June 5, 2008

BATS takes a STAB at Sustainability 

BATS Theatre is pretty darn excited to announce the STAB 2008 Commissions, both of which go to the extremes of exploration, push the boundaries of theatre, and are doing their bit to reduce, reuse, recycle and help kick the Carbon habit.

Heat, by Lynda Chanwai-Earle is a triangle of sorts between a Man, a Woman and a Penguin. In what is a first for NZ theatre, and echoing the restrictions of survival in the Antarctic, Heat will be powered fully off-grid, from sustainable, low drain and renewable energy. Think wind turbines, LED actor-operated lights, and laptop screens.

2007-8 is also the first International Polar Year for 50 years, so once again scientists, policy makers and governments are focussing on the precious and fragile qualities of the polar worlds. Heat brings together this scientific thought with those unique human qualities we all have.

Heat is directed by the award winning David O’Donnell, scored by recent Antarctic Fellow Gareth Farr, and designed by multiple Chapman Tripp award-winner Martyn Roberts.

Apollo 13 puts the audience firmly in charge, with BATS Theatre transformed into the Houston control room of 1970, where "Failure is not an option". Trapped 200,000 miles away from earth, three astronauts fight for their lives and the elite staff of America’s Space Agency are desperately trying to find ways to bring their crippled ship home. The slightest error will condemn these men to die in the vast emptiness of space.

Led by Wellington actor Jason Whyte as flight director Gene Kranz, audience members will become those vital staff of mission control, joining in a mission to bring the doomed astronauts home. Designer Brad Knewstubb is using as many recycled materials as possible within the set, sourcing materials from salvagers across the Wellington region for the consoles each audience member will interact with.

Apollo 13 brings together a veritable boys club of talent, including director Kip Chapman; producer Mark Westerby; film maker Steve Ballentyne; and soundtrack by James Milne, who is currently touring Europe with Fiest as his alter-ego Lawrence Arabia.

In an interesting twist, Apollo 13 designer Brad Knewstubb won a 2007 Red Dot International Design award for his collapsible micro wind turbine design to provide power to polar and alpine adventurers, something the Heat team is very keen to use!

BATS Programme Manager Steph Walker is thrilled to see these works come to the BATS stage with financial assistance from Creative New Zealand. "So often you see screeds of set go to waste after a Theatre production, so the fact that these pioneering shows are doing their bit for the environment is just as exciting as the creative risks they are taking in the shows, which won them the STAB commission in the first place".

Apollo 13 will complete their mission with performances on at 8pm Saturday 18th October to Saturday 1st November, with Heat transporting the audience to Antarctica at 7.30pm Friday 7th November to Saturday 22nd November.

Editors notes:
STAB originated in 1995 from BATS Theatre’s desire to initiate a commission that allowed theatre artists to experiment in a supportive environment. The STAB commission is an essential part of the BATS annual programme and can be accessed by all performance media: dance, theatre, opera, music, film, magic and interactive media. STAB has grown over the years to have a solid framework and process. The total commissioning amount for 2008 is $60,000.

The aim of STAB is:

  • To secure and provide a significant level of funding (the commission) to support the creation of innovative, pioneering performance work.
  • To commission new New Zealand performance work.
  • To support this work from inception through a production process to presentation.
  • To present 1-3 productions in the STAB season annually.
  • To promote BATS as host to the most innovative theatre in New Zealand, with its finger on the creative pulse of the performing arts.
  • To support a national community of pioneering artists who strive to push boundaries in their performance work.
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