The Girls’ Show
19/07/2008 - 26/07/2008
Eleven exceptional young women from diverse backgrounds have created Massive Company’s newest production The Girls’ Show which has its premiere season at the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall, THE EDGE® in July.
The Girls’ Show draws on the differing backgrounds of the cast members to explore the experiences and stories about being a young New Zealander today.
The cast, which includes young women aged 16-20 years from Māori, Cook Island, Samoan, Chinese and Vietnamese ethnicities, has been working together with directors Sam Scott and Carla Martell to create the show since the beginning of the year.
Director Sam Scott says The Girls’ Show has been created in the style of which Massive Company is renowned – "physically dynamic, visually engaging, excellent theatre.
"The girls have created a show which is personal, raw and relevant."
All the text in the show is written by the cast, except for two quotes, from Sally Vickers The Other Side of You and Agatha Christie "To be alive is a grand thing".
Auckland-based Massive Company has been the launching pad for many New Zealand actors and directors including Oliver Driver, Danielle Cormack, Madeline Sami and Craig Parker. The company last year presented Up Close Out Loud, following its 2006 offering 100 Cousins. Its most acclaimed play The Sons of Charlie Paora received rave reviews on its tours of New Zealand and London in 2004.
"the audience cared because the actors cared; they told their stories from the heart, the soul and with eloquent bodies, and were given a standing ovation" – NZ Listener
In 2008, Massive Company will also present the New Zealand premiere of Albert Belz’s Whero’s New Net, adapted from stories by Witi Ihimaera. This major new New Zealand work will open in Auckland in September.
The Girls’ Show is at the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall, THE EDGE® from July 19-26. Book online at www.the-edge.co.nz
Geneva Alexander-Marsters, Olive Asi, Loretta Aukuso, Lisa Marie Daynes, Leigh Fitzjames, Shannon Makasale, Tuyet Nguyen, Joyce Samelu, Sammy-Rose Scapens, Nicole Thomson, Genevieve Thompson-Ford.
Designed by Tracey Collins
Lighting design by Jeremy Fern
Assistant Directors: Scott Cotter and Kitan Petkovski
Trainee Assistant Director: Misiarona Puni
Voice tutor: Margaret Mary-Hollins
Kaumatua: Ngamaru Raerino
Rehearsal Stage Manager: Tahi Mapp-Borren
The EDGE Co-ordinators: Sally Barnett & Charlie Unwin
Publicist: Sally Woodfield
Graphic Design: Sarah Jackman at Mezzanine
Production photography: Matt Klitscher
Company Administration: Hayley Hansell
Producer: James Kyle Wilson
Review by Renee Liang 28th Jul 2008
“You don’t find your own happiness,” they say, flashing smiles over confidently tossed shoulders. “You make it.” It is a statement that these eleven young women truly live. The Girls Show is about being young, about being a woman and about being an Aucklander – all things which have received bad press in the past, but which is celebrated in this pastiche of true stories.
The girls – aged sixteen to twenty-one – have worked together for the last nine months, using Massive Theatre Company’s well-trodden devising process. It is the ‘twin’ to Up Close Out Loud, a high-energy show that celebrated the lives of young Auckland men and went on to be toured overseas. Three of the performers from that show, Kitan Petkovski, Scott Cotter and Misiarona Puni, are Assistant Directors for this show, working closely with Directors Sam Scott and Carla Martell and a team of other senior theatre professionals.
The result is a show that offers us tantalising glimpses into the lives of eleven young women, each of them beautiful in her own right. If I had any criticism it would be that the format doesn’t allow us time to get to know them before the show is over. Instead we are given story snippets, soundbites if you will, a few shining threads in what we understand to be a much larger tapestry. A few stories stand out for me: Geneva Alexander-Marster’s account of being confronted by baseball-bat wielding thugs on a bridge and running away to sing herself back to calmness; Tuyet Nguyen’s stories of her mother’s endurance on a refugee boat. For some reason it was the darker stories that drew me, amid so much colour and positivity. I wanted something to anchor me to these women as individuals, and I wanted more of their stories.
The Girl’s Show is not intended to be a narrative or even a play. But as an audience member, it sometimes felt as if I was watching a school of brightly turning fish, none of them staying still long enough to be admired, instead relying on technicolour splashes of energy to dazzle. I enjoyed the slow moments the best, especially the moving affirmation of “Southside” (several of the performers were from the much-maligned South Auckland area) and the movement-poem about parental attitudes to first-born daughters, dating and chores.
The girls have fantastic singing voices, as proven in their opening waiata, and I wondered why they needed a recorded soundtrack at all. A lot of the show seems to be set dance pieces to music, with the focus on energy rather than grace. Some of the dances, notably Lisa Marie Dayne and Genevieve Thomson-Ford’s provocative exploration of female sexuality, are fascinating, but others risk descent into ‘pop’ culture and reminded me of children’s dance group Hi-5 (as did, unfortunately, the clothes). Much as I understand that it’s impossible to have a show representing youth without some of their music, still I wanted to hear their voices and to have the time to follow each biographical thread. That may not be possible in this format. But I hope that at least some of the young women in the show may go on to write their own stories and to explore longer narratives, as either actors or writers.
All in all, it was a pleasure to watch eleven clearly talented and confident young women (oh to still be that optimistic and young!). No doubt many of them will have successful careers, both on and off stage.
Originally published in The Lumière Reader.
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Girls just wanna have fun in high energy, real life show
Review by Shannon Huse 21st Jul 2008
There’s nothing like an energetic youth show to make you feel decrepit. Joyful, naive and full of hope for the future, the 11 young women in The Girls Show would win over even the most hardened cynic with their lust for life …
… The directors say the show is not a play but a series of paintings that speak of and from the young women. Sorry ladies, but I think you’re a century behind in terms of your metaphor – the show is more like a random selection of music videos combined with a coming-of-age movie. [More]
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Attitude & identity explored with humour and respect
Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 21st Jul 2008
A warm & welcoming near capacity audience, one of the most diverse I have seen at an opening night in terms of ethnicity & age, are eager to see what this 11 strong female cast have devised. Described by Massive Company’s Sam Scott & Carla Martell as the "Matching pair" to the energetic all guys show Up Close Out Loud, The Girls Show delivers a more succinct & complex beast.
Comparatively, it is a serious yet heart-felt hour, giving a more expanded, although burdened world-view. There are similarities in shape & form. As with Up Close, much of the choreography sets a cracking pace with the entire cast jumping & running round stage, plus the cast speak directly to the audience, often.
The cast emerge confident & honest, surely the result of accessing their full potential from Massive Company’s devising process under the guidance of a directing collective: two directors (Scott & Martell) as well as two assistant directors (Scott Cotter & Kitan Petkovski) and a trainee assistant director (Misiarona Puni).
The multi cultural ensemble enters in black out, singing a powerful karanga, followed by an equally stirring waiata. 11 uniformly strong looking women (some Amazonian in stature) and all in potent voice, make an impressive start.
From this unified vocal, each Girl boldly steps forward to share a piece of themselves with us. Memorable moments for me include Genevieve Thompson-Ford’s cheerful confession to a cleaning fetish; 17 year old Tuyet Nguyen’s (& others) kick arse rap; Geneva Alexander-Marsters’ fierce pukana; Shannon Makasale’s sly smile; scary Joyce Samelu’s forceful command; Sammy-Rose Scapens’ bravery (she confides a love for ’80’s dance moves); & finally, Olive Asi’s show-stealing humorous comments about hanging out with her palagi friends in their palagi world (you have to go to the show to hear the punch lines).
South Auckland Samoan Asi’s comic timing & sense of humour is entertaining, accessible & very Bro Town. If she wanted to try out the stand-up comedy circuit, she has the beginnings of a winner routine right here, through her Massive experience.
The "South Side" posse, (Asi, Loretta Aukuso, Jocy Samelu & Tuyet Nguyen) also present a less optimistic view of their world, tainted by perceived unfairness. They resent the way rules, responsibility, reputation, respect and restrictions were applied more to them (than their brothers I assume) because they are girls. But as Joyce Samelu states emphatically "I know my values, I know I am a good girl."
Comic contrast comes in the form of Nicole Thomson & Genevieve Thompson-Ford trying to work out which "side" of Auckland they could rap for. As Shannon Makasale shares her 3am Beachaven stroll with us, each individual or group proudly reiterates how their part of Auckland, their home, their turf, has shaped their identity. It’s a graphic reminder of how richly diverse and completely different Auckland youth, and Aucklanders, are.
Nicole Thomson brings focus to the shared experience of the mother-daughter dynamic, through a smoky rendition of Summertime. Not only does she sing with a vocal styling that sits somewhere between Amy Winehouse (on a good day) and Duffy, she also portrays her over enthusiastic ‘show-mum’ (you know the type) between verses. Very nice.
With good humour, and eventually respect, others also share the embarrassments of parents, caused by a growing cultural as well as generational gap. Tuyet Nguyen’s story is different. She gives a poignant tribute to her parents for what they sacrificed for their kids. Her story starts with 22 days on a rusty boat and concludes with her acknowledgment of unconditional love.
Lighting designer Jeremy Fern ably supports the cast. He throws up a gobo of interwoven lines on the back wall of the Concert Chamber as the audience settles, as a suitable visual preamble to the diverse yet connected stories that are about to unfold. Fern continues to reference the Girls’ big bold tales and statements by snapping from one solid wall of bright colour to another. His illumination of the troupe’s entrance / karanga, from black out to stark, well angled shafts of white light to announce their arrival, is dramatic.
What struck me most about The Girls’ Show is that there is not one true-pink ‘girly-girly’ lass among them. While there is a humorous re-enactment of kids at play making Barbie and Ken dolls kiss, these grown up Girls do not fixate on angst, boys, relationships, sex or body image – These tough, staunch, ‘don’t mess with me’ creatures are all about attitude & identity.
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