YOUNG and HUNGRY 09 – Wellington

BATS Theatre, Wellington

10/07/2009 - 25/07/2009

Production Details

The Young and Hungry Festival of New Theatre 2009 
will be staged in Auckland and Wellington simultaneously.

Mentored by top theatre professionals, the cast and crews are made up entirely of 15-25 year olds who have the passion and the potential to make great NZ theatre.

YOUNG and HUNGRY 09 – Wellington

High School nobody Dolores Romero sings gospel like an angel; her bullies call her pig, her best friend is into cruelty-free pork; Gaia wants to save the world but Napolean wants to travel far away from it. We all have our moments of epiphany. Oyster embraces and explores how we discover who we are, and where the heck we belong in this big wide world.

Sit On It
An insightful comedy set entirely in the girl’s bathroom of a trashy Wellington nightclub when the place is packed with tipsy Uni students, Sit On It is flush with witty dialogue and awash with authentic characters. This hilarious peek into a very private world will gross out the boys and delight the girls.

Urban Hymns
A poetic exploration of friendship and loyalty. Beauty and passion comes up against jealousy and the quest for power on the school grounds. Urban Hymns is a theatrical realization of the time when our choices start to define us. This is the delicate period where the potential of youth meets the reality of the world, and black and white turns to grey.

The Young and Hungry Festival of New Theatre (Wellington)
runs July 10 – July 25
Bats, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
(No shows Sundays and Mondays).

The Festival is a triple-bill of 50 minute plays.
Shows are not suitable for children; contain drug references and offensive language.
Oyster – 6.30pm
Sit On It – 8.00pm
Urban Hymns – 9.30pm

Book for the shows:
Ph  04 802 4175


Dolores: Lauren Gibson
Mandy: Jessica Aaltonen
Lelani: Shirin White
Alabama: Catherine Mackmurdie
Gaia: Cara Louise Waretini
Napolean: Will Collin
Marek: Sam Hallahan
Velma: Karin McCracken
Chevy: Tom Horder

Stage Manager: Roz Craig
Costume design: Jacqueline Fee
Set Design: Sarah Burrell
Sound Design: Thomas Press
Sound assistant: Eden Williams
Lighting Design: Kat Shanahan, Chris Wordsworth
Lighting Operator: Chris Wordsworth
Sound Operator: Eden Williams
Publicity: Kat Shanahan, Annie Lee

Monica: Debs Rea
Tammy: Jackie Shaw
Vanessa: Phoebe Smith
Dan: Jonathan O'Kane
Wendy: Gabrielle Beran
Mike: Daniel Watterson
Jen: Prue Clarke
Jenny: Eve Marama
Bill: Ashleigh James
Millie: Anna Pearson
Carla: Zoë Towers
Bell: Gussie Larkin
Francis: Ana Clark

Stage Manager: Debbie Fish
Set and Costume design: Joel Cocks
Sound Design: Adam Goodall
Lighting Design: Vicky Roper, Jenna Bassett
Lighting Operator: Vicky Roper/ Jenna Bassett
Sound Operator: Adam Goodall
Publicity: Kat Shanahan, Annie Lee
Set Construction: Jared Clark 

Joseph: Kerehi Paurini
Tobias: Cameron Jones
Blue: Mani Dunlop
Isaiah: Benny Marama
Das: Ian Walsh
Lucius: Isaac Heron
Lela: Jessica Sweden
Jerome: Christopher deSousa Smith

Stage Manager: Tessa Alderton
Costume design: Alice Pearce
Set Design: Tegan Dunn
Sound Design: Matt Eller
Lighting Design: Isaac Heron, Nick Chester
Lighting Operator: Nick Chester
Sound Operator: Matt Eller
Publicity: Kat Shanahan, Annie Lee


Patron: Dame Kate Harcourt
Board Members: Charlotte Bates (Chair); Brianne Kerr; William Donaldson; Marcus McShane; Michael Daly
Producer: Simon Vincent
Production Manager: Aimee Froud
Set Mentor: Meg Frauenstein
Lighting Mentor: Glenn Ashworth
Publicity Mentor: Brianne Kerr
Sound Mentor: Thomas Press
Costume Mentor: Bex Joyce
Stage Management Mentor: Lori Leigh
Graphic Design: Aarti Uberto, Noel Pinnick
Mentored by Peter Montgomery, Clemenger BBDO
Production Assistant: Katherine Beijemen
Mentored by Simon Vincent

50 mins each play

Demands a season pass

Review by Uther Dean 14th Aug 2009

There is an unspoken law about the Young and Hungry festival of works. It is this, for as long as I can remember, each season has had a good play, a great play and an unutterably horrible play. Usually in that order. Not this year though. It’s probably something to do with all three works being written and directed by women, which, by all accounts just happened rather than being some sinister feminist conspiracy. This year the fact of the terrible play seems to have been forgotten all together. All three plays this year are notably strong, with only minor slips separating the good from the great.

Also pleasing was the absence of some of the minor glitches that had plagued previous years, for instance, diction had generally improved across the board, no longer were plot points lost by muffled or hidden voices. This year’s Young and Hungry, its 15th anniversary season, feels like a substantial leap ahead and with the program’s expansion – this season of plays is premiering in parallel in Auckland – one can only hope for this triumph to rollover into the coming years. If ever there was a Young and Hungry that demands a season pass, it’s this one…. [More]
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Dark, lyrical urban tale best of mixed bunch

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 13th Jul 2009

This is the 15th year that Young and Hungry has been running at BATS – which for the first is also running concurrently in Auckland. The three plays, all new works from NZ writers, are as diverse as ever.

The early evening play is Vivienne Plumb’s Oyster about a disparate group of youngsters finding their way in the world from school through to chosen career paths. Of differing backgrounds and social status and each with different agenda’s in life, ultimately under their youthful outer hard edged exterior each is as soft and delicate as an oyster and just as vulnerable. 

On a cleverly designed set by Sarah Burrell, Plumb’s quirky, rapid fire dialogue is given a spirited production by Rachel More and her cast of nine actors. The cast all bring an honesty and truthfulness to their characters making them real and believable, even though the pace of the lines made them inaudible at times.

The middle play of the evening, and the least satisfying, is the comedy Sit On It by George Titheridge, about the goings on in a women’s toilet. 

Joel Cocks realistically grungy set of three toilet cubicles and 2 washbasins contrasts well with his loud garish costumes but it’s hard to believe that the shallow vacuous characters are based on anything real. The play is nothing more than a group of stereotypical "thick chicks" – and a couple of guys – talking loudly about nothing in particular. 

The play is funny in places, but also exceedingly gross in others, and mildly entertaining . The energetic cast under Lyndee-Jane Rutherford’s direction appear to enjoy themselves but the constant over-acting and facial grimaces became tedious long before the play finished.

The final play of the night was a gripping and compelling piece of theatre by Miria George called Urban Hymns, which was given an edgy and gritty production by director Fiona Truelove and her cast of eight. 

Joseph is cash strapped when he loses his after school job so jumps at the chance of his mates Tobias’s idea of earning extra money.  But they don’t reckon on the urban jungle they live in or the characters they encounter in trying to get their scheme off the ground. As a consequence it eventually all goes up in flames, literally. 

The poetry of Hone Tuwhare woven throughout the play gives it an unusual lyricism, which coupled with a mesmerising musical beat made the production hauntingly surreal.

All the actors were able to bring meaning and clarity to the piece with focused and energised performances, moving lithely and cat-like around Tegan Dunn’s darkly symbolic and evocative set when not part of the action, making this the highlight of this years Young and Hungry Festival of New Theatre.
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Light relief between two important new works

Review by John Smythe 11th Jul 2009

Vivienne Plumb (recent plays: The Wife Who Spoke Japanese In Her Sleep; The Cape), Georgina Titheridge (Babycakes) and Miria George (And What Remains) are the three playwrights who pitched their ideas two years ago and won commissions to write this year’s Young and Hungry trilogy. The luxury of being allowed large casts, plus the constraint of a 50-minute timeslot in a space to be shared, have produced three very different results.

OYSTER by Vivienne Plumb, directed by Rachel More

The name draws together what might otherwise seem to be disparate story lines about a range of characters. There is roughness and tenderness throughout, and eventually we see that those who are roughest on the outside are the most vulnerable within. And for most, by the end, the world is indeed their oyster.

In the opening scene Dolores (Lauren Gibson), intelligent and a committed Christian, is bullied in the science lab by Mandy (Jessica Aaltonen), Lelani (Shirin White) and Alabama (Catherine Mackmurdie). Instant recognition, concern and empathy compels our attention.

Everyone is trying to cope with the challenges of life as they get some measure of themselves and the wider world. Gaia (Cara Louise Waretini) is a radical environmental activist while her brother, Napoleon (Will Collin), seeks equilibrium though Buddhism and being a Trekkie.

His Polish mate Marek (Sam Hallahan) smokes, drinks and is obsessed with saving the banana, for which read tropical rainforests. Vlema (Karin McCracken) has a healthy disregard for guilt trips and is good at dealing to the bullies.

Chevy (TomHorder), a window cleaner, is a proselytising but sincere born-again Christian whose invitations to share the love seem awfully attractive amid the maelstrom of teenage-to-adult life.

Thanks to Rachel More’s assured directing of Vivienne Plumb’s rich and often witty script, all the actors inhabit their characters with great conviction, taking us into themselves and out into the worlds they are exploring with a remarkable fluency.

Sarah Burrell’s set of boxes, lit by Kat Shanahan and Chris Wadsworth (who also operates), Jacqueline Fee’s costume designs and Thomas Press’s sound design (assisted and operated by Eden Williams) all contribute positively to the whole, which leaves us with many memorable moments and plenty of food for thought.

SIT ON IT by Georgina Titheridge, directed by Lyndee-Jane Rutherford

This is the light relief of the trilogy: girls – and the odd boy – in some generic nightclub’s grotty ‘Ladies’ lavatory. Sit On It offers close-to-home recognition or nostalgia for women and an eye-opening education for men.

Heightened theatricality notwithstanding (and alcohol and high heels does make standing an issue here), do girls really behave like this? Apparently.

The gross comedy rooted in truth reminds me somewhat of British playwright John Gober’s 1980s plays Bouncers and Shakers (although he wrote for multi role-playing casts of four) in the stratum of society it explores. But despite having an actor for each role, this play remains superficial.

Titheridge reveals very little about the larger lives of the 13 people who pay various visits. Maybe because they are self-obsessed gen-Yers living in the instant, not much in the way of past experience or future aspirations informs their present actions. Mostly they parade various states of being, which is a challenge for the actors. Presumably they have had to fill in the blanks for themselves without getting to share much with the audience. Rather thankless, I would think.

Yet dowdy Francis (Ana Clark), so inappropriately clad in a long formal frock, wins most of the empathy simply by being on the outer while wanting to be included. Almost a silent clown figure, her ‘lessness’ turns out to be more than many of the others amount to.

Debs Rea’s totally wasted Monica also works at a less-is-more physical theatre level. But the more other roles recur, and the more they converse, the more we want things to evolve, reveal and progress, in the manner of a play rather than a much shorter comedy sketch.

Self-esteem-challenged Jen (Prue Clarke) and wannabe dirty dancer Jenny (Eve Marama) capture the ‘Valley-girl’ cliché with alacrity, showing how drunkenness can too easily flip a friendship into bitchiness. They also cleverly set the convention – via director Lyndee-Jane Rutherford – of talking to each other in the ‘fourth wall’ mirror.

Tammy (Jackie Shaw) and Vanessa (Phoebe Smith) spend most of the night cadging tampons. Mike (Daniel Watterson), the bar owner keeps wandering in to hit on whoever is at hand while reserving his true admiration for himself in the mirror.

The most interesting relationship is between girlfriends Bill (Ashleigh James) and Millie (Anna Pearson), given Bill’s having a boyfriend (unseen) and Millie’s inability to declare her true feelings for Bill.

Similarly Dan (Jonathan O’Kane) is sexually confused to the great frustration of his good friend Wendy (Gabrielle Beran). Bell (Gussie Larkin) spends much of the time locked and ignored in an ‘Out of Order’ cubicle only to get yelled at by big sister Carla (Zoe Towers). These brief glimpses leave us wanting more too but not, I suggest, in a good way.

The trap quite a few fall into, presumably because of the lack of story involving their characters, is over-acting, and there is nothing quite so unfunny as someone obviously trying to be funny. Those who find truth in their roles and actions are the ones who get the laughs.

A supportive opening night audience did laugh a lot but quite a few moments fell flat that should not have. Hopefully over the season some very valuable lessons will be learned about how to play comedy.

Designer Joel Cocks’ scungy set (lit by Vivky Roper and Jenna Bassett) suggests a temporary rave venue in a soon-to-be bowled development site and his costume designs are excellent.

The fact there is sufficient room under each door for most people to crawl out, however, does subvert some of the actions as does the obvious availability of a cubicle when someone is hammering on a locked door saying they’re desperate. Such details do tend to preoccupy us when there is a lack of more compelling substance.

URBAN HYMNS by Miria George, directed by Fiona Truelove

Miria George takes us into an underworld where a disenfranchised underclass is ill-equipped to find legal means of survival in a recession. Her play is gutsy and strangely poetic – not obviously so in its language (as in A Clockwork Orange in its language); more aligned with Hone Tuwhare, who is often mentioned and quoted. Some of the characters are supposed to be handing in an essay on Tuwhare but they are living his territory subjectively rather than studying it objectively.

Motherless sixteen year-old Joseph (Kerehi Paurini) has lost his petrol station job. "Power and phone – that’s my job! My old man’s supposed to cover the rent …" Except Jo knows his dad was laid off from the factory three weeks ago and is pretending to go to work each day (which is why he was asking for more hours). Jo’s mate Tobias (Cameron Jones) wants to help his mate but his volatile and self-serving nature make him more of a hindrance in the end.

Lucius (Isaac Heron) is dealing drugs in the belief it will help his addict sister Lela (Jessica Sweden), who is in an abusive relationship with Jerome (Christopher deSousa Smith). Lucius is also dreams of escaping to a whole new life with Blue (Mani Dunlop), whose "always high on something" brother, Isaiah (Benny Marama), is the feared kingpin of this undeworld.

Throbbing through all the action is the electronic music of Das (Ian Walsh; sound design by Matt Eller), whose discovery of the Music Room has liberated him from a world he thought "was cold and hard, was of black on black on black" (from Tuwhare’s We Who Live in Darkness).

In Tuwhare’s poem the deities are locked between their earth and sky parents. George’s people are likewise locked between their immediate survival needs and other human wants and desires. And at their level too – just like up in the stratosphere of global economics, board rooms and head offices – the Market rules. And petrol fuels their actions.

It is the place of learning that is finally destroyed as a shattered Joseph calls his dad for help. "We who live in darkness" and "We are Not alone" are written on blackened windows. Only DAS claims access to the world of light – te ao marama – because of his music.  

Director Fiona Truelove abstracts the action somewhat, infusing it with percussive punctuations in the stygian gloom of Tegan Dunn’s ‘underworld’ set, lit by Isaac Heron and Nick Chester (with sound design by Matt Eller and costume design by Alice Pearce).  

The writing, directing, performing and production conspire to bring an epic quality to a powerful story that would otherwise get a couple of minutes on the news, as an arson report.
– – – – – – –
For me, middle-aged male that I am, Oyster and Urban Hymns are important new works extremely well served in these productions. If I were to see them again I’d probably skip Sit On It in favour of a decent feed. But that’s just me.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Peaceheartsoulsista July 15th, 2009

Ageist and sexist when I was only re-interating your own words quote "middle-aged man" un-quote, my presumption may very well be unfounded but I do not falter  .... SIT ON IT is a funny honest look at our young people and the senarios that could very well happen in the women's toilets. Many thanks for your long reply, I will wear it like a badge of honour =)

John Smythe July 14th, 2009

I am glad you enjoyed yourself, Peaceheartsoulsista (an interesting pseudonym for someone so ready to be offensive, in a sexist and ageist way, to those whose opinions differ from hers). However I stand by my claim that had the Sit On It playwright given her characters back-stories and motivating wants /needs /desires, and had she given more narrative structure to the play as a whole, everyone – actors and audience alike – would have been better off.

It has been confirmed to me that the cast spent a lot of time filling in the gaps for themselves, but because all that remains private information (not ‘wrought’ into the play and therefore not shared with the audience), they’ve had little reward from all that hard work.

While I acknowledge there were laughs a-plenty on opening night, there were also many dead-silences at moments where the actors were striving for laughs. Invariably, and inevitably, it was seeing them working so hard to get the laughs that killed their potential. A character pursuing a purpose, or responding in well-rooted truth to the circumstances, has much more chance of getting a laugh that an actor obviously playing for laughs.

Oh, and does it really need to be said that all us ‘older’ punters were young once, we have good memories, not a helluva lot has changed in essence when it comes to getting out of it, we are closely related to young people now, we have our eyes and ears open and our wits about us …  

And hey, if we all had to live experiences before we could review plays about them, hardly anything would get covered. People engage with stories, in all their forms, as much to expand their awareness and understanding of the world around them as to have their own lives acknowledged. 

Peaceheartsoulsista July 14th, 2009

And how many plays that you have reviewed have had spontaneous applause in a place where often to crackle your lolly paper gets a stern look from the person seated before you. As an audience member on the night in question your review not only insults the playwright but myself. I totally enjoyed the playwrights honesty about the goings on in the ladies toilets and heartlily laughed at all the quirks and over-acting but then I am not a middle-age man who spends no times in a night-club let alone the ladies loos.

Debs Rea July 12th, 2009

Hi John,

Thanks fo the review. I really appreciate that you have taken us seriously and reviewed us just as you would any other professional show.

Corus July 12th, 2009

What? SIT ON IT was the standout of the night by miles. Exciting to see such a big group of crazy real girls being so funny and behaving so revoltingly badly, and easy to forgive a bit of overacting and a few production hiccups when there was so much good going on, some brilliant performances, not one worthy insipid moment. Dirty gutsy stuff from a young writer who really understands what theatre's for, she'll go far.

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