2019 in Pixels and on Stage

It hasn’t all been writing and commuting and writing this year. Though, to be honest, what year ever is?

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse (2018 poster).png
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Enjoyed on the big screen:

Honourable mentions: Captain Marvel for being smart and fun; Shazam! for being funny; High Life for leaving this viewer grinning and unable to explain why; and Jojo Rabbit for pulling one of a hat.

Poster showing Chernobyl the five part miniseries for HBO
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Lapped up on the small screen:

Honourable mentions: the final, ultimately disappointing, season of Game of Thrones; The Leftovers, whose first season was a cracker; and The Crown, seasons one to two binged in the month of December, leaving the phrase “thenk yew” as a verbal handgrenade in Fortress Mamea.

Promotional pic for Q Theatre season
Ahi Arunaharan’s My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak, Q Theatre. Pic from 13thfloor.co.nz.

On stage:

  • Red Leap Theatre’s Owls Do Cry
  • Ahi Arunaharan’s My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak
  • Whangārei Music Society’s production of Rent
  • White Man Behind a Desk: Party at the End of the World
  • Matthew Loveranes’ MoodPorn
  • Northland Youth Theatre’s production of Romeo and Juliet

Honourable mentions: Victor Rodger’s Club Paradiso, Bleeding Black, and Black Grace: Dark Matter.

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What I Did This Year — Part Two

There’s a lot of ground to cover in this part, so let’s leave the pictures to do the talking.

In March, The Boy was in a frightful car accident and was hospitalised for a month.

Fill* and The Boy — Auckland Hospital, March 2019. 

After three months at home and regular physiotherapy, he returned to full-time work in July. He’s a little over people telling him how lucky he was. But oi was he lucky.

My father died in May.

The Reverend Moe Silipa Mamea (retired), 1926–2019.

He was 92 and he’d had an excellent innings (he loved his cricket). His natural athleticism may have skipped me entirely and gone straight to his grandson, but I’m grateful to have his patience, perseverance, and tact.

My father had some unfinished business and I volunteered to sort it out. In June, The Lovely Wife accompanied me to Samoa.

Mount Vaea from Togafu’afu’a — June 2019

The wife loved the heat and humidity — apparently we’ll be visiting each year henceforth — and the pace of life there is glacial. Nice if you live there, a little frustrating when you’ve only a few days to get stuff done. It was a welcome interlude, considering.

Half-way through the year, my dreams began to have a recurring theme involving some massive weight slowly crushing me.

‘Twas only The Kitten missing me.

Still Life With Chickens is in its second year of touring. This year it did a couple of stops in the North Island, did a circuit of the South Island — and in August, it had its Australian premiere.

The Lovely Wife on a ferry — Sydney Harbour, August 2019.

The Lovely Wife and I attended the premiere where we had a grand yarn with Martin Edmond and Mayu Kanamori, and we explored the Emerald City by tram, bus and ferry. Still Life is off to Shanghai later this month for its Chinese premiere.

Somehow, amidst all of the above, I persisted with my masters course.

* This teddy bear joined the Mamea Aiga in Christmas 2002 when The Boy, then aged six, announced his arrival: I got a teddy bear and his name’s Phil! The Lovely Wife and I exchanged looks and asked where the name Phil came from. It says so right here, The Boy said, turning over the sewn tag: “Polyester Fill”.

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Hello 2019

A quick jaunt to the Big Smoke and an opportune snap.

Yeah, hey ’19 and goodbye ’18.

Posting has been patchy alright but I thought the least I could do is warble a little while it’s a bit quiet.

I gave up the day job late last year. Maybe it’s my selective memory but that was a big relief and about time, too. I now have no excuse to not write.

Having a writing gig earlier in the year certainly ensured that I had a buffer between the end of the day job and… if not the next gig (because one should never presume), then some kind of writing opportunity.

Having said that, I do have another writing job lined up later this month. But after that…

That’s where my anxiety lies: I can plan all I like but there’s a will-it-put-chocolate-in-my-mouth aspect to it that is frankly terrifying.

Let’s find out.

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Phone a Friend

I was deep in a script and I needed some kind of transition scene.

Call me delusional but I finished my writing day feeling like a boss, and I’m going to hold on to that.

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KINGSWOOD: postponed

The Writer with the family stationwagon, Wainuiomata, 1982. (Photo courtesy Marie Mamea-Crawford.)

I’m of two minds when it comes to this blog and publicity. Is this a good-news-only blog where I celebrate the joy and wonders of writing and production? Or is this a all’s-fair-in-love-and-war blog where, in addition to the celebrating, etc, above, I also lay out the failures and disappointments?

Precedent suggests the latter.

Whilst doing publicity for the Still Life With Chickens machine, I mentioned looking forward to the premiere of Kingswood this September at BATS Theatre in Wellington. It’s been in progress for two years, it had built up some momentum in the last couple of months, and my fellow creative principals and I were at various levels of quiet excitement (hey, we’re all Kiwi males so high-testosterone-I’M-PUMPED-type excitement was never going to happen).

Having put it out there on the æther, we’ve just had to cancel that premiere season.

Life happens. Life goes on. And there will always be other productions.

(The pedants among you are wondering why this post is titled ‘postponed’ but the post itself has the word ‘cancelled’. 1. I didn’t officially announce the season on the blog in the first place so, in the bigger scheme of D F Mamea things, as a project, its premiere is merely delayed. 2. This is my blog, so there.)

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STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: final week in Wellington

I think I have two new favourite words: ‘sold out’.

The Wellington season, despite some early nerves, has gone very nicely with good houses and great reviews from Theatreview and The Theatre Times.

Speaking of nerves, the extended Mamea aiga attended the opening night: our Stern but Loving ParentsAwesome Sister and her girls, and Staunch Bro and his family. They said they enjoyed the show and I can’t ask for more than that. The Lovely Wife was not called on to take one for her husband so it was quite the lovefest and very validating for this writer.


I’m going to leave further Still Life updates to Facebook and Twitter. I’ve other projects that need progressing, and much as I like to shuck and jive away from work, deadlines loom.

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STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: final approach to Wellington premiere

It’s all “Still Life”-this and “Still Life”-that, some of you are carping. I can’t help it. It’s a big thing for me.

It’s a week out from the show’s Wellington premiere and my anxiety has increased considerably.

Why the nerves, you may ask, when 1). box office returns must be pretty good, and 2). touring is the fun part of being a playwright. Yeah. Well. I’m taking my mother to the premiere next Wednesday and I’m experiencing a very familiar feeling like I’ve done something very bad and I’m going to have to own up to it.

Mrs Mamea with one of her brood, 2012. (Photo credit: Christina Mamea.)

It’ll be fine, my siblings have been telling me, our mother’s gonna loooove it. But I recognise the tone in their voices: the kind of tone where they know I’ve done something wrong, too, and I’m going to have to take my lumps, and boy are they glad they’re not me.

I shall hold onto a couple of thoughts over the coming week: how Simon Wilson describes the play best as a hymn to [my] mother; and how The Lovely Wife will be on my arm at the premiere where, if necessary, I can use her as a shield.

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STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: on the Manawatū Plains

Image supplied to stuff.co.nz.

I’ve been laggardly with this blog: Still Life With Chickens has already had three performances at Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North.

Its Manawatū stopover has been described as “beautiful“, “poignant” and “sweet” which is pretty, uh, sweet.

The Centrepoint season runs until this Sunday 15 April, after which it continues southward — whereupon the Greater Mamea Aiga will see it.

I’m feeling a little trepidatious about that development.

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STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: Auckland run final days

Even though I’ve more pressing matters, I’ve been unable to stop refreshing the ticketing page for Still Life With Chickens:

Tickets as at 21 March 2018.

Between testing Fortress Mamea’s acoustics with maniacal laughs, the almost daily reports had this wee nugget:

Performance report detail — click on image for full report.

‘Nugget’! Oh, this is so much fun.

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STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: it begins

Image courtesy Auckland Theatre Company.

The lead up to the opening has been more public than I expected. The write-ups and mentions continued in the Herald, the Listener (hardcopy only), and Tagata Pasifika have been nice to read and watch.

On opening night I was accompanied by  The Lovely WifeThe Girl and The Boy, and I was very, very happy to have my family with me. The opening night audience liked the show — that’s always grafifying. The early reviews in BroadwayWorld and Concrete Playground are positive.

For some reason this doesn’t feel real. Maybe it’ll hit me at some point — soon, hopefully, maybe — that I’ve achieved something tangible, something to be inordinately proud of. Instead I’ve been looking over my shoulder, waiting to be awoken from some impossibly good dream.

I’m biased so I shan’t exhort you to see the show.  But I will point you in the direction of the Facebook page and Twitter feed so you can decide for yourself.

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