Young & Hungry Festival of New Theatre 2010, Auckland

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

09/07/2010 - 24/07/2010

Production Details


Auckland Theatre Company is thrilled to return toThe Basement in July with over 50 emerging young theatre-makers to present the 2010 Young and Hungry Festival of New Theatre. Featuring three new plays – Thinningby Eli Kent, Exchange by Lauren Jackson and Fitz Bunny: Lust for Glory by cartoonist Grant Buist – the season showcases fresh new faces and hot new stories from the latest generation of NZ theatrical talent.

Thinningfollows six friends as they break-up, hook-up, fall in love, get drunk, fall over and come out in one last explosive summer together before life takes them all in different directions. A Genuine Kiwi story that everyone can relate to, Thinning is a quintessential mix of The Breakfast Club and American Pie reinvented for the theatre.

Eli Kent who wrote the award winning The Intricate Art of Actually Caring and Rubber Turkey (2008 Chapman Tripp winner – Outstanding New Playwright of the Year) has written this coming of age story for Generation Y.  Thinning will mark the professional directorial debut of Laurel Devenie. Laurel recently tore up the stage as Cecily in Auckland Theatre Company’s The Importance of Being Earnest.  

Directed by Simon Coleman, (director, Bat Boy the Musical, Outstanding Musical Showdown Awards; set design, Rent, That Face), comes the outrageous musical, Fitz Bunny: Lust for Glory. It is a tale of a Napoleonic post-punk bunny head-butting her way into Auckland politics and the race for a Super Mayor. 

Rocky Horror meets Monty Python Fitz Bunny: Lust for Glory is a wild ride with Bolshevik sheep, global thermonuclear war and four part harmony singing.  It has been adapted by Grant Buist from his cult cartoon strip Brunswick.

Break out your lederhosen and moisten your strudel, the wall has come down. Exchange takes a step back in time and across the world, as five Kiwi students get lost in translation on their exchanges to Germany in 1994. Injected with the iconic fashion of the 90s era and a twist of history, Exchange explores how the Kiwi Overseas Experience can re-shape boundaries and change perspectives. Cell-phones are big as bricks, MTV rules and red-hot host mothers are on the prowl!

Exchange is written and directed by Lauren Jackson and is inspired by some of her experiences as an Exchange student in Germany.

The Young and Hungry festival offers talented young Aucklanders (aged 15 – 25) the opportunity to be actors, designers, stage managers, publicists and backstage crew whilst being mentored by seasoned professionals. 2010 mentors include Colin McColl, Elizabeth Whiting and Jason Te Mete.

This year’s Auckland season is presented in association with the Young and Hungry Arts Trust in Wellington, where the festival began in 1994. Well known New Zealanders who have honed their writing and acting talents in previous festivals include Taika Waititi (Boy). Loren Horsley (Eagle vs Shark), Riwia Brown (Once Were Warriors) and Briar Grace-Smith (The Strength of Water). 

The Young & Hungry Festival of New Theatre 2010 – Auckland
Basement Theatre

Dates:  July 9-24

Exchange (6.30pm)
Thinning (8.00pm)
Fitz Bunny Lust For Glory (9.30pm)

$15 (single show – under 25s)
$20 (single show – adult)
$36 (all 3 shows – under 25s)
$45 (all 3 shows – adult)

Bookings available through ATC Box Office – (09) 309 3395 or by purchasing by the ATC Office: Level 2, 108 Quay St, Auckland Central.
Door sales will be open an hour prior to performance at The Basement.     

EXCHANGE by Lauren Jackson

CHARITY – Suivai Autagavaia
LIZ – Sophia Cussell
ROB – Guillym Davenport
MARK – Joshua Tamatea
SARAH – Phoebe Jin
FEMALE ACTOR ONE – Candice de Villiers
FEMALE ACTOR TWO – Moana Johnson
MALE ACTOR ONE – Ryan Carter
MALE ACTOR TWO – Chris Neels
DIRECTOR – Lauren Jackson
STAGE MANAGER – Henrietta Bollinger
SET DESIGNER – Naomi Bisley
PROPS –  – Amber McWilliams
OPERATORS – Emma Malcolm, Khalid Parker

THINNING by Eli Kent

ADAM – Jordan Blaikie
TROY – Tahlson Kennedy
LILY – Pippa Neels
FRAGGLE – Leah Neilson
ISAAC – Jordan Selwyn
MEL – Nicole Thomson
BILLIE – Katrina Wesseling
DIRECTOR – Laurel Devenie
SET DESIGNER – Naomi Bisley
COSTUME SUPERVISOR – Katie Endicott-Davies
LIGHTING/SOUND DESIGNER – Howard Jang             
OPERATORS – Emma Malcolm, Khalid Parker
‘TROY’ is dressed by HUFFER
Special thanks to the ATC play reading workshop team of THINNING:
Nicole Thomson, Eppie Bowler, Ryan Carter, Ash Jones, Chye-Ling Huang, Isla Adamson, Daya Sao- Mafiti, Conrad Newport, Eli and Laurel.
FITZ BUNNY – Sara Stone
ALEX – Virginia Frankovich
RABETTE / COMPANY – Jessica Bates
RICK / COMPANY – Christopher Bryan
GENERAL / COMPANY – Jordan Mooney
MINISTER/ COMPANY – Imogen Prossor
CHE GUEBARA / COMPANY – Thomas Webster
ENDERBY/ COMPANY – Daryl Wrightson
KEYBOARD – Robin Kelly
BASS – Graham Trail / Micaela Bonnar
DRUMS – Tom Broome / Andrew Rooney
DIRECTOR – Simon Coleman
STAGE MANAGER – Stacey Donaldson
SET DESIGN – Rose Rowan, Madeleine Moore
COSTUME DESIGN – Caitlyn Brogan
LIGHTING and SOUND DESIGN – Timothy Williams
OPERATOR – Timothy Williams
COSTUME – Elizabeth Whiting
SET – Sean Coyle
LIGHTING – Brad Gledhill
SOUND – Steve Marshall
PUBLICITY – Anders Falstie-Jensen

50 mins, each play

Explosion of youthful energy bound to entertain

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 12th Jul 2010

Any concerns that live theatre might not survive the iPod generation’s penchant for micro-entertainment are completely blown away by the explosion of youthful energy unleashed at this year’s Young & Hungry showcase.

The festival presents three short plays that can be viewed individually or seen in a package deal of three in one night. 

Exchange by Lauren Jackson … evokes the bewilderment of being dropped into a foreign environment and portrays some touching moments of growth and awaking …

Thinning by Eli Kent delivers an up-to-the-minute report on the inscrutable psyche of the generation-Y teenagers who are far too fluid and protean to be nailed down by any generational tag …

Fitz Bunny: Lust for Glory is in a league of its own and invents a new genre that might be called camp cartoon cabaret. Playwright and cartoonist Grant Buist presents a fully fledged musical complete with live band, great songs and wild dance routines … [More]
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. 


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Check out one or three before the season ends

Review by Joanna Davies 10th Jul 2010

Now in its 16th year Young & Hungry is going strong. It provides an opportunity for young people to develop their theatre skills with the guidance of leading practitioners, and over the years it has produced more than 50 original plays. This is the second year the Festival has been run in Auckland and already it’s gaining momentum.

Each night three 50-minute (in theory) plays are performed in the one venue. This year they are Exchange by Lauren Jackson, Thinning by Eli Kent, and Grant Buist’s Fitz Bunny: Lust for Glory. From the audience’s perspective it’s a smorgasbord of theatre structured so you can enjoy as few or as many shows as you wish.

Lauren Jackson’s Exchange (also directed by Jackson) takes us back to 1994 when 5 Kiwis head to Germany on an international student exchange programme. Each has a very different experience. Some have their hearts broken for the first time, others break hearts and marriages, one discovers her own voice, another completely loses herself in despair, and the last discovers more about himself by explaining his country to his host father than he would have thought possible.

It’s a huge, fast-paced play for a small space. The third wall has to come down for scene changes (some hilarious, and others seamless) which adds to the balance of humour and pathos. The main characters interact with host family members, friends and strangers who were all portrayed by just 4 actors.

Two of those multi-character actors really stand out; Chris Neels whose poignant Richard stays with you long after the play, and Ryan Carter whose transitions from Andreas the tattling pre-pubescent host brother, to Dirk the opportunistic love interest, to everything in-between were so skilled he needed no costume changes.

Thinning (dir. Laurel Devenie) takes place as six school-leavers spend a week apple-picking before they head off to their different futures. One is army-bound (much to the derision of his mates), one is ready to flit overseas, another wants to keep a small life where he can be louder in it, rather than silenced by the world.

They deal with the typical my-world-is-ending-now-school’s-over issues (some embracing the future more than others) and grapple with doubts about whether they’ll stay strong as a group.

The performance is a beautifully orchestrated balance of exuberant sound and quiet reflection, from the opening bus trip to the awkward pauses in heavier conversation. But the moments of truth are in the rambunctious, very physical teasing among the boys. By far their characters are the strongest – the females are written with little depth.

That said, Fraggle (Leah Neilson), the quietest of the girls, is the most convincing, and Mel (Nicole Thomson), their apple-thinning boss, deserves more storyline.

The final show of the night, Fitz Bunny; Lust for Glory(dir. Simon Coleman) is where Cabaret meets Sesame Street and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Yes, it’s a musical that’s waaaaay over the top; basically it’s an extravaganza in a tiny package (and the kind of piece you have to pray no high school ever has permission to perform).

The ensemble cast is terrific. There’s Alex (Virginia Frankovitch), the reporter who dreams of becoming a war correspondent, then quickly changes her tune; Fitz Bunny (Sara Stone), the psychopathic trouble-maker; and Enderby (Daryl Wrightson) the love-sick hedgehog with a speech impediment. And you can’t forget the American General, the front-runners for the Super City Mayoralty, and the sheep rebel leader.

It could be complete madness, but instead the production holds the audience’s attention and, after feeling the first two plays of the night were a fraction too long, I could easily have sat through a second hour of Fitz Bunny.

The costumes are spot on, the band brings life to the space and every member of the cast has a ball. It’s contagious so don’t bother asking whether it’s a political commentary. You’ll have too much fun to care.

Check out one play or all three before the season ends. And tune in again next year because Young and Hungry’s appetite is growing. 
– – – – – – – –
Note: It’s understood that last night’s show was a preview. Auckland’s official opening night is tonight (Saturday 10/7) – ED.
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. 


Rachel Lenart July 13th, 2010

 Thanks John, and thank you, Jo for your considered justification... (i don't agree with you, but fair enough!)

Jo Davies July 10th, 2010

As the reviewer I feel I should address Rachel's comments.

First of all, thank you for them. I completely understand why you'd be so interested in people's impressions of the Auckland treatment on the play, as I'm sure you can understand that it may be completely different from the response to Wellington's treatment.

And I'm sure you appreciate that there are only so many words in a review with which to discuss 3 separate and very different productions.

That said, I stand by my opinion and would like to make it quite clear that I did not describe the female characters in "Thinning as "shallow". I said they had little depth when compared with the male characters. And the male character were extremely strong.

Here's why I said what I did.

Firstly, Lily, Fraggle and Billie didn't enjoy the same backstory as Troy and Isaac. As an audience we learnt about Isaac's father's existence which explained why he behaved the way he did and why he despairs of his future. We understand why Troy has chosen to join the Army and why, despite his doubts, he's sticking to his guns. But other than having travelled in the past, there's no real motivation for Lily's wanderlust. Nor do we understand why Billie reacts to her news the way she does because there was no glimpse of what her character's past or future held.

The only hint to Fraggle's story was that she'd had a conversation with Lily while drunk.

Furthermore, teenage girls wear their hearts on their sleeves. In the Auckland performance there was no sign of the "my friends know everything about me" honesty and therefore I was left wondering how these supposedly close friends came to be. Apart from the scene where Billie and Fraggle bait each other, and Billie promises not to call Fraggle one name, then lists a barrage of others, there seemed to be little connection between them. If I'd seen them in public interacting as they did, I would have said they had a sense of obligation to each other, but not a friendship.No, the male characters didn't wear their hearts on their sleeves. But they way their interactions were written, or directed, or portrayed had honesty, truth and a sense of stage magic - which served to heighten the contrast.

And that was why I was, and remain,  unconvinced.

I will also point out that (in my opinion) the character with the most truth, honesty and magic in the previous play, was a male role written by a female. Mark's relationship with Richard was poignant, awkward and raw. And off the back of that, the female characters in "Thinning" became more closed. (Not two-dimensional.)

Thank you Fan for defending the fact that I'm entitled to my opinion. And thank you Rachel for asking for justification. I'm not pointing the finger at the writer, the director or the actors, I'm merely saying that, as far as the female characters were concerned, there was something missing. And I wish I was in the position to see the Wellington production so I could compare the two.

John Smythe July 10th, 2010

As editor of Theatreview, and on behalf of all the contributing critics: we do not consider ourselves to be above criticism. We welcome feedback on our craft just as I hope those we review welcome ours. All viewpoints are valid and yes, some are more informative than others. Thank you, Rachel, for your valuable contribution. 

Fan July 10th, 2010

 Excuse me but what' s childish about using a pseudonym? Most blogs I know everyone does. It doesnt change anything I think and wouldnt make you any the wiser.  

Paul McLaughlin July 10th, 2010

Real tough to call Rachel's contribution 'childish' when you can't even put your real name to your comment, 'Fan' ...

Fan July 10th, 2010

If Joanna felt the characters had little depth, then that's what she felt, and no amount of justification from her or argument from anyone else is going to change her impression.  You just have to accept that this was her impression and deal with it.  You might disagree but it's childish to ignore her view just because it wasn't  'justified'. Just because it's an easy criticism to make (if it is) doesnt mean it can't be true!  I fully agree with her myself and don't intend to try to justify myself either. Reviews are intended as guides for potential audience, not the performers and I think these reviews are a pretty reliable guide to the evening myself. Fitzbunny was great.

Rachel Lenart July 10th, 2010

Hi Joanna,

I am the director of the Wellington production of Thinning. My cast and i were really looking forward to this review to gleam some insight into the prodution as it is being staged in Auckland, to hear how Laurel and her cast have treated the text and the nuances of their interpretation, since we can't see it as the seasons run cocurrently. This review did not really deliver on this, but what really concerns me is your assertion "The female characters are written with little depth". This is a very easy criticism to make of a young male writer but you make no attempt to justify this claim. And so I write in defense of Eli Kent and the women of Thinning

Through the course of this play, each of the four women make life changing choices. In terms of character development, it is the women who grow, the young men ending their journey pretty much where they started, but the women choose and they change.  The women are far more than 2 dimensional robots. They constantly contractict themselves, they are confused, curious and complex and all of them are strong, sassy and smart..Yes, their treatment is less 'rambunctious' than the boys, but it is no less true or real.  Their relationships are explored, on the whole. in a more subtle and inverse way, but isn't this true (generally) of the way girls interact with each other in contrast to the way the boys express themselves?

Of course, you should express your personal opinion of this play, but you really owe it to Eli, Laurel and the 8 marvellous actors bringing these 4 women to life in seperate productions across the country to follow your argument through. Even a little bit, even just one explaination of why you felt this. As Adam says in the play, "Calling people shallow is sort of dissmissive somehow of how messy the brain is." in this case, calling these characters shallow is sort of dismissive somehow, of how complex the play is.

I look forward to further reviews of this production and hope that the next reviewer will attempt to engage with the production and the text in a more considered way.

Erin Banks July 10th, 2010

 As I understand it this review is for the preview performances of all three plays.  The official opening being tonight, Saturday 10 July.

[Thank you Erin - I have revised the note accordingly - ED]

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