Home Alone

Wellington by night.

I suppose it’s an annual pilgrimage: as Matariki descends upon this lush nation, I take myself to my hometoon of Wellington for a bit of colour and culture. The Lovely Wife didn’t accompany me this year as our schedules didn’t work out (and we’d been down this way only a few weeks earlier).

This time around I:

  • saw Kia Mau Festival highlights Taki Rua’s He Kura e Huna Ana and the premiere season of Deer Woman;
  • attended a Playwrights Hui where I —
    • had the pleasure of meeting Tara Beagan (Canada), Jorjia Gillis (Australia), Lily Shearer (Australia), Mitch Tawhi Thomas (Wellington), and Jason Te Mete (Auckland);
    • and caught up with Ali Foa’i, Mīria George, Natano Keni, Hone Kouka, Jamie McCaskill, and Ilbijerri’s Rachel Maza;
  • and, outside Kia Mau events, met with various Wellington residents about one thing or another.

Unlike last year there was no dining at the usual, nor a Mamea family catch-up, but it was a productive trip, and my hometown is always always fun to visit.

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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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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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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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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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KINGSWOOD: Prelude

Last weekend, I nipped down to my oul’ hometoon and ran into this:

Photo1033

Cuba Street closed to traffic, its footpaths and road filthy with pedestrians, all of it sprinkled with light rain showers and a very family-friendly vibe: a street festival called Cuba Dupa. Nice. I walked past the crowded foodstalls with their mouthwatering aromas and found sanctuary in the cool and quiet Clark’s Cafe (where they still have cheesecake cup cakes, very nice indeedy).

Once fed, watered and rested,  I hop-skip-and-jumped over the unimaginatively named City to Sea Bridge to Circa Theatre where Kingswood won the 2015 Adam Award for Best Play by a Pasifika Playwright. I guess I’ll be revisiting that script sooner than planned.

While at the Adam Awards, I rubbed shoulders with:

  • Hone Kouka, co-winner of the 2015 Adam Award for Best New Zealand Play for Bless the Child, as well as winner of Best Play by a Maori Playwright;
  • runner-up Dean Parker with Polo (though I do prefer his initial title, Fear and Misery in the Third Term);
  • Michelanne Forster, winner of Best Play by a Woman Playwright for The Gift of Tongues;
  • author of the highly commended, SignificanceTom McCrory;
  • the always luminous Miria George;
  • the boundlessly talented Moana Ete;
  • Wellington man-about-town Jonathon Hendry;
  • the irrepressible KC Kelly;
  • David O’Donnell, fresh from directing Victor Rodger’s incendiary My Name is Gary Cooper in Hawaii;
  • and the Playmarket gang of Murray LynchStuart HoarSalesi Leota, and Claire O’Loughlin.

That’s me: an utterly shameless name-dropper.

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GOODBYE MY FELENI: Interlude

Okay, so The Goddess and I snuck down to the capital for some time-in with cafes and restaurants and a wee bit of shopping, and Goodbye My Feleni was awarded the 2013 Adam Award for Best New Pasifika Play.

Which meant that I missed a day-long rehearsal which I should have been apprehensive about missing. But you know what? At the preceding rehearsal, the directors and actors generously granted my wishes of workshopping all remaining scenes and providing some audio for a teaser which I knocked together below. And I’ve finally come to understand the method to the directors’ ah, method.

Which is a typically long-winded way of saying that whilst I was tucking into a ribeye steak (rare) and/or churros for breakfast, I spared nary a thought for pre-production because it’s in good hands. Seriously.

So yeah. The awards. I shared space with fellow winners Paul Buckley, Renae Maihi, Philip Braithwaite and Hannah McKie. Big ups to Playmarket for the event – effervescent director Murray Lynch, the sartorially elegant Salesi Le’ota, and ever imperturbable Stuart Hoar. And a wonderful chat was had with Circa manager Linda Wilson who let slip that Circa Theatre – just like the Basement Theatre – has a risk-share model for incoming productions; something to bring up with Producer Jenni when the season is over.

Our final week of rehearsals commenced tonight. In my absence, lines have been cut, props have been introduced that are not in the script, and concepts have been introduced to me that I have difficulty visualising – but you know what? They all seem to work.

As always, the level of achievement I get in this collaboration is not what I expected.

It’s exceeded.

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