STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: rehearsal reports

Rehearsals are continuing apace in Auckland while life goes on in Northland. An unexpected perk on this production is the rehearsal reports I’m sent at the end of each work day: a one-pager of what happened, what’s needed, and any observations.

Yesterday’s report got me cackling and yahoo-ing in the Fortress Mamea environs:

Rehearsal report detail — click on image to see full report.

And it made me flash on this:

Yusss.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: rehearsals commence

L–R: The writer, the puppeteer, the director, the designer, the actor, and the manager. (Image courtesy Auckland Theatre Company.)

Rehearsals for Still Life With Chickens kicked off this week with an Auckland Theatre Company welcome followed by a reading, then a read-through.

I got to meet and thank set, puppet and costume designer John Parker. I caught up with director Fasitua Amosa and actor Goretti Chadwick, as well as met the masterfully coiffured Chicken puppeteer Haanz Fa’avae Jackson and the very quiet, very calm technical stage manager Andrew Furness. Also well-met were those whose names are unlikely to appear in the brochure but whose work is just as vital as those on and around the stage: ElizaNatashaNicola, Emma, Jan, Jade, Nicole, Siobhan and Miryam.

I realised with a shock that opening night is only four weeks away. It feels perilously close.

Going by how I had to blink back tears through a couple of mere read-throughs, as far as I’m concerned, the show is in good hands.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Front Door Boots

The inhabitants of Fortress Mamea have at least two pairs of farm boots each: one for the front door, the other for the back door. Surrounded as we are by muck and mud paddocks and woodland, it’s much more efficient — especially when it’s something urgent — to have a pair of boots at each exit, ready to take us places.

Lately, my front door pair have been feeling a bit damp. I thought it was just the morning dew and what-not — but no:

The heel has disintegrated somehow. Time for some resoling or a new pair for the front door.

Ideally, I would segue to something writing-related, like how to know when it’s time for a tool to be replaced or upgraded. The thing is… none of my writing tools need replacing or upgrading.

I’m a month into 2018 and I’ve got projects on my slate.

I’ve no excuse to not write.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

2017 on Stage

I’m as shocked as you are: I haven’t done a best-of of live theatre since 2012 — and even then I lumped it in with the screen stuff.

Highlights from 2017:

  • Riverside Kings by Natano Keni and Sarita So — Wellington talent to keep an eye out for;
  • Kororāreka: The Ballad of Maggie Flynn by Red Leap Theatre — dance theatre usually leaves me a little bewildered — but Kororāreka was exhilarating and captivating;
  • Amadeus by Peter Shaffer, Auckland Theatre Company — a big show, a rock ‘n’ roll story, and awesome, extravagant theatre.
Kororāreka: The Ballad of Maggie Flynn, Red Leap Theatre. (Image courtesy Red Leap Theatre, www.redleaptheatre.co.nz)
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

2017 in Pixels

Teaser poster for 2017 film Get Out.png
By Source, Fair use, Link

Enjoyed on the big screen:

  • Rogue One
  • O le Tulafale (The Orator)
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • The Lobster
  • Get Out
  • The Big Sick
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Lucky Logan
  • Dunkirk
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Honourable mentions: the hilarious and disgusting Girls Trip; David Michôd and Brad Pitt‘s slow burning War Machine;  the chemistry between Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds in The Hitman’s Bodyguard; and the excellent I, Tonya Harding.

Goliath, 2016 TV series, title card.jpg
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

Binged on the small screen:

  • Goliath
  • American Crime Story: People vs OJ Simpson
  • Legion S01
  • The Knick S01–02
  • The Expanse S02
  • Better Call Saul S03
  • The Handmaid’s Tale S01
  • The Americans S05
  • Stranger Things S01
  • The Punisher S01

Honourable mentions, including those moved here to give new titles a shot: Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin in Apple Tree Yard; the fitfully funny Brooklyn Nine-Nine S01;  creator and showrunner Noah Hawley shows how it’s done in Fargo S03; and, of course, Game of Thrones S07.

Favourite poster of the year? Without a doubt:

Courtesy JoBlo Movie Network — www.joblo.com
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

2017 in Points

Animal Vegetable Miracle.jpg
Fair use, Link

My reading output (input?) this year was better than last year. But it coulda should’ve been much better. Standouts from the reading diary:

  • Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver — I maybe should’ve read this when the Lovely Wife suggested it before agreeing to follow my wife to rural Northland;
  • Ratatouille (2007 draft) by Brad Bird;
  • Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses 007–029 by David Lapham — I thought this sprawling small crime epic was consigned to the unfinished classics section of comic history until I tripped over this at the local library;
  • Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl;
  • Lazarus X+66 001–005 by Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, Steve Lieber and Michael Lark — a very welcome salve while the main Lazarus series is on hold;
  • Atlanta S01E01 by Donald Glover;
  • Te Puhi by Cian Elyse White — a beguiling slice of New Zild history about our first Māori Miss New Zealand;
  • The Pissy Tits Gang by Rosie Howells;
  • The Walking Dead 162–174, including Here’s Negan!, by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn — the Negan character arc in the Walking Dead comic is a masterclass in humanity, patience  and compassion.
Image courtesy The Walking Dead Wiki www.walkingdeadwikia.com
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Nonagenarius

The Mamea family had a get-together earlier this year. With almost all of his progeny in one room, my father announced that this year he was turning 90 years and he expected a full and proper celebration. In the (brief) silence that followed, my siblings and I exchanged looks, jaws mid-chew, our mouths full of food.

Our father has always had good timing.

The thing is… we’d celebrated his 80th in 2006, which meant we’d all forgotten that last year, 2016, should’ve been his 90th birthday. But we hadn’t really forgotten because somewhere along the line, someone had unearthed this document:

He’s not officially 90 for another two years. He snuck in his 80th three years early.

“What’s with the numbers?” the numerically-bonded amongst you ask. “How could we forget his 90th birthday?” the emotionally-integrated amongst you cry out.

We did that 80th shindig on his say-so, and in the intervening years a fog of confusion has grown where official documents say this, our father says that — and our father’s answers have differed slightly with each asking/confirmation. Also, he’s 80-plus, for pete’s sake; his birthday/s was/were almost a century ago now, and, for a large part of his adult life, birthdays were irrelevant.

Some might say there’s a rich vein of family history here. For my siblings and I, it was another memorable moment in the life of being a Mamea.

Wearing my writer helmet, there’s an interesting character feature here that might come in handy at some point. Not the obvious age-defining-character angle, but more how multiple birthdates — all equally valid — inform backstory. A lot (could have) happened in that two to three year gap between my father’s possible birthdays: he was born either before or during the Great Depression; he was born either before or during the rise of the Mau movement in Samoa. The timing of his arrival on this planet could make a world of difference in his upbringing and character.

Like anyone and everyone else, both real and imagined, there’s more to Pater Mamea than meets the eye. It just requires some thought and a little patience.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Blow Out

Yesterday, I found myself staring at page 37 of a script. It’s due next week. No matter how long I stared, page 37 refused to fill up with Courier 12pt.

I downed tools and availed myself of the armoury:

I failed to draw a happy face but I ended the session with a smile.

I returned to the writing cave and was greeted with page 37. My fingers moved over the keyboard:

CUT TO:

Of course: a little interlude never hurt no one.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Mr Parker

Dean Parker. (Photo: David White. www.noted.co.nz)

I’ve come some way since my unforgivable near total ignorance of Dean Parker’s oeuvre. I’ve tried to make up for it ever since. (And just as well as I’ve had the pleasure and honour of meeting him on occasion.) I’m not afraid to say it: I’m a fan.

I found this excellent quote at The Listener:

What advice might you give aspiring playwrights and screenwriters?

One day you’ll declare that there must be no changes to your script, and then the producer will take you out to lunch. Midway through the lunch he’ll say, “I’ve brought you here to show you something”, and reach under the table. He’ll then hold up a phantom monster. “Can you see the monster?” he’ll ask. Wanting to humour him, you’ll say, “Ummm … yes.” He’ll say, “Do you know the name of the monster?” Defeated, you’ll bleat, “Ummm … no”, and he’ll say, “The name of the monster is – IT’S OUR MONEY.” Be prepared for this.

Ah yes: commerce versus art.

Once upon a time, my response would’ve been that that it’s still your story. Until they pay you out and replace you, you’re still the goddamned writer. And if you’d learned anything at all from my adventures, you’ll already have representation — the guild, an agent or a manager — who’re only a speed dial away.

Nowadays it can be… complicated. But not insurmountable. And you’re never alone.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

SWANZ and BSS 2018

The weekend was kicked off by the New Zealand Writers Guild SWANZ Awards. The ever effervescent Nick Ward MCed the event while I did my best Vanna White impression handing him the awards as required. It was a great turn out — my evening ensemble was admired (21st century Miami Vice, courtesy of various op shops), the food was good and plentiful, and it’s always nice to see so many writerly faces in one place.

The symposium was a more formal affair — collegial rather than fraternal — and was rampant with speakers and attendees, some of them I knew from one thing or another, and some I met for the first time.

Over the three days, I caught up with:

  • Alice, Mel, Alan, Allan, Kathryn and Rachel from the guild represented;
  • three from the class of 2016 — the unstoppable Maraea Rakuraku, the inquisitive William Duignan, and the observant Myfanwy Fanning-Randall;
  • former guild ED Steve Gannaway and his partner Alex Cole-Baker; One Thousand Ropes‘ Tusi Tamasese and Catherine Fitzgerald; PIFT stalwarts Aaron Taouma, Arnette Arapai and Sandra Kailahi; South Pacific Pictures’ Tim Balme and James Griffin; and Waru‘s Chelsea Cohen, Ainsley Gardiner, Paula Jones, Casey Kaa, Renae Maihi, Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu and Katie Wolfe;
  • Chantelle Burgoyne; South Seas’ Gerben Cath; the indefatigable Tony Forster; Paula Jones (no, the other one); Roseanne LiangChristina Milligan; producing titan Robin Scholes; Riverside Kings‘ Sarita So; and the redoubtable Louise Tu’u.

Speaker highlights of the symposium were:

  • an small-group Q-and-A with David Michôd;
  • a refreshing and irreverent talk by Neil Cross;
  • filmmaker So Yong Kim‘s oeuvre is a fascinating thing I need to look into;
  • agent Bec Smith‘s talk was a confirmation of how talent always finds a way;
  • and Oz drama commissioners Kyle Du Fresne and Penny Win, was an interesting session on how things happen across the ditch.

A bit of a blur but I’m glad I attended.

(I’ve done it again: even though I name-checked the Screenwriting Research Network Conference in August, I’ve neglected to write about this year’s Arts Market in Auckland. Next year. Promise.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share