24 June 2013

Costume Design in TU

Notes on Costume Design for currently playing at Circa One: Clare Bowden

Photo by Matt Grace.
I don’t know when Hone Kouka first started mentioning this project to me. Over the past 8 or so years it would come up when he was asking for small amounts of help on other theatre projects. He would say “the big one is coming”. I worked on the development season up at Victoria University in 2010 when he was pitching to festivals.  TŪ had its full theatre debut at the New Zealand Festival of the Arts in 2012, it opened to acclaim on Pipitea Marae in Wellington.  TŪ returns to Circa Theatre, Wellington this Saturday 15th June before travelling to Auckland for the Auckland Matariki Festival in July. 

I feel like I have been a great fit for this job, I am humbled to have been sought out for it, and I have THOROUGHLY enjoyed the process of development. The design brief was left very open for me to bring my interpretation to Hone’s work and to complement exciting design from other disciplines of theatre: MARK McENTYRE – set. ULLI BRIESE – lighting. KARNAN SABA – sound. HONE HURIHANGANUI - composition.

Photo by Matt Grace.
I have been extremely well supported and encouraged by a phenomenal, experienced, award winning crew.
I have kept to the 40’s in the shape of garments. There is also a deliberate nod to wartime use of domestic textiles in garments. My mother has a story of an extravagant usage of cloth for a full circle skirt, but this was finally made for her in scratchy dowdy teatowelling! Candlewick, hessian sacking, cheesecloth, floral furnishings and mattress ticking - these sorts of textiles escaped the rationing placed on ordinary fabrics and were often used for new designs on a budget. There’s a subtle reference to Maori and blankets in there too.

Beautiful elegant well-dressed 1940’s urbane Maoridom:  Well, the cast are extremely beautiful and handsome – I literally could put them in sacks!  I threw in the colours of rural Maori houses of the 1970’s that I grew up amongst to give the stage glow. Spearmint, Mustard, Lemon, Lolly Pink with Ratana Purple.  I also drew from time I spent as a teen with an elderly Maori Matriarch who had been a prominent member of Auckland Society. She had recognised a mutual interest in her favourite NZ designers, Kevin Berkahn and Colin Cole, and left me a small but exquisite collection of her garments and textiles which I cherish.  
It looks right to me – this is my interpretation for the story and these characters within a family (I have three brothers). 

Photo by Matt Grace.
Thank you to my fabulous staff for their support to allow me to interrupt the regular biz for this buzz. Thank you Hone Kouka and Miria George of Tawata Productions for the opportunity.

I hope after reading this you are inspired to come and see the show, to see the layers and layers of talented work that go into this show with its illustrious cast and very New Zealand family story.


Clare Bowden is owner, director and co-designer of Mandatory, an independent menswear store which opened in 1997 in its current location on Cuba Mall, Wellington. The store has an international reputation for great pants! Clare first met Hone and his work (his trilogy) at the 1996 Wellington International Festival of the Arts. She has no theatre training and this is her first return to making Womenswear of any kind since 1997. 

To book tickets for TU, on in Circa One until 29 June, call the Circa Box office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.

17 June 2013

A history of Theatresports

Improvisor Jennifer O'Sullivan talks to drama on the waterfront about the current season of Theatresports.

Back when I was in third form (remember forms?) at Upper Hutt College, I responded to a school notice inviting anyone interested in playing something called Theatresports to meet in the library at lunchtime. I didn’t know what Theatresports was, but being the ridiculous, overcommitted overachiever I was, it sounded to me like a) something else to add to my school CV and b) something a lot less sweaty than netball but just as competitive.
Fast forward five years and I am in my last year of high school. I have competed and played in Theatresports - the energetic, hilarious, sometimes touching, always surprising improvised theatre show - every year since that fateful school notice. I am in the Wellington team, being taken on tour by Steve Wrigley and Sully O’Sullivan to Hawkes Bay. I have dropped most of my sports and I am growing the reputation of being one of those weird theatre kids. And I am utterly smitten.
Fast forward yet another ten years and we’re at the present day. I’ve improvised with companies and players in Wellington, Melbourne, Canberra and London, and my affair with the unwritten word has been my passion for 17 years. And here I am, playing Theatresports with the people who introduced me to it all. I’m rather chuffed to be honest.
The Improvisors have been performing Theatresports at Circa for over 20 years and it’s still going strong, and this season is no different. Its longevity rests on the fact that each and every single show is always going to be different, with new games and players mixing it up with old favourites and performing legends. Check us out every Sunday til 7 July at Circa, and watch theatre history get created on the spot!

Jennifer O’Sullivan 

To book, call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.

10 June 2013


Playwright and director Hone Kouka tells drama on the waterfront about the creation of TU, opening in Circa One on 15 June.
Hone Kouka.
Tihei mauriora,

“Wider than the mightiest sky”,

My elder brothers have always been at the forefront of my thoughts throughout the creation of TU
, a bright and shinning reminder of their passion, wit, vigour, deep love for each other and whanau. It is to them that I dedicate this koreo – Philomel, Boydie, Ivor and Tu.

I had been fortunate to record the wonderful Patricia Grace novel TU while working as a drama producer at Radio New Zealand in 2005, its deep resonance of whanau and brotherhood stayed with me and planted the seed for it to come to life on the stage. I humbly thank Pat Grace for allowing me to use her beautiful novel as the inspiration and guide for this production.

It is with great pride that during Matariki we celebrate this Maori production in the whare of Circa Theatre, this season marks a special moment for the whakapapa of Maori theatre in Wellington.  I thank Circa for their generosity and spirit to myself and Tawata Productions.

I thank the cast and crew for their fearlessness, tautoko and aroha, some have been with this korero since its inception in 2008. I thank Miria for her tireless and often unseen commitment to this production, without her this grand gesture would not have left the page.

TU reminds me of what we are constantly striving towards, peace, understanding and the ever reaching bonds of aroha.

Nga mihi

Inspired by the Patricia Grace novel, TU is a story of love, redemption, whanau and brotherhood.  Returning to Circa Theatre after an acclaimed World Premiere at the 2012 NZ International Arts Festival, TU is the first Maori production to be performed upon the mainstage in Circa One.

Tawata Productions are proud to celebrate this landmark occasion as part of Wellington's Matariki festivities.

Written and Directed by Hone Kouka
Based on the novel by Patricia Grace
TAMMY DAVIS (Ngati Rangi, Atihaunui a Paparangi), JAROD RAWIRI (Ngati, Whanaunga, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Hine), TAUNGAROA EMILE (Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Rarotonga), KIMO HOULTHAM (Ngai Te Rangi, Te Arawa, Ngati Kuki Airani), MOANA ETE (Ngai Tahu, Samoa), TINA COOK (Nga Puhi), AROHA WHITE (Nga Puhi), SCOTT COTTER (Tainui, Fijian, Scottish) , MATU NGAROPO (Tuhoe, Ngati Porou, Te Rarawa) and ERINA DANIELS (Nga Puhi).

15-29 June
Tues & Wed 6.30pm, Thurs – Sat 8.00pm, Sun 4.00pm (no show Mon)
Saturday 29 June 2.00pm & 8.00pm
Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington
Bookings: 04 801 7992 or www.circa.co.nz
$25 Preview Night – Friday 14

Tawata Productions is a Maori production house established in 2004 specialising in the development and production of new work from Aotearoa New Zealand.  We proudly present the diverse voices of writers from Aotearoa New Zealand to the world beyond. http://tawata.wordpress.com/

04 June 2013

After Juliet

After Juliet director Sarah Delahunty talks to drama on the waterfront about the current Circa Two hit.

Recently I was idly watching  “Shakespeare in Love” on TV (while working on a rehearsal schedule for something and eating dinner) - but when I saw the supposed first stage performance of Romeo and Juliet and heard those words as if performed for the first time, I was seriously struck by how many centuries this play had survived, as alive now to so many people as it was then. And that here I was also working with this story as if it was happening to young people here and now.
After Juliet takes us into the fallout from those deaths, where the violence that caused them to happen still reverberates. Despite pronouncements from authorities on ending violence, this community is too deeply divided to easily change – or is it humanity as a whole? Is it just this group of teenagers struggling without help through their shock and anger or a bigger lack of acceptance, love and emotional maturity in the world around them? What choices are they really able to see at this time?

Ist Gear Productions is a group that puts on plays with young actors to give them the opportunity to work to a high standard of production on plays that are relevant to them, often written for specific groups of actors by myself. I have always found this age group an exciting and rewarding one to work with. In After Juliet we have an age range of 17 – 23 years - one still at school, one on stage for the first time, a few having now got several productions under their belts. And all with great focus and commitment to making this play work.

SARAH DELAHUNTYOther productions by 1st Gear have been  2b or nt 2b, Medea Songs. Crazy Joint Love, Trusting Strangers Counting Stars, Falling Sparrows Here or There, Hair the rock musical, and co-winner of this years Best Theatre in the Wellington Fringe, Affinity. www.1stgearproductions.co.nz

After Juliet runs in Circa Two until 8 June - to book, call the box office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.