September 17, 2010

FISHHEAD – Wellington’s magazine  
FishHead 4 is out September 20th – available only in print

The theatre column is entitled: 
Making a play for enduring significance
Developments in the theatre game

In a recent invitation to the Wellington theatre community to discuss the future of theatre, Downstage CEO Hilary Beaton observed, “In 1953 Waiting for Godot opened to universal derision. Today it is considered by some to be ‘the most significant English language play of the 20th century’. What changed? The play didn’t. But the audience did.”

Certainly when the celebrated English production featuring Sir Ian (Gandalf) McKellan played the St James, back in July, thousands flocked to see it. Doubtless many did so because their favourite Tolkienian wizard was in it but, once there, I suspect most will have found it engaging because …. 

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Below are teasers and links to back issue articles, now on line.  
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Whither the playwright?
So you’ve written a play – who wants to know? | By John Smythe

To be a playwright in New Zealand – in Wellington especially – is to be a masochist who gets off not so much on rejection, but on having your plays completely ignored. 

It’s not that there’s a lack of talent around. Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters draws ten post-graduates a year into its MA in Scriptwriting stream, and you don’t get a seat in that waka without proving you’re already adept as a dramatist. Many start early in life and grow to see it as their vocation. 

Theabundance of homegrown plays and playwrights is illustrated by this year’s tourby Wellington-based EnsembleImpact.It’s touring A Baker’s Dozen – a55-minute compilation of 13 New Zealand play extracts – in high schools countrywide. [More

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Achieving distinction on the world stage 
During the International Arts Festival, who were we? | By John Smythe

Creative excellence and strong production values made the homegrown theatre productions a high point of the recent New Zealand International Arts Festival. In retrospect, however, I am intrigued by the ‘cultural identities’ of the productions.

Of the 14 festival shows I saw, seven were original New Zealand works. Five had premiered and toured elsewhere, and were included under the ‘Restage’ initiative. Given that all the international shows had also ‘been around’, this new policy levels the playing field for local productions. Two were world premieres. Every festival has a key role to play as ‘midwife’/co-producer, and being present at the birth of a brand new show is a special privilege. [More]

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All the world’s a stage  
Capitalising on the performing arts in Wellington | By John Smythe

Wellington kicked off its theatre seasons way ahead of other cities this year. Bats opened five shows in January and Circa three (a continuing season, then a revival in Circa One and a new production in Circa two). Downstage got cracking on 4 February with a Long Cloud Youth Theatre show, and Bats slipped in a couple more before the official 12 February start of the Fringe.

While the annual Fringe Festival is over, the biennial New Zealand International Arts Festival is drawing to a close and generating reviews – on – of some 82 performing arts productions staged in Wellington. We’re not called ‘the Creative Capital’ for nothing. [More]

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