26 September 2011

Audio Description at Circa Theatre: Four Flat Whites in Italy

Circa Theatre will present an audio described performance of the Roger Hall comedy Four Flat Whites in Italy on 5 October at 2pm.

Audio description is a technique that allows blind and visually impaired audience members to enjoy a live theatre performance. Those who require it will be given a headset, through which a narrator will talk during the performance, describing what is happening on the stage during the natural pauses in the dialogue.

The cast of Four Flat Whites in Italy. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
A touch tour will take place at 1.15pm, giving blind and visually impaired patrons the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the set and costumes before the performance.

It is a priority for Circa to make our productions more accessible, and audio description is one way in which we are working to do this.

“We are very excited to be presenting our first-ever audio described performance,” said Ray Henwood, Circa Council Co-ordinator. “Roger Hall is one of New Zealand’s favourite playwrights and Four Flat Whites in Italy has been incredibly popular with audiences all around the country. “We hope this performance will be the first in an ongoing programme of audio-described performances at Circa.”
Circa Theatre would like to thank the Wellington City Council for their generous support of this initiative. 

Tickets are available now. To book, contact the Circa Box Office at 801-7992. Please indicate at the time of booking if you will require the use of a headset (numbers are limited) or have seating requirements.

The cast of Four Flat Whites in Italy. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
This performance is open to the general public and the audio description will have no impact on those not using the headsets.

19 September 2011

He Reo Aroha: A universal theme to which everyone can relate

Performer Kali Kopae talks to drama on the waterfront about the return season of Tawata Productions' He Reo Aroha: its creation, its worldwide reception and the familiarity it inspires in all who see it.

DOTW: What is the basic story of He Reo Aroha? What role(s) do you play?

KK: He Reo Aroha is a simple love story …Girl meets Boy…they separate…and then lalala…they get back together. Set in NY and rural NZ, it’s a love story that resonates with all people.

I play Kaia a successful singer and also the loveable fisherman Rangi.

Kali Kopae and Jamie McCaskill in He Reo Aroha.
DOTW: Were you involved in the original development of the play? How did it come to be?

KK: It started as an idea over a few drinks at the Southern Cross. We chatted about what we wanted out of the show and basically just talked out ideas. It was a collaboration between writers Miria George and Jamie McCaskill; myself and Hone Kouka were really just a soundboard for the ideas coming out…we would say yay or neigh… Miria and Jamie would go away and do the real work of writing the piece and we’d wait in anticipation for a squiz at the next draft.

My original songs were put in, also waiata from Hone Hurihanganui. With each new season we would find out different things…you know…what worked and what didn’t…we talked amongst our selves and with the audience and changes were made accordingly, songs were cut, shuffled or added…scenes thrown out…characters flicked or freshened up….and now…phew… I think we have a pretty solid little piece of theatre.

DOTW: How many times have you performed this play? How does it feel to return to it again? What does this play mean to you?

KK: Jeepers…I have no idea, it’s been around for a few years now so I’d say I’ve preformed it A LOT!

This play is so special to me!!

1 - I get to work with my fiancé
2 - I get to play my own music
3 - I get to play a Man in a dress
4 - I get to travel the world and work with an amazing bunch of people, all thanks to Tawata!!

Kali Kopae and Jamie McCaskill in He Reo Aroha.
DOTW: I understand that you recently performed He Reo Aroha in the Christchurch Arts Festival with a different co-star – how did it feel to perform with someone else?

KK: You know to be honest it was hard but that’s only because I had to do some work, it wasn’t like being with Jamie where we know each others ways on stage…we can generally read each other and what one will do next but Christchurch wasn’t like that.

Christchurch was a different show…different in some beautiful ways…Musically we changed to suit Tola’s needs and mine, ya know, finding that sweet spot during Hapai …so I could meld with him…It was actually fun to have someone new to bounce things off, he freshened it up and made me work with him, in a good way.

There was a lot of cool stuff that came out of that season…some stuff I think Jamie and I can talk about in the future too.

Kali Kopae and Jamie McCaskill in He Reo Aroha.
DOTW: You’ve performed this play all over the world – how do international audiences react to it, compared to New Zealand audiences?

KK: I’ve found that no matter where we are in the world the reception is always the same: warm and inviting. He Reo Aroha has such a universal theme that everyone can relate to. No matter what ethnicity… Everyone has loved at some point whether it be your fiancĂ©, Grandma…Home or just being on the Ocean. He Reo Aroha seems to have everyone’s favorite familiar family character, this familiarity is what I think our audiences love.

He Reo Aroha opens in Circa Two on Wednesday, 21 September and runs until Friday, 30 September. to book, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz

12 September 2011

The Circa Theatre Meetup Group

The Circa Theatre Meetup Group is Circa's official theatre club, started in July 2010 for people who love to attend the theatre but don't always have someone to go with or those who just want to have a great night out with a group of like-minded people. Free to join and open to anyone, the group is hosted by Circa's Audience Development Director or a member of the local theatre community and attends every production at Circa.
Members of the Circa Theatre Meetup Group at "Flapper Friday", The Great Gatsby,  6 August 2010
Often, the Meetup event is scheduled for opening night, so members can enjoy the first-night excitement of the show and attend the opening night after-party to enjoy a glass of bubbly and nibbles, and mingle with the cast, crew and other theatre VIPs. However, sometimes we will attend a regular season performance, meeting for dinner before the show and enjoying a Meet and Greet with the cast after the show, to get an exclusive insider's view of the production. On still other occasions, the Meetup Group will attend a special themed evening during the course of the production. Most events are scheduled during the first 11 days of the production so that those members who are also Friends of Circa may receive their ticket discount.

Members of the Circa Theatre Meetup Group at the opening night of The Lead Wait,  14 May 2011
The Circa Theatre Meetup Group provides its members with a number of benefits: ease of booking (members simply RSVP for the event they want to attend and then all of the details are arranged for them), reserved pre-show seating in the foyer, access to the group discount if the overall attendance numbers comply and the ability to bring guests (who will also receive the same benefits).

What the members say:
- "Great group, always enjoy the company at these sessions and the meet and greet the cast afterwards."
- "I got there early this time and what a difference it made! Was able to talk to people as they came in so it was a really good social occasion as well as a great show."
- "Interesting and fun folks."
- "Really friendly group and had a superb night. Was good to meet the cast afterwards and see how they felt about the show and the audience's reactions."

Members of the Circa Theatre Meetup Group during dinner at Wharfside Restaurant before attending
Four Flat Whites in Italy, 10 September 2011
The next Meetup event is scheduled for the opening night of He Reo Aroha on 21 September. (Spaces are limited.)

To join, visit www.meetup.com/CircaTheatre. Once a member, you will receive regular updates regarding upcoming events and other group-related information.

For more information, please contact Circa's Audience Development Director, Cara Hill, at carah@circa.co.nz.

05 September 2011

I, George Nepia: "expect to cry, to laugh, to marvel at this great man"

Actor Jarod Rawiri talks to drama on the waterfront about the Tawata Productions world premiere of I, George Nepia, opening in Circa Two on 7 September.

DOTW: Can you tell us about the story of I, George Nepia? How familiar were you with this story before you started work on this play?

JR: It is a script inspired by an autobiography of the same name. Terry MacLean worked with George to write the story of George Nepia’s amazing life both on and off the field. Our play focuses on the Invincibles tour of 1924 when the All Blacks went to England, Wales, Ireland and France, winning every game they played. That’s 30 games in all. Amazing considering George played in all of them. I knew George was a legendary All Black but I knew none of the things that he accomplished and there was quite a list.

DOTW: What are the challenges/pressures in portraying such an iconic figure? What has been the best part of the process, for you?

JR: He is a legendary full stop so once I became comfortable with that it all kind of fell into place. He did so many things but maintained a humble, genuine way about him. As it is a solo show there are many challenges for an actor to overcome: multiple characters, the physicality of rugby and his prowess as a musician. That was the scariest thing for me. I started learning the guitar 2 weeks before we started rehearsal. I have to play it in the show. Hopefully I have passed.

DOTW: I understand family members of George Nepia are associated with this play; how did they help to shape the development of the play and your portrayal?

JR: There was no way that we could ever have tried to do this play without getting it right for his whanau first. That is how Hone Kouka approached the initial script idea. George Nepia Jr came to the first public reading and was very supportive of what Hone was trying to say about his koro. Once he knew that the whanau were supportive we set about bringing his script to life.

DOTW: What can you tell us about playwright Hone Kouka and director Jason Te Kare? What was it like working with each of them?

JR: I put it this way, they are my theatre whanau. Hone has been a big influence on me as an actor as well as a Maori actor. His writing always has an unassuming strength to it. It gently taps you on the shoulder and says, ‘What do you think about this?’, rather than bashing you on the head so you can’t help but listen. Jason is a big brother, who I looked up to and it is only natural that he is directing now. He takes it very seriously and has so much knowledge it’s a little scary. We are both G I boys too. Glen Innes for the uneducated. Ha ha.

DOTW: Finally, what can audiences expect from I, George Nepia?
JR: I have been asked this question before and my answer was this: expect to cry, to laugh, to marvel at this great man. He was a great rugby player but his greatest desire was to be a good father, a loving husband and to live a quiet simple life. I think you did that e koro. 

I, George Nepia runs until 16 September. To buy tickets, contact the Circa box office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz