21 October 2015

Jack Buchanan in Ache

Pip Hall’s Ache opens in Circa Two this weekend. This week on drama* on the waterfront, Debbie Fish talks to actor Jack Buchanan, about his roles in Ache and his love life…

Jack Buchanan (with Renee Lyons in the background) in rehearsal for Ache.
 Q:  Who do you play in Ache?

In Ache I play a number of characters – the foodie, who runs a pop-up restaurant out of his house, I play the cop, the architect, the doctor, and the groom.

Q:  Seeing as Ache focuses a lot on dating and relationships, can you tell us your current relationship status?

In its simplest form: horribly alone! But it’s alright, I’m OK with it. ‘Single’, let’s go with ‘single’.

Q: And are you feeling optimistic, given that statistics about the man drought?

Well I’m feeling a mixture of optimistic, and also "what the f*ck is wrong with me?"  Now that I know there are something like 50,000 more single women than men in New Zealand, or something crazy, I’ve clearly been doing a really bad job if I haven’t found any of them. But technically isn’t the man drought between 25-40? See I’m not 25 yet, so that must be the problem. As soon as I hit 25 I’m sure I’ll have 50,000 women at my door. The problem will be solved.

Jack Buchanan and Amy Usherwood in rehearsal for Ache.
Q: Any stories you’d like to share about dating or relationships?

I’ve only been in two what I would call "serious" relationships. I was in a relationship from the time I was 16 until I was 20. And when I was 20 we broke up, and I kind of realised I didn’t know how to be single. I think when you’re around 18 is when most people figure that out and I missed that. And it was really terrifying and I didn’t know what to do. I think when you’re in a relationship and you’re young, there’s this thing like "if I were single I’m sure people would be all over me, it’d be so easy and I’d be so good at that" and then you become single and that’s just not true.

Q:  Why should people come see Ache?

The reason I like watching it is because Ricky [Dey] and RenĂ©e [Lyons] are really, really charming and watching them together is great. I think the play lives or dies on the chemistry of those two characters, and fortunately Ricky and Renee are not just two really great actors, which they are, but they’re two people who make each other laugh a lot. And I think that has really bled into the play in a really nice way. And then of course there’s the ‘we’re all single and alone’ and this is about that. It’s nice not to feel alone in being alone.

Jack Buchanan and Richard Dey in rehearsal for Ache.
Ache runs from 24 October to 21 November in Circa Two. To book, visit, www.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box Office on 04 801 7992.

12 October 2015

Adventures in Pianoland

This week on drama* on the waterfront, we talk to the "irresistible" Jan Preston about her upcoming show Adventures in Pianoland.  Jan joins us at Circa for one weekend only!  Tickets are selling fast - book now to avoid missing this musical tour de force.

Jan Preston, star of Adventures in Pianoland.
Q:  This new show is an autobiography. What prompted you to write it at this stage of your life?

I’ve been including elements of my autobiography in various performances over the past few years, and it seemed the right time to write and present this show. I talked to Gaylene [Preston; Jan's sister and Director of Adventures in Pianoland] about the idea and she was extremely enthusiastic, although it took a while to find the gap in both our schedules.  I’m extremely excited to finally be premiering the show in Wellington.
Gaylene & Jan Preston
Q:  You trained as a classical pianist but now you are known as a boogie player. How did that transition happen?

It has been a very circuitous route, from studying classical, to playing in Jack Body’s Sonic Circus, to writing theatre music for Red Mole and onto rock songs with Coup D’Etat, before eventually finding my style as a boogie piano player and songwriter. All this is revealed in Adventures in Pianoland!
Gaylene & Jan Preston
Q:  This is the first time your sister Gaylene has directed you although I believe you have composed music for her movies. Has this brought new dynamics to your relationship as sisters? 

We have always been very close, but we tend to keep our personal life separate from our working one. We definitely have a special dynamic when we work together, and I think Gaylene has been directing me, one way or another, since I could walk and talk.
Gaylene Preston, who directs her sister Jan in Adventures in Pianoland.
Q:  Although you frequently come to NZ you are based in Australia. What took you there in the first place?

I originally went to Sydney to get a record contract in 1980, as that was the city many NZ rock musicians (eg Sharon O’Neill, Jenny Morris) were relocating to at that time.

Q:  You are remembered for your band Coup D’Etat  and work with Red Mole. They must have been exciting times?

They were wild times, it was the 1970s and early '80s when the entertainment world was not as regulated as it is now, so collaborations were freer and more chaotic. I include stories and slides about Red Mole and Coup D’Etat in the show.
Jan Preston when she was performing with Coup D'Etat
Q:  This is the premiere season of Adventures in Pianoland and certainly a departure for you with the combination of music and dialogue. Have you enjoyed the challenge it has presented to you?

In my concerts I always like to chat to the audience quite a bit anyway, so it feels quite natural to me to include dialogue.

Q:  Finally – if you were marooned on a desert Island and could take only 3 pieces of music with you, what would you choose?

The most important thing would be to have a piano on the island, so long as I could play I’d be OK, I care more about that than the actual music I would be playing.  If pushed, however, I would take my favourite boogie woogie, The Honky Tonk Train Blues by Meade Lux Lewis, plus some Chopin and maybe a piece of Winifred Atwell Ragtime.
Jan Preston
Adventures is Pianoland is on for three days only!  Thursday 15 - Sat 17 October.
Book now:  www.circa.co.nz or 04 801 7992

05 October 2015

Approaching Janet Frame

This week on drama* on the waterfront, we hear from Harriet Prebble, who plays the role of iconic New Zealand author Janet Frame in Gifted.

Harriet Prebble
The initial hurdle of approaching the role of Janet Frame as an actor was tackling the juxtaposition between mythology and reality. Gifted is told entirely from the point of view of Frank Sargeson, who also serves as the play’s narrator.  Through his eyes we see snapshots of memory: Janet at her highest, her lowest, her most magical, her most inaccessible, her most human, all filtered through Frank’s cycling emotions of curiosity, confusion, jealousy, fear, and admiration.

We are, by necessity, somewhat removed from Janet’s intellectual and emotional inner world, as she wanders in and out of Frank’s recollections.  Finding the internal truth and conviction of the character that underlies the external mysticism is just the sort of challenge I got into acting for.
Harriet Prebble as Janet Frame in the Circa season of Gifted.
There’s a wonderful scene in the play where Frank accuses Janet of “eavesdropping”. Growing up in a writing household, I learnt very quickly that writers border on omniscience: they see all; they hear all. Any anecdote, any colourful character, any turn of phrase is ripe for the plucking.  I love this exploration of the watchfulness of writers, and Janet in particular. Even if they’re shy (or, in fact, especially so) or socially removed and even if they appear to be disinterested or distracted, they’re still taking everything in – wordless exchanges, silly jokes, and even silences – whether as material for their next novel or just pure intrinsic fascination with people and the language they use.

Language is a focal point of the play, and it’s great to be able to take the audience through the fun of words. Wordplay, puns, etymology, patterns, poetry, innuendo – it’s a real chance to delight in something that we so often default to using purely as a tool. I’ve always had a fascination with language (I studied foreign languages at the University of Canterbury and went on to complete a publishing diploma in Wellington) and this play absolutely revels in it at all levels, from lofty literary allusions to Dead Souls right down to the humble fart joke.

This is my first time tip-toeing the boards of Circa, and I’m very proud to present this beautiful tale of our literary history to the audiences of Wellington, the cultural capital of New Zealand.

Gifted opens at Circa Theatre on 10 October, and runs until 31 October.
BOOK NOW:  04 801 7992 or www.circa.co.nz