The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

From the mind of Wellington based artist Rose Kirkup, the recipient of the 2016 Fringe Festivals’ NZ Pacific Artist Residency award, comes I Am Tasha Fierce. We’re introduced to Kirkup’s alter ego Tasha: your typical Kiwi chick.  Her time at polytech, as well as following the teachings of Beyoncé, has helped her get out of small town NZ i.e. the Hutt. But what happens when a fandom becomes an obsession? Tasha’s need to live every moment of her life with the fierceness of Queen Bey causes some issues…

The performance on Thursday 30 March is Ladies Night – a Winter Woollie drive in association with Te Whare Taki Wahine refuge based in Porirua/Kapiti. Bring along winter woollies for the wāhine and tamariki of  Te Whare Taki Wahine refuge, then  be treated to a wonderful performance of I am Tasha Fierce,  as well as going in the draw to win fabulous spot prizes from Wellington Apothecary, Libertine Blends, Tiamana Brewery, and artist Xoe Hall. “Knitwear, socks, gloves are a real comfort in the cold, dreary days and nights of winter, especially for those women and their children in our safe houses” says Caroline Herewini from Whare Tiaki Wāhine. Performer and writer Rose Kirkup says “I wanted to create a work that looks at how we as women as support and encourage our differences. To ultimately run the world, I feel that this can be reflected in the work as well as how we engage with vulnerable communities.


Photo credit – Priscilla Northe. Striped trees productions.

Dido and Aeneas: Recomposed is a fringe fest style opera brought to BATS by UnstuckOpera.  Directed by long time Wellington creative Frances Moore and re-composed by one of NZ’s leading young composers, Alex Taylor, their re-work of Henry Purcell’s classic includes samples from Stravinsky, Jazz Greats, and even Beyoncé and is performed by singers in over-the-top gowns, crazy make-up and Chuck Taylor sneakers. The people behind the show answered a few questions by email.

Tell me about the people who’re working on this project.

  • Toi Whakaari graduate Frances Moore founded UnstuckOpera and directs this show. She’s a classically trained soprano, a Lexus Song Quest finalists and a Fulbright Scholar. She’s also very fond of gin and has a completely non-ironic love of Taylor Swift.
  • Composer Alex Taylor is an Arts Foundation New Generation Artist and a winner of the SOUNZ Contemporary Award, New Zealand’s most prestigious composition prize. His works have performed in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, America and Europe, and by groups such as the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He also sings the role of Sorceress in the show in a mean falsetto and looks great in a red corset.
  •  Soprano Amy Jansen sings the role of Dido. She’s from Queenstown via Christchurch and has a Masters of Music from Auckland University. Amy has been a jazz singer and a band manager and finds running the kingdom of Carthage a breeze by comparison.
  • Rhys Hingston sings Aeneas and Second Witch. By night, he performs with various opera companies, endeavours, and a cappella chamber choirs; by day, he moonlights for an innovative local ticketing company. And fights crime.
  • Tamsyn Matchett sings the role of Belinda and First Witch. She has degrees in classical voice, runs her own opera company, DJs and directs opera too. Frances makes sure she never walks down stairs in front of Tamsyn.
  • Barbara Paterson sings Second Woman and Third Witch but plays backup to no one. This New Yorker has performed at the Lincoln Centre and the Kennedy Centre and has performed in the USA, France and New Zealand. She’s a terrific mum to her wee boy Isaac, too.


How did this project come about?

Dido and Aeneas: Recomposed began as the final project for Frances Moore’s Master of Theatre Arts degree at Toi Whakaari and Victoria University. It premiered in a sold-out season at Te Uru Gallery in Auckland’s Titirangi and sold out again in a second run at the  Basement Theatre in 2016. NZ Herald reviewer William Dart called it an “extraordinary musical and theatrical adventure.”


Why this opera?

This opera is about the deliciousness of falling in love, the devastation of losing love, and the beautiful intimacy found in strong female friendships. It also examines the question of fate, and how much agency we have. Themes you find in any pop song or work of great literature. It’s relevant, powerful, stuff.

Sometimes opera, as a form, comes with its own set of pre-conceived ideas – that it’s about big voices, grand spaces and fancy costumes. We wanted to disrupt this sense of scale, and celebrate the intimate, visceral power of the human voice by getting up close and personal with our audiences. In this promenade performance, the singers are often singing right next to audience members as we all move through different spaces. This intimacy and vulnerability creates something pretty moving and powerful.”

This is an everyday kind of story; girl meets boy, they fall in love, he bails on her because the gods tell him to and she throws herself on a burning pyre and dies. We’ve all been there. So this show is for everyone and anyone.

If you’ve never seen opera before, this is the perfect playful introduction. It’s cheap, it’s an hour long, it’s all in English and in promenade, so we’ll take you over every inch of BATS Theatre. There is some seriously good singing and the score samples Stravinsky and Beyonce as well as Henry Purcell and our own Alex Taylor.

If you’re already an opera fan, come and see a completely different take on a classic text.


What do you hope the audience is thinking after the show?

 “Bloody hell! No one should do that with a feather boa!” We also hope they’re thinking, “Can’t wait to see what this company does next”.


Is there anything else you want to say?

Love’s a bitch… Book your tickets at



I often look at awkward, self-conscious teens and want to tell them that life is going to be OK. Those years of experiencing things for the first time can strike you down with a plethora of feelings from ecstasy to misery.

The First Time’ explores all of those feelings as five talented women take to the stage in a ‘counsellor’s couch’ style performance to tell their stories.

As the spotlight beams down on the actresses one by one, their stories and characters develop. I was pleasantly surprised they avoided clichés that I expected from a show about teens experiencing their first times – no periods or penises were mentioned.

Instead, ‘The First Time’ tells us of experiences that aren’t often discussed such as exploring one’s sexuality, being physically abused, race and class, and the unfamiliarity of first love. These stories are scattered among some more familiar ones about peer pressure and the stresses of work, study, friendships and daily life.

The characters are complicated, flawed and loveable; making ‘The First Time’ an entertaining and insightful production directed by Neenah Dekkers-Reihana and performed by promising new talent.

I can’t not mention the inclusion of Lorde’s ‘Liability’ on entry, and ‘Green Light’ on exit. So fitting as the stories take us through turmoil to triumph. Nice one.

On now at BATS Theatre – 16th – 25th March
Get your tickets ASAP

Director: Neenah Dekkers-Reihana
Writer: Courtney Rose Brown – won ‘Highly Commended’ from Playmarket’s Playwrights b425 Competition in 2016 for the script.
Cast: Iris Henderson, Trae Te Wiki, Cassandra Sutherland, Ingrid Saker and Courtney Rose Brown.


Dank Presents is a series of experimental comedy shows created by Wellington comedians and producers. Hosted by Fringe Bar this Fringe, every show is different. I saw The National Average, based on an award winning routine in BATS Theatre’s Late Night Knife Fight. Jonny Potts and Matt Powell are brothers Cosmo and Carl, left a whisky/whiskey bar and a pianist by their late parents. There were a couple of ask-fors but otherwise it was unscripted. The audience were invited to contribute an opinion to the Hat Full of Opinions and this was regularly and hilariously employed throughout the show. Potts and Powell are both experienced performers with complementary performance styles. They used one of my favourite improvisation techniques – an idea is used then keeps resurfacing in different forms.  Everything seemed to be logical and it wasn’t until afterwards that I remembered it was all made up as they mixed everything together (mostly) seamlessly. Musician Amand was stuck at the back of the stage. He had a good presence with appropriate music and the occasional level stare at the audience. An excellent fun evening out.

There are two more Dank Comedy shows this Fringe.

Tonight! A Comedy Show With Good Comedians In It: a one-of-a-kind show featuring some of Wellington’s hottest comedic talent – and it’s back with a bangin’ brand new line up, including the international sensation – Sameena Zehra!

Tomorrow! Dank 18! Winner of the Wellington Comedy Awards Best Show in 2016. The legacy continues, showcasing up and coming New Zealand Comedy Talent, the show focuses on variety, creativity and originality, being host to some of New Zealand greatest young (and old) comedic minds.


Start your weekend right my friends, give them a go.



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