TOM KEEPER PASSES
03/02/2012 - 12/02/2012
Long Cloud Youth Theatre and the fantastical, improbable legend of TOM KEEPER PASSES!
The bees have gone. No one quite knows why. One day they were there and the next they weren’t.
Over the past four months the members of Long Cloud have been working with Aaron Cortesi, Leon Wadham and multi-award winning playwright Eli Kent to devise a bizarre and twisted allegory for our times. Playful, wicked and darkly humorous, this is vital storytelling for anyone prepping for the world to come.
Following the success of YO FUTURE, Long Cloud continues to develop its Company vision with new work TOM KEEPER PASSES. Created in collaboration with both Downstage Theatre and Toi Whakaari: The New Zealand Drama School, Long Cloud will present this original production in Te Whaea Theatre from the 3rd until the 12th of February.
Hurtling between families, over oceans and through the years, TOM KEEPER PASSES presents a world out of balance and the people teetering upon it. In a time of crisis, can we trust ourselves to find any answers? What can we change? Where do we start?
Artistic Director Aaron Cortesi: “22 young actors spill onto the stage, their hopes and fears laid bare. Tom Keeper Passes is their fable for our times. Its exciting, raw, epic…pure Long Cloud.”
Long Cloud Youth Theatre is a hothouse forNew Zealand’s most exciting young acting talent. Long Cloud, run by Whitireia New Zealand and based inWellington, is a unique training and production company for young people aged 16-21. The Company gives young actors the means to enhance their theatrical skills through practical performance experience and the opportunity to work withWellington’s foremost theatrical directors and tutors.
Company credits are YO FUTURE (2011), SHEEP (2011), DAUGHTERS OF HEAVEN (2011), EQUUS (2010), THE SEAGULL (2010), VERNON GOD LITTLE (2010), TITUS ANDRONICUS (2009), THE CRUCIBLE (2009), GRIMM & COLONY! (2008/2009) AND SPRING AWAKENING (2008).
Tom Keeper Passes
TE WHAEA THEATRE, 11 Hutchison Rd, Wellington
3rd February – 12th February.
Tues – Sat shows @ 8pm, Sunday’s @ 3pm.
$14/$18, BOOKINGS PHONE 04 238 6225 or ONLINE WWW.THETHEATRE.CO.NZ
Lily Della Porta
Devised by Aaron Cortesi, Leon Wadham, Eli Kent & Cast
Director Aaron Cortesi
Writer Eli Kent
Co-Director Leon Wadham
Production Management Paul Tozer
Set Design Oliver Morse
Lighting Design Nathan McKendry
Sound Design Matthew Eller
Singing Coach/Composition Hayley Sproull
Stage Manager Alana Kelly
Movement Coach Ria Simmons
Costume Design Emma Nicholls
Lighting Operator Hamish Baxter-Broad
Produced by Long Cloud Youth Theatre in association with Whitireia New Zealand
Production Photos by Philip Merry & Michelle Ny
Dazzling melange funny, haunting
Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 09th Feb 2012
“The whole world’s in a terrible state of chassis” says Captain Boyle at the end of O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock and it would appear from Long Cloud Theatre’s last devised production, Yo Future, and their latest, Tom Keeper Passes, it isn’t going to get any better because this time the bees have vanished.
Until Yo Future this youth theatre group specialised in scripted plays, which was fine except too many actors ended up playing walk-on roles; with devised work everyone participates in the making of the show as well as having a moment or two to shine.
A great deal of hard work has been spent over the past four months on the show’s creation and it’s all triumphantly on display at Te Whaea: Oliver Morse’s spectacular twin-towered wooden setting, Matthew Eller’s pulsating sound design, Nathan McKendry’s startling lighting; Ria Simmons’s amusing choreography, Emma Nicholls’s clever costumes, and the twenty-one young performers’ discipline and maturity.
This hour-long show starts with the cast as a tightly-knit group watching the audience and not a TV set as in Yo Future; at the end, as in Yo Future, the group has broken up into small argumentative units all of which seem to have an answer to the problems of the world but a Queen Bee has not been found and blame has to be apportioned to explain the ‘chassis’ however crazy the reason, such as ‘Someone shifted the sun’.
A melange of sharply defined scenes depicting everything from a beggar on the streets to a disillusioned rebel to a group of do-gooders looking for answers in personal feel-good mantras, to everyone looking for a saviour, to a person committing suicide, and someone who believes that technology will be the answer.
If it sounds grim, it isn’t. It is exhilarating, sobering and often very funny indeed. The comic highlights are when everyone performs a celebratory, almost balletic dance and when two tents perform a mating ritual which had the audience almost hysterical with laughter. However, the lyrics of Queen’s 39 (“For my life’s still ahead, pity me”), which are earlier hauntingly sung by the cast, come to mind at the finale when a door eerily opens to reveal blazing lights and engulfing smoke. A splendid production.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Highly recommended to non-passive theatre-goers
Review by John Smythe 04th Feb 2012
Long Cloud Youth Theatre specialises in adolescent existential angst plays (adolexistangstial theatre?) and Tom Keeper Passes does it with an insightful humour that envelops us all in an all-too-familiar entropy. What can we do?
Devised by Aaron Cortesi (director), Leon Wadham (co-director), Eli Kent (writer) and the cast of 21 it works with bee-keeping as a metaphor for human intervention in the natural world and assumes we already know how modern life is endangering bees and therefore the food chain we rely on for survival. (I would argue, by the way, that before bees were kept it was honey, not the bee, that was hunted).
It’s always a danger with devised theatre that the performance tail will wag the content dog, distorting the balance and coherence of the ‘argument’ and subverting a comprehensively structured exploration of the central theme. Tom Keeper Passes can be said to fall prey to that, yet the disconnected pockets of torpor, interest, apathy, passion, self-indulgence, arrogance, action and inaction do amount to a valid collage of how communities of humans cope with overwhelm.
It is staged in Te Whaea’s main auditorium and we enter in single file down a narrow corridor to enter the space and choose our seats; in retrospect a splendid evocation of bees entering the hive. There is constant play throughout as to whether we are within or without the hive.
The set by Oliver Morse features a wood-slat beehive, two wood-slat tower blocks and stylised nests hanging from above, enhanced by Nathan McKendry’s lighting and Matthew Eller’s sound design. With costumes (Emma Nicholls) that instantly communicate who and what each person is, and the projected text used throughout, this all adds up to a very strong design environment.
The inciting incident involves an expert bee keeper who, in the process of imparting his wisdom, loses the Queen and sets off on a mission to find another. The visual contrast between the healthy slab of honey comb and the munted one is powerful. So is the recurring image of ‘the people’ revering and trusting a leader-cum-saviour then becoming preoccupied in the minutiae of their various lives: superbly evoked in a random series of cameos and in the formation of clusters (indeed a cluster is what greets us on arrival in the ‘hive’).
Whether Tom the Keeper passes on or passes the buck is left to us to interpret, as are many elements, which may or may not be to your taste. From the foyer chat afterwards it is clear opening night’s highly supportive audience enjoys the challenge of discerning meaning, not least because all the components ring true. When the performers are clear, confident and generous in their work, they compel our trust – and this ensemble does.
Amid the idiosyncratic individuals that get their 15 seconds at the microphone, three distinct sectors form: scientists on a field trip; a disaffected group that gradually becomes would-be revolutionaries; an alternative therapies cluster.
A romance in what I take to be a daytime American soap opera sees its leads into their dotage, suggesting we’ve covered many decades. The Occupy Movement arises and dissipates within a few witty moments. A performance poet recurs in ever-increasing bizarreness …
When it comes to production values the high points are a fire in one of the towers, a very long drop in the other which has been seeping blood and brown gunk, and a climactic encounter between two igloo tents (worth the price of admission alone). The beautiful choral singing under the guidance of Hayley Sproull also adds great value.
Memorable moments are many – the final encounter with a disembodied voice via a microphone hanging in a tuba is profoundly disturbing – but the one most mentioned in the aftermath involves a woman down the hole needing a ladder: a simple exchange of dialogue that hits our collective solar plexus hard.
Tom Keeper Passes consolidates the post Willem Wassenaar era that began with last year’s Yo Future. Is a new ‘house style’ emerging, of devised ensemble shows that try to cover off everything young people think and feel about life, the universe and everything? Perhaps, but two shows do not a house style make.
Meanwhile Tom Keeper Passes is highly recommended to non-passive theatre-goers. It behoves us well to tune into these perceptions of our world.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer