Ms M

Te Karanga Gallery, Auckland

17/02/2009 - 18/02/2009

Production Details

MaryJane O’Reilly has been performing with her daughter Morgana since…. she was born.
Now it’s official. We thought we’d try it with an audience?

Two solo pieces performed by Mother then Daughter.

MJ (Limbs Dance Company, Tempo Dance Festival) will open with an original solo dance piece titled ‘Witch Bitch‘ inspired by a Phillip Glass and Leonard Cohen track ‘A Sip of Wine’.

Her first solo dance performance since 1988!

Then Morgana (Toa Fraser’s ‘Bare’ ‘A Thousand Apologies’) will perform her one woman show ‘The Height of the Eiffel Tower‘ (later to be shown as part of the Auckland Fringe Festival, at The Basement from the 10th – 13th March 9:30pm, see Fringe programme for details.)

Written by Morgana and directed by Abigail Greenwood!

There will be two shows. At 8pm on the 17th and 18th Feb at
Te Karanga Gallery (aka KFM) above Illicit on K’ Rd.
and…..its only 15 bux at the door! That’s $15 for TWO performers!

This is not only a wonderful creative opportunity for both Mother and Daughter but a fundraiser for Morgana’s OE this year. So, you know, feel free to give some extra Koha on the door, maybe, if you can, that would be great. Think of it as buying Morgana a drink in Paris.

Special thanks for input for ‘Witch Bitch’ to Douglas Wright, Jenny Stevenson, Diego Echenique and Liza Kharoubi.
Special thanks for production assistance and the venue – Mary-Anne Thomson, John Greet, Ramon Narayan.
Special thanks to Dida’s.

‘Witch Bitch’ choreographed by MJ O’Reilly
Music – Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen.
Dur 10:00
Premiere performance 17th Feb 2008 at Te Karanga gallery.

‘The Height of the Eiffel Tower’
Written and performed by Morgana O’Reilly
Under the direction of Abigail Greenwood
Premiere performance 17th Feb 2008 at Te Karanga Gallery.
Dur: 40 mins.

Special thanks to:
Abigail Greenwood
Ruby Sims for FOH
Liz Kirk for tech support
Phil O’Reilly

Witch Bitch
Choreographed & Performed by MJ O'Reilly

The Height of the Eiffel Tower 
Written & performed by Morgana O'Reilly
Directed by Abigail Greenwood

A unique moment in NZ dance and theatre history

Review by Celine Sumic 19th Feb 2009

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No, it’s Morgana’s mother and she’s hot!  At 58 and rising, Mary-Jane O’Reilly’s scope of achievement blazes through my internet search as I grapple with the context of this renowned mover and shaker of NZ dance and the 20 year leap since her last solo performance.  Flesh, bone, dreams become art, Limbs around the world, phoenix for a heart, a Commonwealth achievement, gamble my way, MJ is on stage and ready to play.

Shuffling in, twisted, down cast; arthritic, like a tree grown resisting a strong, directional wind, clamped and clawed she opens…

From balletic flutter to piercing sexual intensity, O’Reilly employs dramatic contrast to scale a gamut of feminine state in her new work of personal fire, Witch Bitch.  The paper boy goes down in flames and the chimerical blue frock up in smoke as MJ reinvents herself a Glassons-clad fury of carnal gravity.

In an era in which expressive sexuality appears reserved for those under 50, MJ joins her colleagues Kilda Northcott and Lyne Pringle (of Fish Net fame) to place her bet upon the table.  In a slow motion staccato of gestural flow and frieze, she exacts her work between the fluid and the solid. 

Petite batterie alternates with jaggedly halting form as Witch Bitch slides between a literal and more abstract interpretation of the haunting, ominous sounds of Cohen and Glass.  Strongly motivated by the music, savagely heated sexuality partners with daisy chain delicacy, a dynamic interspersed with an occasional collapse at the loss of a more innocent day.

Flamenco flourishes and tango swoons colour the second sequence of O’Reilly’s work as she finds freedom in footwear.  Exalted within the tango adorno, traditionally employed to adorn the lady’s own movement and sense of musicality while in a partner dance, MJ marks the floor alone, as if in private conversation with herself about this feminine embellishment unhindered by a leading male…

There is a sense of joy in the articulation of this dance, as the complex balance of centre and abandonment required for the tango ocho (a traditional step originating in tracing the infinite shape of the figure 8 on the floor), brings this work towards its end.  As the music fades, MJ closes her dance in a final frieze, slowly composing herself in an upended offering to the sky.  

As a taster for the upcoming Auckland Fringe Festival, Morgana O’Reilly’s inaugural work The Height of the Eiffel Tower (Varies by 8cm Depending On the Temperature) is arguably one of the most rewarding theatrical experiences on offer this year.

In an article in the February issue of Metro magazine O’Reilly playfully observes with regards the evolution of her characters, "There’s always somebody there.  It’s like, who am I channelling this time?"   Having experienced the Eiffel this could indeed be the case, such is the chameleonic strength with which O’Reilly delivers her work.

Sharing her bewitching eyes with her mother, Morgana contains the story of six people within her one body, employing voice as primary instrument of change.  The physicality of her delivery skilfully supports the tale of middle class dis-ease, ultimately tracing a reflective dawning and gentle escape of protagonist Terri Hulme from what appears to have become an unfulfilling existence as cog in the domestic machine.

O’Reilly’s comic timing and awe inspiring ability to convincingly inhabit her characters is particularly evident in 13 year old Nathan. His awkward, earnestly poetic speech on fish is not only profoundly evocative and very funny, but also unexpectedly moving. 

The way she combines humour and the detail of conversational minutiae, allowing the underlying pathos of her subject to filter through, suggests an exciting future …

A unique moment in NZ dance and theatre history, together Mary-Jane and Morgana O’Reilly make for an unusual double bill of chameleonic brilliance.  They share the art of the face, each in their own way artistically facing off and facing up to issues of (r)age and relationships, past and future. 

One complementing the other in voice and gesture, both works are delivered with courageous intimacy, the reduced scale and elevated aspect of Te Karanga Gallery contributing to this effect and the power of the moment. 

Credits for MJ include thanks to Douglas Wright and Diego Echenique for choreographic support and Mary Ann Thomson and KFM for the performance space.  Morgana’s acknowledgements include her father Phil O’Reilly for his voice and humour, the Silo, the Basement and the patience and guidance of the director for this work, Abigail Greenwood.  


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