19 December 2011

2011: Marking 35 years of great theatre at Circa!

It’s that time again – how did it get here so fast? – the season to celebrate with family and friends, and reflect on the fantastic year of theatre (our 35th anniversary!) that is rapidly coming to a close.

2011 began as most do around here, with the return of the Roger Hall Christmas pantomime, Robin Hood. No he didn’t! Oh yes he did!

Next, we set out in the caravan with the cracker Kiwi comedy The Motor Camp. This sell-out summer hit caused a sensation with audiences, and will be returning by popular demand in 2012 – don’t miss it!

Heat kicked off the year in Circa Two, bringing a truly moving and provocative love story and its own alternative energy power source to Circa’s second space.

The Improvisors were a big presence at Circa throughout the year with a variety of shows for adults and kids alike: Improv Cage Match, Theatresports, Snake Oil, Policitics – The Musical, Mild Wild West, A Knight to Remember and Spaced Out. That is a whole lotta improv!

In the thrilling spy spoof Our Man In Havana, Circa One audiences were delighted by the dexterity of the multi-role playing cast, who took on more than 30 characters between the four of them amidst the colourful and seedy underworld of 1950s Cuba.

As part of the 2011 New Zealand Fringe Festival, the musical wonder that was flect-Re-flect enjoyed a short season in Circa Two, fascinating audiences with its originality and energy.

In March, Circa Two audiences were treated to yet another musical wonder, the delightful and charming Fairy Stories. You have never seen your favourite fairy tales quite like this!

Circa celebrated its 35th anniversary with the epic, exciting and explosive Pulitzer Prize-winning August: Osage County. A sell-out season of positively riveting performances, three of the cast were recognized with 2011 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards: Jennifer Ludlam for Best Actress, Michele Amas for Outstanding Performance and Lauren Gibson for Most Promising Female Newcomer.

In April, the Beatgirls returned to Circa Two with their hit show from 2010, BeatCamp! Once again, audiences were practically dancing in the aisles as the lovely and talented BeatGirls sang and danced their way through the decades, from The Andrew Sisters to Amy Winehouse!

Next up in Circa One was the modern Kiwi classic The Lead Wait. Captivating audiences with its unsettling hypernaturalism and dark wit, it was recognized with Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for Set Designer of the Year (Andrew Foster) and Sound Designer of the Year (Chris Ward).

Audiences couldn’t help tapping their toes to the cabaret music of Boomers Behaving Badly, a sell-out show that combined Jane Keller’s special style of storytelling with her virtuoso Broadway voice.

We were made privy to some of the deep, dark family secrets of Sir Winston Churchill in the world premiere of the new New Zealand play Meet the Churchills. A fresh and funny perspective on an iconic and larger-than-life family!

An Oak Tree took traditional theatre and turned it on its head. A play for two actors in which only one knows the script, audiences were mesmerized by the ways in which actor Tim Spite would feed the lines to his co-star – a different guest actor for every performance.

When the Rain Stops Falling enchanted and challenged Circa One audiences out of their mid-winter doldrums, through a sweeping, multi-generational family drama of epic proportions. Cast member Christopher Brougham was awarded Best Supporting Actor at the 2011 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards.

Eight was another departure from traditional theatre, with a premise that invited the audience to vote on which six of the eight monologues they would see in each performance. With the partnership of some of New Zealand’s hottest clothing designers, Eight was an engaging, intriguing and slick production that entranced Circa Two audiences.

Just in time for the Rugby World Cup, the return season of the Roger Hall hit Four Flat Whites in Italy took audiences on a hilarious journey with two mismatched couples. Fun-filled dream holiday … yeah right!

Also during the World Cup, the Tawata Productions play I, George Nepia treated audiences to a look at the life and times of legendary rugby player Geroge Nepia. After playing to sold-out houses in Circa Two, I, George Nepia swept the 2011 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards, winning Most Promising Director, Director of the Year (Jason Te Kare), Actor of the Year (Jarod Rawiri) and Production of the Year. It came back for another dynamite season in Circa Two in December.

The return season of the Tawata Productions hit He Reo Aroha delighted audiences in September with a heartwarming love story, beautiful music and inspiring performances.

Sex Drive turned Circa One into the Pack ‘n’ Pullet Poultry Factory where three women put their second division Lotto winnings into opening a mobile sex shop. An unforgettable production that had audiences belly laughing into the aisles. And who can forget Dame Kate Harcourt’s final outfit?!

A late entry into the Circa Two season, Drowning in Veronica Lake told us the story of the legendary actress through actor Alex Ellis’ compelling performance and the use of a truly unique costume.

Finally, we whirled you into the Christmas season with the return of one of Roger Hall’s earlier pantomimes, Aladdin. This show is currently enchanting audiences of young and old alike, and will return in January to continue to enchant. Get your tickets by calling the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz.

We’d like to thank our patrons, sponsors and the Wellington theatre community for your support during our 35th birthday, and wish you all the best for 2012. We will close for the year on 23 December, and reopen on 2 January with the first drama on the waterfront post of 2012!

Happy Holidays from everyone at Circa Theatre!

13 December 2011

Meet the Circa Council: Branwen Millar

Circa Theatre is run by the Circa Council, a group of passionate and dedicated artists who work to ensure that Circa continues to be champions of quality playwriting and performance, and home and host to New Zealand’s most influential theatre-makers. Starting this week, drama on the waterfront will introduce you to the Circa Council, featuring a different member in posts throughout the coming months.

Our first featured member is one of the newest additions to the Council, Branwen Millar, who takes time from her busy schedule to tell us about her history with Circa, the highlights of her time at Circa, and her picks for 2012.

DOTW: Tell us a little about yourself.

BM: Proud Wellingtonian, born and raised. With practically equal passions for theatre, travel, social justice and human rights.

DOTW: What is your history with Circa Theatre? How long have you been involved in the theatre and in what capacity?

BM: I started working for Linda Wilson in the Box Office at Circa ten years ago and it was a wonderfully flexible job whilst I was studying (BA in Politics, Theatre and Development Studies, then a MA in Scriptwriting at Victoria University). I got to see all the plays for free and meet lots of wonderful people, both who worked at Circa, and who came to see the shows. Until recently I worked on and off at the box office between traveling, writing plays and other work, and occasionally would fill in for Suzanne Blackburn in Front of House.

My play Armslength premiered in Circa Two in 2008, which was hugely exciting for me as a writer. I had a great time working on it with Stephen Bain who directed, and the lovely cast, crew and design team. But I still remember turning up at the preview performance and there being people there, audience people who had paid to come, people who may not like it, people – or a person? – who laughed at a joke, then definitely people who laughed, smiled (I can see in the dark), yawned (I take the good and the bad), and then clapped at the end (phew). It was exhilarating and felt like I didn’t breath for 80 minutes.

DOTW: How long have you been a member of the Circa Council? How did you come to join the Council?

BM: I was asked to join the Circa Council in 2009. Jane Waddell called me out of the blue to ask if I’d consider it. I thought it an extreme privilege to be asked, I absolutely love Circa, and I’ve seen a number of plays at Circa over the years which have changed my life. I have an immense amount of respect for the passion and hard work that the talented people on the Council have put into Circa over the past 35 years. So I jumped at the chance and it’s been extremely rewarding hard work ever since!

DOTW: What has been a highlight event/production/moment for you in your time at Circa?

BM: There have been many! I will never forget seeing Cherish, or Wolf Lullaby, or Serial Killers, or August: Osage County – all for extremely different reasons. Obviously having Armslength in Circa 2 was a highlight, and I hope my next play will also premiere at Circa. Since joining the Council, helping to develop Circa’s relationship with Tawata Productions has been a definite highlight; Miria George and Hone Kouka are my idea of perfect theatre makers - honest, driven, nurturing, respectful, brave and generous.

DOTW: What are you particularly looking forward to in the 2012 programme?

BM: Oooh, too many goodies to pick! I love Jamie McCaskill’s new play Manawa; I saw a reading of it as part of Tawata’s Matariki Development Festival last year - another great outcome of the Circa/Tawata partnership. Jamie is extraordinarily talented and it was the freshest and funniest and most moving play I’d heard in a long time.

I’m also very much looking forward to Ken Duncum’s new play West End Girls. I am a massive fan of Ken’s work and have recently had the pleasure of working on a script workshop for this incredibly interesting and heart-warming true story to which he has turned his masterful theatrical pen.

As a playwright I’m a fan of the masters (Arthur Miller, Gary Henderson, Roger Hall) but I’m incredibly proud that Circa will be hosting the world premieres for six new New Zealand works in 2012!

DOTW: Finally, do you have anything to say about Circa, with respect to its 35th birthday or looking forward to the next 35 years?

BM: It’ll be a real achievement when we crack 100! It feels like an extremely exciting time for Circa and I consider myself very lucky to have been part of it for the last ten and hopefully the next thirty-five plus. I’ve learnt so much from Ross Jolly, Sue Wilson, Ray Henwood, Carolyn Henwood, Linda Wilson, Neville Carson and Jane Waddell, who have been growing Circa on the same artist-driven ethos for longer than I’ve been alive. It’s an incredible testament to their hard work, and our loyal audiences – without whom, of course, it’d all be for naught.

05 December 2011

Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards 2011 Winners

It was a fantastic evening last night at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards 2011. Many of the nominees were recognized for their work in Circa productions, and we couldn't have been prouder of them or happier for the winners.

And the winners are ...

The Award Winners for 2011 are:
Critics Wild Card
Johann Nortje for outstanding AV design (body of work including When the Rain Stops Falling)

When the Rain Stops Falling. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
Circa Award Donated by TACT for the Most Promising Female Newcomer of the Year
Lauren Gibson - August: Osage County

Christopher Brougham and Lauren Gibson in August: Osage County. Photo by Stephen A'Court. 
Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School & Victoria University of Wellington Award for Most Promising Director of the Year
Jason Te Kare - I, George Nepia

I, George Nepia 
Grouse Lighting Award for Lighting Designer of the Year
Marcus McShane - When the Rain Stops Falling

When the Rain Stops Falling. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
Weta Workshop Award for Set Designer of the Year
Andrew Foster - The Lead Wait

The Lead Wait
Park Road Post Production Sound Designer of the Year 
Chris Ward - The Lead Wait

The Lead Wait
Chapman Tripp Award for Supporting Actor of the Year
Christopher Brougham - When the Rain Stops Falling

Christopher Brougham in When the Rain Stops Falling. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
The Proactors ad Gail Cowan Management Award for Actor of the Year
Jarod Rawiri - I, George Nepia

Jarod Rawiri in I, George Nepia.
Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Actress of the Year
Jennifer Ludlam - August: Osage County

Jennifer Ludlam in August: Osage County. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
Emerging Artist Trust Wellington Accolade for Outstanding Performance
Michele Amas - August: Osage County

Michele Amas in August: Osage County. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
The Museum Hotel Award for Director of the Year
Jason Te Kare - I, George Nepia

Chapman Tripp Award for Production of the Year

I, George Nepia - Tawata Productions

The return season of I, George Nepia opens 8 December in Circa Two, for a limited run until 17 December. Tickets are available now - to avoid disappointment, book your yours by calling 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz.

Circa Theatre 2012 Season

Circa Theatre 
2012 Season
Brief Synopsis of Productions

Circa One

Roger Hall’s Aladdin, the Pantomime
Songs by Paul Jenden and Michael Nicholas Williams
Directed by Susan Wilson
3-14 January
Back by popular demand for the first two weeks in January, those of you who missed out on seeing this spectacular treat before Christmas can hiss, boo, and aww along with Aladdin, Widow Twankey and the gang!

The Motor Camp
A comedy by Dave Armstrong
Based on a story by Danny Mulheron
Directed by Danny Mulheron
21 January – 18 February
After the panto we have another return season by popular demand: The Motor Camp! Director Danny Mulheron once again helms this cracker Kiwi camping comedy by NZ playwright Dave Armstrong, bringing together the talented cast from the sell out 2011 season. Tickets are available now – get yours early to avoid disappointment!

By Gary Henderson
Directed by Jane Waddell
25 February – 31 March
Up next is Circa’s contribution to the New Zealand International Arts Festival, Peninsula, by the award-winning team who scooped the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards in 2007 with Home Land.  A touching, bitter-sweet look at life in the 60s, Peninsula provides a richly emotional journey amid childhood games and adventures and adult issues and events.

Roger Hall’s A Shortcut to Happiness
Directed by Ross Jolly
14 April – 28 May
A fabulous new comedy about the lives, loves and misadventures of a folk-dancing class, A Shortcut to Happiness has all of the usual Hall trademarks: shrewd observations, much mocking of Kiwis’ curious customs and of course, plenty of laughs.

All My Sons
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Susan Wilson
2 June – 7 July
The director who brought us the epic dramas August: Osage County and When the Rain Stops Falling in 2011, takes on this powerful Miller classic for 2012. A brilliant and compelling family drama of love, guilt and the corrupting power of greed, All My Sons was the first great success of Arthur Miller’s supremely influential career.

With the BeatGirls
Devised, written and choreographed by Andrea Sanders
14-28 July
A musical tribute to one of pop’s legendary producers, Spector showcases the best work from Phil’s career and recounts the stories around the music. Starring the always entertaining BeatGirls (performing for the first time in Circa One!) and featuring hit songs such as ‘Be My Baby’, ‘Da Do Ron Ron’, ‘Unchained Melody’ and ‘River Deep Mountain High’.

West End Girls
Adapted for the stage by Ken Duncum
From the bestselling book by Barbara Tate
Directed by David O’Donnell
4 August – 1 September
West End Girls is a world premiere adaptation of Barbara Tate’s autobiographical bestseller, brought to you by the writer/director team behind the 2010 Circa hit, The Great Gatsby. An eye-opening, hilarious and moving story of love, life, laughter and sex.

Clybourne Park
By Bruce Norris
Directed by Ross Jolly
8 September – 6 October
Director Ross Jolly presents the NZ premiere of this Pulitzer Prize-winning play. A very sharp, clever and wickedly funny study of modern manners, Clybourne Park probes the contemporary fault line between property and prejudice. It is startling, unsettling and outrageously entertaining!

The Truth Game
By Simon Cunliffe
Directed by Danny Mulheron
Produced by Howard Taylor
13 October – 10 November
Sex, lies and the semicolon. The Truth Game is a fast-moving contemporary drama about journalism and the very “soul” of the news, which freeze-frames the crises of the age, while traversing universal themes of ambition, loyalty, love and betrayal.

Roger Hall’s Cinderella, the Pantomime
Songs by Paul Jenden and Michael Nicholas Williams
Directed by Susan Wilson
17 November – 22 December
There he is! Oh no he isn’t. Oh yes he is! The team that brought you Aladdin, Robin Hood, Dick Whittington and his Cat, Jack and the Beanstalk and Red Riding Hood returns to the beginning to bring you the pantomime that started it all, Roger Hall’s Cinderella. A glittering fairytale with dazzling costumes and lots of fun and laughter – the perfect Christmas treat.

Circa Two

Esencia del Flamenco
With special guests from Barcelona Christina Lopez and Paul Bosauder
31 January – 5 February
First up in the 2012, Desde Sevilla Flamenco Dance Company returns to Circa Two with Esencia del Flamenco, which captures the essence of flamenco: haunting song, intense emotions and mesmeric rhythms.

Meeting Karpovsky
With Helen Moulder and Sir Jon Trimmer
Directed by Sue Rider
10-25 February
Originally produced to rapturous response in 2002, Meeting Karpovsky toured New Zealand in 2003/4 and won Listener Best New Play and Chapman Tripp Actress of the Year. By popular demand, it returns in 2012 for a strictly limited season.

Floral Notes
Written by Geraldine Brophy
Song book adapted by Jane Keller
4 -28 April
A blooming micro musical about friendship, life and love, starring all-time theatre favourites, Geraldine Brophy and Jane Keller. Floral Notes is a glorious evening of super songs and first-rate entertainment.

Chekhov in Hell
By Dan Rebellato
Directed by Eleanor Bishop
12 May – 9 June
Director Eleanor Bishop brings us a bitterly comic new play that drops nineteenth century playwright, author and pitiless observer of Russian society Anton Chekhov in twenty-first century London. This New Zealand premiere asks where have we come from, how did we get here and what do we do now?

Sunset Road
Written and directed by Miria George
20 June – 7 July
Brought to us by Tawata Productions, the award-winning team behind 2011 favourites I, George Nepia and He Reo Aroha, Sunset Road is a beautiful story of family, personal history and coming of age. World premiere.

The Year of Magical Thinking
By Joan Didion
Directed by Susan Wilson
11 August – 8 September
Starring Catherine Downes
A NZ premiere, this dramatic adaptation of Joan Didion’s award-winning best-selling memoir transforms the story of the sudden and unexpected loss of her husband and only daughter into a stunning and powerful one woman play.

Written and directed by Jamie McCaskill
15 September – 13 October
This world premiere play by playwright Jamie McCaskill (He Reo Aroha) examines the New Zealand justice system and the idea of community.

The Mourning After
By Ahi Karunaharan
Directed by Miria George
16-27 October
Another contribution to the 2012 Circa Two programme from Tawata Productions, The Mourning After is a story of loss, love and family that travels from the shores of New Zealand to a village in Sri Lanka.

The Tigers of Wrath
By Dean Parker
Directed by Jane Waddell
3 November – 1 December
A world premiere, The Tigers of Wrath is an intriguing play about the strange twists of life, about hopes and reams, about a developing and then disintegrating relationship. In the background run two astonishing political trajectories: The People’s Republic of China and The New Zealand Labour Party.

And threaded throughout the Circa Two programme, The Improvisors continue their 22-year tradition of providing hilarious improv comedy for Circa audiences. We have Theatresports (29 April – 1 July), History Never Repeats (1-6 May), Improv Cage Match (19 August – 7 October) and three school holiday improvised shows just for kids (10-21 April, 2-14 July, 1-13 October). Don’t miss them!

Visit Circa to pick up your copy of the 2012 brochure today!