The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

The Harmonic Tree is a new artwork / musical instrument resembling an exotic plant, with steel strings, percussive fruit and berries. Beneath the surface it houses an array of audio effects processors, all adjustable by tending to twigs, branches and other parts of the tree, enabling an operator to create electroacoustic soundscapes. The Harmonic Tree was designed and co-built by Lōemis Festival’s Andrew Laking, who is thrilled the tree will get a new life after the Festival was cancelled due to COVID-19. Andrew says “While it was originally intended for a botanical themed Lōemis Festival celebrating the winter solstice, thanks to the support of Wellington City Council’s Public Art Fund, Creative New Zealand and Toi Whakaari the Harmonic Tree will now be a free standalone event to enjoy in the beauty of the gardens.”

Aside from the electrical components, some tape and a few screws, The Harmonic Tree was built entirely out of discarded materials. Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School Set & Props students have helped create the new musical artwork that will be installed and played by live musicians at the Wellington Botanical Gardens.

Francis Gallop Head of Department for Toi Whakaari Set & Props says he is excited about the real world experience and application this event provides for students. “This event is a welcome addition to our growing engagement with a diverse range of creative organisations and practitioners. The Harmonic Tree has grown with the help of many hands including our second year Set & Props students Monique Tongue, Aimée Storm, Luke Scott, Jared Lewis, Stephanie Quennell, Mika Turnbull, and Harriet Trubshaw. This year we’ve also had the opportunity to help create for Lōemis, in and out of lockdown, a huge solstice fire effigy, an array of woodland fairy folk, fabulous celebratory banners and a shadow play machine, which will be resurrected for Lōemis 2021. A big thank you to Andy Laking and Lōemis Festival whānau for all the great mahi they have shared with us”, says Francis.

Artists will be performing on the instrument daily 10.30am – 11.30am and 12.30pm – 1.30pm.

For full schedule and information, please visit loemis.nz/harmonic-tree

  • The Harmonic Tree, Wellington Botanical Gardens, 29 September to 11 October 2020

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Every year improvisers gather in Wellington to celebrate the New Zealand Improv Festival (NZIF), but this year improvisors from overseas have been COVID-19-blocked. Festival director Jennifer O’Sullivan says, “We have built the festival on a platform of collaboration and connection, reaching nationally and internationally and bringing together amazing talent and perspectives. Of course, the current situation has thrown a lot of our international work out the window, at least for this year – but instead we’ve got this wonderful opportunity to really explore and celebrate what’s happening in our city; to highlight the people and companies making work year round and pushing the art form into new exciting places. I’m so proud of the programme we’ve gathered.

Returning to its roots with a Close to Home programme, the 2020 NZIF features seventeen shows by Wellington’s most innovative improvisers. The smaller, more intimate festival will give Wellingtonians a great chance to be a part of the thriving local improvisation community. With a diverse programme covering multiple cultures, genres and forms of improv – the 2020 NZIF will be a short and sharp showcase that captures the spirit and aroha of Wellington theatre. From a darkly gothic romp, to environmentalist storytelling, to a musical within a musical, the 2020 Festival celebrates the diverse work created by our local artists and the loves, laughs, tears and tantrums we’ve all felt this year. 

The festival is not just focussing on strictly improv-based performances and is also delving further into wider theatrical styles. “We wanted to not only include the purely improv performers in Wellington, but also bring in work and creators who use the framework of improv and spontaneity to support more traditional theatre and performance,” O’Sullivan says, “It’s so valuable to see how our work overlaps and how we can learn from each other’s processes. 

If you’re new to improv try the opening showcase Here’s a Thing and then book one of the other shows via the BATS Theatre website. More information about each show on the Festival website. 

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Preview: The Glitter Garden

by librarykris on September 22, 2020 in Theatre

The Glitter Garden is a drag musical extravaganza for kids featuring dazzling outfits and fierce lip syncing. Join Hugo the Gardener on Pride Parade as he attempts to embrace self-care, personal growth and planter boxes, all with the help of his glittering garden friends.

Created by TVNZ’s ‘House of Drag’ winner Hugo Grrrl (George Fowler) and acclaimed stage director Dr. Lori Leigh, this children’s theatre show aims to educate, empower and entertain young people through the art of drag. Leigh and Fowler are frequent collaborators. In 2020 their production of Princess Boy Wonder received four NZ Fringe Festival awards nominations including “Best in Fringe” and won two awards: “The Grand Design Award” and “Melbourne Tour-Ready Award. Fowler says “I made this show because everybody loves sparkles. And because if I had seen this show as a kid it might have changed my life.” 

The Glitter Garden stars Hugo Grrrl, Eva Goodnight, The Everchanging Boy, Robin YaBlind and features an original score by Maxwell Apse.

All tickets are $15 and you can buy a Pay it Forward voucher for families and teens not usually able to attend theatre.

Glow forth and spread a little sunshine today!

  • The Glitter Garden on at Circa Theatre 30 September – 10 October 2020; relaxed performance 11 am Tuesday 6 October 2020; suitable for all ages and aimed at children aged 3 – 8 years

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Review: PLAY

by Emma Maguire on September 5, 2020 in Theatre

It’s strange to be back in a place like BATS during times like these, but I’m very pleased I went along to see PLAY, a gay dating dramedy here from Auckland.

It’s a play within a play, of a sort – the first twenty minutes or so being a form of a drawing-room comedy, then the show takes an abrupt dip into realism (of a sort), exploring the life of the writer writing said comedy.

The performances are excellent, and the show is very well directed. The actors capture the space, making their three-person show feel a lot larger than life, and it’s incredibly funny.

The first portion of the play is set in modern-day city life, but the performers speak as though they’re within an Austen novel, which leads to many excellent quips, and quite a lot of euphemisms for one’s… shall we say… johnson? I was crying with laughter, let me tell you.

The second part of the show is a lot closer to home, a world that one could easily walk past on any of Wellington’s streets. Rich (Alex Walker) is writing a play about a married man who cheats on his husband with a waiter. All things feel perhaps a smidge too close to home as he’s torn between Dan (Zak Enayat), an artist, and Nick (Liam Coleman) a realtor, both of whom he definitely cares for, but he can’t quite settle for either.

PLAY is an interesting fossicking around of polyamory, open relationships, love and commitment. Though the ending was perhaps a little telegraphed and didn’t quite feel satisfactory, I had a lovely time. Support shows like this, they’re worth it.

PLAY is on at BATS Theatre in Wellington until the 12th of September. There are limited seats available for two of the performances, so get in quick! 

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