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.



Late last month I attended the 2016 Big Screen Symposium in Auckland. It was the second network-y thing I’ve done this year (ah yes, I neglected to mention I attended the 2016 PANNZ Arts Market in Wellington in March).

Cue shameless name-dropping as I saw:

As for the speakers, highlights were:

  • creative couple Cate Shortland (SomersaultThe Slap) and Tony Krawitz (Devil’s PlaygroundThe Kettering Incident) on writing and directing Australian television drama;
  • Jonathon Raymond on screenwriting for Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff) and Todd Haynes (Far From HeavenMildred Pierce); and
  • producer and BSS keynote speaker Heather Rae (Frozen River) on decolonising the screen.

Nice work, all around.


KINGSWOOD: post-reading

1971-74 HQ Kingswood Patina Gold==.JPG
By SicbirdOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

After a two-day workshop under the direction of Katie Wolfe and Ahi Karunaharan, with dramaturg Jo Smith providing overwatch, Kingswood was read by Jason Te Kare, Louise Tu’u, Joy Vaele, and Jason Wu on a warm Wednesday evening in Balmoral, Auckland.

The audience laughed in the right places, their applause was gratifying, and the Q-and-A that followed was enlightening for all present. Afterwards, it was nice to chat with individual audience members like: Auckland Theatre Company artistic director Colin McColl; Bright Star and Pasefika playwright and Playmarket respresentative Stuart Hoar; the indomitable Webmistresse (retired) and her husband; Luncheon and Officer 27 playwright Aroha Awarau; screenwriter Kathryn Burnett; and Titirangi Theatre stalwart and early supporter of the work Duncan Milne.

During the two-day workshop, these four words  were used to describe "Kingswood" — and upon hearing them I felt inordinately proud.
During the two-day workshop, these four words were used to describe “Kingswood” — and upon hearing them I felt inordinately proud.

Where to from here?

I have no idea.


KINGSWOOD: a reading

By Richard Lewis - Own work, CC BY 3.0,
Holden Kingswood (1971-1974 HQ series)

What’s the connection between film director Katie Wolfe, writer Jo Smith, Radio New Zealand producer Jason Te Kare, theatre practitioner Louise Tu’u, and thespians Joy Vaele and Jason Wu?

They’re all pitching in for a reading of Kingswood later this month!

If you’re curious, in the neighbourhood, or at a loose end on the (almost) eve of Easter Weekend:

  • Wednesday 23 March 2016 at 6:30pm
  • Auckland Theatre Company
    Mt Eden War Memorial Hall
    Lower Ground Floor
    487 Dominion Road



2012 on Screen

I’ve seen more titles this year than in any other since official records began in 2003. I’d like to think the year’s expanded viewing-slash-research goes some way toward explaining why posts on this blog have tended towards commentary rather than craft.


Tropa De Elite
(Elite Squad) and Tropa De Elite – O Inimigo Agora E Outro (Elite Squad – The Enemy Within)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Avengers
Never Let Me Go
The Angel’s Share
This Must Be the Place
La Jetee
End of Watch

Yes, that’s more than ten for the year but those 2011-and-earlier titles were just so damned good that I had to name-drop them.


Panama-hat-tips to The Good Wife, Mad Men, Justified, Nurse Jackie and Breaking Bad for continuing to be must-see telly three or more seasons into their respective runs. It’s sad that Mad Men and Breaking Bad will finish in the coming year but all good things do come to an end.

Hung – Season 2
Justified – Season 3
The Good Wife – Seasons 3-4
Inside Men – Season 1
Dirk Gently – Season 1
Game of Thrones – Seasons 1-3
Mad Men – Season 5
Nurse Jackie – Season 4
The Newsroom – Season 1
Hit & Miss
Longmire – Season 1
The Golden Hour
Breaking Bad – Season 5
The Bletchley Circle
Last Resort
Monroe – Season 2
Boardwalk Empire – Season 1
Vegas – Season 1
The Sopranos – Season 1

Late adopter excuse/s for ‘discovering’ Smith, Boardwalk Empire and Sopranos.

A great year for UK telly with The Bletchley Circle and Hit & Miss.

And sun-hat-tips to the excellent The Golden Hour that almost, almost, made me want to watch the Olympics, and the lamented Hounds.


Leilani Unasa’s His Mother’s Son
P-Lab’s Hypothesis One
Louise Tu’u‘s Gaga: the unmentionable

Disclosure: All three pieces are by Banana Boat colleagues,


Blatant Name Dropping

Earlier in the week I attended Playmarket‘s 2008 Pasifika Playwrights Development Forum. Fellow BREAK survivor and newly appointed Playmarket development coordinator, Jenni Heka, was responsible for my attendance: she’s scary.

In my experience, Pasifika* gatherings have been the last place to have a good time. I’ve felt out of place at them, like I’ve gatecrashed someone’s birthday party. Most have been a combination of boring gabfest, bitch sessions, and/or a mob hysteria where one had to choose sides or get the hell out.

Not so this week. It wasn’t once boring. Instead of “woe is me” rants, we had fire and passion – where outsiders might’ve seen some rabble-rousing radicalism, I saw empowerment by example and vision. And everyone – everyone – was so freaking nice. There was an atmosphere of collegiality, of a common goal of telling Pasifika stories. A feeling of community.

I hadn’t expected to be so inspired: seeing my competition fellow Pasifika creatives making things happen; swapping numbers and email addresses; making contact. Future posts will explore the culture scene thingie (obviously, I’m still sorting it out in my head) but for now I’ll just name drop:

  • Insiders Guide to Happiness lead, Fasitua Amosa (Samoan);
  • Royal Court Theatre head, Ola Animashawun, who provided his dramaturgy services to the forum;
  • Love Handles and Miss South Pacific writer Arnette Arapai (Niue);
  • Actors Equity representative, Teresa Brown;
  • director, screenwriter, fellow guild member, and all-round gentleman, Tony Forster;
  • award-winning playwright and actor Dianna Fuemana (Niue/Samoan);
  • And What Remains writer, Miria George (Rarotongan/Cook Islands);
  • writer, director, producer, comedian and Killa Kokonut, Vela Manusaute (Samoan), who is many things because he simply gets it on;
  • established playwright and currently New Zealand Film Commission development executive, Hone Kouka (Maori);
  • New Zealand acting icon Nathaniel Lees (Samoan);
  • Fulbright scholar and playwright, Victor Rodger (Samoan/Scottish);
  • Phoenix Seve, whose work-in-development In the Name of the Father was given a public reading by professional actors and I was simultaneously electrified and brought to tears – and it’s still in development;
  • BREAK survivor and actor, the irrepressible Bronwyn Turei (Maori);
  • and writer and filmmaker, Louise Tu’u (Samoan), who also showcased some scenes from her work-in development, Providence, which is my must-see for 2008.

So many names that I recognised, whose work I’d seen and adored. And I got to meet them! For real! It was so cool!

I must get out more.

* Note for international readers: in New Zealand, Pasifika means of Pacific Island origin, ie., not Maori. Here in New Zild, the Maori and Pacific Island population are already such a part of the Kiwi culture that to call them ethnic minorities, though statistically correct, would be like describing African Americans as an ethnic minority. We all be Kiwis here.