27 June 2011

An Oak Tree

A bold and absurd play about the power of the mind terrifies Wellington actors!
The premise of Circa Theatre’s upcoming play An Oak Tree written by Tim Crouch is a daunting and exhilarating prospect for any actor.  Actor Tim Spite will share the stage every night with a new actor who has never seen the script!

“It could be a f@#king nightmare; a different actor, a different performance every night. How the bloody hell am I going to prevent myself from being thrown. It’s bad enough with senile actors who forget their lines occasionally... but this person won’t know any of the lines. Help!!!”
– Tim Spite 

AN OAK TREE is a remarkable play for two actors, one of whom is played by a different actor – at each performance. This actor walks on stage having neither seen nor read a word of the play that they’re in… until they’re in it!

The new actor plays a man loses his daughter to a car crash. Nothing now is what it is. It’s like he’s in a play – but he doesn’t know the words or the moves.

“I’m terrified!” says Spite. “I’ve just spent five weeks rehearsing with my stage manager reading the other persons lines for me. I’ve no idea what to expect. I have to guide some poor bewildered actor through the show and god knows how they’re going to react! What if they get Sir Ian McKellen? I’ll shit myself.”
Confirmed actors to date include Michele Amas, Jason Whyte, Jane Waddell, Gavin Rutherford, Darlene Moheke, Heather O'Carroll, Phil Grieve, Jessica Robinson, Simon Vincent, Geraldine Brophy, Martyn Wood, Emma Kinane, Kip Chapman, Adam Gardiner, Miranda Harcourt, Paul McLaughlin, Chris Brougham and Anya Tate-Manning – with many more to come.

Guest actors will be updated on the Circa web page every Monday so check out www.circa.co.nz <http://www.circa.co.nz> to see who will be performing each week!

“Absolutely****ing fantastic!!!” - The Observer
“It’s mind blowing – for the actors and the audience.” - The Herald

An Oak TreeWritten By Tim Crouch / Directed By Andrew Foster
2 – 30 JUL, 7.30pmSunday Matinee 4.30pm
Circa Two, 1 Taranaki St, Wellington
BOOK: 04 801 7992 or www.circa.co.nz <http://www.circa.co.nz>

20 June 2011

Wharfside Restaurant: Brand New Menu!

Our new menu was launched last Friday and we have some new and exciting dishes as well as the old Wharfside favourites. As in the past, because we are on the waterfront, we have designed the menu with a seafood lean, but we still do cater for those non-seafood lovers as well. Our menu also caters for those with special dietary requirements such as vegetarian and gluten free etc.  

Keeping in mind that Wharfside have to keep the menu options limited to a certain number of dishes, due to the fact that we are a theatre restaurant with tight time constraints, our Chef, Daniel Tiehuis, has done a wonderful job incorporating a great variety of dishes into the menu. 

Circa Soup of the Day served with toasted Ciabatta – 10.50
Oven Roasted Mushrooms bursting with Feta cheese, drizzled with Apple Balsamic – 11.50
NZ Green-Lipped Mussels served in a tomato and white wine broth – 12.50
Arancini con Risotto – Sicilian Croquettes with NZ Salmon – 11.50
Lightly Baked Bread selection with homemade dips (for two) – 11.50
Wharfside Tasting Plate (for two) – 25.00
(A tantalising combination of our entrees)
Tasty Three Cheese Baked Soufflé with an Apple & Walnut salad – 17.50
Moroccan Lamb Casserole served with a lemon couscous – 18.50
Creamy Seafood Chowder with smoked fish, prawns, mussels &
potato – small 12.50 large 18.50
Wharfside Winter Salad – grilled salmon, rocket, egg, potato & olives with a
citrus dressing - 18.50
Homemade Roast Pumpkin Ravioli sautéed in sage butter topped with grated parmesan - 17.50
Pan Seared Fish De Jour served on lemon risotto with rocket & salsa verde – 28.00
Slow Roasted Pork Belly with mustard potato mash and sautéed greens topped with a port and apple glaze – 28.00
Roast Chicken Breast stuffed with sage & onion, wrapped in bacon served with roasted potato and wilted greens – 28.00
Beef Fillet presented on crisp potato rosti topped with garlic roasted Portobello mushroom with green peppercorn sauce – 32.00
 (Wharfside uses free range pork, chicken & eggs)
Seasonal vegetables 5.50 – Salad 5.50 – Shoestring fries - 5.50
Apple & Rhubarb Pie served with a crème anglaise & vanilla ice cream – 11.50
Vanilla Bean Panacotta served with a raspberry compote – 11.50
Steamed Butterscotch Pudding with a warm caramel sauce & vanilla ice cream – 11.50

A few tips for those dining with us:
·         It is always advisable to book as, if we have a busy Circa show on, we can quite often be fully booked on the night.
·         If you are dining before going to a show allow yourself plenty of time to dine before the show starts. 
·         Order a wine, dessert, coffee or liqueur for back at your table to enjoy over the interval and avoid the queues.  We will have it waiting at your table so you can simply come out during the break and enjoy a treat at your leisure.  Definitely the best way to make the most of the interval.
·         We do offer after show dining for shows with early start times, if bookings are made before the show goes in.

We look forward to seeing you at Wharfside soon!

13 June 2011

Funny, sad and altogether riveting: Meet the Churchills

Waitaki Boys' High School principal Paul Baker tells drama on the waterfront all about his new play, Meet the Churchills, which will premiere at Circa on 18 June.

DOTW: What inspired you to write Meet the Churchills

PB: A biography of Clementine Churchill (Sir Winston’s wife). I found the Churchills to be funny, sad and altogether riveting. Larger than life, they were obsessed with creating and maintaining their own truths. I imagined a family luncheon during which some of those truths were challenged. And (five years ago) started writing...

DOTW: What were your greatest challenges in writing the play?

PB: A   being faithful to the historical record whilst remaining a dramatist.
       B   filtering the vast complexity of Churchill history into two hours.
       C  shaping events into a satisfying dramatic structure. 

DOTW: Who or what are your influences?

PB: Ayckbourn, Albee, Chekhov, Coward and Pinter. Not Rattigan.

DOTW: How has the play been developed?

PB: Two public readings (Fortune and ATC), a two day ATC workshop, an ATC script advisor (Phillipa Campbell) and two Playmarket assessments. It is wonderful how much assistance is now available to a New Zealand playwright.  Director Ross Jolly has also helped me define and refine, and bears all responsibility for the finished product.

My first play, Conscience, was not ‘developed’ in any way, and it showed.  

DOTW: How closely did you work with the cast and crew? 

PB: A few discussions with Ross Jolly, and a day with the cast in which further nips and tucks were amicably negotiated.

DOTW: Is it difficult to turn your work over to someone else to bring it to life for the stage?

PB: Fortunately I am a busy school principal so don’t have time to fret about ‘my baby’.  In any case, there comes a point where you are so maternal that you can’t see the nappy for the crap. A fresh perspective is necessary for that final step from page to stage. It must be very difficult (and hazardous) to direct the first production of your own play.

DOTW: What can you tell us about director Ross Jolly?

PB: He is the first person to wish to direct the play. A man of foresight and compassion. 

DOTW: What are your thoughts on your play premiering at Circa Theatre?

PB: I actually wrote it with the Court in mind as they have such an Anglophilic audience.  Hopefully a successful Circa season will convince the Court and other theatre companies to convert general expressions of interest into specific income for me.  

DOTW: What are your greatest current anxieties?

PB: A   That critics will say:
·    I have reduced England’s grandest family to a situation comedy. 
·    There are too many facts.
·    There are too many themes. 
·    They are not likely to say there are too many notes as it is not a musical.

      B    That there will be no further productions.

      C   That there will be further productions. If I turn it into a musical.

D   That Lady Soames (Winston’s surviving child) will sue. 

DOTW: Finally, what can audiences expect from Meet the Churchills?

PB: To be entertained, moved, stimulated, and - unless they are Churchill buffs - to be surprised.   

Meet the Churchills opens on 18 June in Circa One. Tickets are on sale now at the Circa Box Office, please call 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz

06 June 2011

So unique and powerful: The Lead Wait

The sole female in The Lead Wait, actor Heather O’Carroll tells drama on the waterfront about how it was to see this landmark play at BATS in 1997 and then take up the mantle 14 years later.

DOTW: What can you tell us about Juliet, your character in The Lead Wait?

HOC: She’s a bit of a bogan. Tight black jeans, leather jacket. She’s grown up in a small rural area so there have been very few city influences and she’s been surrounded by men so she’s definitely quite tough. The event that happened 14 years before the play starts when she was a teenager has really shaped the person she is now and has made her very guarded and protective of herself and others. When Jason’s character (Man) returns he opens up a lot of old wounds that haven’t healed properly and so we see her start to become more vulnerable and have to deal with the pain that she’s been repressing for so long so the play is a very emotional journey for her and one that she fights every step of the way.

Heather O'Carroll and Jason Whyte in The Lead Wait. Photo by Matt Grace.
DOTW: You saw the original production at BATS as part of the STAB season in 1997, what were your impressions of the play at that time?

HOC: It was one of the last plays I saw before I went to Drama School the following year so it really had an enormous impact on me at the time because I was about to throw myself headlong into the acting profession and was starting to form all the ideas of why I loved theatre and what it meant to me. A lot of The Lead Wait experience for me is stored in my sense memory I think because it is such a visceral play. So I remember coming into the theatre and thinking wow I’ve just stepped into this real old house and I’m like a fly on the wall because BATS was so utterly transformed. It was so exciting to see a working set like that as well with the running water, and actors taking baths and the roof leaking and a live bird (!) and of course I remember feeling very hungry as the fish was being cooked.  But I also just had the most amazing feeling of awe and being overwhelmed at the end because I had witnessed something so unique and powerful.

DOTW: How has the earlier production influenced your portrayal of Juliet?

HOC: I didn’t remember Jo Smith’s performance at all and that has nothing to do with her as an actor it’s just because The Lead Wait is such an ensemble piece so you almost can’t separate the performances from one another.  I know that when Andrew told me I had the part I was very excited but then the terror set in almost immediately because I knew how challenging it would be and that I would have to live up to the legend that The Lead Wait has become since it was first performed.

DOTW: What has been the biggest challenge of acting in a play that has had such an influence on you?

HOC: I think you question yourself a lot more and expect a lot more from yourself because you want the audience to feel as great as you did when you saw the show. I had more than a few doubts that I would be able to pull it off because Juliet is such a strong character and unlike anything I’ve ever played before and because Jason, Scott and Andrew had been part of the original production you worry that comparisons are being made but that wasn’t an issue at all. Andrew’s approach to this production of the play was very fresh in all aspects and no-one was looking to recreate something that had gone before but to re-interpret and explore the relationships and characters in a new way. Also Jo [Randerson] was fully involved in answering questions we had about the play and to make changes to the original script where necessary. But it’s a really challenging piece to perform. The show runs in real time so it’s almost like there are no marks you can hit.  You really have to listen to each other as a cast and the rhythms can be different every night because of that.

Heather O'Carroll in The Lead Wait. Photo by Matt Grace.
DOTW: What can you tell us about the rest of the cast and crew?

HOC: I’ve worked with Jo, Andrew and Jason many times before so that was great to have that opportunity again and I just think what they do is awesome. I love Jo’s writing style and sense of humour, Andrew’s direction and his design for this show is just so original and amazing and Jason is a fantastic actor who is not afraid to mix things up on stage and improvise. I’d never worked with Scott or Richard before but they have been great and Miriam Sobey, our stage manager, has been incredible. Someone described the show as a stage manager’s nightmare but she has made it into a dream for us.  There is so much work involved before, after and during the show but she has carried it off with aplomb.  It has definitely been a challenge for her, as a vegetarian, to deal with fish guts every night!

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

HOC: It’s so hard to describe this show to people without massive spoiler alerts but I think if you think of The Lead Wait experience then I would say it is intense, it’s provocative, it’s funny, it’s engaging and it’s beautiful. I love looking out into the audience during the curtain call and seeing their reaction to this play; I’ve seen a myriad of emotions played out on people’s faces, but I’ve never seen anyone who looks bored.

The Lead Wait is on at Circa until 11 June. Tickets are available online at www.circa.co.nz or by calling the Circa Box Office at 801-7992.