26 August 2013

The words of Arthur Miller: “The theatre is so endlessly fascinating because it’s so accidental. It’s so much like life.”

The cast of The Price have assembled their favourite Arthur Miller quotes for drama on the waterfront - most are from The Price, but some are from his other works or interviews he gave. They give great insight into the man himself. (For more insight, come along on Thursday, 29 August from 7.15pm for a pre-show talk in the Circa foyer, "Arthur Miller: Inside of His Head" by Victoria University lecturer Dr Lori Leigh.)

“Well, all the plays I was trying to write were plays that would grab an audience by the throat and not release them, rather than presenting an emotion which you could observe and walk away from.”   - Arthur Miller

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"Not that I'm mixing in, but I don't have to tell you the average family they love each other like crazy, but the minute the parents die is all of a sudden a question who is going to get what and you're covered with cats and dogs." - Gregory Solomon, The Price

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Victor You really got married at 75?

Solomon  What's so terrible?

Victor  No. I think it's terrific. But what was the point?               - The Price
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"Good luck you never know until the last minute, my boy". – Solomon, The Price

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"So many times I thought the thing he wanted most was to talk to his brother, and if they could...  But he's come and he's gone.  And I still feel it, isn't that terrible.  It always seems to me that one little step more, and some crazy kind of forgiveness will come and lift up everybody. When do you stop being so foolish?"  - Esther Franz, The Price

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“What's the difference what you know? Do you do everything you know?” –Victor, The Price

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“…everything has to be disposable. Because you see the main thing today is shopping. Years ago a person, he was unhappy, didn’t know what to do with himself; he go to church, start a revolution, something. Today you’re unhappy? Can’t figure it out? What is the salvation? Go shopping.”  – Solomon, The Price

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“Don't be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.”  - AM

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“Success, instead of giving freedom of choice, becomes a way of life. There's no country I've been to where people, when you come into a room and sit down with them, so often ask you, "What do you do?" And, being American, many's the time I've almost asked that question, then realized it's good for my soul not to know. For a while! Just to let the evening wear on and see what I think of this person without knowing what he does and how successful he is, or what a failure. We're ranking everybody every minute of the day.” - Arthur Miller, Paris Review,
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“Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.”  - After the Fall

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“The theatre is so endlessly fascinating because it’s so accidental. It’s so much like life.”  - AM

The Price runs in Circa One until 7 September. To book, call the Circa Box office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.

19 August 2013

Theatresports Freestyle: Explained

Improvisor Greg Ellis explains to drama on the waterfront the concept of Theatresports Freestyle.

Theatresports, as most people know it, is a series of short improvised games. It's the most popular type of improvisation and when people think of improv, Theatresports is the word that's always top of mind. But it's not the only improv format.

In the last couple of years The Improvisors has performed Improv Cage Match. It's a format that has been around the world of improv for years under a variety of different names. The basic idea behind the format is that there are 2 teams who can play whatever they like. The only limitation is that of time. Each team has 30 minutes of stage time. This time is divided over 3 rounds. The teams can divide this time however they like over those three rounds. So one team could play rounds of 15, 7 and 8 minutes while the other team could play 2, 20 and 8 minutes. After each round the audience is asked to vote on which team they liked more in that round. The winning team gets one point per round.

That's all very well but what sort of improv do the teams do during each round?

They do whatever they want. The idea behind this format is that teams can play to suit their strengths. They can play Theatresports games if they want but they can also create their own formats or just improvise something with no structure at all.

In the last couple of seasons we've seen improvised musicals, a fantasy movie, a gangster story and a current affairs show featuring 3 different mini-documentaries. Players love the format. It really gives them a chance to try new things and push the boundaries. It creates great play.

The format is also a great way to feature guest performers and in this season we hope to feature many of the Australian performers that will be in town for the NZ Improv Festival.

And it's had a name change. Improv Cage Match made the show sound a little sweaty, violent and low rent. Hopefully Theatresports Freestyle makes it clear what the show is all about. It's all the family fun of Theatresports (and maybe with some of the games you love) but it also features the freedom that comes when performers play with no rules at all.

- Greg Ellis

Theatresports Freestyle starts 25 August and runs every Sunday at 7pm until 13 October. To book, call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz

12 August 2013

What's On at Circa August - December 2013

Lots to look forward to in the next five months at Circa!

The Price
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Susan Wilson
10 August – 7 September

“Miller at his most intimate … movingly understated” – The Herald

The Price, one of master playwright Arthur Miller’s most successful plays, is a funny and deeply moving story of two brothers in conflict with their father.

The Improvisors
Theatresports Freestyle
25 August – 13 October, Sundays

Theatresports Freestyle takes the best improvised comedians in Wellington and throws them into competition to see just who are the best on-the-spot performers. No rules. No games that must be played. Only time is a limit.

The Dominion Post Season of No Naughty Bits
By Steve Thompson
Directed by Ross Jolly
14 September – 12 October

Monty Python VS the American Broadcasting Company.

A gloriously funny re-imagining of a real-life event, No Naughty Bits illuminates and celebrates the comic genius of Monty Python.

Midsummer (a play with songs)
By David Greig and Gordon McIntyre
Directed by Lyndee-Jane Rutherford
21 September – 19 October    

With a bag filled with cash, Helena and Bob get up to one legendary weekend, in a wet and miserable midsummer in Edinburgh. From self-loathing hangovers and wedding bust-ups, to car chases and midnight trysts, MIDSUMMER promises a great night out.

Kids Improvisors: Halloweenies
By The Improvisors
30 September - 12 October

On stage during the School Holidays, Halloweenies will present the least scary cast of spooky misfits you are ever likely to see on stage. No screams here, just big laughs!

The ImpoSTAR
Written by Jason Chasland with Lyndee-Jane Rutherford
Directed by Lyndee-Jane Rutherford
19 October – 9 November

Performing over thirty impressions of Broadway stars, contemporary icons and rock legends, Jason Chasland (Spector with the BeatGirls) chops and changes so fast it’ll leave you gasping for air and squealing with delight as you recognize your favourite stars. From Barbara Streisand to Judy Garland, Aaron Neville to Chubby Checker and Julie Andrews to Lady Gaga, there is something for everyone.

By Gavin McGibbon
Directed by Danny Mulheron
26 October – 23 November
World Premiere

Stevie and Earle are about to pull off the most outrageous scam of their lives. The bait has been laid, the fish are biting, a jackpot awaits but what happens when true love walks in the door?

Mother Goose, the Pantomime
By Michele Amas
Songs by Paul Jenden and Michael Nicholas Williams
Directed by Susan Wilson
16 November—22 December
World Premiere

There’s nothing paltry about Mother Goose’s chicken farm. Come and join Glenda our fabulous dame, Lucy Goose and a host of other characters as the Circa team bring you this much-loved classic tale in which Mother Goose discovers that real happiness doesn’t come from riches or beauty.

To book, contact Circa on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz

05 August 2013

Why Arthur Miller wrote The Price

In this abridged version of an article written for the New York Times in 1999, playwright Arthur Miller explains why he wrote The Price.

The Price, Circa Theatre, 10 August - 7 September
The Past and Its Power: Why I Wrote 'The Price'

"The sources of a play are both obvious and mysterious. The Price is first of all about a group of people recollected, as it were, in tranquility. The central figures, the New York cop Victor Franz and his elder brother, Walter, are not precise portraits of people I knew long, long ago, but close enough, and Gregory Solomon, the old furniture dealer, is as close as I could get to reproducing a dealer's Russian-Yiddish accent that still tickles me whenever I hear it in memory.

“…everything has to be disposable. Because you see the main thing today is shopping. Years ago a person, he was unhappy, didn’t know what to do with himself; he go to church, start a revolution, something. Today you’re unhappy? Can’t figure it out? What is the salvation? Go shopping.”  – Solomon

Behind the play -- almost any play -- are more or less secret responses to other works of the time, and these may emerge as disguised imitation or as outright rejection of the dominating forms of the hour. The Price was written in 1967, but the 60's was a time when a play with recognizable characters, a beginning, middle and end was routinely condemned as ''well made'' or ludicrously old-fashioned. (That plays with no characters, beginning or end were not called ''badly made'' was inevitable when the detonation of despised rules in all things was a requisite for recognition as modern. That beginnings, middles and ends might not be mere rules but a replication of the rise and fall of human life did not frequently come up.)

Arthur Miller.
Indeed, the very idea of an operating continuity between past and present in any human behavior was demode and close to a laughably old-fashioned irrelevancy. My impression, in fact, was that playwrights were either uninterested in or incapable of presenting antecedent material altogether. Like the movies, plays seemed to exist entirely in the now; characters had either no past or none that could somehow be directing present actions. It was as though the culture had decreed amnesia as the ultimate mark of reality.

The Price grew out of a need to reconfirm the power of the past, the seedbed of current reality, and the way to possibly reaffirm cause and effect in an insane world. It seemed to me that if, through the mists of denial, the bow of the ancient ship of reality could emerge, the spectacle might once again hold some beauty for an audience. The play speaks to a spirit of unearthing the real that seemed to have very nearly gone from our lives.

Which is not to deny that the primary force driving The Price was a tangle of memories of people. Still, these things move together, idea feeding characters and characters deepening idea.

Nineteen sixty-eight, when the play is set, was already nearly 40 years since the Great Crash, the onset of the transformed America of the Depression decade. It was then that the people in this play had made the choices whose consequences they had now to confront. The 30's had been a time when we learned the fear of doom and had stopped being kids for a while; the time, in short, when, as I once noted about the era, the birds came home to roost and the past became present. And that Depression cataclysm, incidentally, seemed to teach that life indeed had beginnings, middles and a consequential end."
- Arthur Miller, 1999
New York Times


The Price opens in Circa One on 10 August, and runs until 7 September. To book, call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.