27 October 2014

The most delicious villain

Isaac's Eye actor Todd Rippon tells drama on the waterfront about playing 'the most delicious villain', Isaac Newton's rival Robert Hooke.

Issac's Eye actors Neenah Dekkers-Reihana and Todd Rippon. Photo by Paul McLaughlin.
The last time I performed in a show at Circa Theatre it was A Comedy of Errors in 1992, back in the old brick building on the corner of Harris Street and Jervois Quay. We have both come a long way since then and I am very exited about finally returning to Wellington’s pre-eminent professional theatre venue. In the past 22 years I have continued my professional career as an actor and director on a part-time basis and like most other thespians in New Zealand I have also taken on many other less artistic endeavours to support myself and my family.

Isaac’s Eye is such a thrilling play to be a part of. It’s brilliantly written, it ticks all the originality boxes, and I am playing the most delicious villain: Robert Hooke, Isaac Newton’s real life rival.  Hooke, like Newton, was also a brilliant scientist in nearly every field imaginable and although his legacy has been almost completely lost in the annuls of scientific endeavour, recent academic studies have found that he was, in his time, a man of much fame, wealth, and influence. In the play he is portrayed as an immoral elitist, a hopeless philanderer, and a depraved drug addicted rake, everything that I am not. But through out the course of the story he is stripped of all artifice and you get to see a far more vulnerable side of Robert as well. It’s a dream role for any actor.

Todd Rippon as Robert Hooke in Isaac's Eye. Photo by Paul McLaughlin.
It’s a really funny production with lots of surprises and some quite twisted humour infused through the drama, which at times, can take your breath away.

I am extremely lucky to be working with such a talented cast and the director Paul McLaughlin has cleverly passed the script through a series of theatrical prisms creating a kaleidoscope of colours, alternate realities, and parallel universes. I’m quite sure the audience will have as much fun witnessing this wicked little show as we do performing it.

Isaac's Eye is on until 15 November in Circa Two. To book, call the Circa box office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz

20 October 2014

The Pitmen Painters: rave reviews, rare chances and radical royalties!

The amazing, true story of The Pitmen Painters is receiving rave reviews ...

“Excellent production of a great play …. A most satisfying evening of theatre” – DomPost

“The Pitmen Painters is serious and funny, insightful and entertaining. A wonderful real life journey which we can all relate to and learn from in our own pursuit of expression … enthralling” – Wotzon.com

The Pitmen Painters at Circa Theatre. Photos by Stephen A'Court.
But it was only a mere chance that led award-winning playwright, Lee Hall, best known for the smash hit Billy Elliot, to discover the story in a second-hand bookstore.

Watch Lee Hall discuss how he came to write the play in this video that was made when The Pitmen Painters was playing in New York. (the interview starts 58 sec in)

The remarkable success of The Pitmen Painters around the world has not only renewed interest in this group of ordinary men who achieved extraordinary things, but the royalties from the use of images of the paintings on stage has enabled the Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, Northumberland, where the original paintings are held, to redevelop the pitmen painters' gallery so that the works can be displayed in all their glory. How fitting!

Don’t miss this marvellous play. It is something special.

The Pitmen Painters at Circa Theatre. Photos by Stephen A'Court.
“A great night’s entertainment”  - DomPost

“This is a production one could see again and again.” – Wanganui Midweek

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

13 October 2014

Isaac's Eye: It's intense, it's beautiful, it's weird and it is funny.

This week on drama on the waterfront, Isaac's Eye actor (he plays Isaac Newton!) and Circa newcomer Andrew Paterson tells us all about his experiences so far working at Circa in this exciting new Lucas Hnath play.

Isaac's Eye cast: (background, left to right) Alex Greig, Todd Rippon, Neenah Dekkers-Reihana, (foreground) Andrew Paterson. Photo by Paul McLaughlin.
Yay, my first job at Circa and my god is it exciting.

I first watched a Circa show when I came down to Wellington for the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Competition finals when I was 17. My teacher took us all out to Circa one night, the show that was on was Uncle Vanya. I knew nothing about Chekhov, it sounded a bit boring to my 17-year-old self.

But after watching it I was a Chekov convert. It was all that my theatre geek classmates and me would talk about for the rest of the trip. The beautiful story, the impressive staging (swing included) and the exciting acting.

Now seven years later I am so eager to be playing on the same stage. And I love that my first show at this long-standing theatre is such an exciting piece as Isaac’s Eye. And on top of that I get to play the great man himself, Isaac Newton.

Andrew Paterson. Photo by Paul McLaughlin.
Through doing research for the show I have found some fun facts about the great Isaac Newton:

1) The apple falling on his head didn’t actually happen. Apparently he was just looking out a window and happened to see an apple fall off a tree, which started him thinking about gravity.

2) He wasn’t expected to survive as a baby. He was born prematurely on Christmas day, and was so small his mother said that he could fit into a quart mug.

3) He tried his hand at alchemy, trying to turn lead into gold and maybe find the elixir of life.

4) He predicted the end of the world would be 2060. He predicted this through his own interpretation of the bible. "This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail."

5) He was a member of parliament but only spoke once to tell someone to close a window.

6) Apparently his dog once set his laboratory on fire destroying 20 years of research.

This has been a wonderful experience working on this piece, and with such lovely and talented group of people. I can't wait for opening night, and the chance to share this awesome story with the Circa audience. It's intense, it's beautiful, it's weird and it is funny.

Come along!

Isaac's Eye opens in Circa Two on 18 October with a $25 Preview on Friday, 17 October and a $25 Matinee on Sunday, 19 October. To book, visit www.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992.

06 October 2014

Improv for Kids: Introducing Your Child to the Arts

This week on drama on the waterfront, find out about the benefits of introducing children to theatre from a young age (and then bring them along to Improv for Kids so they can enjoy those benefits!).

Dramatic Play for Children

Children of all ages love to pretend. As toddlers, they mimic things they see in everyday life. In preschool, they recreate familiar roles and events. By elementary school age, they act out stories, creating original plots, adapting fairy tales or children’s books. As children leave early childhood, they enter a new stage of drama that is a more formal type of play-acting—going on stage to present prepared scripts.

For young children, the theatre arts are best thought of as informal endeavors that extend the natural habits of play and learning. In prekindergarten and elementary classes, children learn the basics of structuring their “pretending” for presentation to an audience. More advanced skills—acting, directing, scene and costume design, playwriting, and stage management—come after elementary school.

In addition to creating theatre in its many forms, children benefit from seeing it. Theatre for young audiences, also known as children’s theatre, is dramatic theatre performed by professionals specifically for an audience of children.

As young children take part in drama, they gain many benefits:
  • Knowledge of and skill in theater arts.
  • Improved literacy skills—reading, writing, and speaking.
  • Development of imagination and aesthetic awareness.
  • Independent and critical thinking and increased ability to solve problems.
  • Social growth and the ability to work with others.
  • A healthy release of emotion.
  • Fun and recreation.
Educational theatre offers parents benefits as well:
  • Time spent with their child in creative moments.
  • Insights into the observations, impressions, interests, fears, and humor that their child reveals.
  • Opportunities to witness their child’s developmental growth.
  • The chance to help their child understand some of life’s dilemmas.

CREDIT: National Endowment for the Arts and http://www.education.com/


For the last school holidays of the year come along to Circa for a show that lets kids get involved in live theatre in a way that only an Improvisor show can. Their suggestions, sound effects, even props and costumes = their show!

Every show is unique – crafted for children who are there, so whether your child is in to fairy pirates or break dancing unicorns; we can make it happen.

This is a show where you can have a giggle alongside your kids, with loads of opportunities to shout out, dance, wriggle and move and be part of the action this is pure, school holiday fun.

AGES: perfect for 4 – 12 years old  / RUNNING TIME: 45 - 55 mins

“Genuine Family Entertainment” - Capital Times

29 Sept – 11 Oct, 11AM
Circa Theatre
BOOKINGS: 04 801 7992 / www.circa.co.nz
TICKETS: $10 (each) / Groups 20+ $8 (each)