GO SOLO 2014 Group A

Te Whaea - SEEyD Space, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

01/10/2014 - 11/10/2014

Production Details

Grab your chance to see the next generation of performers from Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School in action as the fifteen final year Acting students strut their stuff.

Go Solo is the annual showcase of new work – monologues – all devised, written, directed, designed and performed by the third year students, with production support by the second year Technical and Management students. It’s an absolute highlight for all involved.

‘We all get to show what we can do,’ says production manager and Bachelor of Performing Arts Management student, Nicole Arrow. ‘Plus it gives everyone a really rich and memorable experience. Audiences will find it quite bold, I think.’ 

The 2014 Go Solo season runs from 1-11 October. Audiences can choose between the four groups of performances, or to see them all back-to-back on ‘Marathon Saturday’.

Group A:  Johanna Cosgrove, Heremia Tuiloma, Vanessa Kumar, Taylor Barrett


The time has come… for the stage to be taken…

After a critically acclaimed sold out world tour, hailing from the vodka fuelled depths of Eastern Europe, we welcome one of the world’s most celebrated, most powerful and most fiercely hilarious personalities… SASCHA.

“WONDROUS. A complete tour-de-force” – The Daily Telegraph ★★★★★
“Vodka! Amour! Vodka!” – The Parisien ★★★★★
“It’s me, bitches.” – Sascha ★★★★★

Heremia Tuiloma: Tena Koutou Katoa 

Tena koutou katoa.

Movement is what keeps me going through good times and bad. Words only go so far, te tinana takes over and expresses what needs to be said. At the end of the day I feel what I need to say.

It’s a release.

Vanessa Kumar: Dear Jonathan 

Dear Jonathan,
You are cordially invited to the auspicious occasion of the joining of two hearts, Joshua and Talalelei.

Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.

Please don’t separate me and Jonofan.

– Theresa

Taylor Barrett: Unbroken 

“No matter what, always look sharp and be humble, when you speak, speak clearly and always use your manners darling – there’s nothing wrong with a touch of class.” A wise woman once told me that. What does it mean to BE an actor? What is acting? Who do you listen to? How far is too far?  What’s your style? What are your strengths, weaknesses? Craft skills? What makes you, you? “Rules were made to be broken, as actors are athletes.”

These are the quotes and questions that generated my solo experiment. I dedicate this piece of work to every artist out there balancing a 9 to 5 job in between auditioning/applying for work they love! Hurrraaahhh! Keep grinding! Also I dedicate it to my family, friends, classmates, teachers and directors. This work is for you.

Go Solo 2014

Where: SEEyD Space, Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown

When: Wednesday 1st – Saturday 11th of October (no show Sunday). See the website for times.

Price:  $50 Season ticket (all four groups),$15 (full), $10 (concessions & Toi Whakaari graduates), $5 (student standby/school group, if available).

Book: www.toiwhakaari.ac.nz or phone (04) 381 9250 

1hr 20mins (no interval)

Impressive devising and characterisation, and some startling originality

Review by Lena Fransham 02nd Oct 2014

Go Solo’s first group of shows – ‘Group A’ – is a set of four twenty minute pieces presented end-to-end in the Spartan ‘SEEyD’ performance space at Te Whaea. Third-year students Taylor Barrett, Vanessa Kumar, Heremia Tuiloma and Johanna Cosgrove reveal impressive talents for devising and characterisation, and some startling originality.

Taylor Barrett’s earnest boy from Bluff bombards an audition panel (the audience) with his repertoire of ‘serious actor’ tricks: a boxer, a cowboy, a weird sea mammal – his increasingly absurd bids to prove his potential show a balance of humour and insight.

The provincial kid whose naivety is cast into sharp relief by the crazy heights of his ambition – shades of Flight of the Conchords – but originally rendered and sharp with pathos. The piece also works as a neat little showcase for Barrett’s diversity as an actor. 

As Vanessa Kumar’s wedding scene is established, it is at first a little tricky to distinguish the characters at the wedding reception of Joshua and Talalelei. However, a diverse array of guests soon emerges: a series of illuminating tributes to the bride and groom are given by gorgeously bumbling fathers (the father of the groom’s ‘condom-ents’ speech is suitably squirm-inducing – poor Joshua) and stroppy best friends from high school, and the illusion of a crowd is cleverly sketched with the help of audience interaction.

Characters and relationships are succinctly and sharply rendered in a short time. The dorky Theresa’s anguish behind the scenes adds a poignantly funny counterpoint to the jubilance of the wedding.

Kumar is effortlessly comic. She is quick to bond intimately with her audience and many of her affectionate, fun-poking portraits of guests are so recognisably human that the entire reception comes vividly to life. This is a real standout.

Heremia Tuiloma’s piece is the most daringly original of the group. Tuiloma’s drama is almost entirely physical; something between mime and dance, seasoned with a few words that help to underline character and relationship. He never stops moving, sinuously slipping between personae/scenes. This requires a shift in expectations, an adjustment of the usual way in which I might assimilate the performance; I pay acute attention to every taut gesture and become attuned to the language of a body. His constant movement evokes a sense of consciousness itself as a moving entity in and between people.

The sparse use of voice in the morning household scene makes each word weigh more. Something is happening; a sense of something wrong in the speaker’s strange, mid-sentence falling motions. The culmination of the piece in what appears to be a tangi – ‘Moe mai, moe mai ra’ – offers a tantalising suggestion of a deeper story. But it is difficult to define with certainty; a sense of narrative is only hinted at through a series of stirring impressions, and the sense of distinct characters is something I grasp for.

I am left somewhat frustrated by the sense of only just beginning to see the story emerge. I think the potential power in this work would be released with a little more verbal suggestion, for instance, or a few other cues to help the audience enter further into the physical language.

Johanna Cosgrove, the final performer of the group, channels a brassy Polish diva, Sascha, whose ego is matched only by the size of her false eyelashes with green glitter on them. The piece diverges from the others in the group in its absence of any illustrative narrative or conflict. It seems to me very difficult to solidify a character without this scaffolding; Sascha’s vitality draws on audience interaction and affirmation alone, courting our complicity in the establishment of her fabulously crass, narcissistic persona.

“Turn on your phone,” she orders, then protests, “Don’t take a photo! Don’t take a photo!” as if fending off paparazzi while posing photogenically at the same time, then demanding “Take a photo!” Sascha has engaging comic value as a piss-take on celebrity narcissism and Cosgrove’s capacity for improvisation is impressive. But I think twenty minutes is too long to sustain a character of such limited depth, as it is easy for this kind of material to stray into cliché territory.


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