28 January 2013

Minksie and Ron explore the Gap

It’s surreal, it’s a little bit absurd. It’s blasphemous and heretical at times. Ron and Minksie playfully argue how the stuff of stuff-ness works. Sometimes they watch the window. There are people in the window; a prostitute, a jar collector, a child, an athlete. There’s a man who is always drunk and a woman who is always organising. These people are all linked, it is revealed.

“I love this sh**!” This is me. I wrote the play. I love this stuff.
I’m a big sucker for Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra and the ideas they present. I recently read Anita Moorjani’s book about her near-death experience as well. I think I know what she means, and it sounds right to me. I also love learning about Quantum physics and the weird stuff that happens when people do experiments like Chandra Bose hooking plants up to electromagnetic response devices and Masaru Emoto’s water crystals.
As blasphemous and heretical as it sounds, what if WE are god? All of us, together? I’ve got a feeling people have been stoned to death for suggesting this. But when I heard this most recently, I started to feel something, in my chest. And that’s where the play starts. It’s a journey, into the god-space in my chest. Perhaps you have one too.
Green screens, Family, and Trips to Gizzy
Three weeks out till opening of our Fringe play! Eek!
We have been very busy.
Minksie and Ron explore the Gap has a multimedia component to it, with a portal that opens and closes throughout the play. We’ve been experimenting with Pepper’s Ghost. If you’ve seen “ A Millennium Ago” at Wellington Museum of City and sea you’ll know the type of effect we’re looking for. People seemingly appear out of nowhere in the space, like ghosts. For Minksie and Ron it’s going to be a portal that opens to another world.
In order to achieve this effect, we’ve been playing around with a green screen courtesy of our friends Christof and Susi at ApeOnAWhale Productions. Christof and Susi filmed the scenes in front of a green screen and Gavin has been editing these short clips and adding a swirly effect to make it look like a space-age portal kind of thing. We’ve been going for eighties sounds reminiscent of teleportals, synth-pop and Uncle Travelling Matt to complete the concept. 

“Do you want sores? I love doing sores!” Allie, Gavin’s sister made us look old and dirty with her amazing make up skills.
It’s turning out to be a bit of a family venture.
A child features in one of the clips, which my ten year old daughter Mikayla obliged to play. Getting her to remember her lines was a lot easier than the adults. She was the only one who didn’t need a cue board. Getting her to sing loud however, was a bit more of a challenge.

“I wish the Pantomime would last all year! Instead of all those other boring plays you do.” Mikayla is Circa theatre’s biggest fan (and critic).
Last week I had to travel to Gisborne for work. We decided to all go and make a bit of a holiday of it. Work isn’t too bad when you get to hang out in sunny Gisborne with the people you love! We took our scripts along so we could learn some lines. Caitlin, Gavin’s 12 year old daughter was roped in as prompt. She tried to hide her frustration of adults not being able to remember things that she’s already repeated three times!

“I think you guys are too tired for this tonight,” the long suffering, ever-patient Caitlin.
Three weeks to go. So much to do! Please do your bit to help and book your tickets now!!!
Playwright and performer,
Gina Vanessi
Minksie and Ron opens in Circa Two as part of the fringe Festival on 15 February, and runs until 23 February. Regular tickets are just $18! To book, call the Circa Box Office or visit www.circa.co.nz.

22 January 2013

Encore Restaurant: Summer Goodness

Summer is here at last and we are making good use of it on our summer menu.  Stone fruits are a feature with our slow cooked chicken, apricot and basil with flambéed apricots and pea pilaf. Roasted plum make for a sweet and tart accompaniment for the goats cheese and eggplant terrine while fresh nectarines are served up with mint and a classic rum baba with Manuka custard for dessert.

Proving popular is our fish of the day with spring onion, lemon, soy and ginger salsa on a bed of eggplant and cardamom mash.  Venison is a new dish done beautifully with a red currant and wine jus, squash and sweet red onion. And who could go past a mousse au chocolate in chocolate shell with Frangelico macerated strawberries.

With salmon being in good supply we are making a Scandinavian style gravlax with in season snowpeas, parsnip and mustard sauce for an entrée  And with fusion being a particular theme this menu we have a sesame crusted beef salad with capsicum coulis and green tea soba noodles.  Finish off with a refreshing pink grapefruit and coconut pudding, passionfruit and pawpaw.

Let’s hope we’re in for a long hot summer!

Jacinta Saeki
Head Chef
Encore Restaurant
Our food philosophy encompasses these key components: quality seasonal ingredients, nutritional balance, great value, visual appeal and creativity, exceptional combination of flavours, versatility, and adaptability.

Olives, marinated and juicy with sourdough $9
Bread and three dips $10
Meze plate: antipasto bites, dips and bread for 1$15     for 2  $25
Soup of the Day with sourdough $10
Baked Goats Cheese & eggplant terrine, salsa verde, roasted plum $14
Rare beef sesame crusted, green tea soba noodles, watercress, roast capsicum coulis $17
Cured Salmon Salad, snowpea, roasted parsnip, pinenuts, tamarind mustard dressing $18

Pan-fried Market Fish, ginger spring onion salsa, soy, eggplant, cardamom mash $28
Free-range Chicken slow cooked, flambéed apricot, basil, green pea pilaf $28
Rib-eye Steak, hashed potato kumara, roast tomato, green beans, jus $32
Junipered Venison, roasted squash, sweet red onion, red currant jus $32
Grilled eggplant, zucchini, capsicum skewers, quinoa salad, tahini dressing $20

Potato kumara hashed $7
Garden Salad with dijon dressing $6
Vegetables seasonal with balsamic $6

Grapefruit Coconut Pudding, papaya, passionfruit, almond tuille $12
Rum Baba, manuka honey custard, nectarine and mint salad $13
Mousse au chocolat in chocolate shell, Frangelico macerated strawberries $14
Cheese of the day, lavosh, biscotti, jalapeno relish, fruit chutney $16     
Show Specials
Please check daily

We use: corn-fed free range chicken and eggs; free farmed pork and meat from Eastbourne Village Meats; Zany Zeus organic dairy products.
Please ask our staff about gluten and dairy free options.

HOURS: Tuesday to Saturday 5pm-8.30pm
  Sunday Roast ($22) 6pm bookings essential
RESERVATIONS: 04 801 7996

14 January 2013

The road to Kings of the Gym

Playwright Dave Armstrong talks about the origins of his new play, set in a school gymnasium, Kings of the Gym.

The initial idea for Kings of the Gym probably occurred in the mid-1970s in the gymnasium of my local secondary school. I remember back then that most gymnasiums in co-ed schools were like little man-caves – oases of testosterone where the PE teachers, who were usually male, ruled the roost. In their striped tracksuit trousers, with the ever-present whistles around their necks, these teachers would command us to go on long cross-country runs and play all sorts of games, which were highly competitive and very physical. Most of us enjoyed them but heaven help you if you were overweight, bookish or both. Liberal English, drama and art teachers wouldn’t go near the school gymnasium, preferring the coffee plungers, literary magazines and pottery mugs of the staff room.

Though as a breed, PE teachers seemed to be very different from other teachers, I enjoyed their company immensely. They were almost all uniformly contemptuous of modern, progressive education and perhaps therein lay their appeal. After a day of interactive learning I quite enjoyed playing a highly physical and competitive game of now-forbidden bull-rush in the gym. What interested me is that my liberal teachers, whom I really liked and respected, couldn’t believe that I enjoyed spending time in the company of the ‘Neanderthals’ in the PE department. It was true that these PE teachers could be boorish and insensitive at times, very like Laurie in the play, but I also knew that these kings of the gym really liked kids. And it’s very hard to dislike someone who likes you.

But Kings of the Gym is not really about PE teachers. The gym is merely the setting – that got me thinking about a variety of things. One was that a scummy, dirty gym of a tawdry, failing, low-decile school would be a really challenging place in which to set a romantic comedy.

But as well as being a gym rom-com, Kings of the Gym also looks at a number of issues, not just the obvious ones to do with politics and education, but also wider human issues such as tolerance.
We all think we are tolerant, but real tolerance is another issue altogether. As I was writing this play, a number of social and religious groups such as Destiny Church, Family First and Sensible Sentencing hit the headlines. Some of the members of these groups are highly intolerant, especially of gay rights groups, liberals, prisoners, schoolteachers and judges, to name a few. But I also noticed a growing intolerance amongst people like me to Christians and other conservative groups.

What would happen if people from these opposing groups found themselves all in the same place, say in a school gymnasium? It was then that I realised that even though only one of the four characters in Kings of the Gym is religious, this play is really about a battle for the soul. Each character seems to want every other character to think like them and believe what they believe – and are all prepared to fight to get their way. I found this battle both intriguing and at times very funny.

So how do I describe this battle for the soul set in that most unlikely colosseum – a school gymnasium? Kings of the Gym is definitely a comedy, though perhaps less of a farce than my last play at Circa, The Motor Camp. It features four good-natured, intelligent characters who are fun to be with. Luckily, Kings of the Gym is performed by four good-natured, intelligent actors who are fun to be with, so rehearsals, helmed by my old friend and colleague Danny Mulheron, have been a blast. We were also in the same PE class at school so have had a lot of fun recalling some of the more outrageous events that happened in our run-down, tawdry little school gym.

Kings of the Gym will make you laugh and no doubt rekindle some memories of stubby shorts,  tracksuit trousers, and  rompers in the school gym. But hopefully it will also get you thinking about some of the issues that are of importance in New Zealand today.

Kings of the Gym opens on Saturday, 19 January, with $25 ticket specials for the Preview on Friday, 18 January and the matinee on Sunday, 20 January. To book tickets, call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.

07 January 2013

Cinderella: Let's hear from the audience ...

Happy New Year! We hope you had a lovely holiday season!

For our first post of 2013, we thought we would take a look back at some of the rave audience responses we've received for Cinderella over the season. There are still five performances to go, so if you haven't seen it yet, these will convince you that it's not to be missed:

To book for one of the remaining performances of Cinderella, please call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.