BATS Theatre, Studio, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

01/02/2018 - 03/02/2018

BATS Theatre, Studio, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

07/12/2017 - 09/12/2017

Production Details

How do you think you would feel after nearly 9 years in Parliament?

A satirical public detox about the bizarre nature of Parliament, poetry and outrageous tales by Catherine Delahunty, ex Green Party MP, with Post Parliament absurdity syndrome.

Meet the truly bizarre underbelly of politics exposed via poetry and bad gossip. From ” Double the Quota of White Men” to “The Lying, the Bitch and the Wardrobe”. From the extremely dark to totally ridiculous, Catherine plumbs the depth of the personal and political.

Teamed up with her sister, theatre director Sarah Delahunty, and brother, musician Andre Sauvage, Catherine has created a fitting tribute to the corridors of power.

BATS Theatre, The Studio*
7 – 9 December at 8pm
Full Price $18, Concession Price $14
Group 6+ $13

BATS Theatre, The Studio*
1 – 3 February 2018 at 6.30pm
Full Price $18, Concession Price $14
Group 6+ $13

*Access to The Studio is via stairs, so please contact the BATS Box Office at least 24 hours in advance if you have accessibility requirements so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
Read more about accessibility at BATS.

Musician:  Andre Sauvage
Images design:  Gerry Phillips
Lighting Designer, Operator and Technician:  Michael Trigg

Theatre , Spoken word , Solo ,

1 hr

May confirm your suspicions, reveal new insights and/or alter your perception of politics and politicians

Review by John Smythe 09th Dec 2017

“The personal is political” became a rallying slogan of the counter-culture student movement, and second-wave feminism especially, from the late 1960s* – a few years after Catherine Delahunty attended an anti-Vietnam War demonstration with her mother and older sister, Sarah (we see the photo of them outside parliament in their matching pleated tartan skirts and white tops). She tells us she thought, at the time, that was what all schoolgirls did in the holidays.

Question Time Blues is Delahunty’s personal “public detox” after three terms – almost nine years – as an opposition member of parliament (following five years as the Green Party’s female convenor). Her subjective, objective and heartfelt ‘show-and-tell’ consists of a couple of dozen astutely crafted, insightful and satirical poems, supported by often witty (in this context) images, put together by Gerry Phillips, and Andre Sauvage’s live guitar music which helps to evoke the zeitgeist of the times traversed.

The Druid-like ritual of the Serjeant-at-Arms carrying the ceremonial mace into the house at the commencement of each sitting day sets the tone for critiques of the patriarchal ‘Westminster’ system – established by generations of bearded men. Sir George Grey may have been relatively clean shaven but his presiding over the confiscation of some three million acres of tribal lands 150-odd years ago continues to have repercussions today.

Delahunty sends herself up, too, in a painful evocation of a fumbled attempt to ‘take the call’ in the house, rehearsing the usual adversarial clichés without managing to get to the point. The aforementioned introduction to activism as a schoolgirl precedes a poem that exposes the McCarthyist mentalities of our SIS spooks, as evident in her security file: just one of the powerfully sobering moments in what is mostly an amusing hour.

We are made privy to the need to score ‘Likes’ on social media and be bailed up by political commentators in the corridors of power in order to maintain a public profile; the charade of Select Committee ‘sincerity’; the small victory of having a notice of motion accepted; the verbal assaults of question time from John Key and his ilk; the aspirational quota of white men in parliament … Women politicians get served too, as in her pointed ‘The Lying, the Bitch and the Wardrobe’.

Her experience of the ‘big gay rainbow’ and the Māori renaissance are both movingly and imaginatively noted; a visit to a Pacific island raises interesting questions … Then there’s the loneliness of the remote luxury hotel and, at another extreme, the challenging luncheon with the Ladies of Glorivale.

Having shared the extraordinary list of the words once spoken and now banned in parliament (this could work as a patter or rap song), Delahunty distinguishes her feelings about her colleagues as people from how they’ve been trained and what they represent. It makes perfect sense to liken it all to a Survivor show and conclude with a salutary observation that we are indeed all on this island together, needing to get it together in the name of our survival.  

Writing-wise, whether she’s being acerbic, witty or whimsical, Catherine Delahunty has the knack of bringing it home in the last line or two. While not a trained actor she has certainly performed in the public eye and here she steps down off the hustings and the opposition benches to take a more introspective tone in BATS’ intimate Studio space.

Worked through under Sarah Delahunty’s directorial eye, Question Time Blues is a well-modulated, engaging show that may variously confirm things you already know or suspect, reveal some unexpected insights and/or alter your perception of politics and politicians for better or worse.  

This short season, which ends tonight, is sold out but I believe it will return just as briefly early next year (1 – 3 February).
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*From Wiki: The phrase was popularized by the publication of a 1969 essay by feminist Carol Hanisch under the title “The Personal is Political” in 1970, but she disavows authorship of the phrase. According to Kerry Burch, Shulamith Firestone, Robin Morgan, and other feminists given credit for originating the phrase have also declined authorship. “Instead,” Burch writes, “they cite millions of women in public and private conversations as the phrase’s collective authors.” Gloria Steinem has likened claiming authorship of the phrase to claiming authorship of “World War II”, although the invention of the phrase “World War II” can in fact be traced to a Time editorial published in September 1939. 


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