Sunday, February 27, 2011

Exit, pursued by a bear.

Cast member Joe Baxter reclines casually outside Hotel Bristol on a sunny afternoon, beer in one hand, pile of pamphlets for The Winter’s Tale in the other. This is hardly your usual promotional drive for a Shakespeare production. But get him talking on this year’s Summer Shakespeare and you’ll see the sparks of enthusiasm in his eyes and a professionalism unbefitting of his attire. Bringing together a youthful cast of students and graduates from Toi Whakaari, Sydney’s National Institute of Dramatic Art and our very own Victoria University, the 2011 Summer Shakespeare production achieves something quite remarkable- making Shakespeare interactive, dynamic, and refreshingly local while remaining true to the original text. Performed to an audience on picnic blankets at the Botanical Garden’s Sound Shell, ironically, The Winter’s Tale makes for perfect summer fare.

The first half of the play is set in the Sicilian court where King Leontes (Jonathan Price), incensed by the attentions of his wife Hermione (Amy Usherwood) to his friend King Polixenes of Bohemia (Tom Clarke) rapidly descends into a state of irreconcilable jealousy. Powerful performances from the leads and convincing ensemble work soon leaves the audience embroiled in a typically Shakespearean tale of tragedy and revenge.
By contrast, the second half of the play emphasises the bard’s more comic elements. Minimal but effective staging sets the scene of Polixenes’ Bohemia in the quintessential Kiwi woolshed, where clever audience interaction, Katy Perry reprises and Tui crate bottles provide for plenty of laughs, without detracting from the storyline. Theo Taylor, playing a rogue, Autolycus, adds boundless energy and acrobatic flare in an almost Freddy Mercury-esque performance.

Beautifully brought together in an ethereal and moving final scene, The Winter’s Tale is an unlikely, but wonderful marriage between rural Kiwi humour and enthralling Shakespearean tragedy. From the finest costuming details to the haunting music provided by just one guitar and drum kit, every aspect of the performance is polished without being overwrought. This year’s Summer Shakespeare has succeeded in making one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” accessible and highly entertaining, and has proved that there is much more to The Winter’s Tale than Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction.

I don't believe in New Years resolutions. But if I did, mine this year would be to go to the theatre more often. And let's be honest, given my previous track record, "more often" roughly equates to "at all". Wellington is so brimming with the arts, that drama seeps out from under Cuba Street doorways, and gutters run thick with paint. I don't have many regrets from my time here, but I do regret not making the most of this wealth of creativity and talent we have all around us. 

In the last month or so I've been to a Shakespearean play in the Botanical Gardens and a Mozart opera at Mighty Mighty. Apart from raising your salty Cuba Street cred through the roof, performances like these are well worth a look. And with so many events free, or with decent student prices there are no excuses- you don't even have to sacrifice the price of two drinks at El Horno.  Even if it's not usually your thing, give a night a the theatre a go, a bit of culture every once in a while can't hurt, and if you need to feel studenty you can still bring along your Bernadino and twisties.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Lyall Bay Morning

Delicate white waves break on the shore of Lyall Bay morning,
lacing the edge of petticoat harbour.
Gently they ripple,
as fat lady moon
lowers herself tentatively into salt sea bath.

One sentinel seagull stands on water's edge
and one small child's shoe on wind beaten sand,
left behind from sunny times.
Early morning is quiet here.

Distant ships punctuate black velvet
drape of dark horizon
and steel sings softly in salty wind.
Early morning is lonely here.

Mother day-break makes a poignant entrance to the South coast,
her blushing nectarine cheeks behind the airport's scarlet windsock.
Headlights and footsteps make haste for the bustling city.
For tall buildings and artificially lit offices
to live nine to five lives
of details and deadlines.

But what of that one child's shoe?
What does it see as it stays,
as skies turn to blue
on Lyall Bay morning.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chaos is my status quo.

Apologies, it's been so long. So long, in fact, that I am beginning to worry that this blogging business was yet another short-lived fad, a notch on the belt of well-intentioned projects that inevitably disintegrate amongst the chaos of my life. It seems I should never underestimate my own disorganisation. But for regular readership (ie, my mother) I promise I will stick this one out. 

Although, theoretically my recent absence from the blogging cyberspace can be attributed to a particularly ominous essay deadline, the reality is somewhat less admirable. Certainly, the intentions were honorable- setting aside my usual tasks to research with always unprecedented diligence- and yet, with three days to go until the looming hand in, I find myself in the usual conundrum. The blogging, the running, and what I like to term semi-constructive, semi-justifiable distractions have been sacrificed at the alter of a particularly scary word count, only to, yet again, be subordinated to those utterly pointless procrastination activities that seem to swallow up the day and suck up all those hours without my even realising.

But, my constant vows to "be much more organised next time" aside, I quite enjoy a little chaos in my life. To be certain, I run a very fine balance, and the bubble is often teetering dangerous close to a little too disorganised. But, despite my mother's valiant efforts to reform me, I will never be one of those rigidly organised people who files their notes, hands in work in advance, or schedules their life on a piece of paper. To be entirely honest, the thought of that life scares the shit out of me. I admire other people's organisation of course, and frequently bemoan the dissaray of my life amidst as I rifle desperately through mountains of loose paper, but simply, that is not me. If I write lists, I loose them; if I tidy my room, I still can't find anything. I'm all for cleanliness, but that clinical, perfectly organised, timetabled, ordered lifestyle not only unnerves me- I find it literally impossible to follow.

Over zealously perhaps, I like to embrace my slightly eclectic, wannabe-creative self. I've adorned my wall with fairy lights and so many photos that most people would find it distracting or "too busy." I fucking love busy. I love busy walls, busy colours, busy days where I rush from football practice to class to coffee with friends. Chanel's famous fashion advice was that, when accessorising, always take one thing off before you leave the house. I put something extra on. I don't do classic- I do big earrings, blue in my hair, op-shop bargains, bright colours, bold statements. Or at least that's my self-perceived image. Correct me if you wish.

I love this outfit insanely.
I, for one, would certainly never consider myself stylish in any right. But, at least in other aspects of my life, this crazy woman persona seems to work. I think I need that kick of motivational adrenaline that you find in the wee small hours of the morning before an essay is due. And, although I apologise to my friends for having to put up with my stressful moments, once I am passionate about, or committed to something I always get it done on time, even if right up until the last second. 

What I guess I'm really trying to say, in my typically round-about, ill-structured, non-concise sort of way is that no one should feel like they have to follow a "proper" prescribed way of life.  Don't fit into a mould. Success does not necessarily derive from adhering completely to a strict schedule, or happiness making decisions according to pros and cons lists if you are not that sort of person. Don't let convention dictate how you live your life. Explore, and investigate what works for you, what makes you tick, what gives you the best result- whether it be in essay writing, sex, or choosing an outfit. And, if things don't work out as you had initially planned, go with the flow, experiment with new ideas, look for your very own niche. Find your own space and make it yours. After all, it may be a designer dress, or an expensive house- but it's less than worthless if it's "not you."

I want rainbow hair stripes.