Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

11/07/2014 - 26/07/2014

SELECTA: The Next Big Thing 2014

Production Details

Auckland Theatre Company’s 2014 youth show The Selecta opens at The Basement    


After a hugely successful, sold-out season of Like There’s No Tomorrow in 2013, Auckland Theatre Company will present its 2014 Next Big Thing performance, The Selecta, at Basement Theatre from 12 July. 

Immersive theatre, buskers, vaudeville, poetry, acrobatics and Mr Whippy come together in a multi-faceted theatre experience comprising three separate, short productions. Created in collaboration with the young casts and crews, The Selectaunites fresh ideas with the very best emerging theatre talent.

The Selecta season comprises: 
6:30pm  SKIN  |  7:30pm  GIANT TEETH  |  9:00pm  DNA 

Grace Taylor’s Skin eavesdrops on the conversations of eleven young Aucklanders in a dynamic collision of spoken word and theatre. Taylor has worked with a group of emerging poets and performers who expose secrets, lies and the naked truth. Pulling no punches, Skin responds to a series of issues important to young people of today, including gender politics, identity and sexuality. Skin also presents a response to the Roast Busters controversy, expressed in poetry.

Taylor is a poet, teacher and youth development worker. She believes in empowerment through words and providing opportunities for people to tell their stories.

Attendees have two choices with The Selecta – they can watch the three shows in isolation (approx. one hour each) or opt for the marathon option, watching all three back-to-back.

The SELECTA Season

11 Jul – 26 Jul 2014
Venue: The Basement Theatre, Auckland  

6:30pm  SKIN  Book Tickets for Skin!
7:30pm  GIANT TEETH  Book Tickets for Giant Teeth!
9:00pm  DNA  Book Tickets for DNA!


Grate the Skin

Review by James Wenley 16th Jul 2014

In Skin, directed by Rising Voices Youth Poetry Movement’s Grace Taylor, the company delve deep past the surface to deliver a series of profound, self-penned spoken word meditations on their lives, experiences, and attitudes. The content is diverse, as an example, Alice Pearson opens with a reflection on the inadequacy of glad wrap, which transitions into a thoughtful consideration of Rewa Worley’s contemporary Maori cultural identity. Pearson wraps Worley in the wrap as we enter, the visual image of containment finding release in Worley’s words.

The poetry, honed through workshops, and deeply felt by the writer-performers, sends shockwaves through my own skin. There are vital issues canvassed here … [more]


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Brave, thoughtful, exciting, smart and evocative

Review by Stephen Austin 14th Jul 2014

Would you like an example of the direction modern youth-based theatre is heading these days? I’ll give you three. They’re all playing at The Basement theatre currently, staged by Auckland Theatre Company’s initiative for finding, engaging and broadening current youth talent. 

It’s a kind of mini festival of theatre, spoken word poetry, vaudeville, music, dance and even a little busking in the foyer. Each work has been fully developed by peers and professionals to bring out maximum vibrancy and truth. 

The three main works comprising the core of this exciting season could not be more polarised to each other: a staged poetic montage (Skin), a cryptic broken semi-circus (Giant Teeth) and a tightly wound provoking thriller (DNA). However, each highlights the huge strengths of their performers, both individually and as a collective, illustrating to all just how fully vital, healthy and alive the performance scene is in Auckland and offering excitement to audiences that the future pool of performance talent is indeed looking extremely bright. 

The Basement mainspace doors burst open and a team of dancers, calling themselves Fine Fatale, writhe, boogie and cajole the audience in the packed foyer, creating space where there isn’t really any and confronting us with a deep sensual hip-hop embrace that’s at once uncomfortable and completely friendly. This is a strong opening to the evening as a whole, serving to bring us all together and entice us into the mainspace with a kind of broken, sexy powhiri. 

The ten performers of Skin are all adorning the width-wise traverse stage space when we enter and once we’re all gathered launch into material that is as wide ranging as it is deeply personal.

Themes of ‘skin politics’ – gender, cultural identity and multiplicity, self-image, entrapment, body horror – are explored and burst wide open by the cast as they find a new means of broadcasting their work through theatre. So dance, mime, props, characterisations, percussions and emotional layers are used as process to leap the words off the page and wrench new meanings and something greater than each poet had originally envisioned, while still honouring intent. 

Each poem contained within the work is the creation of the performer, so there’s a terrific intimacy and sense of truth to all delivery. These ten poets all give themselves 100% to the work, to each other’s words where needed and hold the respect of their peers when flying solo. Ensemble is key here and all understand the give and take responsibilities required. 

While the writing of all is sound and has been worked well, through “self, peer and professional editing methods” there is the odd sequence that seems a touch bordering on the angsty. However, these are well understood and balanced out by director Grace Taylor, who has armed her cast with all of the craft and emotional intelligence needed to keep the heart and soul of the ideas alive and buoyant in the eyes of the audience. 

Simon Coleman’s multi-purpose rectangular set in the middle of the space provides angles and levels to accentuate the movement and tones of the work, while on its surfaces Rachel Marlow’s subtle lighting punctuates place and keeps a consistency throughout. 

Brave, thoughtful, exciting, smart and evocative spoken word theatre is so rare these days, simply because of a reliance on technologies to heighten theatricality, so this stripped back staging to allow the words to come to the forefront is refreshing.

See also reviews for Giant Teeth and DNA in ATC’s The Selecta season.


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