Manage Your Expectations

Te Auaha, Tapere Iti, 65 Dixon St, Wellington

27/02/2024 - 02/03/2024

NZ Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Creator/ Performer: Eliza Sanders
Director/ Producer: Charley Sanders

House of Sand

Part dance theatre, part live improvisation, part performative lecture. Manage Your Expectations takes the idea of the ‘trigger warning’ to its absurdist extreme using humour to question how ‘informed’ consent can really be and asking ‘How much do you really want to know?’

Created and performed by multi-award winning maverick of the stage Eliza Sanders, Manage Your Expectations helps us to see the limits of the power to communicate and our failures to say what we mean. Through a unique blend of dance, clown and absurd philosophising, performer and audience engage in a deeply imperfect exchange, musing on the influence of context, identity and personal history.

House of Sand’s signature melding of forms is back! – not quite dance, not quite theatre, but some secret third thing. Manage Your Expectations Is full of vigour and energy with a hint of confrontation and chaos this mind (and body) bending show.

*Content warning*

This show contains nudity and explicit content.

Te Auaha – Tapere Iti

8:00 PM


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Creator/ Performer: Eliza Sanders
Director/ Producer: Charley Sanders
Videographers: Alec Katsourakis, Daneil Nodder, Jack Sullivan
Lighting Designer/ Operator: Deb McGuir
Marekting: Maeve O'Connell

Dance , Contemporary dance , Experimental dance ,

60 Minutes

Very very good indeed

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 28th Feb 2024

This is a must see – a statement not made lightly in response to excellent performance skills, entertainment value and substance. Manage Your Expectations has all these and more.  A solo performance by the intoxicating Eliza Sanders, this is clever, witty, evocative, subversive, immersive, despairing, poignant, personal and universal all together. A simple screen and onstage camera, a brilliant script delivered with an excellent sense of timing and a solo dancer with consummate control of her craft (and the camera) weaves a web that reels the audience in and holds us waiting and watching and totally absorbed.  

Language is the starting point. A rhetorically treated question – “How much do you really want to know?” The language of information, suggestion and conjecture is enthralling. The ‘what’ and the ‘whys’ of theatre, life and love. 
Physicality is wrapped around the words until the voice stops and the body prevails in an intimate exploration of beginnings and endings.  Both run their course and an explosion of joy takes over in a culmination of emotions, a sorting out of confusion and communication that leaves us in a happy place and on our feet in ovation. 

Both the movement and voice of Eliza Sanders allow us the space to consider ourselves. We are permitted to think and encouraged to wonder. All those things that often frustrate me about performance are in safe hands here in her passionate and personal narrative. 
Challenge, context, concept, curiosity,  confusion . . .
Very clever. Very very good indeed. There are a lot of shows on in town but you owe it to yourself to get to this one. Congratulations House of Sand.


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Just dead hands left and one dancing naked body

Review by CHLOE JAQUES 28th Feb 2024

Manage Your Expectations takes the idea of a ‘trigger warning’ to its absurdist extreme using humour to question how ‘informed’ consent can really be and asking ‘how much do you want to know?’. 

House of Sand presents Manage Your Expectations. Created and performed by Eliza Sanders, this hybrid dance, theatre, clowning extraordinaire delivers articulated context in more ways than one. 

Its opening night in Te Auaha’s Tapere Iti Theatre. There’s a camera, a projector and a line of small white hands poking up from the back of the stage. Sanders appears easeful and present. A clowning essential. The camera’s point of view gives the audience another perspective of the space and its performer. A clever tactic used throughout to offer fullness in space. 

Sanders sets the audience up with a plan, dictating the sections of the performance by specifying significant details of what to expect. A strong vocal delivery demands attention in a jokey manner. Sanders plays both in minor and major whilst entertaining precise diction and faultless pace. Weirdly, nothing feels rehearsed. 

Lots of questions. Lots of checking in. There’s a joyful layering of repeated words and phrases. 

“Time, I think, is important”. Sanders prioritises the idea of time in the first section. Initially I thought the text was overindulgent, however, it just put more emphasis on the importance of it and how time exists and evolves. As humans, we’re so quick to talk about doing the thing or talking around the thing, but in terms of actioning the thing, execution could be improved. What even is the thing? I can explain the thing, but I can’t explain how the thing will make you feel. Context is significant. 

Sanders asks “Is this all clear?”. Not really but I’m with them. A metaphor for sure. 

The audience is invited to take authority. If we feel uncomfortable, the opportunity to remove ourselves from the performance experience by leaving or closing our eyes is available. We’re requested to end the show when the show needs to end. Sanders proficiently gives ownership to the audience whilst holding us safely to do so. 

Sanders shares some personal details about the body and what it’s been through, a significantly vulnerable and raw moment. Is it a failure? Maybe a highly successful failure. I wonder how many failures it takes to make a success? 

Themes of repetition of movement vs. pre-corded movement escape. Sanders continues to make sure everyone understands. Again, putting the authority on the audience. At this point, literally everything has meaning. The combination of mixed media, movement and text exist seemingly as one form I cannot name. 

Simple house lights fade to blue hues, shifting the space as required. The camera point of view also moves. SIRI explains how impossible the heart is. SIRI does the talking and Sander’s easeful movement reciprocates the language. I feel a deep sense of loss and hope at the same time. 

A block of clay is collected and placed on a blue tarpaulin plinth whilst the camera catches the side profile. Video memories of children appear on the projector. It’s like moulding the lover. It’s like moulding myself. Perhaps I should start moulding my expectations? 

Sanders reappears on stage presenting flesh, sculpting the clay into a pregnant belly, manipulating the insides to establish a baby with two sweet hands and feet. We sit in silence. It’s aesthetically terrifying. 

It’s like ancestors vs. children. We all exist in each other. Until we don’t? Yes, the past exists presently. Sanders takes the clay figure on a journey through the past. A montage of old evolves with news clippings etched in the background of sound. Is it really that easy? Just dead hands left and one dancing naked body. 

“I will dance in silence for 3 minutes. I don’t know what I will do”. Sanders invites us into a simple improvised game establishing when they want to be seen, don’t want to be seen, or do not mind being seen. The camera is always on, and translating movement onto the projector. 

A beautifully vulnerable dance scene that doesn’t feel like dance, wraps the 45 minute performance. The moral is questioned and Sanders’ strength translates into softness. The recurring puns advance into truth and the silliness in ourselves is obvious. We are so serious. But you will survive. What’s the alternative? Live in the moment and exist as you are. 

Sanders gives the authority back to the audience (but we always had it). Nothing will be endless. The thing lives in you forever. 


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