wellington Improv Heavyweight Champion 2010

Many people would be filled with dread if they were told they had to get up on stage with no script and entertain an audience. But there are a small (some might call slightly crazy) group of us who get a real kick out of it. 

Never seen Theatresports before? You don’t know what you’re missing! A quick explanation - teams of up to 3 or 4 players improvise scenes within a chosen game structure. At the beginning of every game the team will ask the audience for a couple of ‘ask fors’ to get the scene underway.

As with any sport there are an agreed set of principles and rules you must adhere to. Disregard them at your peril! And at the end of each scene the audience and judges will score it out of 5. 

The team with the most points at the end of the night wins, but the player who accumulates the most points over the course of the entire season takes the championship title. 

With Winter just around the corner…oh who am I kidding, already here, there’s no better way to top off your weekend than to kick back on a Sunday night in toasty Circa watching some great improvised comedy.  Maybe I’m a little biased, but the truth is I always have a blast when I’m on stage with the guys. And the only time I don’t is when I get challenged to do a scene in rhyming couplets. Quite honestly, rhyming couplets are my kryptonite. Come along, you’ll see what I mean!

Richard Falkner won the title in 2009, I took it off him in 2010, who will take it out in 2011? One thing's for sure, I'm not giving up my title, or the real fake gold heavyweight championship belt, without a fight.

- Anna Kennedy

Part of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2011, Theatresports kicks off on Sunday, 8 May at 7:30pm and runs every Sunday until the Grand Finale on 10 Juily. Tickets are available now, so call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz to book today!