Galatos, Auckland

09/03/2007 - 12/03/2007

Auckland Festival 2007

Production Details

HEAD was Commissioned for BATS Theatre and STAB 2005
CREATED by Nightsong Productions, Chris Jannides and Theatre Stampede

SET DESIGN by John Verryt,
MUSIC composed by John Gibson,
PRODUCED by Michelle Lafferty

I give you ‘HEAD’
A Theatrical Illusion of Extreme Scale
Original, revolutionary and luminous

Created by acclaimed Auckland artists Carl Bland, Peta Rutter, Chris Jannides and Ben Crowder, HEAD stunned Wellington audiences when it took home a coveted Chapman Tripp Theatre Award winning The Allied Domecq Wines Award for Most Original Production in its premiere season at BATS Theatre in 2005.

Award winning designer John Verryt has created a huge beautifully crafted 4 metre 3-dimensional HEAD to take centre stage and transform in front of a live audience as a film of a giant talking face is projected onto the massive sculpture. Our leading character HEAD is now set to bring this strange little tale to life.

A giant head is stuck on stage. He cannot move or fit through the door; he cannot exit.  The situation is totally absurd; the predicament is extremely humorous; the journey is surreal, with a miraculous end. Head never doubts how hugely important to the world he is; he doesn’t realise he’s a ‘no body’.  The illusion of Head is funny, and sometimes very sad, combining vaudeville with high technology to take the audience on a beautiful and comedic ride as the question is explored: Who the hell is that voice inside my Head?

“…funny and always stimulating while testing the boundaries of theatre”
– Dominion Post October 2005

HEAD‘s creators all have a strong background in performance with extensive experience in film, television and theatre. Carl Bland, (Savage Hearts /King Lear – Theatre at Large, The Pickle King- Indian Ink), Peta Rutter (Forbidden Memories /Inland – Douglas Wright, Flare Up and Human Garden – Shona McCullugh, Cyrano -Theatre at Large), Chris Jannides (seen in Michael Parmenter’s 2005 retrospective Commotion, founding member of Limbs Dance Company, Head of Dance – Unitec); are members of Nightsong Productions whose shows include The Bed Show, The House of Doors and Camels and Sofa Stories. Their work is characterised by original scripts that explore big issues in anarchically funny ways. Ben Crowder (Harry & Peter, Macbeth, Shortland Street) is the director of Theatre Stampede (Blossom, The Young Baron). Best known for his skills in devising theatre, his work is distinguishable by its exuberance, adventure and characters which explore the beauty in the grotesque.  Ben has recently directed Bad Jelly the Witch for the Silo Theatre.

Eagerly anticipated by both audiences and artists HEAD is planning to tour nationally and internationally following its presentation at the Auckland Festival, AK07.

HEAD was Commissioned for BATS Theatre and STAB 2005
CREATED by Nightsong Productions, Chris Jannides and Theatre Stampede. PERFORMED by Carl Bland, Peta Rutter, Ben Crowder and Scott Cotter. SET DESIGN by John Verryt, VIDEO & LIGHTING DESIGN by Brad Gledhill, MUSIC composed by John Gibson, PRODUCED by Michelle Lafferty

Venue:  Galatos
  Fri 9 Mar – Mon 12 Mar
Tickets: $28 – $35
Times:  8.30pm, Sat 10 Mar 10pm
Bookings (09) 970 9700 or www.ticketmaster.co.nz

PERFORMED by Carl Bland, Peta Rutter, Ben Crowder and Scott Cotter.

Theatre ,

Getting HEAD: a subjective experience

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 10th Mar 2007

Ah yes. Head. Visually, and in terms of innovation, this impressive 4 metre high 3D polystyrene beast with a stream of consciousness voice, deserves the accolades and attention given to it after its debut season in Wellington.

In terms of physical construction, Head is imposing yet mesmerising. Similarly, the concept of caging this lone being in an intimate space, and unleashing his rant on an audience, is as unique as it is confronting.

Creators Nightsong Productions, Chris Jannides and Theatre Stampede dive deep into "Theatre of the Absurd" to give us the broadest of themes to consider from their surreal offering, rather than being bound by the usual theatre conventions of character-based story-telling and the subsequent development of a plot.

On the up side, this allows total freedom of expression, setting and delivery, and means this extraordinary evening with Head will represent many things to many people. On the down side, some may find the content confusing and contradictory. Then again, that could be the perfect description of much of the grey matter in our heads.

So. All I can give you is what Head gave to me.

Head’s pre set lighting state of "bars and tone" dissolves into a countdown to his random flow of thought, during which he bounces round dark and violent places, and gives us irreverent ponderings on all manner of stuff, including (for me, anyway) sacrifice, give and take, life and death, sickness, sadness, stigmata and being alone.

From this, Head leaves me thinking about the abundance of self-importance and selfishness embedded in our psyche, and how magnified it becomes through leadership and control. Abuse and disregard of friendships and loyalties, rejection of perspectives from perceived lesser mortals, are often a consequence of leading a life governed by the soulless notion that you are the centre of the universe.

Flowing from that, Head’s actions remind me how often our centre of consciousness can criticise and put others down, so that we feel better about ourselves.

However, in amongst it all, Head confesses his love of bird calls, indicating to me that within everyone, compassion for your fellow man, is there, even if it appears buried in narcissism.

Head’s technical designers, John Verryt (set) and Brad Gledhill (video and lighting), give the experience outstanding, dynamic visual appeal, which consistently supports their co-collaborator’s efforts, without which, the evening could fall flat at times, due to the unstructured nature of the journey, the pace of which lags towards the end.

Composer John Gibson also complements well, in particular through his beautiful collection of bird-song.

Four committed Performers visit Head on stage at various times.

In her loveable gorilla suit, Peta Rutter’s physicality and timing, is humourous, as she provides comic relief here and there. Scott Cotter’s "headless man" begins as the perfect antithesis to Head, obeying his every command with grace and necessary deference, before he spells out his frustration and resignation.

While Carl Bland and Ben Crowder are fully energized when they appear as Doctors in stereo, at times they are hard to hear. Speaking as one can be so messy if not executed with exactness. However, Bland’s performance as the voice and face of Head is exquisite.


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