29 July 2013

RED: what do you see?

Those who have already had the chance to experience the immersive and emotive production of RED, by John Logan, will know what a unique piece of art is currently being created in Circa Theatre. Circa Two has been transformed into the 1950’s New York studio of one of the most influential abstract expressionists of the 20th Century, Mark Rothko. It is a rare treat to see this six time Tony-Award winning show, and the critically acclaimed performances of John Bach and Paul Waggott, in such an intimate setting.

What do you see? Passion. Rage. Blood.
Actor John Bach sees endless depth in Rothko’s character and canvases. “Mark Rothko was always seeking something ‘beyond me and beyond now’. He didn’t care about what anyone else thought, he wasn’t going to stop looking until he found it – which became unendurable in the end. RED is an insight into the clash of the old and the new, of the established and anti-establishment. Ultimately, I see… that, if you’re trying to achieve something creatively, then your work is never done… you will never be satisfied.”  

What do you see? Self. Service. Sacrifice.
Actor Paul Waggott sees Ken, a young artist and assistant, finding his own voice through his encounters with the incredible master, Mark Rothko. Paul marries himself to his character: “There is an amusing parallel between Ken turning up in Rothko’s studio, eager to learn, to me learning from John and Andrew through this process. The journey is fascinating and accessible - there’s so much growth in 90 minutes.”

Paul sees the artist’s dilemma, of feeding the soul versus feeding the family, and recalls a saying of Neil Gaiman to extend on the issue. “Money doesn’t feed the soul. When you do make money, you spend it and it dries up; it’s gone, and you’re left with nothing. But when you do work you care about, even if there’s no money, you’re left with the more valuable experience of doing something that you love.”

What do you see? John Logan. John Bach. John Doe.
Director/Designer Andrew Foster sees poignancy in Logan’s script and Bach’s portrayal of Rothko. “The student/master relationship conveys themes that are very human and basic. There is a natural swing to their relationship as it grows over the two years chronicled in the play. Rothko’s mystery and Ken’s naivety evolve to unravel the complexities in each other. Ultimately the student must recognise the underlying hypocrisy of his master and rail against the establishment, just as Rothko has done before him.” Andrew sees how Mark Rothko had to break down painting to a place of essence. In a society that had witnessed two world wars, Rothko struggled to understand basic feelings and primal human nature; to make sense of it all.

RED. Compulsory for all creative souls.

Don’t miss this “first-class Circa production.” Dominion Post “Go and see for yourself. Embrace it!”  Theatreview

Only two weeks left. Tickets selling fast so book now!

To book for Red, contact the Circa box office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz. 

Photos by Matt Grace Photography.

22 July 2013

C - A Musical: not a traditional musical

In this week's post, composer Gareth Farr talks to drama on the waterfront about the music in C and working with Jackie Clarke.

This is the fifth musical that Paul and I have written – and strangely enough it’s the one that is least like a traditional musical. It falls into a nameless genre of “play with songs and poems” – and without a doubt it’s my favourite stage project to date. Paul made it clear to me that this would be a very different type of work at the beginning of our creative process – and that I would be able to write music that is more akin to the music I write for classical ensembles, such as orchestra, string quartet – and most importantly operatic voice and solo piano.

The music is in the form of two simultaneous song cycles – the moody and dark journey to an imagined and metaphorical Venice, in which I am the most experimental with my musical language; and the ‘voice inside my head’ songs – where I am a little closer to the fun bouncy music Paul and I have reveled in in the past.

Working with a superstar like Jackie Clarke has been an utter privilege and joy – she is one of those incredible artists who can just do ANYTHING – and I have been so bowled over by her interpretation of my music, and her utter dedication to the project. Sue Alexander is the other musical genius on the project – her magic fingers are unstoppable, and I have written music that is about as difficult to play as a Rachmaninov Concerto.

– Gareth Farr

C – A Musical is well-paced, highly entertaining, deeply moving, honest, witty, informative, imaginative and, above all, very, very human. - Theatreview

"Every component of the show – the writing, the music, the professionalism of the performers – is well-honed and pitched just right in order to draw us in to the storyteller's world." - Theatreview

"As the narrator Me (Jenden) Danny Mulheron is excellent, totally engaging, warm and full of humanity towards his subject matter." - The Dominion Post

"Jackie Clarke is The Voice Inside My Head, who expresses all his feeling, both light and dark, through song. Not only is Clarke a great singer but she is also a consummate performer who is able to express both the joy and the pain of the experiences through the lyrics and music." - The Dominon Post

"At times it is very funny and uplifting. At times very sombre and sad. You ride a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, but well worth seeing." - Kiwiblog

Photos by Stephen A'Court.

C - A Musical runs until 10 August. To book, call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.

15 July 2013

The fantastic world of Super Heroes

The "Incredible Improv Man" tells drama on the waterfront what to expect from The Improvisors' latest school holiday show, Kids Comic Heroes!

From: The Incredible Improv Man
Zap!! Ka-pow!! Ka-blooey!! The Improvisors are back at Circa for the July school holidays with more of our special brand of interactive children’s theatre. Over the past few years, we’ve brought you shows centred on pirates, knights and princesses and unexpected twists on traditional fairy stories – now we’re turning our attention to the fantastic world of Super Heroes.

What amazing powers will our hero have? How will our super-villain plot to rule the world? Frankly, we have no idea – but that’s the point. Each show is unique, as we ask our audience to supply those key plot ingredients. Then, using our astonishing powers of leaping over tall improbabilities and flying by the seat of our pants, our super improvisors create a one-off story. Along the way, we keep our audience involved in creating sound effects, giving advice and generally helping to shape the show.

Forget the latest Hollywood blockbuster – introduce your Wonder Girls and Super Boys to the magic of improvised theatre. Imagination is the greatest super-power of them all!

Monday  15 – Friday 19 July and Monday 22 – Friday 26 July – two shows daily at 11:00am and 1:00pm
Saturday 20 and Saturday 27 July – one show only at 11:00am
Show runs for approx. 50 minutes

Warning – show may contain traces of lycra!

09 July 2013


In this week's post on drama on the waterfront, we find out how director/designer Andrew Foster discovered Mark Rothko's process, and recreated it for the Circa Theatre production of RED.

Opening this Saturday 13 July in Circa Two, is the six time Tony award-winning show RED by John Logan (Skyfall, Hugo, The Aviator). This Wellington premiere, directed and designed by Andrew Foster (Black Confetti, West End Girls) is an intimate insight into the art and mind of 20th Century abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko, performed by iconic actor John Bach (Lord Of The Rings, Duggan) and Paul Waggott (Tribes, Clybourne Park), this Wellington premiere is compulsory for all creative souls.

Circa Two is currently being transformed into Mark Rothko’s studio. Director and designer Andrew Foster describes how creating RED has been an amazing abstract voyage of discovery. For Andrew, this is the first time he has experienced such a symbiotic relationship between the design and direction in a production. Essentially he has had to find ways to go about copying Rothko’s work, and in doing so, has ended up recreating Rothko’s process. Through painstakingly analysing and discovering Rothko’s process, Andrew has been able to greater understand the characters in the play and their journeys.  

Mark Rothko experimented with layering different types of glazes on top of each other, focusing on the depth and iridescence of paint. His ‘mixed media’ works draw on traditional renaissance techniques and the kinetic effect of contrasting glosses and varnishes with colours. 

RED brings together the essence of theatre and art; inviting the audience to engage in a space filled with mystique, a space left to interpretation, continually revealing itself to the spectator.

Audiences get to look forward to not only being transported through John Logan’s amazingly crafted script and characters, but also the emotive space and room of Rothko’s studio, filled with energy, character and essence. 

You can also learn more about Mark Rothko on Thursday 18 July at 6.45pm, when Circa hosts the pre-show talk ‘Mark Rothko: Paintings that make you cry’ presented by Professor Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, Director of Arts and Visual Culture at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and the Head of Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland.

See Rothko at work,  13 July – 10 August at Circa Theatre. For Bookings phone the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.

01 July 2013

C - A Musical: A Great Journey

Writer/director/costume designer Paul Jenden talks to drama on the waterfront about the journey from page to stage for C - A Musical.

“Turn on the lights, rack up the sound and bring on the dancing girls. Let’s make this sucker into a musical.”

C - A Musical is heading into production week with the wind behind us and we're eager to get into Circa One. We've seriously outgrown the rehearsal studio. In the beginning we rehearsed Jackie Clarke’s songs with the grand piano in Northland and Louis Solino’s dancing was worked out when Danny Mulherron and Jane Waddell weren’t using the studio. When we first got together in the same room it was SO exciting, especially once we all stopped gossiping and actually rehearsed.

But since then the show has started spreading its wings we’ve been feeling a little cramped. So now that we’re getting into John Hodgkin’s wonderfully spacious set with the big Steinway grand piano we’re like children on Christmas morning. Add Ulli Briese’s phenomenal lights and Oceania’s sound and it feels like Westpac Stadium. All we need now is an audience that wants to have some laughs, to listen to some fabulous music and to have a secret snivel in the emotional bits.

Paul Jenden. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
It’s been a great journey getting C - A Musical onto the stage. When I was throwing up in a hospital bed I couldn’t have imagined that this group of amazing artists would join together to turn my illness into an inspiring show, let alone that Circa would get behind us and put it on stage. It’s a show for everyone, people with cancer, people who know people with cancer and especially those who just want a good night out.

Gareth Farr has excelled himself with the most divine music and the songs that are to die for. AND IT’S NOT DEPRESSING! Okay, a tear might be shed over the 90 minutes, but you won’t regret coming. The show inspires me and I was actually there! Bring a friend and abandon yourself to fun. As Jackie Clarke sings, “Say si si to C!”

- Paul Jenden

C - A Musical opens in Circa One on 6 July, and runs until 3 August. On 11 July, there is a fundraiser performance for the NZ Cancer Society - tickets are $60 ($30 goes directly to NZ Cancer society). To book for this or any night during the season, please call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz. For a sneak preview, go here.