28 May 2012

All My Sons: 'a compelling story with a collection of complex, finely drawn characters'

The actors playing the four leading characters in the Arthur Miller classic All My Sons tell drama on the waterfront their reactions to being in the play.

(L to R) Jessica Robinson, Richard Dey, Jeffrey Thomas and Emma Kinane in All My Sons. Photo by Stephen A'Court.

Jeffrey Thomas plays Joe Keller

“I've done a lot of plays at Circa over the years and there are some that I tend to group together - like Chekhov. What do you call such a group? A number? A series? Yes, I've done a series of Chekhov plays and now I seem to be embarked on a series of great American plays. Last year it was August: Osage County, this year All My Sons. The might of Hollywood is such that it tends to overshadow American theatre. These two plays are breathtaking reminders that there are American plays that rightfully deserve to be called "classics" and Arthur Miller is a playwright who gives his characters some wonderful speeches to perform. I just wish things could have worked out better for him and Marilyn.”

Recently seen                                
Circa plays - Mauritius, Rock ‘n’ Roll, The Winslow Boy, August: Osage County
Television - Spartacus.
You may not know … he’s playing the Dwarf King Thror in The Hobbit.

Emma Kinane plays Kate Keller (Joe’s wife)

“Everything about this show is huge; the emotions of the characters, the legacy of the play and the playwright, the production values, the size of the cast and, of course, the audience expectation.  Pretty scary stuff. 

Vintage is in!  It is such a luxury to dabble in 40s fashions and hair.  Paul Jenden has already made two gorgeous dresses that I feel fabulous in - high waists, big shoulders and huge full skirts - you really know you're wearing a dress, you know?  And this weekend I've been playing at home with curlers and setting lotion, experimenting with the best way to get those 40s soft wavy curls.  It's looking so good right now I'm tempted to keep it like this after the show finishes, but I know I won't... it's fun for now, but it's too much work for everyday.  I don't know how they did it.  I guess it had something to do with not having Facebook...”.

Recently seen
Stage - Lonely Heart, Fuddy Meers, Sex Drive
Television – Outrageous Fortune
You may not know … Emma has a feral chihuahua called Phoebe.

Richard Dey plays Chris Keller (their son)

"There is something about Miller. He once said he could not imagine a theatre worth his time that did not want to change the world. It is that sharp passion for theatre that I feel involved in, in being part of this production. I love Miller’s dislike and almost rejection of the 'American Dream' and his insight into the idea that we are all our brothers’ keepers. I am extremely privileged to be part of such an incredible cast and an incredible play." 

Recently seen
Stage - Tinderbox, The Thirty – Nine Steps, Salon, Entertaining Mr. Sloane
You may not know …  this is Richard’s debut on Circa’s main stage

Jessica Robinson plays Ann Deever (Chris’ fiancé)

“I feel very lucky to be working on this production of All My Sons. This is the kind of play that made me want to be an actor – a compelling story with a collection of complex, finely drawn characters. I feel just as lucky to be working with such a great cast including Dino Casanidis and Beck Taylor who play Burt; it's the first time I've been in a play with a child in the cast.”

Recently seen
Stage -  Our Man in Havana, Eight, Aladdin, Live at Six, The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later
You may not know …  Jessica can sometimes be found singing in cabaret shows around Wellington.

All My Sons opens in Circa One on 2 June and runs until 7 July, with a $25 Preview on 1 June and a $25 Special Sunday on 3 June. To book, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz.

21 May 2012

Chekhov in Hell: Love Letters & Hate Mail


Playwright Dan Rebellato
I wrote Chekhov in Hell in a state of amused horror at the world around me.

Amused because there’s so much that delights me about the way we live, our restless creativity, the boundless confidence, technological change, the constant linguistic novelty; and horror because I sometimes wonder if that relentless glitter is a way of coping with a dark seam of cruelty in our societies, in which money devours our hopes and intimacies and imaginations, and resentment scourges the poor and the vulnerable and the clever and the different.

And Chekhov is the man to see all this. I think of him as slightly at a distance from his characters, amused by their vanities, saddened by their delusions. Chekhov the author is like one of those terrifying people who are genuinely comfortable with silence, which makes people like me babble to fill in the gaps, and, in doing so, reveal our shallows. In a way, I think his plays are written in a state of amused horror too and, if only to that extent, my play tries to be Chekhovian.

So it seemed right to bring Chekhov back to see what we’ve done with our world, the world his characters try and fail to imagine. Chekhov is the great observer of people and societies with all their flaws and I have found it bracingly instructive to see our world through his eyes.

I’m a Londoner and I see something of London’s brash chaos in my writing. But the privileges of the playwright is to keep learning about your play as it travels. It’s an honour to find it’s now made its way to one of the coolest cities in the world and I hope Wellington finds something amusingly horrifying in it. It’s part-love letter, part-hate mail, and I can’t wait for you to open it.

Dan Rebellato


Director Eleanor Bishop
As my professor of contemporary theatre at Royal Holloway College, University of London, Dan Rebellato introduced me to an exciting world of new, cutting edge writing – Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill and Philip Ridley, among others. It totally blew my fragile 20 year old mind. But as well as being a guru on modern British theatre, Dan’s also a fantastic playwright and it’s an honour to introduce Kiwi audiences to his work.

Chekhov In Hell captures the extremes of modern existence - utterly fantastic, breathtakingly and dazzlingly confusing. But underneath the flash and buzzwords, dark, quiet truths briefly leak forth. If this world is so great, why does everyone in the play want to escape it? As Dan notes, Chekhov in Hell is very London, but to me asks very universal and urgent questions about what it means to live in modern society. The characters in the play all have quite pure intentions – they want to do good. But is that enough? Something about the world corrupts and twists their good intent. What do you do? How do we live in this world?

I feel it’s very important for Kiwi audiences to have access to new writing from overseas and in this regard Circa plays a crucial role in the Wellington cultural landscape.  I wish to thank them for welcoming me so warmly. Thank you also to Heather and Branwen for supporting this play right from the start.

Eleanor Bishop

(L-R) Victoria Abbott, Jason Whyte, Heather O'Carroll. Chekhov in Hell. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
Chekhov in Hell runs in Circa Two until 9 June - to book, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz

14 May 2012

Encore Restaurant: Chef Donovan Hamilton

Encore Café, Restaurant and Bar has been going strong since it opened in January 2012, with patrons responding enthusiastically to the vibrant atmosphere, friendly staff and delicious food. The man behind the menu, chef Donovan Hamilton, takes a moment to tell drama on the waterfront all about the food at Encore (and even shares a recipe!).

DOTW: Please tell us a little bit about your background as a chef.

DH: I have recently returned from overseas. The last place I worked was in London at The Providores Restaurant for Peter Gordon.  I have been traveling and working on and off for the last 20 years following the completion of my apprenticeship under Mark Limacher of Roxburgh Bistro fame. I worked at Capitol for a while for the fantastic Tom Hutchison. All three of the aforementioned chefs have been a big influence on my career but there have been so many people I have worked with over the years who have helped me learn and hopefully many more to come. Cooking can take you to amazing places around the globe if you let it and I have sure let it carry me away to a few far-flung corners. I worked on private boats for as a private Chef for a while, leading to a lot of hard work in very glamorous settings: Cannes, Monaco and the Caribbean, to name a few. I lived in Germany for two years and have also worked in France, England, Scotland, Portugal and Australia.

DOTW: What is your approach to the menu for Encore? I notice it changes every so often, why is that?

DH: We aim to provide affordable, fresh and interesting food that tastes and looks great. The menu changes seasonally and we are running specials for each show aiming to match the feel of the dining experience with the theme of the show. So far this has been very warmly received. We are running an a la carte menu as well as providing an extensive array of counter food options for those looking for a quick bite to eat on the run before the show.

DOTW: What challenges, if any, does working at a restaurant in a theatre provide?

DH: As previously mentioned by other Chef s working with Circa, cooking for the discerning theatre-going public does provide its challenges. The main one being the short time frame in which to feed everyone. Menu planning requires quite a bit of thought involving a good balance to the equipment and methods of cookery to allow for a smooth service. Offering services such as desert and coffee at interval allow our diners the chance to get a full culinary experience without the feeling of being rushed. 

DOTW: What would you tell someone who had never been to Encore? What should people know about Encore?

DH: We are a young, vibrant, creative and experienced team. The hard work that Jacinta [Saeki, the owner] and the rest of the crew have put in over the last few months since we have opened is really showing. Please book at least a week in advance as we are very busy and hate to disappoint people on the night when we are fully booked. The Café is open during the day now as well for Brunch and Lunch

DOTW: What is your absolute favourite thing to make, both at home and at Encore?

DH: I love to cook simple things at home for friends and family, be it a nice pasta dish with prawns or a nice little curry. When we did our first show earlier on in the year, The Motor Camp, we went for a dish that summed up a bit of the coastal camping experience for me: smoked fish cakes. I am an avid fisherman with limited success. Ah well.

Here is the recipe:

Smoked Fish Cakes Mulheron

200g smoked fish fillet (Kawhai / Moki) Boneless
500g Roasted Baby Potatoes
2 Spring Onions Finely chopped
2 T Corriander Fresh
¼  tsp Chilli Flakes
2 Cloves Garlic finely Chopped
1 T whole Grain Mustard
¼ Cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Roast the baby potatoes with a touch of olive oil in a moderate oven skins on. Mash the potatoes whilst the are still warm. Add the rest of the ingredients mix well. Shape the mix into little cakes and lightly panfry to colour them golden brown and cook them through for about 10 minutes in the oven. Serve with either sweet chilli sce or Tartare Sauce.
Server with a nice salad. For the Gluten free people out there just leave out the breadcrumbs and sneak in an egg to help bind the cakes. Feel free to try other fresh herbs in the mix.

Bon Appetite!

Hope to cook for you soon,

Encore Cafe, Restaurant and Bar is open Tuesday through Sunday for coffee, muffins, brunch and lunch during the day, and full restaurant and bar service in the evening - including pre-show dining. Every Sunday is the delicious Sunday Roast. Advance bookings are strongly recommended as the restaurant tends to fill up most evenings before the show. Please call 801-7996 to book or with any queries.

07 May 2012

Chekhov in Hell: Victoria Abbott and Simon Leary

Actors Victoria Abbott and Simon Leary have followed each other from high school to
university to drama school and now are making their Circa debut together in Chekhov in Hell. Emotions 
come to a head in the following interview ...

The cast of Chekhov in Hell. Photo by Stephen A'Court. (Front row: Victoria Abbott and Simon Leary.)

                                    Lights up on VICTORIA and SIMON. They cradle imaginary coffee cups and have the demeanour of the hosts of an early morning breakfast show.

VICTORIA:                 The one and only sports exchange I went on in high school was St Andrews College Vs. Timaru Boys High School. I was the only girl in the exchange as the “token girl” in the theatre sports team.

SIMON:                       I was in sixth form, or year 12 as they call it now. It was to be one of my many exchanges in my illustrious school career, representing Timaru Boys as the captain of “The First Four”. The challenge was set to take place in our school library.

VICTORIA:                 Simon wore a ridiculous shiny grey shirt and their team was equipped with their own props and costumes.

SIMON:                       For the record, the shiny shirt was a costume. (We’ve talked about this Vic.)

VICTORIA:                  The shirt also made appearances in subsequent meetings.

SIMON:                        All theatre-sports related.

VICTORIA:                   The tournament began. It was like The Hunger Games.

SIMON:                        Except [SPOILER ALERT] the boy and girl from opposing teams didn’t fall in  
                                      love and join forces to win together.

VICTORIA:                   The judges consisted of two teachers from Timaru Boys High and one “external” 
                                       judge from their sister school.

SIMON:                         We won by a point!

VICTORIA:                     ...Surprisingly.

SIMON:                          Many years later...

VICTORIA:                     Three years later.

SIMON:                          In the Edinburgh of the south...

VICTORIA:                    Otago University.

SIMON:                          In the foyer of a highly publicised THEATRICAL EXTRAVAGANZA!

VICTORIA:                     Allen Hall Lunchtime Theatre...

SIMON:                          We met again.

VICTORIA:                     I nearly didn’t recognise him without his shiny shirt...

SIMON:                           I hadn’t done theatre sports for over a year...

VICTORIA:                     We auditioned for The Capping Show.

SIMON:                           And both got into the main sketch.

VICTORIA:                      It was a friendship to span the ages.

SIMON:                           She followed me to Toi Whakaari.

VICTORIA:                      That’s true. Simon is my hero and –damn it – he’s the reason I get up in the 

SIMON:                            We were both cast in The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later at BATS.

VICTORIA:                       And now we’re working on our first ever Circa production as 2/5 of the cast                                                    
                                          of Chekhov in Hell.

VICTORIA:                       We play 11 characters each.

SIMON:                             From an internet guru to a group councillor.

VICTORIA:                       A chav with a heart of gold.

SIMON:                             An Irish policeman.

VICTORIA:                       We’re giving away our secrets.

SIMON:                             You’re a good / listener.

VICTORIA:                        Listener.

SIMON:                              No / you are.

VICTORIA:                        You are.

SIMON:                              Stop / it.

VICTORIA:                         Stop what?

SIMON:                              Talking at the / same time...

VICTORIA:                         Same time as you? I’m not...

SIMON:                              You are! You always do this, you never let me speak! I’m sick of it!

VICTORIA:                         Simon, wait!

                                            SIMON storms out of the room crying.

VICTORIA:                         What else did you want to know?

                                             SILENCE. CURTAIN.

NARATOR:                         Victoria and Simon look forward to a long awaited break from each other 
                                             while Victoria performs in West End Girls in Circa One and Simon fades 
                                             into obscurity, clinging to his Chapman Tripp.  

*Paraphrased and transcribed by Simon K Leary. 

The cast of Chekhov in Hell. Photo by Stephen A'Court. 

Chekhov in Hell opens in Circa Two on Saturday, 12 May. Opening night is SOLD OUT, but there are $25 Specials on Friday, 11 May and Sunday, 13 May. To book, call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz. 

01 May 2012

History Never Repeats

By The Improvisors

During the NZ International Comedy Festival come take an epic journey through time with The Improvisors as they tackle OUR ENTIRE HISTORY*.

Past, present and future – you set the scenes for a series of interwoven improvised takes that travel through time, space and reason.

In this fast-paced comedy romp through history, The Improvisors will make the historical hysterical and the seemingly complex simple in a way you’ve never seen before!

* OUR ENTIRE HISTORY = the fun bits we like

Moments in History WE want to see . . .

“1940, a young man signs up for the NZ Army to fight in the War. He meets a gorgeous but hard mouthed woman while training. They fall in love...when the war is over they find each other again in Dunedin and make some babies...well there is more to it then that....but Grandad never liked telling me stories about the war. I'm sure there was much more to it then that....so...we will just have to make up our own version of history...” - Daniel Pengelly, Improvisor

“I’d like to see the year 476AD - when the Roman Empire finished collapsing and left their concurred territories to put themselves back together and do their own thing.” – Sarah, Audience Member

“The period of history I would have most like to have lived through would have been Berlin from about 1921 to 1933 in the period known as Weimar Berlin. Creatively and culturally it was astounding; German Expressionism in film, the Dadaist art movement, the agitprop theatre of Berold Brecht, popularity of Mysticism, alternate theories on health, radical left-wing thinking. Socially, it is known as one of the most liberal and permissive societies ever. Hedonistic and decadent, sexual liberation way before the 1960s, rampant drug use; people went at it like the world was about to end. Considering the spectre of Nazism that hangs over this time the world did end in many ways. There does remain something truly sad about this period and the way this great social liberalism was soon to be blown away by a scaremongering, racist, repressed madman and a deep, unthinkable evil. Most of the people who made this period great fled, or awaited a much worse fate at home.” - Nic Gorman, Improvisor

“The period from history I want to see is all things prehistoric . . . I think watching monkey men and dinosaurs would be very amusing!” – Brianne Kerr, Improvisor Publicist

"For me history
Means someone else's present
'When?' means less than 'who?'" 
- Deana Elvins, Improvisor 

"I would like to visit the 18th century and see Marie Antoinette utter the famous phrase, 'Let them eat cake!' Well ... she actually said something along the lines of, 'Let them eat brioche!' but it doesn't have quite the same ring, so let's see the popular version!" - Cara Hill, Circa Theatre's Audience Development Director

“I would like to go back to 30AD and see Jesus walking on water, so I know if it really happened.” - Bridget Kidd, Circa Theatre's Marketing Manager

History Never Repeats
1-5 May, 7.30pm
Circa Two, 1 Taranaki St
BOOKINGS: 04 801 7992 or www.circa.co.nz
TICKETS: $18/15