07 February 2012

Meeting Karpovsky: Helen Moulder

Last at Circa as the Churchill family matriarch, Clementine, in Meet the Churchills, Helen Moulder is back at Circa with the return season of Meeting Karpovsky and takes a moment to talk to drama on the waterfront about the play she created with Sir Jon Trimmer and Sue Rider.

Meeting Karpovsky
DOTW: Please tell us a bit about the story of Meeting Karpovsky.

HM: Meeting Karpovsky is about a woman, Sylvia, and a famous Russian ballet dancer called Alexander Karpovsky. Years ago, when Sylvia travelled the world, she saw Karpovsky dance. The play is set in an attic room full of Sylvia’s daughter’s unwanted possessions and large photographs of Karpovsky and deals with what happens when Karpovsky and Sylvia finally meet up!

DOTW: What can you tell us about your character?

HM: Sylvia is a lonely woman who works in a bookshop and adores the ballet. She uses it to escape from reality, but ultimately it is through the ballet characters she knows so well that her salvation comes.

DOTW: You helped to create this show; where did the idea come from? How did the
creation process work?

HM: Ever since I met him in a TV series we did together called The Fireraiser, I wanted to work with Sir Jon Trimmer. Eventually, spurred on by Cathy Downes, who was then director of the Court Theatre in Christchurch, I plucked up courage and wrote Jon a letter with the suggestion that we write a play together about a woman and a dancer. I didn’t have a full story in mind but suggested it would be a combination of dance and drama and be about a famous dancer teaching a woman to dance and in so doing, helping her thorough some kind of distress. Jon was delighted with the idea and the Royal NZ Ballet agreed that he could work on the project as part of his contract. I then asked Sue Rider, a director, writer and dramaturg I’d worked with in Brisbane, to help us write the piece and eventually direct it. We applied for funding from Creative NZ and over a period of two years, Jon and I met and improvised, Sue and I talked on the phone and emailed each other and eventually all three of us met for ten days in Wellington. At the end of that workshop, we invited theatre and ballet professionals to a showing of the draft script. They gave us lots of very helpful feedback and over the next few months we worked more on the script, preparing it for the first season in Court Two, Christchurch. 

DOTW: Meeting Karpovsky was produced at the Court in 2002, Circa in 2003 and then toured the country in 2004. What can you tell us about those early productions? What were your highlights?

HM: Having the opportunity to dance with the wonderful Sir Jon Trimmer has been the most exciting thing about this project. I first saw him dance in Petrushka in 1969, and never dreamed I would one day be up there on stage with him. It’s been and still is a truly beautiful experience.

Being able to bring my colleague, director Sue Rider, over from Brisbane to work on the project was another highlight. I worked with Sue in Australia in the early 90’s and loved her innovative and challenging productions, so was thrilled that she was able to come on board.

Then touring around NZ with Jon was great fun. He would point to tumble down old halls in paddocks and say “I’ve performed in there!” It inspired me to create a solo show, Playing Miss Havisham, again with Sue Rider, so I could do the same thing! One of the most rewarding shows we did was in Auckland to an audience mainly of deaf people, with a New Zealand Sign language interpreter.

DOTW: What can audiences expect from the return season at Circa?

HM: Jon and I are having a wonderful time, renewing our onstage relationship. With director Sue Rider’s expert help we have reworked the play with a fine tooth comb, cutting extraneous stuff, refining details, so that it's a richer and more satisfying piece. It's like revisiting an old friend but with fresh eyes. Because we have done the play before and know it works, we can play with confidence and trust and it's a very happy experience. So if you’ve seen it before, do come again, we would love to see you.

DOTW: I understand you will be once again going on tour, can you tell us where/when you will be going?

HM: Yes, we are and here are the details:

Feb 28, 29, March 1 7.30pm St Peter’s Hall, Paekakariki
Bookings: (04) 298 8621

4 March 4pm Aratoi – Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, Masterton
Bookings: 06 370 0001 OR info@aratoi.co.nz

8 & 9 March 7.30pm All Saints Hall, Palmerston North
Bookings: (06)358 2203 OR info@allsaintsnz.com
Fundraiser for Church Activities

23 & 24 March 7.30pm St Andrew’s Hall, Cambridge (Cambridge Autumn Festival)
Bookings: (07) 827 6751 OR standrewcam@xtra.co.nz.

26 & 27 March 7.30pm St Barnabas Church, School Road, Ngongotaha, Rotorua
Bookings: (07)3572107 OR stbarnabasclose@xtra.co.nz

29 March – 1 April Thur – Sat 7.30pm Sun 6pm Howick Little Theatre, Auckland
Bookings: www.iticket.co.nz OR (09) 534 1406

More info on www.willowproductions.co.nz

Meeting Karpovsky opens in Circa Two on 10 February and runs until 25 February. To book, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz.

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