01/02/2022 - 01/02/2022
01/02/2022 - 01/02/2022
In her first ever live episode of Showy Ovaries, Penny Ashton (Promise and Promiscuity, Austen Found) is excited to be interviewing the hilarious Sameena Zehra (Arsebiscuits, Tea with Ter*o*ists) all about her menopausal magical mystery tour live on stage at BATS Theatre.
From Sameena’s home country of India, to her time in the UK and settling in NZ, she has always created art which is a goulash of storytelling and political commentary, peppered with absurdity, dark humour and personal content.
Join the live audience as these two irreverent women of a certain age dissect bits, bobs and everything in between.
Also available via Livestream
BATS Theatre, The Studio
1 February 2021
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As at 5 February 2022 the Listen to This: Live Podcasts are available here:
Listen To This: Live Podcasts team:
Producer - Dennis Eir Lim
Production Assistant - James Heath
Tech Assistant - Logan Delaney
Musicians - Brittany Meiklejohn & Lachlan Oosterman
Theatre , Live stream ,
Fun and inclusive of everyone – with ovaries or not
Review by Emilie Hope 02nd Feb 2022
Put your listening face on and get comfy! Dennis Eir Lim, as part of the Six Degrees Festival, has brought Listen to This: Live Podcasts as a live event to BATS Theatre and your device. It takes place over six nights, with each night hosting a different podcast from a pre-existing NZ-based podcast group. Each podcast is performed and recorded in front of a live audience, with the opportunity for the audience to interact with each podcast through web chats. The shows also have additional elements such as music, poetry readings and stand-up. And to make it all incredibly inclusive during these Red settings, each show is livestreamed through the BATS website.
Should 20-something year-olds watch and listen to a show about menopause? Should you know about puberty before it begins? Should you have some knowledge of Second Puberty [insert Merry from The Lord of the Rings meme here], a.k.a. menopause, before it hits? Ideally, yes.
Showy Ovaries with Penny Ashton is a New Zealand podcast where Penny Ashton endeavours to discover all the mysteries of menopause “by talking to a series of wondrous women and owners of ovaries about their own journeys.” Showy Ovaries opened its second season with a live recording from BATS Theatre’s Studio space on the 1st of February, after some rapid rescheduling due to COVID-19, with special guest Sameena Zehra, and Ashton Zooming in from Auckland.
As a completely new listener, I am enrapt with Ashton’s feminist energy. She is effortlessly funny, a frequent user of the word “fuck”, and I can’t help but adore the purple badger dress she is wearing. She starts off with some housekeeping, a little introduction to the podcast, an announcement that she has decided to rename her period after Mike Hosking “because it goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, even when I don’t want it to”, and a poem called ‘Body of Work’, where she gives an abridged version to her body’s history. The stream cuts to BATS and we are introduced to Zehra.
Zehra is an excellent choice of guest – someone who is comfortable holding a room in person alongside Ashton’s digital presence, and who makes the audience feel comfortable. No doubt this comes from her many years of experience as a comedian and actor, among other things. There are eighteen people in The Studio (I am not one of them, I am reviewing from home), and because The Studio holds sixty, Zehra makes sure the audience knows each of them must laugh for three people, but if they want to boo, boo for one. There is no booing, but enough laughter to fill the sixty-seater space.
Zehra opens with a small set before she and Ashton discuss menopause, where she explains her relationship with her mother, starting with how she called Zehra ugly when she was six. The audience is shocked and some laugh, but Zehra assures us not to worry – it’s obviously false: “Look at me, I’m delicious.” Not only is Zehra correct, she’s confident in a way that only allows the audience to settle in even further, even at home.
I love to listen to people share their stories. The fact that Ashton has curated stories of ovary owners discussing their menopause journey – a topic that science has only recently started to focus on (like most things with women’s health) – is fantastic. As someone who knew little of menopause, especially the personal journeys, not only is the show entertaining, but I also learnt a thing or two. I would prompt Ashton to always imagine there is someone new listening to the show, as I had to Google HRTs after the show (even though once I Googled it, it seemed quite obvious) – Hormone Replacement Therapy. Ashton is a genuine interviewer who quickly builds a rapport with Zehra, a generous interviewee.
The show is not without its tech issues, but this is to be somewhat expected, especially one that is so technology-dependent – and we all know how tricky sound can be. After I click the link for the stream, I see the image of the podcast but I can also hear everything that’s going on in the theatre. This is almost an abstract mini performance in observation, and while I enjoy this time, I don’t think it’s intentional. Indeed, most live podcasts only start when they are ready to go live, not half an hour before the show intends to start. Perhaps this will become slicker as the Listen to This season progresses.
Ashton informs Lim at the top of the show that when the room made noise, she could no longer hear, although as a streaming audience member, I could hear everything. There are a few times towards the end of the show where she and Zehra talked over each other, which this issue most likely contributes towards. If Ashton feels not entirely present with the audience because of this issue, like the experienced performer she is, she doesn’t make it known.
There are also sometimes when the audio gets a bit scratchy, but this is short-lived. Audio recording something live, especially with someone Zooming in, is not easy, and I’m confident Lim will have ironed out these technical intricacies by the next show. While each show will have unique requirements, he will no doubt learn from each one.
Showy Ovaries with Penny Ashton is a new entrant on my podcast circuit. The show is fun and inclusive of everyone – with ovaries or not. I have an enjoyable evening tuning in from home and am a bit sad when the show ends! Luckily, there’s a whole season of the podcast for me to dive into.
I’d like to thank both the 18 people who made it to BATS and to Lim for making his shows accessible to those who remain at home.
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