Doors and Windows

The phrase, When God closes a door, She opens a window, has been looping in my head for the past week and a half.

On the last day of May I received an email telling me a project I was hoping to set up had fallen through. Within twenty minutes of reading that, I received another email: a separate project I thought was on the slow track had been switched to the fast track — so fast track that some colleagues and I are pitching it this Monday in Wellington. (Calm down: I was already headed to my hometoon for a bit of culture.)

I’m sorry I can’t name names at the moment but believe me, you’ll be among the first to read it here. In the meantime:

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New Media, Old Problem

Besides this website, my online presence includes Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I could be on innumerable other platforms out there but time and aptitude preclude me from being every(virtual)where. It’s the aptitude more than time.

Facebook in particular is a seductive timesuck. I don’t mind seeing what family, friends and acquaintances are up to. It’s the cat videos and trailers for upcoming movies that are the problem. And then I get a timely and ungentle reminder of why clicking on video links suck big time:

Fucking buffering.

(Above screenshot is from the trailer for upcoming Oz zombie show Wyrmwood: Chronicles of the Dead. Official — and full — trailer here.)

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Kool-Aid

Julia Croft and Chicken puppet, and Goretti Chadwick mid-workshop, early May 2017. Puppet by Katie Parker.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of a workshop on the latest play (its presentation was warmly received, thank you), and since then I’ve had a debrief with the principals, I’ve made a couple of pages of notes on what I could do next, and … done nothing else.

It’s partly planned and partly laziness. The laziness needs no explanation.

The planned part is the result of a workshop I had once upon a time. At that workshop, the script was scrutinised by all involved, and opportunities for improvement were sighted and noted. In the month that followed, I made sweeping changes that rode the post-workshop wave of excitement and possibilities.

Some time later when that draft was presented, I was stunned at how easily and quickly I had sold out. At the time of the workshop and in the discussions afterward it had all made so much sense: this and that were all that were wanting — once I had addressed those concerns, the adulation would naturally follow.

It was a harsh lesson: I had drunk the workshop kool-aid — I had believed what had felt really good in the moment of that workshop, believed that where I’d been heading up to that point was a fool’s errand, and endless exciting possibilities and opportunities beckoned if only I could relax a little. I had ignored my instincts to tell the story in a way that felt right to me.

So this month I’ve been cutting wood, pulling weeds, visiting friends, and writing other things. Whatever is still hanging around in my head come June, that will be worth holding onto for the next draft.

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Melbourne

Melbourne was fun. Hard to believe it was only a month ago that the Lovely Wife and I were across the ditch.

She had Her stuff.

Ikea, Richmond. (Photo: JP Kyle, weekendnotes.com)

I had mine.

Forges of Footscray.

Yeah, it’s been almost a decade since my last budget-blitzing-blast at Forges, so it was naïve of me to think it’d still be there, the passage of time and all.

Otherwise we saw family and friends, we bar-hopped, and tried the local fare. We do so like Melbourne.

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STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: a reading

Three chickens at Fortress Mamea (West Auckland), 2011.

Auckland Theatre Company are hosting a reading of Still Life With Chickens next week.

Directed by Andrew Foster, featuring Goretti Chadwick, Julia Croft, and Fasitua Amosa, with a workshop chicken puppet by Katie Parker, and under the watchful dramaturgical eye of Philippa Campbell Jo Smith, it’ll be 45 minutes of laughs, clucking and gardening.

If you’re in the neighbourhood next Thursday, check it out:

  • Thursday 4 May 2017 at 4:30pm
  • Auckland Theatre Company Studios
    487 Dominion Road
    Mount Eden
    Auckland

Manuia.

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Hometoon

I saw Ghost in the Shell the other week. It was fun: it had gunfights, sci fi techy stuff, Beat Takeshi and flashes of me oul’ hometoon of Wellington under layers of set dressing and CGI.

Victoria Street, Wellington. (Photo: www.imfdb.org.)
Victoria Street, Wellington. (Photo: www.filmnz.com.)
Victoria Street alley, Wellington — in a previous life, I worked in the building on the right there. (Photo: www.atlasofwonders.com.)

It made me feel unexpectedly homesick.

Might be time for a visit soon.

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Wayback

Photo: www.pinchmysalt.com

Last Friday was pizza night (yes, we still have a pizza night), and I was chopping onions when Bobby Brown’s Every Little Step came on through my headphones.

I was happily chopping and singing — including each and every whoop and holler — when I realised half-way through that I knew every goddamned word of that song and it must’ve been at least twenty years since I last heard (and danced) to it.

The moral of this post? Some things can not be un-remembered.

Bonus moral? Don’t bust any dance moves whilst holding a kitchen knife.

 

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STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: post-award

I’m chuffed. Have I already said I’m chuffed? (Yes.)

I even like the photograph that accompanied the press release at The Big Idea:

This looks like it was taken at the 2015 Adam Awards. Photo: Philip Merry.

I also rather like this description of it:

It is full of delicious detail, funny, heart wrenching and intensely moving. It is a work unmistakably growing right out of New Zealand soil; distinctly Samoan but with absolutely universal appeal.

The script will have a workshop with actors, director and dramaturg in the coming month. The workshop will end with a kind of rehearsed reading that may be open to the public. You’ve been warned.

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STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: 2017 Adam Award winner

Mother hen and chicks, October 2012.

A play inspired by my mother’s adventures with poultry, and described at a workshop as surrealist and existentialist, has won the 2017 Adam New Zealand Play Award. I’m rather chuffed, thank you very much.

I’m in Melbourne at the moment so 2016 Adam winner Maraea Rakuraku very kindly accepted the award on my behalf, with something I prepared earlier:

Still Life With Chickens was going to be a co-writing venture with my Lovely Wife. She came up with the title and the concept, and I suspect she envisioned a situation where she would roam the study reeling off dialogue and scenes while I sat dutifully at the keyboard and typed everything in.

Because I love my wife dearly and I value our marriage, I worked on the play in secret for two years, and presented the script to her — crediting her appropriately, of course — as a fait accompli.

I acknowledge my fellow longlistees, in particular Maraea Rakuraku for kindly accepting this award on my behalf.

Thanks to Creative New Zealand for its support in getting the first draft to the finish line.

Thanks to Playmarket: Murray, Salesi, Kirsty, Allison — and before Allison, Stuart Hoar — for their tireless work in developing, supporting and hustling for New Zealand playwrights.

Thank you to the Adam aiga for these awards.

And thank you to my Lovely Wife who believes in me more than I do.

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Cultural Navigation

So — don’t tell anyone — but I was doing a little light research when I read the following passage:

[French explorer de Bougainville marvelled at the skill of the Samoan sailors who knew] how to use the sun and stars as a guide and how to take advantage of prevailing winds. Furthermore, they seemed to have a wonderful sense of direction that would tell them the right direction of travel no matter what strange surroundings they were in. And, like a bird of migration, the Samoan sailors unerringly returned to the island from which they had set out.

And I flashed on this early exchange:

WELLINGTON -- 2008

Our PET WRITER and his GODDESS seek directions from the writer’s AWESOME SISTER.

GODDESS

We just want to find the nearest supermarket.

AWESOME SISTER

Easy-peasy: you take the first left and you’ll see a KFC on the corner. Drive past it for three blocks until you see a McDonalds, take a right before the golden arches, and you can’t miss it.

GODDESS

... I have no idea what you just said.

PET WRITER

It’s okay, I got it.

GODDESS

(off writer and his sister)

... It’s an island thing, isn’t it?

Pet Writer and Awesome Sister try not to smile patronisingly at her.

Wellington, 2008: there’s a KFC two blocks down to the right there.
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