Up Close Out Loud

Concert Chamber - Town Hall, THE EDGE, Auckland

30/04/2007 - 06/05/2007

Production Details

Devised by the team
Directed by Sam Scott and Carla Martell

Lighting by Jeremy Fern


At a time when daily news headlines are full of murder, rape and violent crimes, committed mostly by men, Massive Company’s latest show Up Close Out Loud is a welcome reminder that not all young men are monsters.

Hailed as the hit of last years international Contacting the World theatre festival in Manchester, England, Up Close Out Loud is a bold and intimate celebration of young New Zealand males. Audiences are taken on a 60-minute journey through the hearts and hopes of eight young actors who bring a feisty, honest and courageous energy to the stage.

Up Close Out Loud received an overwhelming response from international audiences at Contacting the World and sold out it’s debut Auckland season last year.

The fresh and explosive cast worked intensively for eight months, weaving fragments of their personal memories and experiences into a theatrical montage of story, music and wild physicality – creating a show that every young male, mother, sister, girlfriend, brother and father should see.

The cast is from wide and varied backgrounds, reflecting the melting pot that is Auckland today and offering a diverse sample of the issues young men face.

Massive Company, who took the widely celebratedThe Sons of Charlie Paora to London in 2004, is renowned for producing powerful and evocative theatre showcasing young emerging actors. Madeleine Sami (Sione’s Wedding), Miriama McDowell (No.2), Joe Folau (King Kong, No.2), and many others hail from Massive’s stable.  Massive is regarded as a world leader in youth theatre, with a voice and the courage to share the stories of those who make the work.

Massive is a company that is having enormous success in creating a distinctive New Zealand style of theatre, using the country’s extraordinary mix of cultural traditions to develop performance of world quality….Massive is one of very few companies internationally producing relevant, professional level work by younger performers.” John McGrath, Artistic Director, Contact Theatre , Manchester, England.

Massive Company founder and director Sam Scott said being involved with Contacting the World was a huge privilege. “We got to Manchester with Up Close Out Loud and blew the socks off every other theatre company there. The guys bowled them over with their explosiveness and raw energy. It was a very proud experience to be part of”

THE EDGE® Public Programmes Development Manager Sally Markham, who was largely responsible for bringing Contact Theatre and Massive Company together, says she is delighted to be working with Massive again on Up Close Out Loud. “The challenge this time around is to present a new face on an old show.  This is never easy but the cast are all one year older and their stories have changed so this needs to be reflected in the work.”

Up Close Out Loud cast includes; Jack Haldane-Willis (Grey Lynn), Kitan Petkovski (Onehunga), Scott Cotter (Mt Wellington), Misiarona Puni (Otara), Winston Harris (Glenfield), Dominic Ona-Ariki (Papatoetoe), Ashley Jones (Howick), Tainui Tukiwaho (Avondale).

Directed by Sam Scott and Carla Martell – The team behind The Sons of Charlie Paora and 100 Cousins.

Performance details:
Where: Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall, The Edge
When: 30 April – 6 May, 8pm, $12.50
Student Matinees: Tues 1st May, Weds 2nd May, Thurs 3 May, 12:30pm $5 students and teachers
Tickets: www.ticketek.co.nz <http://www.ticketek.co.nz>  09 307 5000

Pay As You Like Night, 1st May, which means those interested in seeing the show pay whatever they like. This initiative is aimed at expanding theatre audiences. To register for Pay As You Like contact nicoler@the-edge.co.nz <mailto:nicole@the-edge.co.nz> or phone 09 307 5092.

For more information contact: www.massivecompany.co.nz <http://www.massivecompany.co.nz>  

Cast includes:
Jack Haldane-Willis (Grey Lynn)
Kitan Petkovski (Onehunga)
Scott Cotter (Mt Wellington)
Misiarona Puni (Otara)
Winston Harris (Glenfield)
Dominic Ona-Ariki (Papatoetoe)
Ashley Jones (Howick)
Tainui Tukiwaho (Avondale)

Theatre , Dance ,

Flava all good but more is less

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 02nd May 2007

Massive Company is the brainchild of Directors Sam Scott, and Carla Martell, plus their creative team. In 2005, 80 hopefuls, aged 15 to 25, auditioned for this devised work. 8 men were chosen and Up Close Out Loud is the result. While not looking to cast an all male team, these individuals succeeded because of their craft and skill.

A healthy multi cultural second night audience, mainly young, lapped up the show and responded with the same freshness and energy freely given by the performers. There was no doubt the 8 were speaking to their peers on their level.

Devised pieces can be tricky, in that the natural inclination can be to use everything generously given. In this case, too much made the final cut, with directionless dialogue detracting from inspiring ensemble rhythm and dance.

In terms of dance, there were flashes of brilliance and innovation throughout the evening. Highlights included the light, tongue in cheek Boy Band Tribute, "One Love", but even more so, and by complete contrast, the strength and trust exemplified in a series of foetal hugs, with the men up close and clinging to one another for support.

The reoccurring cross over, like a sprint across the sports field, used as a linking device between "scenes", was expertly performed, lit and choreographed: an impressive snapshot of the men’s combined strength and discipline. Up Close Out Loud’s choreography has captured something quite special.

However, as a dramatic piece, Up Close Out Loud didn’t speak to me or hang together as a collective whole, due to the lack of story development and depth. While I was entertained by committed performance, and enjoyed seeing young men reinforce what I know of their clan, nothing of substance gripped me. By the end, while I knew more about the cast, through monologues about their experiences, nothing new came out of their light tales. We did get generalised, slightly clichéd directives, spoken at us at random throughout the night: "act for yourself", "face the truth", "challenge yourself", "do it all with love", but they felt like statements in isolation. Speaking directly to the audience can get tiresome when over used.

In terms of the content – yes, I am aware that being a young man can mean you go out with your mates; contemplate love; buy your first car; discover porn mags; drink; get drunk; punch; dance; flirt; kiss; hook up; lose your virginity, or not, as the case may be… and yes, it’s invigorating to see these experiences presented by their generation.  But I needed more substance – not just a brief mention, or showing – of the topic, to draw me in fully, and keep me there, with growing curiosity.

On saying that, I was impressed at the confidence and honesty of the cast. There is no doubt that individually, these men know what drives them and what is important to them. Got that. At times the speeches from some borders on too earnest, too wholesome. Occasionally I felt I was at a motivational youth conference, rather than a performance.

While some monologues could be viewed as a tad self indulgent, there is no doubt these men have found something special and strong through devising Up Close Out Loud, and that is a very good thing for all concerned. These men are happy, confident, talented, developing self-awareness, full of optimism and great humour, each willing to express their particular flava to us. It’s all good. If they continue to throw themselves at life off stage, as they have thrown themselves at Up Close out Loud, they will be stunning men – leaders.

Some interesting experiences offered by the cast – such as a confrontation in the streets; or being a white boy in a cosmopolitan city feeling like a cultural no-man’s land; or affirmations, such as Auckland being home – went no where. They simply dissolved into the night, left underdeveloped.

Perhaps the piece is trying to cover too much. The down side of this is it gives the impression of lip service, as the cast merely skates lightly across the surface of many big ideas. For example, I was impressed with the contrasting statements as to how each man felt about their ethnicity. There’s a show in that issue alone.

What did work for me was seeing these men support one another physically, and show a willingness to express deeper vulnerability and feelings, through dance.

In fact, as an ensemble, these men impressed me far more than contemporary dance groups, such as Dziah, simply because uniformly, 8 nimble, athletic artists communicated not only through fluid physicality, but through their faces, employing mind and body to express themselves through dance.

I hope these men capitalise on this aspect of their group dynamic. Their ability to capture an audience with raw, dynamic physical prowess, impressive fitness, skill and natural talent, is reminiscent of Black Grace in their heyday more than a decade ago.

Lighting by Jeremy Fern delivers some exquisite snapshots: the opening tableau, with the full cast in a cluster, revealed slowly as they move forward as one, is memorable. While Fern fully unitises the back wall of the Concert Chamber, and supports the dance numbers well, towards the end, the occasional solo moment downstage was under lit, or swallowed up by the overall lighting state for the scene.

The strength of the ensemble is the backbone of Up Close Out Loud’s success. However, the following individual moments impressed me the most: the dynamic moves of Misiarona Puni, the infectious warmth of Dominic Ona-Ariki, the humour and overall craft of Tainui Tukiwaho, plus the openness of Winston Harris and Kitan Petkovski. Devised work relies on giving, generous work from all, which was exemplified especially well and at every turn, by Scott Cotter, along with Ashley Jones and Jack Haldane-Willis.

If the evening were cut to half the duration and explored fewer ideas but in a fuller, deeper way, through dance and physicality alone, this troupe would make a much louder, longer impact on their audience.
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