Thursday, February 26, 2015

Guest Post: Sam Trubridge on The New Zealand Performance Festival

by Sam Trubridge

New Zealand. To many it seems like a country at the end of the world. In stories about pandemics and nuclear holocaust, the survivors always escape to places like this, far removed from conflict and catastrophe. We even get left off world maps sometimes. That’s us: New Zealand, Aotearoa, The Land of the Long White Cloud. It has been known by other names as well. Ever since the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the country has also promoted itself as ‘Middle Earth’, and is known as a land of pristine natural scenery, and clean, green living. 100% Pure is the name of the Tourism NZ brand. Other common perspectives might include mention of Maori culture, our formidable rugby team, and sheep farming. Like many distant places, New Zealand has been mythologised by the stories that have been told about it to become a land of Hobbits, untouched nature, and breathtaking scenery. But like most myths, they are only partly true. The rolling green fields and Hobbiton landscapes are signs of an indigenous landscape stripped bare, deforested and cultivated for farming. Our rivers are amongst the most polluted and endangered in the world, due to farm run-off, pesticides, fertilisers, and redirection for irrigation.

Audiences for this programme of works in the NZ New Performance Festival will find that we have much in common with American audiences: sharing common experiences, stories, and perspectives. And yet ours is a view from the other side of the world. New Zealand is one of the ‘Antipodes’: a group of nations found on the exact opposite of the world from the global/cultural centres. These countries occupy an alternate time-zone, their seasons are back to front, and are quite literally found beneath the feet of people living in cities like Paris, London, and New York. In this upside-down ‘underworld’ we work while you sleep, and sleep while you work. Recent successes in NZ film-making specialise in making wonder and spectacle, creating innovative special effects and building fantastical worlds like Narnia, Middle Earth, and Pandora. This festival of works at La Mama come from this ‘dream factory’, 18 hours in the future, where our today is your tomorrow. We may speak the same language, share cultural memories, watch the same programmes, and listen to the same music as you; but our perspective comes from our distance, where things are similar but slightly different. James Nokise’s SoSo Gangsta brings US gang culture back to the US via the suburbs of Wellington; David Goldthorpe tells the story of US musician Chet Baker on stage (Chet Baker: Like Someone in Love); Binge Culture present a self-help seminar (For Your Future Guidance) ; LudiCity replay extracts of information from the (US) FOI Act on Listening Posts on the streets around the theatre; and in All Your Wants and Needs Fulfilled Forever we follow our contemporary obsessions with being the lead character or protagonist in our lives that are sold to us through Hollywood blockbusters and computer gaming. These works all play with the export of American culture and concerns to New Zealand, some going as far as the mercurial On the Conditions of Possibilities of Hillary Clinton Taking Me As Her Young Lover. There is also the endless break-up in Binge Culture’s other show, Break-Up, where it seems that the characters are replaying every televised sitcom, romcom, drama, and reality TV in an attempt to reconcile a fated relationship. In the winter of 2006 Marcus McShane cycled across America from LA to New York. Now, in his performance installation Nag he brings a self-powered studio to La Mama, where a bicycle propels his creative industry in a beautiful comment on sustainability that could only come from the eccentric pioneering Kiwi spirit. Finally, in Sleep/Wake the very nature of dreaming and sleeping is examined – where reality and imagination mix in a play between science and performing arts. The work was conceived as a critique of the first world dreams that we inhabit, where environmental disasters and conflicts exist in a mediatised, televised space: always ‘somewhere else’ rather than a part our waking lives. The work is a lament for the distance from global events that is not just a New Zealand condition, but one shared by first world nations, protected by the bubbles of safety in our urban and suburban dormitories.

By bringing this fantastic selection of works to New York City, these artists can do more than open audiences’ eyes to new New Zealand work. The artists can also open their own eyes, and open their work to new possibilities in this stimulating and challenging capital city for performing arts. Into this fantastic #LaMamaEarth programme, the NZ New Performance Festival brings Antipodean concerns from the other side of the world, so that in the shared space of live performance these NZ artists and their NY audiences can reconsider our global cultures together in new ways.

La MaMa presents

March 12th - 29th, 2015

First Floor Theatre | by Arthur Meek 
March 12, 13, 14 at 7:30pm & 15 at 2pm | 60 minutes | $20
A theatrical lecture by Arthur Meek, a rising star in the New Zealand theatre scene. 

La Galleria | by Marcus McShane 
March 18, 19, 20 & 22 at 1pm - 5:30pm | Free
An endurance-based performance-installation that constructs a self-propelled artist studio. 

Ellen Stewart Theatre | by Sam Trubridge 
March 19-21 at 8pm & 22 at 4pm | 7o minutes | $25
FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHT: An award-winning art science performance with stunning visuals by director/designer Sam Trubridge. 

First Floor Theatre | by James Nokise 
March 19, 20, 21 at 7:30pm & 22 at 2pm | 55 minutes | $20
Samoan comedian James Nokise brings hip-hop culture back to the USA via the Pacific and Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

La Galleria | by Binge Culture 
March 18, 19, 20 - 22 at 6pm | 60 minutes | Free
An interactive performance in the style of a self-help seminar, giving you the skills and knowledge to survive the new you-topia. 

La Galleria | by Binge Culture
March 21 at 1:30pm - 7:30pm | Performance Installation| Free
There’s no easy way to do this… Five performers, six hours of desperation, negotiation, devastation and emotional blackmail. Come and go from this one-off event as you please – or stay until everything is worked through.

Ellen Stewart Theatre | by PlayGround Collective 
March 26 at 8pm & 27 at 4pm | 70 minutes | $25
Simon studies video game design, looks after his pet rats, and keeps himself glued to whatever screen is nearest—all to avoid thinking about the recent death of his father. But Simon’s world is turned upside down when a mysterious box is delivered to him that might just contain the Secret to the Universe... An acclaimed new theatre work by writer Eli Kent and director Robin Kerr of the award-winning PlayGround Collective. 

Ellen Stewart Theatre | by Goldthorpe Creative 
March 28 at 8pm & 29 at 4pm | 115 minutes | $25
Jazz and theatre brought together on stage in the gripping story of a US music legend. Performed and written by David Goldthorpe. Directed by David Lawrence. 

In public places throughout the East Village | by LudiCity | Free
March 19 - 22 | Installation

Tickets now on sale for all shows.

3-Show Ticket Packages Available for $50.  CLICK HERE to buy.

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE