BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

27/02/2014 - 02/03/2014

NZ Fringe Festival 2014

Production Details

An Open Letter from Lorde to the people of Wellington

I’ve been waiting for something to hit home. And now it has. 

I want to reach you, the people, my fans who walk up and down streets everyday, wearing clothes and eating food. You, yes you.

When I think of NZ as I sit in my lonely hotel room in LA, I find that it’s not the rugged landscape that I miss. I take no comfort in knowing that kids can run barefoot and free in any Mitre 10 Mega they choose. I’ve sold my LOTR Trilogy on Trade Me with no shipping costs because I realized something. When someone asks me at a record label pool party what I miss the most about Aotearoa I can now proudly say that it’s a theatre group called The Town Centre.

Let’s be honest. Who knows who’s really talking to whom in this crazy little industry we call home? Snoot and the necessity of competition can overwhelm. We’re hardly The Love Club. That’s why I’m endorsing these works openly to you. I believe in them and they believe in you, coming to see them, because of me.

Who cares about names, labels, profiles, statuses and “facts”? All are only LIES, damned LIES and statistics, and 100% of me wagers that The Town Centre will leave you bewildered, forever altered, raising your fists to the stars, screaming “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?!?!” 

Don’t feel you should trust me just because I topped the US charts and I’m only 16. I could be lying through my White Teen Teeth. I’m an Aquarian with a Pisces rising. You can see straight through me. I’m not a hider. Or maybe I am or maybe it’s not important. We’re all liars, tattle tales, hiders and seekers with our pants on fire, aren’t we? Isn’t this whole thing we call “life” just one big complicated beautiful lie?

A lie is a courtesy, a little respect. I’m overwhelmed that The Town Centre has shown me the respect of lying in order bring people together and use BATS theatre as a space for change.

By now you’re thinking, surely this is a lie. Who is this? Is she really Lorde? But isn’t that the point? Maybe I’m Lorde and maybe I’m not but one thing’s for sure. Nothing is certain.

Let’s just say for arguments sake, I am lying. Did your heart swell for just a second with the possibility of a celebrity wanting to connect with little old you? Lies beget pretending. The most important thing we do. It’s the way we make up our thought experiments, find out what it would be like to be otherwise. (Brian Eno told me that over sushi. Honest)

I’m a construct. A reflection of yourself through time, space and the internet, refracting light and selling tickets… I mean records. A ghost of your consumer self desperately seeking to gorge itself on a show that makes sense of this chaotic and murderous world.

And here it is. The answer. The plat du jour.

The Town Centre

at BATS Out of Site 27 Feb — 2 March
8pm What Have You Done To Me?
11pm LIES

with Nisha Madhan, Stephen Bain, Josh Rutter, Julia Croft, Lara Fischel-Chisholm, & Ash Jones 

Theatre ,

Absurdist and surreal deconstruction of performance

Review by Deborah Eve Rea 28th Feb 2014

What Have You Done to Me? is cleverly billed as an “absurdist cabaret of obsessions”.  Through game, both with each other and with the audience, Stephan Bain and Nisha Madhan dance around love, obsessions and hopefully desperate situations. 

It seems oddly fitting that this show begins with the ringing of audience members’ phones, late-comers entering noisily, and too loud whispers of “oh no, I think it’s something weird.”

What Have You Done to Me? forms a dreamscape in parts and at others the theatre and audience relationship is overt and exploited.  The show features many absurdist and surreal explorations including an ink blot test and a stunning tango with telescopes, as Bain and Madhan rediscover and investigate their attraction.

At an earlier point, they have two thirds of the audience dancing on the stage. Each theatrical exploration within the show appears deconstructed. What Have You Done to Me? breaks every rule of the theatre without ever encroaching into arrogance or cliché.

The piece appears largely focused on Madhan, who is spectacular. Madhan leads us through occasional narration and monologue. At points she is openly hurt; at others she is seductive, demanding, lost or playful. Of particular standout is her performance channelling artist Sophie Calle, who casually confronts the politics, repression and constraints of New Zealand theatre. 

Bain plays his role softly with the occasional poke of threat to Madhan that he could steal the lead position at any time. He appears to be holding Madhan’s hand, both leading and supporting her through her mad theatrical discovery.

What Have You Done to Me? is reminiscent of the early performance pursuits of Alan Brunton and Sally Rodwell.  It’s wonderful to have the romance back in Wellington.


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