What inspired you to write Under the Same Moon?
I have two remarkable grandmothers, who live in Hong Kong and went through war and an escape from Communist China as young mothers with large families. One of them is still alive - she's 104! My parents came to NZ in the 1970s and some of their siblings emigrated to the US and Canada, so we're a very typical family, spread across the world and keeping up relationships through email, phone calls and visits when we can.
I was listening to a lecture about migrants in NZ, and in the middle of the dry statistics my mind started wandering to the real stories I've heard of migrant lives. So I dreamt up the fictitious situation of a fiesty old Hong Kong matriarch called Por Por who invites herself to her granddaughter's wedding and travels to NZ, causing all kinds of cultural chaos. Nearly everything that happens to Por Por in the play actually happened to someone real (I'm not telling which ones happened to me). I wanted to make it funny, universal and real, and from the audience feedback I've had so far I think I've succeeded.
Where did the inspiration for the ten characters come from?
Myself, my mum, my sisters, my grandmothers, and other migrant women I know.
What can the audience expect from this performance?
Hweiling is an amazing actress - she's a chameleon, able to make you believe that she's a different character with just a quick change of posture and accent. In one scene she plays three generations of one family, all at the same time - and it's perfectly clear. So it's exciting just watching that level of skill. But after the first five minutes we find audiences get drawn in to the story and the world and they forget they're watching just one actress.
Describe the show in three words…
warm, funny, real.
For more information about UNDER THE SAME MOON click here.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU AND JUSTIN LEWIS (DIRECTOR/WRITER) TO WRITE THE ELEPHANT THIEF?
In 2014 Justin read an article from a scientific journal claiming elephants would be extinct in the wild in 50 years. That same year the British Astronomer Royal said that mankind would be extinct by its own design in 100 years. We started thinking about extinction and then a little more personal question popped up, “Who will miss us when we’re gone?”
WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION FOR SPECIFIC CHARACTERS COME FROM?
We did research in India and certainly one of the characters, the Rani de Bourbon, comes from our time there. We wanted to set the play in India, in the future and reveal the world at the edge of collapse. This lead to characters that were inevitably slightly grotesque, all dealing with the prospect of extinction in their own ways. They are funny and unsettling.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF WORKING WITH AN ENSEMBLE CAST IN THE SHOW?
The show is an epic comic adventure and the ensemble cast deliver a scale and atmosphere that this requires. They are all musical and it allows for a rich, live soundtrack. There is large-scale puppetry and shadow play often requiring the entire cast to create an image.
HOW IS THE ELEPHANT THIEF DIFFERENT FROM INDIAN INK’S PREVIOUS SHOWS?
It’s one of our biggest shows with 6 performers on stage and a big set. There’s a new design team with quite a different aesthetic. There’s also a new musician, although Dave Ward is still the composer. The masks are pared back to sets of grotesque teeth and body padding. And, of course, this is the first play we’ve set in the future.
For more information about THE ELEPHANT THIEF click here.
When I was 4 I started at The Gilbert Smith Dance Studio doing jazz, ballet and contemporary until I finished high school. Then I studied at The New Zealand School of Dance for three years, where I was offered a position with the company upon graduation. 2016 will be my third year with the company, and I absolutely love it.
Seeing my family, and having home cooked meals! I also envy it only taking 5 minutes to get to work, unlike Auckland city traffic!
Audiences can expect an energetic, dynamic and creative explosion of contemporary dance from Lumina. Each piece challenges us as dancers to explore and utilise our physicality’s in a range of ways.
I am very privileged to work as a professional dancer as my full-time job. At NZDC we rehearse for upcoming dance shows 9-5.30pm Monday-Friday and building up to tours like Lumina, we rehearse on Saturdays!!
My favourite dance style of dance is contemporary dance because of the endless possibilities and explorations that can occur. I love the physicality of this dance form, there are so many ways in which we can use our bodies to express and articulate a choreographic idea.
I enjoy being with my friends and family, climbing Mt Paritutu and going for a run through Pukekura Park. In summer nothing beats going to a swim at Fitzroy, and getting out on the foreshore enjoying a cheeky ice cream!
Work hard, always try to learn something from everyone you get taught by, as every little bit of knowledge and experience counts. Also remember to have fun when you’re dancing!
Probably my yoga mat and tennis ball because they are my body’s saviours during our tough touring schedule, helping me to stretch out and release my sore & tired muscles.
Where are did you grow up?
I grew up all over South West London. My parents moved a lot and they thought they were property developers. I thought we were in the witness relocation program.
When did you start out as a comedian?
I started out many years ago as resident compere in a stand-up comedy club in South London. The first night I went to a comedy club was the first night I went on stage and I haven’t looked back since.
Who inspires you?
I take inspiration from the people I meet and places I go. Everyone has a story and so long as you keep your eyes and ears open you can be inspired every day.
Where do you get most of you material?
It’s just from life and shared experiences. I like to make a connection with my audiences and so I talk about subjects that are common to all of us.
What do you like most about New Zealand?
New Zealand, they say, is the most beautiful country on Earth. Some people reckon it looks a lot like England, but coming from England I can tell you they’re wrong.
What has been your career highlight to date?
That’s a real tough one, I get to have highlights most days. I’ve performed for the Queen, done TV and radio but sometimes it’s the gig in a cranky old fire hazard of a pub that will make my day.
What can we expect from your show The Laughter Master?
Expect to laugh heartily! My show this year is about belly laughs and gags taken from my year on the road.
Do you have any great fan stories? Anything that’s happened during a show?
Once a fan came to see me in Edinburgh and asked me for a photo. The next day she came again and sat in the front row. Only this time she’s had the photo printed on a T-shirt and was wearing it!
Is anything off limits when it comes to comedy?
Comedy is about making people laugh and that’s my job. There are people more qualified than me to talk about politics or human rights. That said comedy can be a good environment to talk about challenging issues.
How would you encourage someone who was interested in comedy as a career?
Have a real honest think as to why you want to do it. If it’s just to be famous, then it’s probably not right for you.
For more information or to book tickets to come and see Stephen live - click here.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
I live in Auckland, New Zealand. I trained at Unitec’s School of Performing and Screen Arts and my first professional acting gig was with Silo Theatre and the Auckland Arts Festival’s Ensemble Project in 2007. I work as an actor and shop girl....
Enjoy a meal accross the road at Pankawalla before coming to the show!
From now until August, if you book and dine at Pankawalla pre-show (show your tickets, this image or pick up a flyer from our Box Office) you can have dinner for two for only $39.99. This deal includes two mains served with rice and two glasses of house Sav.
We're stoked to announce that the Taranaki community has voted watching a show at the TSB Showplace one of Taranaki’s favourite experiences, attractions, activities or eats and drinks, and will feature in Venture Taranaki's latest 2015-16 Taranaki Must Do’s brochure!
Taranaki’s Must Do’s are based on thousands of nominations from locals and visitors to determine the region’s unmissable things to see, do, experience, eat and drink.
The countdown is on and the 32-strong all-local Taranaki cast are in full-on preparations ahead of opening night on 16 April. The cast includes Mark Leuthard, a New Plymouth Operatic regular, who 'by day' works as a Banker with BNZ New Plymouth. Leuthard last appeared onstage in The Phantom of the Opera, one of the highlights of 2014 for Encore readers.
Leuthard stars as Harry Bright - one of the ‘three possible dads’. Mamma Mia is Leuthard’s 25th show for NPOS over the past 24 years. He takes every rehearsal as it comes. Step one is to keep in touch with the rehearsal schedule and makes sure he is well prepared.
“It’s a bit of a routine for me now” he says “the night before the rehearsal you have a look over what we plan to work on. The key is to put in as much time as possible early in the process to get your part down, so you know it without thinking about it. As soon as you do that, you can start concentrating on polishing the performance, rather than trying to remember what comes next. You can then also relax and start to enjoy what you are doing – and have fun with it”.
The weeks of rehearsals require the cast to give a lot of time and commitment, and often means time at home with their family is limited. “Our partners and family give up a lot to allow us to be involved” says Leuthard. "I’m lucky that my partner shares the same passions that I do". Leuthard’s fiancé Krystal is also in the Mamma Mia cast “I’m engaged to my onstage daughter’s best friend – talk about a cradle snatcher!”
Click here for more information or to buy tickets to Mamma Mia!
From Stratford, Taranaki. Very fluent in Maori custom, with a bit of te reo (thanks to her work with the Maori Department of the Ministry of Education, and her family ties up in Taranaki). Is a project manager in the public service. Has worked in film. Knows how to crack a whip. The WIUO is her first band, the ukulele her first instrument.
Colour in Clarissa the snot-monster and Frankie the scientist and you could win tickets for your whole class and teacher to see the show!
We have a fantastic offer for you this winter!
We catch up with Penny Ashton, star of Promise and Promiscuity...