Monday, December 17, 2007

Revenge of the Amazons by Jean Betts - A Review

Image by Corey Smith

"Revenge of the Amazons" by Jean Betts and William Shakespeare: a 70's re-working of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Bats Theatre, Wellington, December, 2007.

Originally written by Betts in 1983, "Revenge of the Amazons" premiered that same year at the Circa Theatre in Wellington. This current production was directed by Rachel More and Jacqueline Coats with twenty actors, many award-winning performers. Produced by Greg Wikstrom. Designed by Jennifer Lal. Music by Jamie Burgess.

Seeing "Revenge" makes it all clear why live theatre is vital and healing to our souls. Experiencing a good play where the actors are having as much fun as the audience is a wonderful time well spent. Extremely well written, the theme of love and lust is even funnier when roller skates and a disco ball enter a Shakespearean stage. The wonderful play within the play, by the 'Fallopian Thespians', had me rolling in the aisle in memory (and pain) of consciousness-raising meetings, which I organized in my own home in the U.S. in the 70's.

It is not possible to point to any one actor as rising above the rest since this is a strong collaborative ensemble; however, with that said, because I am a new resident of Wellington and don't toe to any favs (yet), I will say that Tanea Heke as Puck was pure joy. Wearing an Afro wig and a psychedelic body suit, she captured the essence of this mischief-maker each time she roller-skated on the stage. It takes great talent to look like you don't know what you are doing -- and be able to do it so well.

In the program notes, Betts is quoted as saying, she wrote Revenge for fun, mostly to provide the more comic parts for women and a better share of the famous lines. And this she accomplished with humour and an original take on this famous play. I think Shakespeare would have approved every bit. The production has closed now but it's probably one of those plays that you can read with equal enjoyment and experience belly laughs. Available from The Play Press. This organization, founded by Jean Betts, is devoted to publishing, new and innovative NZ work. Check it out:

Godzone - A Review

GODZONE. 4-15 December, 2007. Production by Ioonesco, formed in 2005 by Will Harris and Sarah Griffiths. Cast: Paul McLaughlin, Peter Rutherford, Will Harris.

Speaking of actors having too much fun. Godzone was a scream. The play delivers all things New Zealand with self-deprecating fun. Some lines you probably had to be a Kiwi to get -- (a few times I was the only person in the theatre not laughing), but for the most part, it didn't matter. All three actors were wonderful. A great Kiwi ensemble.

The night I saw GODZONE, Thursday, 13th of December, there was a perfect improv moment. Mobile phones can kill a moment and I have heard stories of actors stopping a production on Broadway when it happens. But not in GODZONE. During the kiwi sheep scene, a mobile phone began ringing. We all looked to the woman frantically searching her bag for her phone as it continued to ring. Then the sheep moved in, following the sound, as if rehearsed. After turning it off, the woman turned multiple shades of red, while the sheep watched her. We the audience enjoyed every second. Finally, to the relief of the woman, the sheep found her boring and bounced back to the stage. And the show went on. Live theatre is best when the audience can enjoy the unexpected and Godzone delivers.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cordula Volkening

"I am on the Right of Your Heart"

"Fire in the Belly"

"Who is Afraid of the Dark"

Cordula is a painter who has been working full time for her show which opens this Sunday. Please support her and go to the opening. Here are the details. And read her backstory about her diagonosis of advance brain cancer.

Opening: Dec. 9th (Sunday) 4pm - 8pm
Dec.10th -13th, 2007 - Gallery hours: 11am-6pm

Brooklyn Artist Gym
168 7th Street, 3rd Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11215 (Park Slope)
Tel: 718 858 9069


WHO: Cordula Volkening
WHAT: Art show entitled "YOU: Would you like an invitation to my destination?"

BACKSTORY: In September, Cordula was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma (advanced brain cancer). She quit her job in construction/design and resumed her career as a visual artist. (In the 1980s, her artwork was shown in solo and group exhibitions in NY, Chicago, Washington, Germany and France, and earned a variety of honors, including fellowships, awards and media mentions.) She now paints for hours daily in a borrowed studio, in between undergoing radiation, chemotherapy, and what she refers to as "my daily session of: Are You Kidding Me???" Cordula says: "Hey, I got advanced brain cancer - my system kicks me in the butt and screams: Be your authhentic self or you are going to die sooner not later. Any questions?"
BIO: Cordula, 50, comes from "a ridiculous small village in the middle of Germany" and has lived in the U.S., in Brooklyn, since 1985. She holds a degree in fine art from the School of Art and Design in Kiel, Germany, and also attended the Arts Students League in New York. She is the owner of a NYC "design, build and manage company" called Living Art Space. She is collaborating with Kent Jeffrey on two works in progress: "Skye," since 1992, and "Eden," since 1995. (See resume below for details on past art shows and honors.)
ABOUT HER ARTWORK: "My work tells about human mental conditions with the help of a visual language that skips the intellect, therefore asking the viewer to rely on their visceral response," Cordula says. "My work as an artist is to supply language that is unpretentious and allow stories to be told without using tried-out recipes. Once the visuals are created, I become a viewer just like anybody else and surrender to the unique response that each visual solicits."

Backyard in Wellington

A cup of tea and thee

First Photo in New Zealand

Kapiti Island, Pukerua Bay

On my back
warm sand
short train ride
from new home
thinking of Dana
tears fall
love is all

Brooklyn Bridge from Cab Last Photo in NY

Subway Photo

Delancey, Lower East Side.
My stop. Was my stop for 10 years. Just because it's against the law to photograph the subway.

Teany Moby's vegan restaurant

Bathroom at teany, 90 Rivington, Lower East Side. Moby, the musician is also an animal lover and everyone loves this vegan restaurant. Always packed!!

In the bathroom pictures of animals at a Farm Santuary where they can live free. If I were to have a cafe this would be it. My fantasy: running a vegan cafe with my New Zealand partner. He would build it. I would make vegan sandwiches and yummy sugar-free deserts. And we would live happily ever after.

Last pics in New York

Bonny at cafe, Houston & Allen

Free standing ad on Houston, right in front of people's apartment windows.