Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland

09/04/2014 - 12/04/2014

Concert Chamber - Town Hall, THE EDGE, Auckland

02/04/2014 - 06/04/2014

Production Details


A huge collaboration between some of New Zealand most dynamic performers in their field; the stars align from April 2nd, as Massive Company join forces with NZTrio, playwright Gary Henderson and musician Chris O’Connor in the multi-faceted My Bed My Universe, playing Auckland’s Concert Chamber and Mangere Arts Centre. 

Honouring the people, soundscapes and places that make us who we are and shape the worlds we live in, My Bed My Universe is rooted in the rhythms of the everyday riffs of New Zealand. A genre-busting, eye-opening theatrical event that roams the perplexing space between the moments we wake and the moment we return to our beds to sleep, it’s layered with original live music, surprising sonic mixes, melodic vocalisation and beautiful physical theatre. 

Thematically, My Bed My Universe is the most collaboratively ambitious project that Massive Company has chosen to undertake in the 22 years that Artistic Director Sam Scott, MNZM, has worked with emerging and professional artists. 

My Bed My Universe – is about our place in our world, whatever we think that is. This premise evolves to become a dynamic and unique collision of the physical location that anchors us and the definitive roles that we play. Each actor represents one individual or many people – stemming from the ideas and notions Massive gathered through a pool of Q&A’s submitted by not only cast members but those outside of the group. 

“My story is written in laughter and strife,
If you know how to read it you can see my whole life” 

My Bed My Universe’s non-linear structure provides an audience not with a storyline but with a platform that demonstrates cultivated, almost anecdotal works from the collaborators involved in the work, and while Massive may indeed lead audience by the hand to the gate, instead they let the audience members explore what’s on offer for themselves rather than lead them through the process.

If however there is one overarching theme to the work – then that would be the idea of beauty.

The beauty of the raw emotions that the collaborators talk about what is important to them; family, love, children, home and place. The beauty of the NZTrio’s haunting melodies that pick you up and sweep you away, pitted against the movement of the actors and the playfulness of Gary Henderson’s script.

Watching those leaving their comfort zone to engage in something they’ve never done before, such as the NZTrio moving across the floor whilst playing, is intriguing, as their voices are loud and clear. It’s these synapses that take place at the Concert Chamber that create a beautiful, moving experience that defies many conventions of theatre – and, in this case, the idea of traditional formula and structure.

My Bed My Universe seeks to wrap you in the many stories on offer and ask you to simply let go.

This one-of-a-kind theatrical experience doesn’t limit itself on the stage either – as My Bed My Universe will frequent the information superhighway through an exclusive website, featuring webisodes throughout the run up to opening night created in collaboration with the Filth Collective (the force behind music videos by bands such as The Checks). 

My Bed My Universe is another milestone for Massive Company – come enter their galaxy of talent and witness one of the company’s most collaboratively ambitious projects yet! It’s a big bang moment.

Featuring: Dominic Ona-Ariki, Tuyet Nguyen, Max Palamo, Neil Amituanai, Wesley Dowdell, Miriama McDowell, NZTrio (Justine Cormack, Ashley Brown, and Sarah Watkins). 

My Bed My Universe plays:

Concert Chamber, Town Hall, Queen Street, Auckland CBD
2nd – 6th April 2014 7.30pm
Tickets: $20/35 /0800 111 999/ 09 970 9700 

Mangere Arts Centre, Cnr Orly Ave and Bader Drive.
9th -12th April 2014 7:30pm
Tickets: $20/25 / 0800 BUY TIX (289 849) 

Theatre , Musical ,

Bed Bound

Review by James Wenley 04th Apr 2014

With the prospect of NZ Trio, composer Chris O’Connor, graphic artists Cut Collective and playwright Gary Henderson collaborating with Director Sam Scott and her cast on a new Massive Company show, the last thing I expected to come away from My Bed, My Universe was a feeling of underwhelming flatness. 

Its starts beautifully – the 6 member cast tossing and turning on wooden boxes as beds, the music of NZ Trio swelling as lights breaks like the day through the concert chamber. The cast have been awakened – a miracle – and they share that feeling of first consciousness. They share with us their rooms, their beds, talk of angling their beds just right to catch the morning light (and action this too – pushing those boxes around till they find their special spot). Now they are into their morning routines, and suddenly there’s a gaggle of joggers zooming round the stage. It’s classic Massive, the ensemble building a world together. [More


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An evocative, ambitious work, beautifully produced

Review by Vanessa Byrnes 03rd Apr 2014

The title brings to mind Tracey Emin’s work ‘My Bed’, which was famously short-listed in autumn 1999 for the Turner Prize. Whereas Emin challenged visual art form and presented “the remnants of a life through her work of art – a base supporting a mattress, on top of which are rumpled sheets, pillows, panty-hose and a towel; cluttered alongside is an assortment of items from vodka bottles to slippers and underwear, cigarette packs to condoms and contraceptives, Polaroid (self) portraits to a white fluffy toy” – this show uses the bed as a springboard for a wider universe in the clash of known forms of sound, music, dance, text, acting, music and design. To some degree it works beautifully. 

The billing is strong: “A huge collaboration between some of New Zealand’s most dynamic performers in their field; the stars align… as Massive Company joins forces with NZTrio, playwright Gary Henderson and musician Chris O’Connor in the multi-faceted My Bed My Universe.”

The brilliant Gary Henderson and company’s text tracks the universal through the specific; snippets of lives are told through pithy vignettes. I learn afterwards these extracts came from interviews, and they have a verbatim tone to them that lend the piece a local flavour. (I love Henderson’s writing and for that reason could do with more of his touch on the script). 

The bed is the homeland we begin from and return to. “It’s a bloody miracle,” is how the piece starts and ends, and this sense of awe and wonder permeates the nearly 80-minute work.  

Highly physical performances navigate the quotidian details that frame the performance; hanging out washing, making breakfast, doing chores are pathways to larger questions of existence. ‘She was born on Christmas Eve’ pulls us into one character’s impression of having children. (I find myself wanting more of her life.) Another tells of his struggle with anger and racial stereotypes. (Tell me more!)

Big themes are dealt with in sensitive and accessible ways. The universal is still specific, and for me, that’s the way into the heart of this work and these concerns.  

The whole piece has a kind of ‘waking dreamlike state’ to it. Sometimes it’s REM, sometimes light sleep, other times it’s slow-wave sleep we’re in. Rhythm drives the performance, just as it does the tides and cycles of the planet. This facet of tempo is expertly charted by Sam Scott, and her direction is finely realized.  Scott has built a performance language over the years with Massive that relies on gesture as much as text.

Incredibly evocative compositions by the NZTrio are essential to the work, and their involvement is fantastic: wonderful compositions expertly played. I’m not so certain about the AV, which seems like a lesser element. O’Connor’s soundscape is fantastic, though, and fills out the Concert Chamber like a dream.    

The cast of six are diverse and make equally bold choices as they explore the terrain. Wesley Dowdell and Miriama McDowell are standouts for me as they discover meaning in every moment, although the entire cast is generous and detailed in their exploration of the world this theatre work offers.   

Non-linear, poetic observances about everyday life carry huge resonance. These are questions we all ask about the point of existence. At times it’s very ‘physical’ and expertly choreographed; at other times, quite realistic. Amongst this, though, I still long for a more deliberate or intersecting narrative to make sense of the snippets, and the points of strongest connection for me are still the stories. As a caveat, this was opening night; perhaps this will become richer as the season develops.

“I know we run hand in hand,” one character offers at the end, and to some extent I, as an audience member, want to run further with the performers, with more complicity, hand in hand. This could be attributed to the linear narrative dimension that’s missing, and to be fair, the show isn’t billed as that.  

It’s extremely satisfying to see Massive tackle this show in the way they have, in the current funding climate. Hats off to them, and the work they continue to produce: multi-cultural, multi-disciplined, expertly choreographed.

An evocative, ambitious work, beautifully produced if incomplete at times, but destined to grow further into a striking exploration of contemporary existence.


Gary Henderson April 3rd, 2014

Thanks for the critique, Vanessa. Much appreciated. Just for the sake of clarity though, Chris O'Connor composed all the music played by NZTrio, and created all the soundscapes, and coached the cast in percussive techniques. Thanks - Gary

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