Allen Hall Theatre, University of Otago, Dunedin

22/03/2012 - 24/03/2012

Dunedin Fringe 2012

Production Details

‘I feel like almost every second I see leaves, I see dapples, dust, people, people talking, the road, the texture, the movement of everything…And I feel like I’m breathing in energy…and THIS is the thing I should live for’

Lilith, Jessie, Kiwi, Marissa, Smeagol…are characters on a journey of discovery and delight in this new docudrama-style performance from a company new to Dunedin Fringe Festival audiences.

To Wom!n Productions make their debut with a production that showcases raw testimony collected over several months over an “anonymous” online site about women and how they impact our lives.

Facebook posts, email messages, text messages and recalled personal memories have been accumulated into script form to be presented “live” before Fringe audiences at Allen Hall Theatre.

Using film, sound and movement, representations of girlfriends, lovers, mothers, sisters, daughters and grandmothers will feature in this journey of reality and the imagination, love and loss, closeness and separation across time and distance.

Director, Suzanne Ingelbrecht, who is also currently the William Evans Playwriting Fellow at Otago University, is delighted to be working with a “local” cast and crew made up almost entirely of young, emerging artists for this world premiere event.

“It is very exciting to be working with such a range of local talent, and to listen to their ideas on how to interpret what is essentially a verbatim script,” she said. “In particular, we have had the difficult job of respecting and honoring what at times has been very sensitive personal material.”

The show will combine comedy and whimsy as well as drama and pathos. It will, said Ingelbrecht, be performance to make you think, as well as make you laugh and cry.

Wom!n in My Life
Allen Hall Theatre, 90 Union Street, Dunedin,
March 22 to 24.
All performances start at 8PM,
with a special matinee at 5PM on Saturday, March 24.
Tickets are $20 (full) and $15 (concession)
available through Dash Tickets on www.dashtickets.co.nz.

The show is supported through the financial assistance of Creative Communities NZ and Otago University’s Performing Arts Fund.

An affectionate, respectful look at women

Review by Brenda Harwood 23rd Mar 2012

Young love, family conflict, illness and death are explored in verbatim-style docu-drama Wom!n In My Life, presented by staff and students of the University of Otago Theatre Studies Department for the Dunedin Fringe Festival. 

The play, which opened at the university’s Allen Hall Theatre last night [Thursday, March 22], shares memories of girlfriends, lovers, mothers, sisters, daughters and grandmothers through the words of the people who know and love them. Those words were gathered through an `anonymous’ online site, running for six weeks late last year, and then workshopped into the play by To Wom!n Productions, a project led by University of Otago William Evans Playwriting Fellow Suzanne Ingelbrecht. 

While not strictly adhering to the verbatim theatre style, in which every nuance of a person’s words and gestures are reproduced by the actors, Wom!n In My Life highlights and interprets individual testimony. 

On a minimalist set, against the simple backdrop of a sheer curtain, a team of five actors – Sarah Chbihi, Alayne Dick, Karen Elliot, Adrian Wood, and Joel Rees – present multiple characters. Among them are a mother and daughter, young lovers, brother and sister, sons, grandsons, girlfriends and boyfriend. 

The stories told in Wom!n In My Life are mostly the tales of everyday life: relationships forming and breaking up, family dynamics, plans and schemes, hopes and dreams. The play concludes with a moving eulogy, beautifully delivered by Karen Elliot. 

Wom!n In My Life feels well-planned and well-rehearsed, with strong performances across the board. Although some stories work better than others, the overall sense is of an affectionate, respectful look at the women who are important to us all. 

The play’s presentation is enhanced by strong lighting design from Martyn Roberts, making good use of the sheer curtain to back-light some characters and create a split stage effect. Visual and aural interest are also added through film created by Rachael Patching and sound design by James Caley. 

For those unfamiliar with verbatim theatre, Wom!n in My Life provides an appealing introduction. 

The play continues at Allen Hall Theatre, on campus at the University of Otago, tonight [Friday, March 23] and Saturday [March 24], at 8pm.


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