23 February 2015

"Grab a wine, grab a seat, and make sure you see Yep, Still Got It!"

This week on drama on the waterfront, co-writer Sandy Brewer talks about working with Jane Keller on Yep, Still Got It!

Sandy Brewer.
There is nothing quite as self-affirming as being able to look at yourself in the mirror and say Yep, Still Got It! So after her last 3 one woman shows, Jane Keller has demonstrated that she has still got it!

Jane and I have been friends for years and have always enjoyed each other’s company and sense of humour.  Jane is a wonderful performer so when she started talking about her next one woman show, her fourth, and said she would like me to co-write it with her I was thrilled.

Our production meetings in the early stages were always at our favourite restaurant with plenty of good food and liquid refreshments. My husband at one stage said, “this show is costing a fortune and you haven’t even started writing it yet!”  Well, good things take time and we were ensuring we were feeling suitably creative!

Jane and I discussed many ideas, topics, situations, issues, and acknowledged that we have all had embarrassing moments in our lives, felt heartache, and wondered what next. In the early phases of Yep, Still Got It! we workshopped themes that face women of all ages, like, cosmetic surgery, shapewear, and the costs to maintain ourselves in a world of creams, Botox and serums. 

Sandy Brewer and Jane Keller.
There were so many possibilities. We loved the idea of celebrating the fact that as we are aging the conventions of what is and isn’t age appropriate, or what is expected of us at a certain age, no longer apply. Sixty is the new forty so they say and there is no need to have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
In Yep, Still Got It! Jane is approaching retirement age and has started asking those questions about what next. Being the vivacious person she is she is not likely to slip on her flannels and curl up on the couch. No, Jane has plenty of options to explore. What about an encore career, or a little life coaching?  The possibilities are endless and the resulting stories and songs in Yep, Still Got It, will ensure more than a few belly laughs.

Regardless of what age you are currently, Yep, Still Got It! will appeal. I am a few years behind Jane so have enjoyed the fact that the show confirms once and for all that age is just a number and attitude is everything. Jane has plenty of attitude and it's infectious!

Jan Keller, Alan Palmer and Michael Nicholas Williams in rehearsal for Yep, Still Got It!
Working with Michael Nicholas Williams and Alan Palmer has been a treat, with rehearsals filled with laughter, music, creativity, and blushing, but that’s a whole other story….. If you have been to any of Jane’s previous shows you know to expect some risqué (but not filthy) moments!

So, grab a wine, grab a seat, and make sure you see Yep, Still Got It!

- Sandy Brewer  - co-writer of YEP, STILL GOT IT!

 Yep, Still Got It! opens in Circa Two on 28 February and runs until 21 March. To book, please visit www.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box office on 801-7992.

17 February 2015

Wake Up Tomorrow: Chicken’s off the menu

This year as audiences embark on the journey of a lifetime with Wake Up Tomorrow, chicken or fish won’t be served. Chicken’s cut because the youth no longer want to play poultry, instead they’re guns blazing, more confident than ever before.

Julie Sarros & Jasmine Waetford
During the team’s newest workshopping session’s different personal experiences were brought out. For Jasmine Waetford, one of her most fearful moments in life was her first solo journey getting from Lower Hutt to the city.

This year Jasmine’s already overcome so much, moving into her first flat and deciding that she wanted to keep living in Wellington by herself. Her mum’s moved up north but Jas couldn’t bear the thought of losing her friends…or not being in Wake Up Tomorrow. Jasmine was new to ACTIVE in last year’s version of the show and so had a smaller part, this time around she’s been involved in crafting a whole lot of new characters.

Janiece Pollock & Catherine McBride
Janiece Pollock shared her experience of standing up at school to do her speech and just freezing. She’s now so confident in the devised script she’s been supporting others when they stumble. She was adamant after the last version of Wake Up Tomorrow she would no longer play a chicken. She’s proven herself so much to the team that the story’s now shaped around her character.

Tess Francis & Duncan Armstrong
ACTIVE Airlines is calling all remaining passengers to board the airplane and buckle in for this surreal long-haul flight spectacular that is WAKE UP TOMORROW.  21-28th February.

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

09 February 2015

Behind-the-scenes of The Demolition of the Century: a producer’s perspective

Show Pony's Adrianne Roberts tells drama on the waterfront how she came to be involved with The Demolition of the Century.

Duncan Sarkies, Adrianne Roberts and Joe Blossom on opening night of The Demolition of the Century at Circa.
I first came to know of this little* book Duncan was writing back in 2012, when my husband read one of the first manuscripts to provide feedback. A few months later the book was published and I devoured it in two days. It was a story that entirely captivated me and the end was one of those satisfying twists that a reader revels in (don’t worry, we don’t give it away in the show!).

Hearing there was to be a staged version of the book, I was intrigued. I’d seen Duncan’s readings before, but what stands this show out from the other readings is the hypnotic live score by Joe Blossom. It makes the show transcend from a staged reading to providing a rich theatrical landscape for the audience to imagine the world of Duncan’s characters. Joe and Duncan also have a great chemistry onstage, and the moments where they sing, dance and interact with each other are beautiful. After the show I approached the boys and offered my help if ever they needed it, here we are with Show Pony proudly producing this Circa season!

I’ve produced plenty of theatre, but have never really delved into music or spoken word. I think it’s a great credit to Circa Theatre for programming a piece that is outside its usual gamut, and it’s been amazing to see the different types of people coming through the doors. Music lovers, bookworms, movie fans have all come along and had their love for live performance satisfied by our show. So far we’ve received online feedback from audiences saying  “like nothing I’ve seen before”, “couldn’t believe how fast it went, was so enthralled by stories unfolding, highs and lows in good balance” and “amazing and witty character vignettes interspersed with beautiful music”. With another two weeks of performances to go, I am looking forward to hearing what more Wellingtonians think of our little Demolition.

*book may actually not be little, but it is available for purchase after the show for $30, as well as Joe Blossoms’ vinyl Nocturnes for $20

To book for The Demolition of the Century, visit www.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992.

02 February 2015

Seed: "it’s entertaining, pure and simple"

Playwright Elisabeth Easther shares her thoughts about how Seed came about and what it’s like watching her writing performed on stage.

Elisabeth Easther.
I started Seed as a novel; a couple of years ago I’d had a couple of miscarriages and the next thing I knew I was on the merry go round of ‘trying’ to conceive, and some of it was actually funny, some of it made me cringe and some of it made me cry. And all around me my friends were in various stages of wanting babies, feeling they should have babies but not wanting them, becoming pregnant when they were trying not to be… it was all around me, and so the idea of the multi-narrative came to me. Seed started as four characters having a chapter each and then I realised about half way through that it was a play, that I wanted to see it and hear it on stage because it was mainly people talking. At the start there was probably an element of catharsis to the writing, but after a while, when it became a script, I just focused on the characters and their lives as it all got further and further from my own experiences.

Watching a play you’ve written being performed is strange, but to see a production done so well, I just feel chuffed, especially when my work looks better than I imagined it would because of the combined efforts of everyone on stage and off. In fact, this production of Seed makes me look pretty flash and it absolutely exceeded my expectations, which were pretty high. I’d have thought I’d have felt more shy about it, but it’s the second production and there have also been a few readings so I feel I watch it more as a pure audience member now than as the writer blushing in the back row. It really is the most brilliant production. When I got back to Auckland and people asked how it went, I’d blather about how proud I was. And I love the process too of handing a script over - I’m not too possessive about what stays and what goes although it’s fun to talk things through when I’m required. I really like it too, that all these people I’ve made up can engender debate in the rehearsal room and in the foyer after the show.

Elisabeth and her son Theo.
Another motivating factor in making it a play was creating meaty roles for women over 30… there are so few roles for women that actually have teeth, and plays with four roles of this nature. I do feel a little proud to have provided women with strong parts to play.

And it’s entertaining, pure and simple. It’s funny, silly at times but still with a very serious emotional core. And for those people who’ve been through some element of this breeding circus, it’s good to see these stories on stage; it provokes thought and discussion. I think partly the theatre is to help us all realise we’re not alone in our experiences. Plus Seed allows us to laugh at a matter that is often either swept under the carpet, or treated with kid gloves in a maudlin way. Which is why Seed had to be funny as well as sad, just like life.

Seed runs until 14 February. To book, visit, www.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992.