17 February 2014

Find out what the cast and crew think of Pasefika

This week on drama on the waterfront, meet the cast and hear from the designers of Pasefika, Circa's show for the New Zealand Festival. 

From the Cast...

George Henare

Baudelaire / Te Rangi

“Insane! I love it!” My immediate reaction on reading this wonderful, articulate romp through French history. Stuart has given us all the theatrical elements, the intrigue, the dissembling, the emotional turmoil, the pleasure and the drama that only ‘ze’ French could experience in one day, let alone in 2 hours. 
Loving working with the Circa team again. Can’t wait to share this craziness with the audiences."

Jason Whyte

Charles Meryon

“It is an honour to be sharing the stage with some of NZs finest actors, and a wonderful challenge to get inside the mind of Charles Meryon.” 

Emma Kinane

Jeanne Duval / Madame Bourgeois

Pasefika is an inspiring production to be involved in; the rehearsal room is buzzing. An exciting new script, a creative design team that's twice the usual size, and the added zest of being part of the Festival. It's like Theatre Christmas in February.”

Aroha White

Louise Niveau / Ruiha

“I feel as is Stuart was living in Paris with Meryon and Baudelaire while he was writing Pasefika.  His words are cheeky, challenging, lusty and a pleasure to commit to memory.”

From the Designers…

 Andrew Foster 

Set Design

There's no escaping Pasefika as a complex design proposition. A weaving of diverse cultures, multiple locations, and I think most intriguingly; of memories. Stuart Hoar pronounces his surrealism by anachronistically allowing the play to slip in and out of its historical period. Contemporary urban references float through Paris in the late 1800's, and as in the central character's art works, the boundaries of culture, geography and physics become blurred in recall. During the design process I've been fascinated by the way in which the mind reconstitutes images from memory, and the distortion of facts by feelings. Charles Meryon's etchings reflect a hyper-real amalgam of both his experience and his emotional responses, with the effect of endorsing perception over reality. I suppose that this has become my key premise in designing Pasefika. An attempt, if you will, to chronicle a landscape of the mind.

In collaborating with 3 other very talented designers (in the areas of AV, sound and light) I've also been conscious of trying to maintain a sense of space for the audience to allow room for the viewers imagination to engage with the work.

Marcus McShane

Lighting Design

Pasefika is a play that thinks a lot about conventionality, both in art and in history, and explores the life of someone who breaks with it. It seems only right to follow this lead, and break with a lot of lighting conventions as well. 

We're working with a layering of angle and texture along (and even through) the set, and are repurposing an architectural light-work that bridges traditional light and projection in order to incorporate it as well.

Johann Nortje

Video Design

The AV (video projection) in this show is used as a very important part of creating each scene as well as aiding in the story telling. As the design of the show is very abstract compared to standard realism, the video projection thrives on this freedom to create and aid in the turmoil and visions of the characters.

Tane Upjohn-Beatson 

Sound Design

When Captain Cook first heard traditional maori music he was awed and unnerved by its passion but unfamiliarity and out of tune-ness to the western ear. Meryon must have had similar experiences of the natural soundscape and music of New Zealand, that haunted him for decades to come.
Instead of focussing on realism, the sound design and music of Pasefika focuses on creating for the audience the same sense of infatuating otherness, and a dreamlike juxtaposition 19th century France, New Zealand, and New Zealand today. 

Pasefika is on at Circa Theatre from 22 Feb – 16 March. For Festival dates, please book through Ticketek (details below). For the post-Festival season, please book at Circa (details below).

BOOKINGS: for performances 22 Feb-16 Mar (New Zealand Festival), call TICKETEK on 0800 842 538 (www.festival.co.nz or www.ticketek.co.nz)

BOOKINGS: for performances 21 Feb and 18-29 March, call Circa Theatre on 801-7992 (www.circa.co.nz)

Show Times: Tue and Wed 6.30pm, Thu-Sat 8.00pm, Sun 4.00pm. 

10 February 2014

A chat with Mel Dodge about Charlotte Bronte

Rehearsals for Miss Brontë are well underway and the whole team are finally united in Wellington! Writer and performer Mel Dodge talks to publicist Debbie Fish about what inspired the creation of the show, working with Lyndee Jane Rutherford, and what Charlotte might have thought about it…

DF: When did your relationship with Charlotte Brontë begin?
MD: It was at school. At school I’d heard about her and at uni I did a literature degree and I fell in love with her. I fell in love with that whole era – Victorian literature and romantic literature and I was also really fascinated with who the people were, why they wrote what they had written and the idea of being a woman in those times was outrageous. They’d just be wives – if they were lucky. Otherwise they would mend people’s lace! And she had the balls to get out there and do what she wanted to do. So I think I was attracted to that, but I was also attracted to the romance of it all and the detail of it all.

DF: You also have another show Jane Austen is Dead, that’s coming from the same era…

MD: That one’s completely different! I also love Jane Austen, from that same time at uni – must have had good teachers – I lived in England at that time. Jane Austen is contemporary so it’s set in a bar and is all about love today. So it references Jane Austen a lot and there are bits of her characters there, but it’s totally contemporary, whereas this one is literally set there. I love that era and I’ve always wanted to do plays from that kind of era and no-one puts them on because they have casts of 12 or they’re wildly adapted so I kind of went ‘why don’t I just make something so I can play with that era myself’. 

DF: And when did you and Lyndee Jane start working together? You two seem to have a lot of fun.

MD: Lyndee Jane and I have known each other for many years. She first directed me in a Shakespeare compilation in the role of Lady Anne, from Richard III. We were both very proud of that piece and knew that we worked well together. It is so wonderful when you find a director whose style suits your own. It frees up the rehearsal room and allows you to create something magic! We laugh a lot in the rehearsal room and really enjoy each other's company. I think that ease and sense of joy can be seen in the play.

DF: What do you think Charlotte would think of the play?
MD: I’ve thought about that a lot. I think she would pissed off and flattered and intrigued. I think she’d be OK with people knowing about her and her life, but a lot of people around her life would have wanted that kept secret and I’ve done loads of research about that and the man she ended up marrying didn’t really want a lot of this stuff to come out. He wanted her friend Ellen, who kept a lot of her letters – he just wanted her to burn them. He asked her ‘please burn them – Charlotte’s going to stop writing to you if you don’t burn them’.

DF: So when did she get married?

MD: She got married just before she died. And it’s not in the play – I tried to put it in the play and I couldn’t. I was like ‘that’s not what this play’s about’. She ended up marrying her father’s curate, so one of the dudes from church. I think she was just lonely by that point – really, really lonely. But she died when she was pregnant. A lot of people think it was from dehydration when she was having morning sickness. 

DF: Her friend Mary came to Wellington – do you think Charlotte would have made the move if things had been different for her?
MD: I don’t think she ever would have left her family. So even when the siblings died she was super close to her dad, so it was all about looking after him. When she married that dude she said ‘the condition of marrying you is that we live at home with dad and you take over some of his jobs’. In her writings she thinks Mary is ace, she’s totally into Mary doing it. She’s sad about her leaving – she’s not surprised that she’s going off adventuring and doing really well. And they were really close in Brussels. When she went to Brussels and met Monsieur Heger, Mary was there then.

DF: Who do you think would be kicking themselves if they didn’t come see Miss Brontë at Circa?
MD: I feel like if you have any love for those kinds of books – a lot of people love Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is the second-read book to the Bible! It’s massive! I feel like anyone who is a romantic, who knows what love is, and unrequited love and the pain of it and the beauty of it. And also the beauty of actually having your dreams attained. Actually achieving what no-one expects you to achieve. She just struggled. She spent years and years saying ‘I’m going to keep going’. And I think people get that.

Miss Brontë is on from 21 Feb – 15 March. To book, call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz. Mel will also be speaking in the NZ Festival -Writers’ Week as part of ‘It’s Not Personal, It’s Business’ on the 7 March. To book for this visit www.festival.co.nz.

03 February 2014

my accomplice: HOW TO PUT ON A PLAY IN 11 EASY STEPS

Hi. We’re my accomplice. We are a local theatre company. We like to still consider ourselves young, even though we are four and a half years-old. People are always asking us how we make theatre. Where we get our ideas and resources. What our process is. So here we have assembled the 11 steps we went through while making our most recent show, A Play About Fear (7-16th Feb in Circa Two). We think they are pretty universal and that anyone could easily apply them to make work as successful, or even slightly less successful than ours. Good luck!

1.      While completing your BA in Theatre at Victoria University, perform in the 2009 STAB Commission Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants

Be a relentlessly overachieving 20 year-old woman from Masterton and/or a 21 year-old English dude by way ofWhangarei (looking a bit like Simon Pegg would be ideal) and/or a 22 year-old Wellington native who has beengoing to the theatre religiously since the age of 6. Never admit to yourself how over-committed you are. Don’t get much sleep. Spend every day together. Try not to go insane. Do not be upset when this happens anyway. Be sure to attend the 2009 Chapman Tripp’s where Elephants will win several major awards.

2.      At the start of 2010 form a theatre company.

Call the company my accomplice. Be optimistic and write long manifestos about how you are going to change the theatre. Put on a show in the 2010 FringeFestival at BATS Theatre. Be criminally deprived of a Best New Company nomination at the Fringe Awards. Ensure that this still bothers you a little to this very day.

3.      Make a second show later that year.

Foolishly combine this with your Honours degree in Theatre. Find here-to-fore unknown levels of stress. Bite off way more than you can chew. Ensure to share the space with a famously uncompromising but nationally renowned theatre company. Somehow manage to make quite a good show.

4.      Make more shows together. (Make some shows with other companies as well.

Always challenge yourself as a company. Every show should be harder than the last. Wonder why you do this. Act in, design, or produce other people’s shows. Learn a lot from other people’s shows. Learn a lot from other people’s mistakes. Surprisingly actually earn some money from this industry.

5.      Make a play about love. 

Call it A Play About Love. Charm audiences with your highly emotive but also quite funny, high energy, lo-fi theatrical stylings. Turn the stage in to a giant snow globe at the end, people will remember how charming this is and will forget about the totally unstructured middle third of the show. Watch it do quite well. Foolishly promise that it’s the beginning of a trilogy.

6.      Follow this with a play about space (ships).

Call it A Play About Space. Have space battles with paper planes. Make aliens with just cardboard tubes. Borrow as many lamps as you can from Lighting Direct (thanks guys). Be called “comic genius” (Theatreview) and “very confusing” (The Dominion Post). Tour for the first time. Call it a learning experience. Do first return season.

7.      Fill the rest of 2013 with busy work.

8.      Pitch for a show for  Fringe season in Circa Two

Think it will never happen. Call it APlay About Fear. Against all expectation, get the season. Express your joy in awkward private dancing. Sign up for the Fringe. Apply for funding. Slowly realise that now you actually have to make the show.

9.      Panic.

10.  Make the show.

Talk about scary films you like. Cast cool people. Talk about scary films that they like. Fill Circa Two with blue tarpaulin and a paddling pool. Make some really funny scenes. Make some really weird scenes. Put them together into what you think is your strangest, most fun and definitely best show.

11.  Open next Friday on 7th February at 7.30pm.

Complete the trilogy.