30 June 2014

The Road That Wasn't There: Our Top Five New Zealand Mysteries


Trick of the Light Theatre are hitting the Circa 2 stage 8-19 July with the return of our award winning play The Road That Wasn’t There. A dark New Zealand fairytale in the vein of Neil Gaiman and Pan’s Labyrinth, it tells a story about a girl who followed a map off the edge of the world. The play weaves together various folklore and legends from New Zealand’s history, and in this spirit, we bring to you our top five mysteries and curious places in Aotearoa New Zealand. Read on if you dare…

5. St Bathans – Central Otago.
Chapter One - The town by the upside down hill…

Once a booming township that was built in the height of gold rush, St Bathans is now home to a population of just seven… as well as its various ghosts. The Vulcan Pub is reportedly the most haunted place in the country, whilst the Post Office up the road has its own ghostly apparition…

One of St Bathans’ resident ghosts. Photo / Andrew Watters – The Southland Times.

The town sits on the edge of a lake that formed in the abandoned mine, and even this is unusual – the minerals from the rocks around it have left it an astonishing blue.  The Road That Wasn’t There takes place in St Bathans… a suitably strange setting for a strange and mysterious play.

4. Moeraki Boulders – Oamaru
‘She told me she’d seen the Moeraki Boulders crack open and dragons hatching from them.’

Geological curiousity or dragon-eggs waiting to hatch… Photo / moerakiboulders.co.nz

Scattered on the beach, along the road from Oamaru, are the Moeraki Boulders – a series of large and unusually spherical rocks that have emerged from out of the cliffs.  One legend puts their origins to eel baskets washed up in a shipwreck. We like Joy Cowley’s take on them - dragon-eggs waiting to hatch…

3. Tunnel Beach and Cargill’s Castle - Dunedin
‘This time it felt different. The buildings were crumpled like wet paper, and the townsfolk were no longer smiling…’

Tucked behind the suburbs on the cliffs above Dunedin, away from the tour buses that frequent its more famous neighbour, lie the crumbling remains of New Zealand’s other castle – Cargill’s Castle.

Cargill Castle – featuring resident spooky sheep. Photo / cargillscastle.co.nz/gallery

Once a decadent mansion, it has now fallen into ruin, though in certain lights the ghosts still dance around the castle’s ballroom. Down the cliffs from the castle, you can visit Tunnel Beach – so-named for the tunnel built by Cargill so his daughters could bathe away from the prying eyes of the locals. But alas, it was to end in tragedy – his youngest daughter drowned when she was swept off in a riptide…

2. The Canterbury Panther
‘She told me our kitten was a panther that she’d found in the Canterbury  hills…’

Is it a panther - or just a really big wild cat? This creature was snapped on the frozen surface of Lake Clearwater. Photo / Michael O'Neill

Since the early 90s various reports have been made of a large, black panther-like cat that roams the Canterbury hills. Killing sheep and occasionally scaring the life out of truck drivers. Is it an illusion, a super-sized stray, or something more concerning? The last report suggested it was heading farther south. Perhaps St Bathans’ ghosts are in for unexpected company…

           1. The enduring popularity of Prime Minister John Key
We’ve had ghosts, dragons, castles and curious cats, but these are no match for our number one mystery – the enduring high polls for this guy.

Photo Maarten Holl / Fairfax NZ

That’s right, it’s everyone’s favourite planker, Prime Minister John KeyAnd whilst we live in a land full of strange places and mysteries, none are more frightening than the prospect of a third term under National. When we’re not making dark fairytales like The Road That Wasn’t There and The Bookbinder, we’re making award-winning plays that have a political bent (The Engine Room, Broken River).

Photo / imgur.com/w9qKWGM

If you find the above picture disturbing we recommend a two-step process:

o   Enjoy a deliciously dark escapist fantasy with The Road That Wasn’t There at Circa Theatre from July 8-19th.

o   Do what James Nokise says, and get out there and vote.

 To book for The Road That Wasn't There, please call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.

23 June 2014

Hīkoi: Then and Now

The 70s and 80 was a formative time for Aotearoa with much going on politically and socially. In Hīkoi, and set against this backdrop, we meet two ordinary, extraordinary characters Charlie and Nellie who fall in love, have kids and endeavour to live happily ever after. And, as often happens, it is left to the children to make sense of decisions made on their behalf by the people who love them.

Hīkoi boasts an impressive cast and crew and we asked them what they were like and what was important to them as teenagers.

Nancy Brunning (1989) – Writer and Director (Ngāti Raukawa; Ngāi Tūhoe)
When I was a teenager I was busy, nerdy, stroppy. John Lennon Glasses were awesome, and so were whales and tasseled edged scarves...and wrist watches. Finishing 7th form was important, my friends and not getting pregnant before I left home...

Jarod Rawiri (1996) – Actor (Ngāti Whanaunga; Ngāti Tūwharetoa; Ngāti Hine)
When I was a teenager I was lanky, sporty and thoughtful. My mate Geoff and I outside his family’s restaurant “Hurricanes Grill' in Bondi, Sydney. We were 16 and spent the summer working here and checking out the sites of Sydney.

Kali Kopae (2001) – Actor (Te Arawa; Ngāti Whakaue; Ngāti Pūkeko; Ngāti Awa)
When I was a teenager I was vain, rough and ambitious. Important to me when I was 16 was hang time with my friends and school holidays on my Grandparents farm with my brother.

Mara TK (2002) - Sound Design (Kai Tahu; Ngāti Kahungunu; Maniapoto)
When I was a teenager I was bashful, optimistic and a virgin. This photo is from my first trip to Wellington, I'd just been published by Huia for a story in Te Reo Māori...when I left kura kaupapa I lost the language - now, through my own daughter being enrolled in kohanga reo, I'm finally getting it back.

Gavin Rutherford (1987) - Actor
When I was a teenager I was sunburnt, awkward and pink. I grew up on the beach. Scottish skin. Scabs and cracked lips.

Miria George (1998) – Actor (Te Arawa; Ngāti Awa; Arorangi; Rarotonga & Areora, Atiu, Kuki Arani)
At 18 years old, I just wanted to be a citizen of world, in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, hitchhiking with Hanne.

Amy Macaskill (1998) - Costume Design (Kai Tahu)
When I was a teenager I was busy, ambitious, searching. The same basic things were Important to me then as they are now, Fashion and Friends. This photo is from a 'fashion shoot' way before selfies were a thing.

Aroha White (2002) – Actor (Ngā Puhi)
When I was a teenager I was bubbly, sneaky and creative.
When I was a teenager the most important thing in my life were my friends and family, I don't think that part of me has changed at all.

Wai Mihinui (2003) – Set and Publicity Design (Ngāti Raukawa)
When I was a teenager I was loud, vibrant, immature. Friends and goofing around was important to me during my high school time. I have fond memories of running around and being silly a lot of the time.

Hine Parata-Walker (2007) – Actor (Ngāti Porou; Kai Tahu)
Important was not embarrassing myself. Trying to get out of swimming training. Getting in the front row of the kapa haka group.

Ngakopa Volkerling (2001) – Actor (Ngāti Wai; Ngāti Hine; Taranaki)
When I was a teenager I was cheeky, loyal and outspoken As a teenager what was most important to me was finishing high school, being able to tell my Nan I went to university, not being pregnant before my time and the well being of my siblings and niece. As well as getting drunk, hanging out with friends and ... boys.

The Te Kākano Season of Hīkoi opens at Circa Theatre in Wellington on Saturday 28 June and runs for two weeks. Bookings can be made at Circa 04 801 7992 or www.circa.co.nz

17 June 2014

MDF 2014, Aroha White and 2080: a wave of creative productivity

Playwright and actor AROHA WHITE is currently riding a wave of creative productivity at Circa Theatre, having her new play 2080 in development as part of Tawata Productions’ MDF 2014 as well as performing in Hapai Productions’ HIKOI!  We caught up with AROHA just over a week away from the opening of the Development Season of 2080.

1.  Aroha, you're very busy in the rehearsal room as an actor for Hapai Productions' HIKOI, whilst the third play you've written, 2080, is being rehearsed for a Development Season with Tawata Productions in Circa Two - how are you finding the creative mind split?

Oh! Well I think 2080 is destined to be a mind splitting play. You see, when I was lucky enough to first develop the script two years ago, I was in the same situation. I was work shopping the 2080 script during the day, performing Sunset Road in the evenings and writing at night. This time round, I’m flat out in the rehearsal room for Hikoi during the day but have been making the most of our early chilly mornings to make any amendments to the script that are needed. Knowing that the 2080 crew are just next door is definitely distracting, I want to be in there and playing with them, buuuut at the same time I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than on the floor with my nutty Hikoi family. I count myself very lucky to have the opportunity to undergo a mind split.

2.  In 2012, 2080 made its very first outing as a brand spanking new script - how have your ideas about your play changed over the last two years?

The main change has been growth in the world. Finding dark corners I didn’t see the first time, looking for more of them and realizing the longevity of this story.

3The word on the street is that 2080 is an 'indigenous sci-fi' - would you care to elaborate upon this statement?

2080 is a cautionary tale. It is one of many many possible outcomes for our future. It is a world I would never want to live in. For me so often the only way to start solving a problem is to sit down and talk it out, that’s what started this korero. The world that 2080 exists within is science fiction, no doubt about it, set in the not too distant future with laws of its own, 2080 skates the line of reality and fiction. But the growing gap between rich and poor in this country is not fiction nor is the ease with which people are dismissed because they are deemed as “different”. I’m a fan of this new indigenous Sci-Fi genre I think.    

4.  You and Tawata wanted to develop 2080 a little further before taking the play into full production -  how is the Development Season useful for you as a playwright?

It is the chance to take bold swings for all elements of the play. As far as the script's concerned, already the development season is introducing me to aspects of the world I hadn’t realized. Having Natano, Shadon, Acushla and Hone knocking their heads together also means we get to fearlessly explore the world. The growth of the play is the natural next step. When we take 2080 in to full production next year I expect to know all the street names in the brother’s neighborhood, no stone left unturned.

Using animation for the set is a big job. Even simple animation like what we want to look at for 2080. It’s amazing not having to rush straight to an end result, trying to avoid broad strokes in order to get to an end product and aiming for specificity. The development season lets us explore our options and also see how it reads to an audience. The hip hop is in the same boat as the animation.

5.  With 2015 being the year of full production for 2080, what's your idea for your next stage play? 

Ladies. Leisure. Love. Lust and loss. We’ll start there.

6.  As we're celebrating Matariki, what are your hopes and dreams for the forth coming year?

I have some travel on the cards in August this year and if I’m well behaved February next year. I’m blessed to be a part of Tawata’s Auckland season of Sunset Road after Hikoi finishes up for this year. There is a play for the ladies wandering around my head looking for a piece of paper to get all over, I very much hope this can be a collaboration of wahine toa writers and actors. I hope to get up to Auckland in October to work with Nga Rangatahi Toa on a project called Manawa Ora telling stories from our South Auckland brothers and sisters. And then it will be time to get this Maori / Pasifika Sci-Fi production (2080 that is!) up and singing.  Woo-hoo.

The MDF Development Season of 2080 runs in Circa Two from 25-28 June, with a preview on 24 June. Hikoi runs in Circa One from 28 June to 12 July, with a preview on 27 June. A series of free rehearsed readings will take place as part of the Matariki Development Festival on 4 and 5 July. To book for any of these fantastic works, visit www.circa.co.nz or ring the Circa Box Office on 801-7992.

09 June 2014

Equivocation: rich, potent and rewarding theatre, not to be missed.

EQUIVOCATION by Bill Cain, directed by Peter Hambleton is now mid-season and is rich, potent and rewarding theatre, not to be missed.” Theatreview.

With the show closing in only two weeks, now is the time to book in before it’s too late. This ‘bang-for-your-buck’ show has a wonderfully imaginative plot based on one of the most important periods of English history….This is a theatre-lover’s play; an appreciation of Shakespeare isn’t necessary but some knowledge of his work will enhance your experience.” Keeping Up With New Zealand

With Equivocation, Bill Cain has served up a feast of ideas platter in this Wellington Circa performance.” The Lumiere Reader

The acting is fearless… refreshing and exciting.” Theatreview. With “stunning costume designThe Lumiere Reader, there won’t be another opportunity to catch this fantastic production of EQUIVOCATION, so book now on 8017992 or visit circa.co.nz

The last two weeks have been explosive. We had the pleasure to speak with Shakespeare himself (ok, Andrew Foster), who shared some highlights and moments of amusement from the season thus far.

One night… when Tai Berdinner-Blades who plays Judith, Shakespeare’s daughter, was looking for more laundry to fill her basket, she accidently took Shakespeare’s Elizabethan underpants, leaving poor Shag in quite a precarious situation, come the time he had to ‘bare all’.

The Queen’s birthday weekend saw floods of high school students from all over the country in for sell out shows, as they were in town to compete in the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival. Andrew shared how “performing those shows felt like being rockstars”. The crowds were SO into it, there was amazing audience interaction, explosive laughter and standing ovations. But every night has seen new freshness and life to the shows – which Andrew says is what makes EQUIVOCATION so exciting, the adaptive style of theatre. Actors love nothing more than finding new ways to play, explore and connect with their characters, audience, the story, and each other.

Have you heard… There’s a special treat to be had when you’re in for the show too – Garage Project, our local Aro Street Brewery, have put a bit of art into their beer and beer into the arts, by creating for us our very own show beer – Burning Globe – It’ll bring the house down! Make sure you taste this fine drop, available at Encore during the season of EQUIVCOCATION.

Written in modern dialogue. Contains Strong Language and Violent Scenes.

EQUIVOCATION runs until Saturday 21 June,
6.30pm Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 8pm Thursday to Saturday, Matinee 4pm Sundays
$46 Adult / $38 Senior / $33 Friends of Circa / $39 Groups 6+ / $36 Groups 20+ / $25 Under 25s.
Book through Circa Theatre on 04 801 7992 or circa.co.nz.