THE WITCHING HOURS
24/10/2013 - 26/10/2013
What happens when the clock ticks past midnight? What causes the inexplicable and supernatural to become all too logical and real? What is hiding just in the corner of your eye, just out of sight? What are The Witching Hours?
Each night just $10 gets you two never-before-heard eerie audio dramas performed for you live. Some will chill your blood. Some will tickle your funny bone. All of them will change you. Forever.
No Rest for the Wicked
Acclaimed theatre company My Accomplice, fresh from their recent smash successes with the award-winning fringe hit A Play About Space and the sell-out sensation Joseph K, aren’t resting on their laurels. This month they launch The Witching Hours, an anthology series of eerie audio dramas by award-winning writer Uther Dean. Think The Twilight Zone but with the best special effects company of all time: the human imagination.
The first season of six will be performed and recorded live, two an evening, from the 24 – 26 of October at BATS theatre (On the corner of Cuba and Dixon for 2013). Each will then be podcast for the whole world to enjoy at thewitchinghours.com and on iTunes.
Tickets are only $10 for everyone to encourage people to take a punt on this new way of doing things. “Everyone keeps talking about how we need to get more people to the theatre,” says Dean. “But we’re not offering enough variety in either format or content to really entice people. Imagine going to a record store that only sells country music albums that have to be listened to all together, you’d go once a year rather than once a week.
“So, I wondered what the theatre equivalent of an EP or a single would look like. Some thing quick, cheap and disposable but still satisfying. The Witching Hours is my first attempt at an ‘EP’ for the theatre. It’s cheap, it’s quick. It might not be as polished as big proper play, but $10 for a solid hour’s entertainment is still great value.
“Also, I just love The Twlight Zone, The Outer Limits and Black Mirror, all those weird kooky sci-fi anthology shows that actually have a lot of space in their one-and-done format of a new story and new world everytime for both having a lot of fun and saying something a little serious. And then I started listening to things like Welcome to Nightvale and The Thrilling Adventure Hour, these radio dramas that are performed live and then podcast, and something just clicked between the two.”
The cast includes Chapman Tripp-winner Paul Waggott (Red, Tribes, Joseph K), Hannah Banks (Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants, A Play About Space), Sam Hallahan (Dragonlore) and Francesca Emms (The Island Bay Loners Doomsday Christmas Singalong), and all the spooky tales are narrated by acclaimed local stand-up comedian Jonny Potts.
24 – 26 of October
at BATS Theatre (corner of Cuba and Dixon)
6.30pm (2 new plays each night)
(04) 802 4175
Off-beat, quirky, surrealist sci-fi blend
Review by Charlotte Simmonds 26th Oct 2013
“The Witching Hours is my first attempt at an ‘EP’ for the theatre,” wrote the playwright in the media release, describing EPs as being “quick, cheap and disposable”.
Or, as I have always thought of them, collector’s items, hand-labelled in hand-cut cardboard sleeves with two tone hand-made woodcut illustrations, hand-purchased at the merch table from the hand of the band themselves; collector’s items that you want to snap up quickly before the band becomes really famous. (I’m describing an Arcade Fire EP I bought in Germany almost ten years ago. Pre-Youtube.)
When Uther Dean becomes a (more) famous director, screenwriter, megamillions-making novel series author, Ray Bradbury, or whatever he goes on to do when people start giving him more money to do it with, I’ll be able to say, “Yep, I was at the live recording of one of the very first ever Witching Hours as the current incarnation was formerly known back in 2013.”
Because his writing is really, really good. Even when he’s trying to be quick, cheap and disposable.
The Witching Hours is a series of six half-hour radio episodes (podcasts I guess) performed and recorded live: two to a night. They will be online at www.thewitchinghours.com very soon, so you can catch for free what you didn’t pay $10 to see, but that’s like finding out about the Arcade Fire later when they’re all over radios and YouTubes and you’ll only be half as cool.
Live audio plays may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and I understand if others prefer sets, costumes and running around, but as a pretty hard-core introvert whose favourite films put other people to sleep, I am a strong appreciator of reduced stimuli art forms and find them no less stimulating.
I go on Friday night and am fortunate enough to witness Hannah Banks, Paul Waggot and Jonny Potts performing first Men Are From Phobos, Women are From Deimos, in which a gas-lighting husband is trapped, Sartre’s No Exit style, on a spacecraft with his self-centred wife. The classic Albee-an couples drama plays out on a trip to Mars.
The second audio play is Fun and Games, in which a boring white, middle class woman tries to buy a board game for her son from a David Attenborough-cum-mysterious old man toy shop owner. A nice touch is having the playwright himself on stage providing foley; nice because every time the audience laughs, he grins wildly, so there is a sort of wordless playwright-audience banter going on that I have never seen before.
On Thursday I missed Pride and Toxoplasmosis (odd happenings at the SPCA) and The Flip of a Coin (workers at the Ministry of Fate go rogue). I heard a whisper from an audience member that Thursday night was better than the fantastic Friday night so I look forward to hearing the podcast online.
Saturday night I will be likely to miss The Dark Gardens of St Sinister (knights fighting monsters at a monastery) and either The Dark Ones (supernatural phone-in radio) or a dream thriller set in Wellington art galleries called Portrait of the Artist as Another Man, apparently dependent on whichever Dean has decided to write this morning, and perhaps Francesca Emms and Sam Hallahan will be present, since they weren’t present on Friday.
My only criticism is that the name seems out of place. The phrase ‘witching hours’ evokes for me more sinister, Halloween, supernatural horror type notions, and not the oozing Ray Bradbury from every pore type of off-beat, quirky, surrealist sci-fi blend in the tradition of The Twilight Zone (for which Ray Bradbury did actually write at one point) that the show really is, although I suppose if I had paid more attention to the poster initially, I should have been able to pick that up.
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