Home Again

Civic Square with The Lovely Wife, Wellington.

The Lovely Wife and I have just returned from a few days south where we —

It was exhausting but funUntil next time, Wellington.

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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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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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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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One More Schmooze

Playmarket Auckland: F5, 99 Queen Street, CBD.

The other week, I went to the changing of the guard at the Auckland Playmarket office: Stuart Hoar is moving on to less reading (of other people’s writing) and more writing (of his own) (which is as it should be), and will be replaced by Allison Horsley, formerly Court Theatre Literary Manager.

There was food and drink on hand, and there were a few more familiar faces than I expected — should be no surprise after being in this writing gig for so long, but still —and the hour I had set aside to pay my respects very quickly became almost two hours of catching up and talking with:

  • Jo Smith, recent Kingswood dramaturg, whose upcoming writing projects I look forward to;
  • Philippa Campbell, Auckland Theatre Company literary manager (and film and television producer);
  • Roy Ward, current freelance theatre director and, although I should let it go, will forever be the person who rejected my application to write for Shortland Street;
  • Murray Lynch, Playmarket big cheese;
  • Sam Brooks, dramatist, critic and man-about-town (I didn’t actually talk to him — but I waved as he flew by);
  • and the very lovely Roger and Dianne Hall — yes, that Mr Hall — and he was refreshingly to-the-point with our brief discussion on writing for theatre and developing audiences in competition with the small, small screen.

This has been quite a year for shoulder-rubbing and such: there was the 2016 Arts Market in Wellington*, and the SWANZ Awards and Big Screen Symposium in Auckland, not to mention a workshop here and there. It might explain why I’m a little frazzled.

There’s going to be more of it in 2017 and, somehow, I’m rather looking forward to it.

 

* I don’t know why I didn’t blog about this. But it was nice to be in my hometoon.

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STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: a clinic

The script, post-workshop.
The script, post-workshop.

Last weekend, thanks to the administrations of the indefatigable Salesi Le’ota at PlaymarketStill Life With Chickens enjoyed a workshop directed by Andrew Foster, dramaturged by the redoubtable Stuart Hoar, and with the collective acting prowess of Iaheto Ah Hi, Jess Robinson and Louise Tu’u.

Where the last Kingswood workshop generated the words offensiveadolescentpuerile and crass to describe the play, this latest workshop elicited symbolismsurrealist and existentialist.

Believe me, I’m as surprised as you are.

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