Auckland Fringe Awards

March 14 2011

Fringe_LogoThe Award for Best Performance Cabaret / Burlesque
ARIA JONES in Opera Risque

The Award for Best Performance Comedy
VACHEL SPIRASON in The Hermitude of Angus, Ecstatic

The Award for Best Performance Dance

The Award for Best Performance Theatre

The Award for Visual Arts
Pigs in the Yard

The Award for Best Production Cabaret / Burlesque
Opera Risque

The Award for Best Production Comedy
Square Eye Pair

The Award for Best Production Dance
Weg: A-Way

The Award for Best Production Music
The Turn of the Screw and The Taste of Spanish Sounds

The Award for Best Production Theatre
The Adventures of Alvin Sputnick, Deep Sea Explorer

The Auckland Arts Festival Award
Weg: A-Way

The STAMP Award
The Sex Show and Constantinople

Best Poster
Man Bits

The Fringe Award
Weg: A-Way

The Peoples Choice Award


Short+Sweet 2011 Submissions

February 16 2011

ShortSweet08resizeTaken from the Short+Sweet website.

Short+Sweet Theatre starts with an annual call for submissions from playwrights and Independent Theatre Companies (ITCs) across the globe. Each year we receive around 2000 scripts and submissions from all over the world.

Scripts are then assessed by Short+Sweet Theatre's highly acclaimed three-stage assessment process. A shortlist of the best works entered to each festival is then determined.

Short+Sweet Theatre directors then select one play each to direct, and actors audition for roles through our open Short+Sweet Theatre auditions, held in each host city. Hundreds of actors get to perform in Short+Sweet Theatre every year.

During the Festival, Short+Sweet Theatre presents ten different plays each week, and climaxes with a Gala Final and Awards night, complete with a panel of industry judges, where generous cash and industry prizes are presented.

In Short+Sweet Theatre Melbourne 2008 the prize pool was over $32,000 while in Short+Sweet Theatre Sydney artists in the Gala Final have their work recorded to be broadcast on Movie Extra.

Over two action packed weeks Short+Sweet Theatre Auckland will present the best 40 plays and theatreworks from local and international writers presented by some of the best established and up and coming Auckland artists.

Welcome to the world of Short+Sweet Theatre. A more creative world - ten minutes at a time!

Short+Sweet Theatre is returning to Auckland this July 2011 with the help of STAMP and The Edge.
Apply for Short+Sweet Theatre Auckland here.



Chortle Awards - Diane Spencer

February 09 2011


Taken from UK media YTFC.

Diane Spencer was named Best Newcomer in the Chortle Awards 2011 at a ceremony in London hosted by Al Murray on Monday night.

When nominated for the award in January, Diane followed in the footsteps of names including Sarah Millican, Jack Whitehall and Rhod Gilbert, and the win caps off a remarkable ascendancy on the circuit.

Victoria Wood, Tim Minchin, Stewart Lee, Michael McIntyre, The Boy with Tape on his Face and Frank Sidebottom creator Chris Sievey also took home an award whilst those to present the accolades included actor Richard E Grant, presenter Gail Porter, The Apprentice star Stuart 'The Brand' Baggs, comedian Dave Gorman, magician Paul Daniels and former MP Lembit Opik.

On the award, Diane, said "I am utterly delighted - to be nominated in the first place was brilliant, but actually winning ... I'm thrilled!"

Diane's stand up career began in 2006 when she emigrated to New Zealand for four years during which time she was nominated as Best Newcomer and Best Female Comedian at the New Zealand Comedy Guild 2007 and 2009 respectively. She was also asked to feature in numerous TV projects including a documentary looking at English comedians working in New Zealand.

Having returned to the UK, Diane has quickly developed a reputation as one of the must-see new comics in the country. She received four stars all round in August 2010 when she performed her debut solo show Lost in the Mouth Specific at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Already in 2011 Diane has performedsell-out shows at the Leicester Comedy Festival and she will return to the southern hemisphere with a run at the Adelaide Fringe and the Melbourne International Comedy Festivals. In August, Diane will perform her brand new show during a month long run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2011.


Theatre Reviews: Best of 2010

December 20 2010

SCCZEN_A_20081SPLHAPPY2_460x230Taken from NZ Herald, by Janet McAllister and Paul Simei-Barton.

Auckland theatre punters have been spoiled for choice over the past year. There were heaps of shows (at least 110 professional and semi-professional plays) and overall, they fulfilled two important get-off-the-couch criteria: they were entertaining, and cheap enough to compete with the movies.

But were they art? Unlike last year, I did get one or two small chances to be a bitchy critic this year - but only one or two.

It would be nice if experimental, physical and non-narrative-driven pieces were more prominent - but this plea for "more, please" is because the avant-garde-type pieces I did get to see were so good.

Louise Tu'u's Providence masterfully led its audience into "experiencing a replica aspect of homelessness" feeling vague and confused and unsure of what was expected of them - by deliberately breaking the rules.

On loan from Wellington, the Binge Culture Collective revealed we are all puppets, by manipulating our laughs into disturbed silence, using only a rough-and-ready student asthetic of chalk and plastic bags.

Miranda Harcourt played herself as written by her husband Stuart McKenzie in Biography of My Skin at the Town Hall Concert Chamber - a clever conceit which was comfortable rather than conceited, thanks to the friendly performances.

Like Providence, Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape (well wrought by Edward Newborn) was a miniature gem in the Basement's upstairs studio, as was Sam Shephard's "forgotten" Sad Lament of Pecos Bill, On the Eve of Killing His Wife.

The Dove Hunters beautifully evoked a culture of grief and living with death, with skilled musicianship and an enveloping magic-realist set of bonfire and hay bales.

For the larger productions, it was great to see our literary history on stage and treated with so much fun in Horseplay, written by Ken Duncum and produced by Auckland Theatre Company. The ATC's Cabaret was superlative - raunchy, wonderfully conceived, political spectale.

And the Silo's production of When the Rain Stops Falling neatly captured family claustrophobia played out against the wide open spaces of the Outback.

It also offered the best male performance I saw this year: Stephen Lovatt's, full of dark energy. Bruce Phillips in A View from the Bridge also packed a punch.

The best actress I saw this year was Chelsie Preston-Crayford. She was in a number of plays but it was The Vagina Monologues which showed off her chameleon, magnetic presence the best, as she gracefully swapped between poignancy and comic timing, sass and vulnerable youth.

The Short+Sweet festival offering medleys of short works is a welcome addition to the annual calendar, as is the Maori playwrights festival Taonga Whakaari, which was a chance for revivals as well as new plays.

One worrying disappointment was the cancellation of what was to be the Silo's end-of-year production, due to recession-created funding problems.

A lesser, but also less explainable, disappointment was the day two members of the Eulogy crew took a thoughtful volunteer reviewer to task on the theatreview website.

Her crime? Writing a review rather than a dramaturgy assessment report.

Dear luvvies: as most actors know, that's not our job.

We're not here for you. We're here for those parting with their hard-earned cash to see you. And happily, there are a lot of shows around worth doing that for.

Live theatre often acts like a barometer for shifts in the social climate and the economic downturn seems to have prompted a move towards a more serious kind of theatre.

2010 was a great year for socially engaging drama with a number of shows taking on tough issues and a definite trend towards plays that tackle the big existential questions.

This tendency was most apparent in the preponderance of one-person shows. This low-budget theatrical form is well suited to hard times and is particularly effective when actors use it to tell personal stories.

In Heroic Faun Number One at The Basement, Gregory Cooper provided a revealing perspective on a mega-budget Hollywood epic from the point of view of a low-paid and over-worked "featured extra".

And Katie Prior's performance of My Name is Rachel Corrie (The Basement) delivered a powerful account of an idealistic university student's tragic death while protesting against the Israeli occupation of Gaza.

Perhaps the most successful efforts in this genre were The Second Test by Jonny Brugh (Herald Theatre) and Silent Night by Yvette Parsons (Maidment Musgrove Studio), both of which paid homage to the incredible strength of character of Kiwi battlers from an earlier generation.

For original work by New Zealand playwrights, the triumphant return of Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Picture Show (The Civic) set an impossibly high benchmark.

But the Young & Hungry Festival (ATC/The Basement) showcased a wildly imaginative piece of Kiwi madness in Grant Buist's Fitz Bunny: Lust for Glory. The show is so weirdly original it's easy to imagine that, had it opened in London, it might have transferred to the West End and gone on to world domination.

In a more lyrical vein, He Reo Aroha by Miria George and Jamie McCaskill (Glen Eden Playhouse) provided a beautifully romantic love story, while Passage by Fiona Graham (Herald Theatre) delivered a visually sumptuous evocation of a spiritual journey.

Our established theatre companies presented a nice mix of new work along with imaginative revivals of classics. Auckland Theatre Company opened with Dave Armstrong's sharp political satire Le Sud (Maidment Theatre) and Colin McColl breathed fresh life into Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (Maidment Theatre).

The small, independent companies continued to demonstrate the passion that drives committed theatre practitioners who work with little expectation of financial reward.

Tapac theatre hosted a lovingly crafted version of Frederico Lorca's The House of Bernada Alba and Edward Newborn gave a haunting performance, reviving his 25-year-old production Krapp's Last Tape by Samuel Beckett (The Basement).

The Basement clearly established itself as the epicentre of Auckland's independent theatre scene with electrifying short season runs of plays like Mojo by Jez Butterworth.

For outstanding performances, the scales were heavily tilted towards female roles with Brooke Williams capturing Juliet's frenetic teenage restlessness in ATC's Romeo & Juliet (Herald Theatre).

But for me, the best performance would have to go to Jennifer Ludlam's brilliant characterisation of the mad, drug-addled matriarch in August: Osage County by Tracey Letts (Maidment Theatre) and Colin McColl's visionary direction of this superb drama makes it my pick of production of the year.


Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards

December 06 2010


Taken from NZ Herald, by Hugh Sundae.

The Arrival was the big winner at the Chapman Tripp Wellington Theatre Awards which were handed out last night.

The production won Most Original Production, Production of the Year, as well as awards for costume, design, director and Most Promising Female Newcomer for Ella Becroft.

Actress of the Year and Perfomance of the Year went to the daughter / father combo Sophie and Peter Hambleton.


FULL LIST OF CATEGORIES - winners in bold


Critics Wild Card

End Game - Kenny King and Rebekah Sherrat

Most Original Production of the Year

360 - A Nightsong Productions and Theatre Stampede collaboration
The Arrival - Red Leap Theatre Company
Gene Pool - Hoi Polloi

Most Promising Male Newcomer of the Year

Jackson Coe - Shipwrecked! An Entertainment
Ralph McCubbin-Howell - Katydid
Paul Waggott - Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead

Most Promising Female Newcomer of the Year

Ella Becroft - The Arrival
Alex Lodge - Tea for Toot
Cian Elyse White - Mo and Jess Kill Susie

Most Promising Director of the Year

Charlotte Bradley - Katydid
Lara MacGregor - My Name is Rachel Corrie
Phoebe Smith - Skungpoomery

Costume Desinger of the Year

Paul Jenden - The NERO Show
Brian King - The Great Gatsby
Elizabeth Whiting - The Arrival

Lighting Designer of the Year

Jeremy Fern - The Arrival
Jennifer Lal - The December Brother
Nathan McKendry - End Game

Set Designer of the Year

Ulli Briese - Ninety
Brian King - End Game
John Verryt - The Arrival

Sound Designer of the Year

Gil Eva Craig - The December Brother
John Gibson - 360
Thomas Press - Doors. Walls. And Also Silence

Outstanding Composer of Music

Gareth Farr - The NERO Show
Tane Upjohn-Beatson - Katydid
David Ward - The Guru of Chai

Outstanding New Playwright of the Year

Lucy O'Brien - Katydid
Anya Tate-Manning - Pirates vs Ninjas
Alex Lodge, Cherie Jacobson & Ed Watson - Tea for Toot

Outstanding New Zealand Play of the Year

The Guru of Chai - Jacob Rajan & Justin Lewis
Katydid - Lucy O'Brien
The Second Test - Jonathan Brugh

Supporting Actress of the Year

Darlene Mohekey - Shipwrecked! An Entertainment
Rachel More - Katydid
Lyndee-Jane Rutherford - Mauritius

Supporting Actor of the Year

Christopher Brougham - Dead Man's Cell Phone
Aaron Cortesi - Mark Twain and me in Maoriland
Tim Gordon - The Letter Writer

Actress of the Year

Sophie Hambleton - Katydid
Miranda Manasiadis - The Great Gatsby

Actor of the Year

Nick Blake - Shipwrecked! An Entertainment
Christopher Brougham - Me and Robert McKee
Simon Ferry - Lullaby Jock
Peter Hambleton - Letter Writer
Jacob Rajan - The Guru of Chai

Outstanding Performance

Sophie Hambleton - Katydid
Miranda Manasiadis - The Great Gatsby
Nick Blake - Shipwrecked! An Entertainment
Christopher Brougham - Me and Robery McKee
Simon Ferry - Lullaby Jock
Peter Hambleton - Letter Writer
Jacob Rajan - The Guru of Chai

Director of the Year

Justin Lewis - The Guru of Chai
Julie Nolan - The Arrival
Juliet O'Brien - Letter Writer

Production of the Year

The Arrival - Red Leap Theatre Company
The Guru of Chai - Indian Ink
Letter Writer - Circa Theatre

The Mayor's Award for Significant Contribution to Theatre

Richard Cathie


Hackman Theatre Awards Announced

November 29 2010

Taken from NZ Herald, by Hugh Sundae.

Best Death of the Year, Best Cross Gender Acting of the Year, Best Pash of the Year - this is an awards ceremony like no other.

The second annual Hackman Theatre Awards were given out in Auckland last night, and while some accuse the theatre world of taking itself too seriously, these awards couldn't take themselves any less seriously.

One category - Best Practitioners of the Year - is decided by a dart being thrown from the balcony by a representative of Directors, Designers, Production, Miscellaneous - and last night's winner - Playwrights.

While the event is clearly quite a riot, one of the main goals of the night is to lampoon the fact that Auckland - a city that likes to see itself as a genuine rival to Wellington in the world of performing arts - has no awards for theatre.

"We want it to highlight the fact that there is a hole in the industry, and hopefully someone will feel the need to fill it," says awards producer Kip Chapman.

In another of the non-traditional categories, The Silo Theatre received the award for Best Technival F**k-up of the Year, for video projectors overheating on the opening night of When The Rain Stops Falling.

"It was fixed for subsequent performances but for opening night they had to stop the play," says Chapman. "Everyone had to leave for five minutes, and then for the rest of the show it just kept beeping. It was outrageous."

The Hackman Theatre Awards for Wellington (Chapman Kip Awards) take place this Friday 3rd December - details here.


FULL LIST OF CATEGORIES  - winners in bold

Best Entrance of the Year
The Horse in Horseplay
Colin Garlick in Treasure Island
Stuart McKenzie in Biography of My Skin

Best Death of the Year
Sam Snedden in Mojo
Gypsy Kauta in The Office Xmas Party
Barnaby Fredric in The Irrefutable Truth about Petfood

Best Poster of the Year
The Irrefutable Truth about Petfood
The Vagina Monologues

Best Costume of the Year
The pants that pissed themselves in That Face
Raising the Titantics
Miranda's body paint in Biography of my Skin

Smallest Part of the Year
Matt McDougall in
The Lover
Edith Poor for That Face
Stuart Devenie in August: Osage County

Best Cross Gender Acting of the Year
Jonathan Brugh in The Second Test
Samuel Christopher in The Masculine Monologues
Fleur Saville in The Giant Face

Best Accent of the Year
Jessica Joy Wood in Hotel
David Van Horn in Mojo
Kate Prior in My Name is Rachel Corrie

Best Break Up of the Year
Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Alistair Browning in August: Osage County
Michael Whalley and Brooke Williams in Romeo and Juliet
Toni Potter in The Vagina Monologues

Best Technical F**k Up of the Year
The Silo Theatre for When the Rain Stops Falling
- On opening night video projectors used in the production overheated, resulting in loud beeping throughout the night, and the performance being interrupted several times.

Best Dry of the Year
- Dry is theatre jaargon for someone forgetting their lines
Renee Lyons in The Xmas Monologues
Stephen Butterworth in Songs for Guy
Oliver Driver in Thom Pain - was that a dramatic pause or a forgetful pause

Best Weapon of the Year
Ben Farry in Romeo and Juliet
The Swords in Treasure Island
The Baking Tray in The Office Xmas Party

Award for an Actress/Actor playing a character with a disability/medical condition of the Year
Andrew Grainger in What to do about Dad? (Stroke)
Sophie Roberts in Broken China (Pregnancy)
Ryan Richards in Idiots: Back2School (Too many concussions)

Stage Manager of the Year
Fern Christie in Sweeny Todd
Lauren Wati in Happy Days
Pip Smith in Mojo

Best Line in a Kiwi Play
"I am an Anglican not an alcoholic and there is a stark difference - I have a drink to the lord at 9am and in my eyes that counts as communion." - Samuel Christopher in The Masculine Monologues
"Should we change his Facebook status to Dead?" - Eli Kent in The Intricate Art of Actually Caring

"Maybe he does have a container load of washing powder at his mate's porn shop that he's going to distribute after displaying how a bunch of cardigans with pockets can be used to enable politicians and lawyers to discreetly purchase pornography and sex aids for a ten grand payout. But does it really matter?" - Sam Berkley in The West Auckland Cardigan Appreciation Society

Best Newcomer of the Year
Director Sam Shore for The Idea of America
Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt in The Intricate Art of Actually Caring
Ash Jones in The Importance of Being Ernest

Best Use of a Prop
Michael Hurst's Appendage in Cabaret
The Banana by Edward Newborn in Krapp's Last Tape
Robyn's handbag in Happy Days

Best Pash of the Year
Laurel Devenie and Lisa Chappel in The Importance of Being Ernest
Todd Emerson and Byron Coll in Dog Sees God
Michael Whalley and Brooke Williams in Romeo and Juliet

Outrageous Award for Best Performance of a pill poppn' hard drinking Grandmother with a family of philanders, pot heads and incest dabblers of the Year
Jennifer Ludlam

Best Ensemble Acting of the Year
The cast of The Vagina Monologues
The cast of The Suburban Murder
Morgana O'Reilly in The Height of the Eiffel Tower

Best Singing in a Play
The cast of Songs for Guy
The cast of Raising the Titanics
The cast of Assassins

Best Dancing in a Play
Fiona Collins in My Penina
Greg Cooper in Heroic Faun Number. 1
Gareth Reeves in Mojo

Best Comeback of the Year
Ian Hughes in Mojo
Michelle Hine in The Idea of America
Tim Balme in Horseplay

Best Practitioners of the Year

Lifetime Achievement Award
Raymond Hawthorne

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