04/03/2013 - 07/03/2013
02/10/2012 - 06/10/2012
14/03/2013 - 17/03/2013
Defeated after a love obsession with Helen Clark turns rancid, Richard Meros, author of On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark taking me as her Young Lover, proposes we must combat the dystopian control exercised by love, lust and marriage. We must privatise our loves and bodies, assigning RandyCorp as the sole arbiter.
Will you trust the RandyCorp proposal? Will you follow Meros to the assembly line?
Richard Meros has specifically chosen activist and artist Heleyni Pratley to create the theatrical adaptation of this satirical novel. The show weaves Heleyni’s personal narrative of heartbreak, her own obsession with Helen Clark, and her fascination with science and transhumanism to create a truly unique and personal adaptation of Privatising Parts.
A satirical comment on our current culture of privatisation, the audience is invited into Heleyni’s science lab to witness her proposal for New Zealand. Armed with a live webcam, a stack of YouTube evidence, dramatic use of science experiments and her best song and dance routines, Heleyni will prove to you that privatising love in New Zealand is the way forward.
2-6 October 21012, 6.30pm
BATS Theatre, Wellington
Auckland Fringe runs from 15 February to 10 March 2013. For more Auckland Fringe information go to www.aucklandfringe.co.nz
PRIVATISING PARTS plays
4th – 7th March, 7pm Duration: 60 minutes
Venue: The Basement Studio, Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD Tickets: Adult $15, Concession $13
Bookings: iTicket – www.iticket.co.nz or 09 361 1000
DUNEDIN FRINGE 2013
March 14, 15, 16, 17;
9:00pm (14-17), 2:00pm (16)
Unsettling, incredibly funny and intensely personal
Review by Sharon Matthews 16th Mar 2013
On one level Privatising Parts — the latest theatrical adaptation of a Richard Meros novel — is a savage satirical investigation into the effects of the past twenty-odd years of user-pays New Zealand politics on social norms.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “privatisation (n.) [is] the transfer of a business, industry, service, or other, from public to private ownership and control.” I was expecting, therefore, that Privatising Parts would be a rhetorical attack on our current National-led culture of privatisation; a theatrical embodiment of the ‘Keep Our Assets’ petition.
Meros, who is also the author of On the conditions and possibilities of Helen Clark taking me as her Young Lover (2008), and Richard Meros salutes the Southern Man (2011), however takes as his central dramatic trope that the present-day privatisation of state-owned assets is the mutant love-child of political choices made in the recent past. Specifically, the traumatic mid-1980s introduction by the newly elected Labour Government of radical social and economic reforms (christened ‘Rogernomics’ after the then Finance Minister Roger Douglas), which led to the selling off major state-owned enterprises, including the Bank of New Zealand, Telecom and New Zealand Rail.
Performer, activist and artist Heleyni Pratley, directed by Chapman Tripp winner Eleanor Bishop, invites the audience to join her at a ‘scientific lecture’ which unveils her radical proposal to combat the dystopian control exercised by love, lust and marriage. Pratley — channelling a hyperactive version of Meros-as-character-as-nom-de-plume (as ‘Meros’ himself puts it in an interview) — attempts to prove that that the only way forward into a brave new future is to privatise our loves and bodies and place the process of personal arbitration in the pure hands of Capitalism, or ‘RandyCorp’.
On another level, Privatising Parts is a heartbroken howl of grief and self-loathing as Pratley weaves together personal narrative, her own obsession with ex-Prime Minister Helen Clark, and a slightly unsettling fascination with science and transhumanism to create a truly extraordinary adaptation ofMeros’social commentary. In doing so, Pratley reminds the audience of the human costs hidden behind this radical re-working of the political body. At heart, Pratley’smonologue mourns the accelerating devaluation of the individual for the post-Rogernomics generation: “It’s hard enough finding one person to love you, let alone a whole society.”
The Wellingtonista describes Privatising Parts is “part manifesto … and part one-woman, one-hour Mad Scene.” I really wish I’d said that first. To describe Pratley’s performanceas incredibly committed and astonishingly energetic does not do her justice. Opening night was marred by a few technical glitches — apparently the show normally involves a live webcam and some YouTube clips — but Pratley didn’t miss a beat, twisting and stretching the constraints of the limited stage space. Bounding (there is no other word) from lab bench to microphone; switching from pathos to over-caffeinated scientific ramble, from detached researcher to song and dance routine.
Pratley’s is an extraordinary performance, but Privatising Parts isn’t theatre for the faint-hearted. The design overall is brutally lo-fi and strikingly effective: the laboratory set-up is sketched in, rather than spelt out; the costumes are obviously home-made and ill-fitting; a plastic tree-branch symbolises the entire breadth of Mother Nature. The thread-bare and make-shift design is a powerful visual counterpoint which highlights the cobbled together and incoherent nature of the political bombast.
Moreover, the Biblical oratory in which Pratley expresses her determination to break the stranglehold of nature, and protect herself and tender humanity from the invasive demands of the body and heart, by plucking out those body elements that offend her, throws into sharp relief the evangelistic quality of much free-market idiom.
Unsettling, incredibly funny and at the same time an intensely personal adaptation of political satire, Privatising Parts — and Heleyni Pratley — is not to be missed.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Cute, witty, sarcastic, energetic and manic
Review by Jan-Maree Franicevic 05th Mar 2013
We enter the Basement Studio and walk through the stage area, which looks every inch a mad scientist’s lab. A series of songs about love are playing as we wait for the show to start. The show goes up a little late though I am too busy looking at the menagerie around me; it is an exciting build up to showtime for me.
There is a very successful pairing of props and technology with music in this show. Nice use of YouTube vlogs, along with some toe-tappingly over-the-top original music and I marvel at Heleyni Pratley’s flawless handling of the camera as she describes the ages of man. Even the humble flip chart has a place in this show and it all fits well into the diatribe.
Richard Meros has specifically chosen activist and artist Heleyni Pratley to create the theatrical adaptation of his satirical novel Privatising Parts. The show weaves Heleyni’s personal narrative of heartbreak, her own obsession with NZ’s most beloved Prime Minister Helen Clark, and her fascination with science and transhumanism to create a truly unique and personal adaptation. How? Take matters of love and lust and privatise them. Just like a state asset!
Cute, witty, sarcastic and energetic, Heleyni gets it right a lot of the time, but there are moments where the show’s naturally manic quality takes a leap over the edge, making it quite a heady, boggling experience. Especially given the nature of the material.
Expecting a rhetorical bashing of the current National-led Government I am chilled to learn that the theorising is actually based on the exceptional job the Labour Government of the ’80s did of privatising state assets and some of the lofty ways in which said privatisation was delivered to the NZ public.
I warn you now, if like me you remember the 1984 snap election and Rogernomics from the viewpoint of a ten year old (which I was then) you may struggle with some of the fever-pitched maniacal rants in the show. It means that at times I am lost, which I really do not want to be. Heleyni is charming, I want to go along on the ride with her the whole way, but I think I fall off somewhere in the middle.
I am not entirely sure that Randy Corp would get my business if this privatisation of love and lust were to happen, but Heleyni makes a pretty good argument. And if you have ever had a broken heart you would have to be made of stone not to be able to see the glimmer of promise in her proposal; indeed I manage to get on the bandwagon again in time for the finale.
Hats off to Heleyni… no mean feat to adapt a novel written by a man, and play him whilst retaining enough of your own charm to keep a hot studio full of people happy to the last. But then I get the feeling this woman likes challenge. This is definitely not the last we have seen of her.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Good, but only in parts
Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 06th Oct 2012
The satirical writings of Richard Meros have developed a cult following, with two of his previous publications making it on to the stage. This new stage adaptation of Privatising Parts could be considered a sequel to On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark taking me as her Young Lover. Having had Clark as a love interest to the point of it being an obsession, Meros then had to deal with the pain of her losing the 2008 election and moving to New York.
As a consequence he now proposes that we must take control our of desires and that love, lust and marriage nts evennte must be privatised The obsession for Clark is still there, but it is the current government’s obsession with privatising our assets and free market economics that Meros is really getting at.
And while the clever and innovative use of Power Point presentations have been key to previous productions’ success, in this production it is very much the solo performance of actor Heleyni Pratley that carries the show.
Dressed in a white boiler suit, Pratley bounds on to the stage, which is set up like a laboratory, and proceeds, with unceasing frenetic energy, to dissect everything to do with love.
There is some attempt at using technology such as doll-like figures that she manipulates in from of a web cam and YouTube clips, but for the most part Pratley rants and raves through the subject matter, lurching from one topic to another, rarely giving either herself or the audience time to pause and think.
Privatising love in all its forms as the way forward appears to be Pratley’s catch cry, the climax of the show being that they are given over to Randy Corp, which will be the solo judge of what happens in the future. And while there is no denying the veracity with which Pratley has with her subject matter, and she is to be commended for the sheer force with which she puts it across, so full-on is the performance that many ideas and themes are lost.
While there is a constant stream of laugh-out-loud moments, much of the satire is lost making this an interesting but not wholly satisfying production.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Satirical argument obscured by high energy performance
Review by John Smythe 03rd Oct 2012
This being the third performance piece inspired by the writings of the elusive Richard Meros (not his real name), and the first not performed by Arthur Meek and directed by Geoff Pinfield, some level of comparison is inevitable. So let’s get that over with.
Both On The Conditions and Possibilitiesof Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Loverand Richard Meros Salutes the Southern Man are ingeniously constructed PowerPoint presentations that inexorably draw you in with their wacky logic and wittily confront you with the political satire that has always been its major objective. The fresh, innocent persona of Meek’s Meros serves that purpose admirably, as does the clever use of technology as a means to the end.
Privatising Parts, performed by Heleyni Pratley and directed by Eleanor Bishop, is altogether a more manic affair, using multiple devices and switches of topics, themes, moods and perspectives, in ways that tend to bewilder more than enlighten.
The premise is that love must be privatised so we avoid the pain it causes and it emerges that this is a bitter and twisted reaction to Helen Clark losing the 2008 election then absconding to New York. Hence the manic nervous energy Pratley brings to much of her performance, punctuated by welcome moments of lucid calm.
Pratley’s Meros arrives wearing the white hooded overalls favoured by forensic scientists trying not to contaminate a crime scene. The Meros Laboratory features a table littered with what looks like junk until webcams are used to illustrate the points being made. Video technology is used in other ways too and a butcher’s paper flip chart gives us the major headings.
Amputation (of offending parts: “the penis carrot is the key to nature’s jailhouse”) is seen as the necessary precursor to revolution and Roger Douglas, the masterful father of cuts to the public sector, is given his iconic due. Welfare, health and education are all for the chop – and because they come together in prisons, Judge Judy and her know-how are invoked.
Romantic love is equated to an unregulated drug. Teachers are exposed as socialists intent on contaminating their captive audiences – and a free market alternative is offered (hey, it’s happening now with Charter Schools). Home improvements and our desire to keep our own teeth come in for question …
It is because monogamy “is about ending choice” that RandyCorp ™ is unveiled to liberate us from its tyranny with a nine-point plan. Work camps are offered for ‘awkward people’. By this time the overalls have been discarded for a sparkly frock. While it probably doesn’t matter that no account is taken of Richard Meros apparently being female or transgender now, it does add to the confusion when attempting to pay attention to every detail in case it’s relevant.
All the while the obsession with Helen is returned to, either live on stage or via YouTube-style postings. I guess the fact that s/he remains “bloody angry” five years on from the great loss mitigates against the possibility of a more modulated and therefore coherent presentation.
What does come through the emotional and performative whirlpool, for me, is the spectre of corporate manipulation and control: far worse than the ‘nanny state’ their propaganda disparages and redolent rather of a fascist regime where people are mere pawns in the private sector’s lust for profit, power and prestige.
There are other glimpses of political wit– a number of big laugh-out-loud moments in fact – but if there is coherence in the original material it hasn’t translated the the stage, at least for those who, like me, come to it without having read the book.
That said, Heleyni Pratley demonstrates great physical and mental fitness in performance, which also includes pastiche poetry and a song or two. It is a high energy effort, with emphasis on the effort, which rather gets in the way of the message. Perhaps as the season progresses she will be able to relax into it more and give us better access to the substantive satirical argument.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer