THE FLOATING THEATRE
01/03/2017 - 04/03/2017
08/03/2017 - 11/03/2017
25/10/2017 - 28/10/2017
22/02/2023 - 25/02/2023
Directed & designed by Stephen Bain
Music orchestrated by Jeff Henderson & ensemble.
Presented by Winning Productions
NZ’s first ever Floating Theatre is sailing into Auckland for 2 weeks in 2 spectacular locations. An intimate theatre for just 30 people per show that sparkles with light, the audience are led into a transforming world where the only one person holds the key but which door does it open? Shadows and projection mix with live performance, imagery and music.
Winning Productions make outdoor performances throughout NZ, touring shows and installations to Australia & Europe.
Supported by Creative NZ, Auckland Regional Council & Whau Local Board.
Please advise for mobility access up to 12 hours before:email@example.com
1 – 4 March 2017; 8pm & 9.30pm
West End Rowing Club – West Auckland @ 26 Saunders Reserve, Avondale (off Rosebank Road)
8 – 11 March 2017; 8pm & 9.30pm
Viaduct Marina – Wynyard Quarter, Central Auckland (next to the footbridge)
BOOK FOR WEST END ROWING CLUB
BOOK FOR VIADUCT MARINA
Limited capacity event (22 people max.)
Tauranga Arts Festival 2017
With space for only 30 at each show, be sure to book early to experience this unique and magical floating theatre, being held on the Tauranga Waterfront.
Baycourt Lawn, 38 Durham Street, Tauranga
Wednesday 25th – Saturday 28th October 2017
07:30pm & 09:00pm
Adult $46, Student $25
(TECT $37, $20)
The Floating Theatre is a purpose-built, fully operational theatre for an intimate audience of 30 people, floating on Whairepo Lagoon. The performers have adapted to this curiously restrictive environment with a banquet of theatre illusions that distract the audience from the one thing they seek: themselves. Meanwhile on the shore, The Floating Theatre projects a spectacle of its own to the lagoon and all those who come across it. Witness the intimate show from within, ticketed and performed by the metamorphosing troupe of two, or join the public on on the edges of Whairepo Lagoon to witness the counternarrative guided by a soundtrack and the lights of the city.
Whairepo Lagoon, Wellington Waterfront
Two 45min shows each evening.
WED 22 Feb, THU 23 Feb, SUN 26 Feb – 8.00pm and 9.00pm
FRI 24 Feb, SAT 25 Feb – 9.00pm and 10.00pm
The Floating Theatre is free to attend but has limited capacity so requires booking in advance. To book your ticket, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the event name, time and date of the event, and names of attendees. You will be emailed your ticket to present upon entry to the event. Places are strictly limited so if you can no longer attend the event, please contact us immediately so another willing participant can experience this unrepeatable piece of performance art.
The Floating Theatre is wheelchair accessible. If you require wheelchair seating, please let the bookings team know at least 24 hours prior to the performance time so that we can accommodate you.
Winning Productions make public space performances and installations. Based in Tāmaki Makaurau their work has been performed in NZ, Australia, Belgium, France, and The Netherlands. Full credits see website.
Find out more about Winning Productions and The Floating Theatre here.:”
Performed by Jeremy Randerson & Jenny McArthur
Tech: Stephen Bain
Props by Sarah-Jane Blake
Storyteller Sarah-Jane Blake
Musician Rosie Langabeer
Theatre , Performance installation ,
As a show of two halves, it engages its audiences in very different ways and is well positioned as part of this year’s Performance Arcade.
Review by John Smythe 23rd Feb 2023
In light of the devastatingly extreme events further north, Wellingtonians have stopped complaining about the weather in Te Whanganui a Tara. The chilly drizzly days – or portions of days – that have arrived are nothing compared to what others have suffered. While it has meant outdoor performances like Wellington Summer Shakespeare’s The Tempest have had to be cancelled (ironically that requires dry weather, at least), the launch of The Performance Arcade 2023 has gone ahead with a smattering of visitors dropping by to experience the somewhat reduced installations on offer – more on a couple of those later.
A major attraction this year is Winning Production’s The Floating Theatre, which launched in Tāmaki Makaurau in 2017 and has finally made it to Te Whanganui a Tara. It needs to be noted that the publicity invitation to “Witness the intimate show from within, ticketed and performed by the metamorphosing troupe of two, or join the public on the edges of Whairepo Lagoon to witness the counternarrative guided by a soundtrack and the lights of the city” actually means consider witnessing both, in either order. It’s a bit late to hear that suggestion when you arrive and have already planned your evening.
I experience the on-board presentation first then remain onshore, sheltered from the rain outside Te Wharewaka o Pōneke function centre, for the counternarrative, presented with engaging alacrity by Storyteller Sarah-Jane Blake and Musician Rosie Langabeer.
This means I spend a lot of time during the storytelling feeling what we’re being told is much more coherent, and therefore richer and more interesting, than the fragmented performance elements first witnessed. Only toward the end does the rationale emerge for the nature of the show on board The Floating Theatre. On balance, I’d recommend hearing the story first then stepping into the floating tent. (Note: Both iterations are free but you need to pre-book for the Floating part, given the limited seating.)
Back in 2017, the story of how the Theatre in the flat and low-lying city of Vlaag came to be Floating may have seemed fanciful. Today it is all too credible. The imagined spectacle of houses being washed away in floods and our empathy with people having no idea where their loved ones are, or if they are still alive, resonate strongly as we listen. Thankfully we have not reached the state of forgetfulness and indifference suggested in the tail of the tale.
Although The Floating Theatre’s publicity image captures a mood, it does not represent reality. We (no more than 30 of us) are not dancing on a free-floating raft but sitting on stepped wooden platforms facing a compact stage comprising large trapdoors. And the rigidly tented auditorium is securely moored to a jetty at the edge of the lagoon – which may disappoint some but in these tempestuous times, that is a fair call.
Director and Designer Stephen Bain has welcomed us and leads us aboard where performers Jeremy Randerson and Jenny McArthur, with nowhere to hide, smile their welcomes from on stage. It’s all very casual, cosy and intimate.
Without words, McArthur ingeniously provokes our participation in a range of actions that are fun to do, even when they lead us to understand a crisis is being evoked. The very place we occupy is now being tossed on a stormy sea. Randerson facilitates our seeing it and ourselves in miniature. A detached nose and an eyeball suggest which senses are paramount. The trapdoors are constantly utilised for entrances and exits, enriching our experience as we imagine what’s going on ‘below deck’ between each new appearance.
An ascending head is spectacular until it becomes anticlimactic. Likewise with a succession of cleverly employed props (created by Sarah-Jane Blake). Only in retrospect, having stayed onshore for the counternarrative, do I realise there is a reason for this. Meanwhile it’s like sampling a performative buffet that variously engages one’s interest or puzzlement, and does not coalesce into a satisfying repast. Aficionados of Stephen Bain’s work will not be surprised at this, given his persistent rejection of conventional dramatic structures in favour of ‘performance art’ conventions – although the verbal counternarrative on shore does amount to a well-told tale that rewards the attention we give it, on trust.
A replica of a Victorian proscenium-arch theatre intrigues. There’s a slow reveal of the fare it might one time have offered – albeit depicted as if the performer is manipulated, subjugated and tormented by faceless forces. Similarly, a dark-skinned groaning singer is also a troubling sight to behold. Fair comment or an insult to the agency such vaudeville performers may have felt they had in pursuing their vocations?
The most impressive element in the show is the baby which first appears as tiny and later emerges as huge. McArthur skilfully inhabits it to invest its wide-eyed, open-mouthed face with astonished and astonishing life.
To give it an ending, Bain leads a sense of alarm that sees him don a lifejacket while the stage frontage is stripped away to reveal the workings of what was hidden. The purpose and meanings of the penis metronome and ornamental labia escape me. What endures when all else is lost? Life goes on? Or just a cheap gag?
As a show of two halves, The Floating Theatre engages its audiences in very different ways. As such, it is well positioned as part of this year’s Performance Arcade. Speaking of which:
Binge Culture’s The Lost Art of Letter Writing offers an opportunity to recapture the art in private according to what you feel drawn to, and to thereby contribute to a growing bundle of letters that may be stamped, franked, critiqued and/or sent to futures festivals.
KIN, from S. J. Ewing & Dancers, Washington DC, offers a range of Virtual Reality experiences that “invite you to engage, activate, and experience the relationship between human movement and technology visually, kinetically and virtually.” Different elements are at play during daylight hours, as the sun sets and after dark.
I believe I experience the latter, where a dancer adrift in white space is tracked by a variety of black lines: winding blotched ink thickening and thinning; travelling flecks, a swarm of short squiggles such as you might observe under a microscope … The dancer is variously solo, beside herself, breaking apart from herself, pixilated in rainbow fragments … VR is still a weird thing to experience as a brief departure from the space you inhabit in reality, and the bit of KIN I see makes me want to return for the others – plus the many other things on offer.
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Seriously good, feel-provoking theatre
Review by Gin Mabey 27th Oct 2017
The Tauranga Arts Festival welcomes Winning Productions’ The Floating Theatre, written and directed by Stephen Bain, and performed by Jeremy Randerson and Jenny McArthur.
Due to Tauranga’s very strong and potentially dangerous Spring winds, the Floating Theatre is moored on the grass outside Baycourt Theatre, instead of on the water: a small, white cube with the silhouette of a small stage and tiered scaffold seating inside. I’ll say now, we don’t lose a thing by not truly ‘floating’ (not that I can compare, but I can’t imagine this experience being better, it’s that good). In fact, I like that we get to imagine!
From the second we line up to walk the ‘jetty’ this show invites us to make believe, play and have un-hushed fun. The boat’s captain (Jeremy Randerson) comes out in his life jacket and guides us all up onto the makeshift jetty, to hobble along carefully, avoiding falling into the (grassy) water. The audience is already giggling and playing, commenting how it reminds them of that game where you “dodge the lava”.
The captain ushers us in and gets things ready on deck. I sit on a bright cushion on the floor at the very front, gazing upward. Captain subtly lets us know that we are not alone with him… there are odd things lurking.
I have to mention, Randerson has the BEST laugh. His breathy giggle is so beautifully genuine that it gets the whole audience going. He does that contagious thing where someone tries to talk but can’t get the words out through their wheezing chuckle. I feel uplifted and wonderfully silly.
There’s so much to be commented on and praised in this show; everything, in fact. But there are so many different jewels to talk about each one. The sound design by the talented Jeff Henderson, props by magically-minded Sarah-Jane Blake, lighting, and of course, performance, are all brilliant. One of the audience members walking out to her car comments to her friend that it reminded her of Monty Python in the sense that there are a series of small yet complete pieces. No need to try to piece them together with a story, because the feeling that runs throughout and beneath the whole show ties it together wordlessly anyway.
I feel the same sense of awe and complete joy watching this show as I felt watching The Pianist by Thom Monckton during a previous Arts Festival. Sort of like an old-time, slightly menacing, slightly lonely display of bizarre behaviour that somehow makes total sense as it appeals to the bizarre creature we all have lurking under the surface. This show will join Monckton’s show in my vault of favourite theatre memories.
Not only do I laugh a lot during this show, but there are moments where I feel actually very terrified! The masks. Oh the masks. I thought I was pretty hardy when it comes to doll or dummy-related things. Turns out I’m not at all. It’s a fun sense of horror though, the thrill is energizing. That’s how I feel about these non-blinking faces who are barking, staring, grunting, and trembling right in front of me. I hear a few yelps of “No no no!” each time these faces peer over the trapdoors. I like how the moments with these masks communicate to me the essence of what it feels to be ‘watched’ but without knowing the intention or the plan of the ‘watcher’.
I also like how we get little interludes alone with our captain as he bustles about the stage (the deck), shy of us but wanting to keep us in the loop of what’s going on. He makes me think of a lonely, weather-beaten sea man with a life of unpredictability, danger and excitement as he wrangles with these bizarre inhabitants below the deck, who happen to be his friends too.
The use of scale is very effective. At one point, a tiny diorama of the audience pops up, reflecting where we sit, and haunting us with the threat of scary visitors. Another piece shows a downsized proscenium arch, with a rope-entangled ballerina towering over like a giant from a dark fairy tale.
Another moment (among all moments) when Jenny McArthur displays her talent which makes it hard to look away from her for a second. Such a small space with such large energy, encompassing sound, and looming characters works so well; sensory over-load in the best way.
A truly amazing example of mimicry and physical skill involves a large baby… I don’t want to give it all away but Jenny McArthur is completely awesome. She’s so good, in fact, that my initial horror at seeing a giant baby gives way to warmth, as the innocence and endearingly-determined movements of pre-walking babies is so spot on.
One of the things I love most about this show is that I can simply feel, react, and just be there, letting the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings (a slinky kraken from the deep gives me a grape and graces me with a peacock feather) come to me.
That’s not to say that this show doesn’t get the brain turning, it absolutely does, but in a wondrous, awe-inspiring, childlike way. The show feels very inclusive in this sense. It would be interesting to interview everyone in the audience to see how this show made them feel, and what it made them think, because the answers would be extremely varied I feel!
Leaving this show I feel really … refreshed. No, that’s not quite the word … Inspired? Yes, but there’s more. Let’s just say I feel a mixture of all kinds of wonderful, hopeful things. I can’t quite say why or how this show makes me feel like this, but perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that we all need to be reminded that playing, silliness, shock, awe and a big dose of unbridled imagination are just as crucial to the enrichment of life than anything else we might deem more ‘serious’. To me, this is as serious as it gets: seriously good, feel-provoking theatre.
I giggle, I gasp, I get scared, I wonder, I love it.
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Interesting and no more than the sum of its parts
Review by Heidi North 02nd Mar 2017
The Floating Theatre is aptly named – no adornments and no title, it’s simply called after its space. A beautiful, intimate theatre on a barge. The marketing material says it’s New Zealand’s first floating theatre. While I do doubt it is the first theatre piece to ever be performed while floating on water, there’s no question that the space is nifty: a purpose-built barge that seats just under 30 on small bench seats. The audience is zipped into the space and the whole thing is intimate, uncomfortable and hot.
Directed & designed by Stephen Bain, The Floating Theatre is a conceptual piece deconstructing the whole notion of theatre. Using puppets, wonderfully made by Sarah-Jane Blake, a soundscape by Jeff Henderson and performed with dedication and conviction by Jeremy Randerson and Jenny McArthur, The Floating Theatre is a swirling abstract ride.
Firmly metatheatre, the play uses puppets and shadows and sound and human bodies almost interchangeably. Who’s doing the looking, and what does it all mean anyway? These are the general questions being asked in The Floating Theatre.
I enjoy the visuals of the space itself. The 8pm show doesn’t get quite the same view, I imagine, as the 9.30pm show. At the 8pm showing we arrive while it is still light, so we don’t get to experience the beauty of being led into the lit up floating theatre. However, it is marvellous to come out of the dream-like piece into the still, beautiful night on the water.
But apart from being aesthetically pleasing to exit, while inside, there is no nod to being on the water. The stage space is well designed and they use the trapdoors very well. But we could have been in a small, hot container anywhere. I find this disappointing: could more be done with the space in the setting?
Everything about this piece is interesting: the idea of deconstructing theatre, wonderfully made props, great sound and committed, talented performers. Interesting absolutely, but the whole experience didn’t leave me feeling like it was more than the sum of its parts.
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