26 March 2012

Floral Notes: The Perfect Songscape

Director Emma Kinane talks to drama on the waterfront about putting together the perfect score for Floral Notes.

Today, a week away from opening night, we are embedding a new song into Floral Notes. We finally have our complete songscape to accompany our story.

When Geri was writing the script for Floral Notes she left spaces in the story where a song would take over the narrative and it was up to Jane and Michael to find the appropriate song to bridge the gap or to expand on an idea or feeling.

Once the songs were chosen and we began rehearsals we found that some of the songs just didn't feel right. The song might have the perfect lyrics, but the mood or tone of the music wasn't a good fit for that part of the story. Or the music was exactly what we needed but the lyrics weren't quite saying what our characters needed to say. So a few songs were ditched and there were more late night riflings through songbooks and internet searches. A few replacements later and our score was once again complete. Or so we thought.
We sent the initial notice to APRA – the song licensing agency who administer music rights – only to find that one of the songs was unable to be licensed. Eeek! Yet more midnight internet trawling.

It's surprisingly hard to find songs that celebrate the joy of friendship without sounding either mushily romantic or, perhaps worse, twee. Iris and Rosemary are not in love, nor are they Sesame Street characters. They are adult women who have renewed their old pen pal friendship and are discovering that giving and receiving true friendship is a wonderful, transformative experience – and deserving of a song or two!

Many hairs were pulled from scalps as successive songs were found, tried out and then rejected but, like with many internet situations, the key to success lay in refining our search terms. 45th time lucky! We found our song, with a week to spare. As I'm writing this Michael and Jane and Geri are sitting around the piano playing the newly found song; “Good Friends” from a musical called Applause. It's perfect! And they sound fabulous! 

Floral Notes opens Wednesday, 4 April and runs until 28 April, with $25 Specials on 3, 6 and 8 April. To book, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz

19 March 2012

Peninsula: Immediately recognisable

Peninsula actor Laura Hill shares with drama on the waterfront a selection of memories from her childhood.

"I went to a two-room, two-teacher primary school in a small rural village called Kaipara Flats, about an hour north of Auckland. It wasn't Duvauchelle Bay in 1963 but the world Gary (re-)creates in Peninsula is one I immediately recognised: it's a New Zealand that doesn't seem that far away and yet is tinged with nostalgia – times have changed but we feel close to that past in our hearts.

The Hope family. Photo by Dominika Zielinska.
I was asked to share a favourite memory from that time. Those are rich years, so there are many vivid memories to choose from …

...The prank calls we used to make on the railway phone, my brother doing his best manly farmer's voice:
When's the next train?
About half an hour away, why?
I've got a load of wethers I need to take across.
How long do you think that will take?
Could be a while – couple of hours or so. 
How many have you got?
- and we'd hang up, helpless with laughter.

...Letting off double happies (can you still get those? A kind of little firework that just made a big bang really) in the trunk of a fallen tree.  We thought we'd checked for embers, but realised we hadn't when we got back to the house and saw what looked like the whole tree line on fire...

...Spending the whole day riding bareback (and helmet-less) on the fire breaks through the forestry land; we had to stay on all day because (without saddles and stirrups) the horses were too big for us to get back on unless we found a fence. I developed excellent bladder control and inner thigh strength. My brother was asthmatic but he didn't let that stop him – he'd just tie a bandanna over his face and off he'd go, looking like he was about to hold up a stagecoach.

...The adventures we'd plan, like travelling the length of the creek on the Smith's farm – IN the creek. It was exciting and mostly fun, except for when we got to a deep bit: I was the shortest and the water in my gumboots weighed me down, but if I tipped my head way back, I could still breathe through my nose until we got to a shallower bit...

...The beautiful Jersey calf I wanted to take to Calf Day at school refused to be led with a halter, so in desperation I ended up taking our goat, Joe Balls (that's what happens when you let kids name animals). I had to walk him three sides of a triangle. First side – fine.  Second side – something suddenly stopped me. The entire local community was watching from the grassy bank that looked on to the field. Mortified at having to take a GOAT anyway, I refused to look back at the embarrassing Joe Balls and just yanked on the rope. Nothing. I yanked harder. By now, my whole body was on a forty five degree angle, supported by the goat on a rope. My face was scarlet and I could hear the laughter rippling down from the bank. After an agonising decade or so, I finally looked back. Joe Balls was down on his front knees nibbling at the grass, happy as a clam and oblivious to my shame. I kicked him in the ribs (more gently than I would have done if people hadn't been watching) and he got up and ambled on, entirely unconcerned.  The third side was completed without incident, other than my still-flaming face. We got the third place ribbon – there were only three goats in the competition. Also winning Animal with Most Personality was no compensation for my universal humiliation.

Ah yes. Good times. Come along to Peninsula and relive some of your own memories."

Laura Hill (front left) and the cast of Peninsula. Photo by Dominika Zielinski.
Peninsula is on in Circa One until 31 March - to book, please call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz.

12 March 2012

Peninsula: Little Blue Vinyl Bag

Peninsula director Jane Waddell shares one of her stand-out childhood memories with drama on the waterfront.

"I was brought up in happy working class home in Invercargill. My parents were committed church-going Presbyterians and so Sunday School was a weekly feature of my early life. I remember the little checked coat I wore, with the Bambi brooch pinned to the collar - and the little blue vinyl bag with the long strap and the zip that kept safe, the coins for the collection plate and a threepenny bag of tiny pink Smokers.

One particular Sunday morning, when I was five years old, I sat on the floor of the Junior Sunday School room next to Sydney - a plump, pink faced boy, who was a bit of a brain-box. While the collection was being taken, Miss McLaughlin pumped away on the organ as our fluting voices sang 'Hear the Pennies Dropping.'  But I wasn't singing, I was sucking on the strap of my bright blue bag - that is, until Sydney interrupted to inform me that the dye in the strap was poisonous. I was alarmed. He told me I would die. I left the Sunday School room convinced that Sydney was right. I would be taken into the bosom of Jesus that very day (which raised the question of what Jesus was doing with bosoms anyway).

I was afraid to tell my parents of my impending fate and decided that if I survived the Sunday Request Session on 4ZA, I would survive Sydney's gloomy prophecy.

I picked at my lunch, expecting to be beset at any moment with a severe tummy ache and a nasty sickiness.
I sat through Beedlebomb, Old Fashioned Girl, Tom Dooley, Tammy - finally, it was 2 o'clock, the Request Session was over and I was right as rain.

I was careful never to sit beside Sydney again. And I stopped sucking the strap of the little blue vinyl bag."

Peninsula is on at Circa until 31 March. It is part of the NZ International Arts Festival until 18 March - to book, call Ticketek at 0800 842 538 or go online at www.ticketek.co.nz. The season will continue at Circa after the Festival; to book, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz

05 March 2012

Peninsula: Idyllic Times

Actor Paul McLaughlin, who plays 10-year-old Michael Hope in the current Circa production Peninsula, shares with drama on the waterfront his favourite childhood memory.

(left to right) Paul McLaughlin, Phil Vaughan and Jason Whyte in Peninsula. Photo by Dominika Zielinska. 
"When I was Michael's age, my family used to camp with some friends of ours at a wee place called Omaio in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Like Michael and the kids of Duveauchelle, we'd be off after breakfast and not seen again till we were hungry. Building forts in the trees, swimming, walking down to the shop to buy k-bars, watching out for my Dad and Ted coming in from fishing, swimming in the Motu River with my diving mask and snorkel, hanging out in the Te Kaha Pub carpark with the other kids drinking creaming soda and eating chips. We collected bits of glass from the pebbly beach, (pictured) bits of blue and green glass being the most highly prized, then on down to clear and brown. They were idyllic times - the smell of a beach fire still brings them to mind and once my two girls are old enough we'll head back that way, forty years later, 'cept this time I won't be hanging out in the carpark at the pub."

Omaio Beach. Photo by Paul McLaughlin.
Peninsula is on at Circa until 31 March. It is part of the NZ International Arts Festival until 18 March - to book, call Ticketek at 0800 842 538 or go online at www.ticketek.co.nz. The season will continue at Circa after the Festival; to book, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz