The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Review: Onstage Dating

by Steph on April 5, 2017 in Theatre

In the age of ‘swiping right’ and ‘reality’ dating shows, the concept of live onstage dating by far provides more entertainment. Bron Batten so brilliantly proved this on her opening night of Onstage Dating.

In this show, there’s no opportunity to accept or reject based on appearances and no producers or editors deciding on the narrative. It’s just Bron on a stage, dating someone from the audience while the rest of us watch on. That may seem like a major spoiler alert. It’s not because this show brings so many surprises.

There are loads of laughs and you’ll find yourself relating to those cringey first date moments where you’re hyper aware of word choices and behaviour.

Somehow, Bron magically weaves entertainment and philosophy together as the show gets you thinking about the evolution of relationships and connections and how they vary from species to species.

Bron’s date was a fantastic participant. At first he seemed reluctant, but to watch them warm to each other, show their vulnerability and experience real moments of connection, in my mind, makes Bron a genius.

This show is brilliant, now go and see it.

Onstage Dating is on at Bats Theatre from 4-8 April at 8.30pm.

Book your tickets here.

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Shows on this week

by librarykris on April 4, 2017 in opera, Theatre

At BATS Theatre:

Starting this week is an encore season of Onstage Dating by performance artist Bron Batten. Watch as she goes on first dates on stage. (These are actual first dates with a stranger, not with a performing audience plant.) Witness the vulnerability, thrills and heartbreak of the dating experience up close, as Bron Batten facilitates, interrogates, deconstructs and gleefully destroys the rituals of contemporary romance. Everyone I talked to who saw this show in the Fringe Festival raved about it. Don’t miss it.

Photo credit – Priscilla Northe. Striped trees productions.

Dido and Aeneas: Recomposed continues to 13 April. It’s a delightful version of Henry Purcell’s classic opera with a few extra musical samples mixed in. (Including some from Alex Taylor, musical director and performer on the evening.) We get right up close as they take us through the theatre spaces. The measured pace of Baroque music is contrasted with the energy the performers and musicians bring to their performance. Warning: you may need tissues at the end due to the extraordinary vocals from Amy Jansen and the marvellous reactions from Rhys Hingston, Tamsyn Matchett and Barbara Paterson.

 

Improv shows Playshop live and Late Night Knife Fight are on Friday and Saturday respectively.

 

Elsewhere…

Long Cloud Youth Theatre presents Desire Caught by the Tail by Pablo Picasso starting tonight at Whitireia Performing Arts Centre. Picasso wrote the play in 1941 as a response to German forces occupying Paris, and the despair, fear and starvation that followed.  Under the direction of Brett Adam Long Cloud has taken this rarely performed play (often dismissed as impossible to stage, meaningless and incomprehensible) and created a theatrical experience that aims to be chaotic, beautiful, humorous and prophetic.
Taking their personal feelings about their place in the world and their hopes for the future as their starting point the fourteen members (aged from fifteen to twenty two) of the Long Cloud ensemble have created a wild and bracing piece of theatre that ultimately offers us all hope in dark and overwhelming times. They have discovered in Picasso’s text a cautionary tale about power, distrust, ambition, and of course, desire.

 

Circa Theatre has the final week of Escaped Alone by Caryl Churchill directed by Susan Wilson. It stars Carmel McGlone, Jane Waddell, Irene Wood, and Ginette McDonald as three old friends and a neighbour. A summer of afternoons in the backyard garden, drinking tea and chatting, lots of gossip, lots of idle chit chat, casual conversation becomes a pool of radiance defiant of the terrible darkness outside. They’ve added an extra matinee show.

The Beatgirls’ 21st: All Grown Up featuring Andrea Sanders, Kali Kopae and Carolyn McLaughlin celebrate 21 years of great costumes, sassy choreography, and humour with a selection of audience favourites.

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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.

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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 bats.co.nz

 

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