29 April 2015

Kathleen Burns in A Servant to Two Masters

This week in *drama on the waterfront, Kathleen Burns answers questions about playing Beatrice in A Servant to Two Masters, which opens at Circa on Saturday 2 May.

Kathleen Burns
Q. You are based in Christchurch and I believe this is the second Circa Theatre production you have been cast in?

KB: That's right. Last year I came to Circa for the first time to play Jill in Mother Goose. I was introduced to the madness that is the Circa Summer Pantomime, and also the delightful madness that is Gavin Rutherford and Simon Leary! They are two of the funniest actors I've ever worked with, and their work in rehearsals for A Servant to Two Masters has me in stitches every day.

Q. Did you know the Goldoni play before you were cast?
KB: Yes! Or rather, I knew a different modern adaptation of it. In January this year I finished a season of One Man Two Guvnors at The Court Theatre. This was Richard Bean's adaptation, set in Brighton in 1963. The character I played was Rachel Crabbe, and I'm playing the equivalent character here at Circa, who in this version is called Beatrice.

Q.What appealed to you when you first read this adaptation of A Servant to Two Masters?

KB: There were two main pull factors to come back to Wellington for this show.

One: As I mentioned, I'd just come off a season of One Man Two Guvnors. What would it be like to play the same character in this 200 year old story but through somebody else's lens? Would I play the character in the same way? As it turns out, the answer to that one is "no." My voice and physicality for Beatrice in this version is completely different to Rachel! And I adore that. Two characters who look, sound and move differently, who live in totally different worlds, but who at their hearts just want the same thing and are essentially living the same story.

Two: The second reason is that I blatantly just wanted to come and get up to comedic mischief with Gavin Rutherford and Simon Leary again. Those two are truly alchemists when it comes to making comedy gold, and if I can bask a little in the gleam of it then I am one happy actress.

Kathleen with Simon Leary, who plays Truffaldino in A Servant to Two Masters
Q. You are playing a character called Beatrice who is disguised as a young man. Has that brought certain challenges?
KB: I think it's fun. I've always enjoyed gender bending shenanigans! Everyone should have a go at it. When I'm playing another gender, it actually starts to illuminate to me the things I assume my own gender identity to be. When adopting a manly voice in my lower register, I feel stronger and more powerful. Does this mean that I equate masculinity with power? If so, does that mean I equate femininity with weakness! I would certainly hope not, but maybe I make assumptions subconsciously. I could talk gender politics for hours... Somebody stop me!

Kathleen's role includes physical comedy and sword fighting.
Q.  Last year was very busy and successful for you. What were some of the highlights

KB: I'm going to pick 3 highlights:
  • Playing Linda in Blood Brothers. Such a beautiful musical and a gift of a role.
  • Doing The Court Theatre's opening night of White Rabbit Red Rabbit. If you haven't heard of this show, then you are missing out! It's just one actor, but a different actor every night. There is no rehearsal, you just walk out on stage and are handed the script in an envelope. The actor discovers the play at the same time the audience does and it is one hell of a ride!
  • Continuing to be a part of Scared Scriptless. This is a late night improvised comedy show which I've been doing for more than a decade now with The Court Jesters. I love this work. Sharp, dangerous, hilarious improvised comedy at its best. We were also the second highest selling New Zealand works of 2014 which I'm very proud of.                           
Q. A favourite role you have played? 

KB: Today I'm going to say playing Grace in Duncan Sarkies' Saving Grace at The Court Theatre in 2010. I got to hit a lot of stuff with a hammer, including Jon Pheloung. Fun!

Q. And one that is an ambition to play?

KB: One day... one sweet day... I would love to play Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Sometimes I practice A Little Priest in my bedroom, shower or car just so I'm ready when the magical moment happens...

A Servant to Two Masters opens on Saturday, 2 May 2015, and runs until 30 May.  Tickets are on sale now:  www.circa.co.nz or call the Box Office on 04 801 7992.

21 April 2015

Why you need Don Juan in your life

This week on *drama on the waterfront, a taster teaser (with zeir sexy accents) from the actors taking part in Don Juan.

The five actors are gearing up to bring you the ultimate experience in titivation and titillation with their take on the legend of Don Juan! The character of Don Juan, the infamous, legendary, fictional libertine, was first written down by Tirso de Molina (aka Gabriel Tellez) around 1630.  Since then he has been written about by no less than Moliere, Byron, and Mozart - most famously in the opera Don Giovanni.

And now New Zealand gets its own première of a brand new work about the legend by the award-winning theatre company A Slightly Isolated Dog.  Don Juan has been played by Johnny Depp, and was apparently a source of fascination for Jane Austen:  "I have seen nobody on the stage who has been a more interesting Character than that compound of Cruelty and Lust".

But don't take her word for it, or even mine.  Listen to the actors themselves tell you why you need Don Juan in your life...

The Cast of the Circa Theatre 2015 season of Don Juan are:
LILY - Susie Berry
JULIE - Andrew Paterson
MAURICE - Maaka Pohatu
PHILIPPE - Jonothan Price
CHARLOTTE - Comfrey Sanders

13 April 2015

beautiful, funny and poignant

This week on *drama on the waterfront, it's your last chance to see Two Mortals at Circa.


With less than one week left of Two Mortals Circa season, would-be-audiences had better seize the day and book their tickets now!

Described by Wellington audiences as  ‘beautiful, funny and poignant’, Two Mortals has delighted through its ability to ‘transport me to somewhere very reflective and powerful’.

Rachael & Mike perform in Two Mortals

Performers Mike McEvoy and Rachael Dyson-McGregor, both members of Melbourne’s Playback Theatre Company, have won hearts here in Wellington, being lauded as ‘excellent performers’, ‘able to be so open and present’, who ‘really took care of us as the audience to engage with such a heavy topic’.

Yet in spite of the weighty subject matter, the show’s been credited with dealing to it using ‘light humorous touches’, ‘playful, child-like game’ and a ‘high level of energy and joy’.

With reports of Two Mortals audiences leaving the theatre carrying balloons and dancing out into the night, it would seem this joy is infectious. ‘There is a great deal of stimulating life in this play about death’, Wellingtonians had best book now for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Two Mortals is on Tuesday-Saturday this week, 7.30pm in Circa Two.

07 April 2015

Reflections from week one of The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Drood, Glorious Drood!

This week on *drama on the waterfront, we hear reflections from week one of The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Just over a week ago The Mystery of Edwin Drood thundered out of the gate at Circa, with a bold and boisterous opening night event that served up a feast of madness, mystery, murder and music to the more than 200 people who joined the cast and crew to send Drood off to the races in style.
Fabulous....Brilliant...Awesome...Amazing...You should see it more than once!
By now, nearly 1500 of you have been welcomed to the Music Hall Royale to meet the incredible suspects, watch for clues and red herrings and decide for yourselves who the Dickens did the deed!
Highly recommended that all lovers of Dickens go see this show.

It’s been wonderfully exciting to see the different possible endings emerge (with some hilariously improbable pairings already proving popular! Most of all, it’s been humbling and gratifying to hear how much fun you’re all having
Stunning in every way and rollicking good fun!

As those of you who’ve seen it will know, The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a massive and spectacular undertaking, needing truckloads of energy, wit, speed, passion…..and people to share it with! We’re still  firing on all cylinders and there are heaps of endings still to be seen, so it’s just as well we’ve got another three weeks to bring you a larger-than-life experience at The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Everyone should go and see this as quickly as they can; it is HILARIOUS!
All photos taken by Tabitha Arthur, with quotes from the audience of this season of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

01 April 2015

Meat Puppets

This week on *drama on the waterfront, we popped in on the Two Mortals team during pack-in to ask why the performers are wearing headphones and what makes dying so much fun…

Director Geoff Pinfield, composer Beatrice Lewis, and performers Mike McEvoy and Rachael Dyson-McGregor.

Q.  Why do you wear headphones in the show?

Rachael: Two Mortals is made up of a series of interviews collated over two years, which have been edited together to make a thematic story.  We’re using a form called ‘headphone verbatim’, which means the original audio from the interviews is being played into the performers ear.  As the performers, we’re using this to replicate the character’s vocal print- breath, inflection, tone, the way they might smack their lips together or pause mid-sentence. It’s about how they said what they said, not just their words.

Mike: That’s why Geoff (Pinfield, director) jokingly refers to us as meat puppets, because we don’t need to learn our lines, we just regurgitate them.

Q.  It’s not all talk, though, is it?

Rachael: No! What would a show about death be without a stage death? Before the show, we chat to a couple of audience members and their responses are quickly edited into the show. One of the things we ask them is, ‘what would be a fun way to die?’, and then Mike has to replicate that death during the show.

Mike: People have had some pretty interesting ideas so far! My favourites have been dying from eating too much cheese, a plane crash with champagne in first class during a flight home from a romantic New York holiday, and meeting my death while riding a magical beast.

Mike McEvoy and Rachael Dyson-McGregor on stage in Two Mortals.

Q.  Although this will be Two Mortals first New Zealand season, you’ve had two previous Australian seasons. You’ve described the show as having an uplifting effect on audiences, motivating them to seize the day and tackle their bucket lists. How has working on Two Mortals affected your own lives?

Mike: There was a moment early on in making the show when Rachael and I started making lists of what we’d do if we only had one minute to live, or one hour, or one day. It was a lot of travel, sky diving, a bit of streaking, some manifesto writing…

Rachael: Massive parties for everyone we knew, and I thought I’d like to go into the desert and do a drag show…

Geoff (from somewhere above us on a ladder): I’ve done that one.

Rachael & Mike: Have you??

(It transpires Geoff is talking about rigging a light, and while he has done a drag show, it was not in the desert.)

Rachael: All of our interviews are with people who have a day-to-day relationship with death, and what I’ve realised is that these people tell great stories, they’re vibrant, they’re aware of their own lives as impermanent things and wanting to fill them. Their proximity to death has made them more alive.  Death is a beautiful stage of life that we don’t talk about, and then we fear it because we don’t talk about it. If we take these baby steps to include it more in our lives, it’ll actually make our lives richer.

Mike:  Definitely, facing death makes us live better. I’ve found myself being far more honest.

Geoff (still from above): I’ve cycled more dangerously.

Rachael: I’ve worried less about status and career, those things that you realise, in the end, won’t matter.

Mike: And I don’t want to miss out on doing things. Like that diving board out there in the harbour, if I was to leave Wellington without jumping off it, I’d be disappointed. In fact, if Two Mortals sells out at least one night of our season, I promise I’ll jump off the Wellington harbour diving board!

If you’d like to see Mike make good on his promise, make sure to book now for Two Mortals at Circa Theatre.  Theatre Beating, the company that brought you award-winning shows The Magic Chicken, Real Fake White Dirt and On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover have a new, near-death experience for Wellington audiences with their critically-acclaimed show, Two Mortals, opening this Wednesday, 1 April, at Circa Theatre.