I Didn't Invite You Here to Lecture Me
13/10/2022 - 13/10/2022
08/02/2023 - 10/02/2023
Amy Mansfield - Writer/Producer
Nick Dunbar - Director
Mika Austin - Performer
I Didn’t Invite You Here to Lecture Me
Dates: Wed 8, 9, 10 February, 7.00pm at Little Andromeda in Christchurch
In this verbatim comedy set in a lecture theatre, writer Amy Mansfield, director Nick Dunbar and performer Mika Austin take you back to university for a quick-fire education, word for word.
Seven years of verbatim quotes from 7,000 pages of university notes are gleefully stitched together in this solo show following eight characters across multiple subjects. From linguistics to education to law and policy, this merciless examination of lecturers and back-row bandits is guaranteed to get you a degree in 55 minutes.
The show premiered in seven living rooms and a bookshop in Auckland, and toured to Melbourne direct from a sold-out season at Auckland’s Basement Theatre. It has since been staged at The University of Auckland Business School, the prestigious Northern Club, and the Dunedin Arts Festival.
Audience response – Auckland and Melbourne
“Totally brilliant! Thought-provoking, outrageously funny, brilliantly acted and written.”
“Hilarious… an hour-long PTSD trigger with fellow [uni] survivors.”
“I laughed so hard my ribs hurt.”
“Go and wait at the door and beg to get in… It is the best piece of theatre I’ve seen for a long time.”
– Audience members, Auckland Fringe and Basement Theatre seasons
“I loved the slyness of it and how it gradually opened up to enfold us into its exploration of complex ideas of language and translation, of acts and activism, of thought and deed. I loved its deconstruction of the slipperiness of the word. I loved the mercurial nature of the performance, especially later as the characters’ edges started to blur. I loved the simple scenography, and the delightful mix of playfulness and erudition.”
– Melbourne Fringe audience member (a lecturer)
Critical response – Auckland
“Unmatched. …the phenomenal Mika Austin delivers an hour of the finest character work, comedic turns, and soul-destroying truths one could hope to see.” Theatrescenes
“Intelligently written and brilliantly executed, nowhere else will you see Shakespeare sidle up against policy and education” NZ Entertainment Podcast
“A superb performance with talented and flawless delivery… [Mika Austin’s] masterful acting talents are only further demonstrated, by the very timely improvisation” mac+mae
Mika Austin - Performer
Amy Mansfield - Operator
Comedy , Solo , Theatre ,
At once thoughtful, funny and absorbing, the compilation and performance are a theatrical treat.
Review by Lindsay Clark 10th Feb 2023
Little Andromeda has steadily added sparkle to the theatrical life of Christchurch. Part of its charm is the intimacy of a small space. Although lacking capacity for the razzle dazzle of larger venues, the theatre does compensate with easy involvement and a seemingly permanent festival atmosphere.
The current production, written by Amy Mansfield AND directed by Nick Dunbar, is a good example of the lively and off beat material we have come to expect here. Strung together from hundreds of verbatim notes, the play romps through brief clips of lectures from eight university subjects, in a recurring, sometimes dizzying, succession. It is playful, gently mocking and always engrossing as eight lecturer roles, all performed by Mika Austin, point up the funny side of their intense approach.
Taking verbatim snippets out of context can be a tricky business but here, melded into a new whole, highlighting the delicious absurdity of over-heated fervour, the effect is good theatre. Astutely observed mannerisms and preoccupations of the eight lecturers flip deftly from one to the next, building to an entertaining and insightful whole. The audience loves its student role, probably much more than the original recipients.
‘Lecturing’ in the ponderous territory of law, Shakespeare’s purposeful ambiguity, Anglo-Irish literature, choral music, linguistics, German, strategic policy and education, a wonderfully nimble and polished Mika Austin makes light work of a testing challenge. Vocally and physically she allows never a moment of dead stage nor a flicker of uncertainty in the characterisations in layer on layer of presentations. At once thoughtful, funny and absorbing, the compilation and performance are a theatrical treat.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
The magic here is the nostalgia
Review by Kate Timms-Dean 21st Oct 2022
It’s been a bad day at the office. the kind of day that demands a stiff drink and an early night. So, as I enter the auditorium tonight, my headspace is cluttered, my heart is at home with a glass of vino, and my brain is still at my computer, fingering through a task list that never seems to end. Physically, I am here, but mentally and emotionally, I’m in another dimension. This not a good way to start an evening of theatre.
As we take out seats, I look around the auditorium, and feel a wave of nostalgia – many years ago, I remember sitting in this same room as a student, taking notes and soaking in the wisdom of my elders and betters. Now, thirty years later, many of those old minds have passed, whether to retirement or to the grave. Over those years, I have traversed the landscape from student to lecturer; I have stood on both sides of the lectern in this room. As the day starts to slide away from me, I slip into the memories of countless classes, lecture theatres, and the people who shaped in that journey, from student to teacher, from young woman to the person I am today.
Once again, I have arrived at a show of which I know little about. The programme is my saviour, and I savour it. A few words pop out that give me some context to tonight’s repast:
“… this verbatim comedy set in a lecture theatre… [takes] you back to university for a quick-fire education, word for word.”
Verbatim theatre is a form of documentary theatre that uses the real words of real people as the script. In this case, the words come from 7,000 pages of lecture notes taken over seven years. I have my own stack of notes at home, sitting quiet in their foolscap boxes, resplendent with marginal doodlings and scribbled secret notes.
Mika Austin commands the stage as she enters the room, channelling the first of several characters. The magic here is the nostalgia each evokes, harking back to those lecture hall days. They are all there, these teachers from our past. Mika’s mahi flows from one character to the next, filling them out into full three dimensions, as she pivots and turns from one to the other. Her characterisation flips and bounces from one to the next with the athleticism of an acrobat. It’s hard work, with some characters only appearing for an instant before another takes their place. Mika is up to the task, each one clearly defined.
The choice of venue is a masterstroke: life and art overlap, building and enhancing the experience. The true-life location of a lecture theatre and an audience full of bona fide academics brings another layer. More hilarious that Mika herself and her crafted delivery are the reactions of the lecturers in the audience as they recognise themselves.
As I leave, I realise there is a spring in my step. Looks like the best medicine for a hard day at the office was a bunch of laughs and a bit of nostalgia. I laugh aloud at the irony that, all these years later, there is still more for me to learn from within the hallowed walls of academia.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer