Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

08/03/2014 - 15/03/2014

New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2014

Production Details

Ursula Martinez: the power of the internet revealed “This is very funny, as well as disturbing, in its illustration of the perils of unsought celebrity” – London Evening Standard 

In 2006 artist and performer Ursula Martinez found her risqué cabaret act Hanky Panky filmed without her consent then posted on to YouTube. Soon after her magic striptease appeared on the popular website, Ursula received hundreds of suggestive emails from internet voyeurs. Initially shocked and upset by their content, she set a filter to file them away.  

After two years Ursula says she “opened Pandora’s box” to read the emails which now serve as the material for her autobiographical show, My Stories Your Emails.

Written and performed by Martinez this thought-provoking one woman show is partly Ursula’s own story, partly the stories of those people whose messages appeared in her inbox, and partly a meditation on the ways in which the internet both conceals and reveals identities.

Ursula Martinez is a London-based writer, performer and cabaret artist who started her career working with Forced Entertainment and The Glee Club. Now a well-established artist, Ursula tours extensively.

My Stories Your Emails is directed by her long-time collaborator Mark Whitelaw. Martinez will perform at the Hannah Playhouse (Downstage) during the Festival from 8 – 15 March. 

Partnered by SPUTNIK 

Sat 8 Mar, 8pm, Sun 9, 6.30pm,
Tue 11 to Sat 15 Mar, 8pm
at Hannah Playhouse (Downstage) (1hr)
Contains adult themes and nudity
Tickets $43 – $48 available from Ticketek (excludes booking fees)

For further information and images, visit 

Theatre , Cabaret ,


Cryptic stories but who is the real Martinez?

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 10th Mar 2014

One of the delights of a festival is the eclectic mix of shows brought together over a short space of time. This is particularly so this year with the range and style of productions seen at the Hannah Playhouse with the final show, Ursula Martinez’s My Stories, Your Emails, being one of the more unusual ones. 

As the title suggests the show is in two parts, the first is Martinez reading her real-life stories, and then a video is shown of her strip-tease cabaret act Hanky Panky, whereby she makes a red hanky disappear and re-appear as she divests herself of her clothing. It doesn’t leave much to the imagination to know where the final hanky appears from when standing naked on stage. [More]


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Review by John Smythe 09th Mar 2014

Hi Ursula 

I saw your show at the Hannah Playhouse last night and the only thing that disappointed me by the end was that there were no emails from New Zealand so I am going to pretend that this is one.

The story of your Hanky Panky magic show being filmed and uploaded to YouTube illegally and the emails you received as a result has been well publicised as the premise for My Stories Your Emails.  The mystery that remains – even after we see it screened at the halfway point in this show – is how you make the red hanky disappear when you are totally naked, apart from your black high heels.

Actually I am surprised at the quality of the clip, with its multi-camera angles, audience reactions and all. I’d expected something sneakily captured on an i-phone from one spot, between heads. It’s not another trick, is it: the whole idea that you were hard done by? But then illusion is the name of your game.

Like your ‘set’ of two lecterns flanking the screen. You read out Twitter-like snippets of your life story from one then, after the video, read out emails from the other, accompanied by the images your fans sent in. It sounds a bit boring, described like that, and yet it’s not.

We get to know as much about your life experiences and the quirky personality it produced as we’d get from any conventional drama. That innocent smile is such a delightful contrast to some of the stuff you relate. And the emails give us a ‘verbatim theatre’-like insight into a very real world hiding in the supposed privacy of its own laptops.   

Something about the way you deal with material and language we might have thought rude, offensive or even obscene simply places it truthfully as part of the imperfect world which is grist to the mill of all theatre and storytelling forms.

You’re pretty good at all those accents too, from various parts of the USA, the UK, Spain, Sweden, Jamaica … A couple of ‘Sarf Lunnun’ vowels slip into your Australian accent briefly. How I’d love to hear you tackle New Zillin (our Prime Minister offers a good model).

So there it is. Under the guise of a reading from notes about your life and a PowerPoint presentation of correspondence, My Stories Your Emails fulfils the conditions for good theatre. It certainly holds the proverbial mirror up to show us ourselves and the world we live in, as well as your very entertaining self in all your naked glory. There is poignancy too, and pathos, in both halves of your show. It takes us places we couldn’t have gone on our own.

Thank you.


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