BAXTER IN THE DARK, Te Rongo o Te Wairua

Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

21/09/2012 - 21/09/2012

Hamilton Fringe 2012

Production Details

This show will have the audience experience something quizzical, on the edge and different. Theatre in the absolute dark with some of Hamilton’s poets, musicians and performers will be a first for Hamilton, and possibly a world first according to director Dwayne Henshilwood.

The audience will follow the human journey through James K  Baxter’s poetry, interspersed with music and performance from some of Hamilton’s most accomplished artists. There will also be food offered echoing the movement of ‘dark restaurants’ springing up, around the world. These restaurants were the initial inspiration for the show. J K Baxter, one of New Zealand’s cultural treasures provides a medium and further inspiration for a truly Kiwi lens on this multi-sensory experience.

Through generous sponsorship this event will be free of charge, but there will be limited seats and it is a one off show, Dwayne suggests the audience turn up early to ensure a seat.

Courtesy of talented local artists this ambitious project aims to showcase brilliance and share an extraordinary experience in true ‘Fringe Festival’ style. 

Friday 21st Sept 6pm 

Eye-opening rawness in the dark

Review by Liza Kire 22nd Sep 2012

Baxter in the Dark is not just a performance; it is an experience that is sure to satisfy every sense that you have. Just make sure you don’t eat the wasabi peas.

Normally when you arrive to the Meteor Theatre in Hamilton you are able to see where you’re walking but this time, the atmosphere is very different.

James K Baxter was one of New Zealand’s most beloved poets and for just over an hour you get to experience sitting in complete darkness and listening to an assorted collection of his work.

Going to see Baxter in the Dark is exactly as it sounds. It’s not often that we get to experience a performance based on all of your senses except sight.

Tables are set up in a blackened out theatre with dimly lit candles as your guide. In a line, people shuffle through the doors and slowly creep into unfamiliar territory. Then the candles go out and darkness creeps in.

Not having your sense of sight is such an incredible feeling and really forces you to use your imagination and to trust what you can hear and even smell. 

We hear someone blowing on a conch shell then a voice that begins to say a karakia. The voice of a small child starts to speak with an eerie tone to it; the unlit room starts to feel a little unsettling. 

Out of nowhere we hear singing. Just one voice. A female. She’s singing a Maori song and it too has a haunting sound.

Music and food are also a part of the experience. There is something magical about being immersed in darkness and listening to a piano playing ‘La Vie en Rose’. Hearing Debbie Nisbet playing that piece makes me forget that I am in a room full of strangers and I start to imagine myself dancing my first wedding dance.

The blue sound of a saxophone is lingering in the air while we take the risk of eating food we can’t see. I am definitely glad that they don’t serve anything outlandish and are kind enough to pre-warn the audience about the presence of wasabi peas.

Eating in the dark is surprising in more ways than one. I’m happy to come across chocolate and something fudgy. Then a carrot stick follows, then banana chips and mandarin segments.

I try to avoid the peas by refusing to eat anything that feels tiny and yet I still manage to get one in my mouth. Not too pleased by the taste residing on my tongue I hear a beautiful voice singing against the soft strum of a guitar. It’s like Norah Jones has come to serenade me.

I can tell the voice is from someone young but not being able to see makes it hard for me to make sense with my senses. Even so, she sounds beautiful, almost not real. Every pitch is perfect like a lullaby that I never want to forget.

The most appealing part about experiencing theatre in the dark is that you get to hear the rawness of each spoken word and every note played by every instrument.

Baxter in the dark is an experience that will ‘open your eyes’ to a new style of performance.


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