CoStar was at the show last night. It was … a relief. And weird. He brings a whole different energy to the role than the lovely Director. He’s much more pompous – despite the lack of a British accent. Hilarious.
In the mean time? we have been reviewed. Twice. One with the CoStar and one without. Incidentally, each one has mentioned the Alasdair Thompson debacle. It’s an odd coincidence that Alasdair digs himself into this damn hole in the same week that we open a play about feminism, political correctness, and devastating misunderstandings.
1. Maggie Rainey-Smith
David Mamet’s play is not so funny, more compelling, and thought-provoking. The acting is outstanding and all the more impressive because one of the actors, Damian Reid, was stranded in Melbourne due to the ash-cloud from the Chilean volcano, and John Marwick, Director of the play, stepped in and read the lines (to perfection) of the Professor. The student, Carol, is mesmerizingly played by Sarah-Rose Burke who has to develop the character of Carol over eighty minutes in a stunning yet subtly splendid performance. It is the first time I have seen the play and cannot compare this production with any other, but it was brilliantly rendered so that your sympathies are constantly moving (well mine, anyway) from one character to another. The wardrobe too, played a fascinating role in the development of the character of Carol, the student, who starts the play as a confused almost hapless student in her ankle-length little black socks and slipper-style shoes, and in the next act she is wearing fabulously hot shiny red shoes and the final act wearing lace-up boots, in the powerful position of being able to threaten the Professor’s tenure, and finally, much worse, for both of them.
Oh, the ending is superb, and having looked up the play, I see that the ending is often changed sometimes, depending on the Director…
“The danger with the play is that it can easily seem a partial, loaded, one-sided attack on the student and on female solidarity in general .But Pinter’s production scrupulously avoids that trap by giving equal weight to both sides of the argument.”
And so too, does John Marwick’s production.
2. Tanya Piejus
Mamet’s controversial script is based on the real-life case in the US of Anita Hill who alleged her supervisor Clarence Thomas had made provocative and harassing sexual statements while she was a student.
It can be read in two ways: as a teacher who misuses his power and seriously damages a vulnerable student, or as extreme political correctness that ruins the life of someone who only had good intentions. By the end of this production, audience opinion was divided between the two with one commenting that it was a parallel statement of both.
This is testament to director John Marwick’s skill in delivering a startling two-hander to a modern audience. Mamet wrote the play in the early 1990s and Marwick has avoided the easy option of making it a period piece, instead blurring the lines even more between who is right and who is wrong.
Two-handers are a challenge for any actor and this one is particularly so with its staccato, cut-off dialogue and unrelenting theme. Both Damian Reid as university professor John and Sarah-Rose Burke as his deceptively naïve student Carol carry their roles with assurance and skill, steadily weaving two solidly opposed characters who draw the audience’s sympathies back and forth between them.
Reid imbues John with an insufferable academic pomposity that is nevertheless well-meaning. His systematic ruin at the hands of Carol is painful to watch, but you can’t help feeling by the end of the piece that he should have known better.
Burke’s Carol is on the one hand vulnerable and helpless, and on the other sly and domineering. Her deft portrayal raises as many questions as it answers, as she twists and manipulates John’s intentions to her own agenda and that of the sinister ‘group’ she claims to represent.
The actors work on an intimate 60-seat traverse stage tucked away behind the blacks at Butterfly Creek’s usual performance venue, Muritai School Hall. It’s a brave and wise choice of staging, bringing the audience uncomfortably close to the one-room setting where all the action takes place. In fact, the final violent act of the play was so close to the front row that it freaked out the audience member closest to it.
One week ago today my lovely sister and her lovely man got married.
Here are some photos I took.
Then I stopped taking photos to watch the ceremony.
Gareth’s sister Bethan read from Plato’s symposium and baby Jayne read Wild Daisies by Bub Bridger
If you love me
Bring me flowers
Clutched in your fist
Like a torch
No orchids or roses
No florist’s bow
Risk your life for them
Up the sharp hills
In the teeth of the wind
If you love me
Bring me daisies
That I will cram
In a bright vase
And marvel at
Then they vowed to fight beside each other in the event of the zombie apocalypse and they were married.
They signed the register and got on skype to talk to the members of Gareth’s family who couldn’t make it to New Zealand for the ceremony.
After photos in the rain (taken by the amazing Kathryn Wilson) we headed to the venue where we had speeches and food and wine and danced the night away. Gareth’s band played and from time to time he joined them to show off his skills on the trombone. It was impressive to say the least.
Oh and their first dance? was to Shimmy Shimmy Ya by ODB.
I love my sister.
For the rest of the photos click here.
And, for posterity, the speech I gave:
Charlotte is a copycat. She always has been and it’s time I called her on it.
I have brown hair and brown eyes, she has brown hair and brown eyes. I stopped growing shortly after 5 foot 1, she stopped growing slightly less than that. She got a tattoo, I got a tattoo – okay, okay, she can have that one.
I got a beardy husband, now she has one too.
I’m kidding of course. Anyone who knows or has even just met Charlotte knows that she’s an individual. I love that. I love that she has found someone as unique and as devoted to facial hair as she is.
Without G, I think I would have gone my entire life without knowing what Klezmer music is.
I’ve never liked any of Charlotte’s boyfriends. I always gave them horrible nicknames. They were ratface or the gangly one or … you get the point. I don’t have a nickname for G. I think, I think I actually like him!
Our whole family does. We’ve even played Trivial Pursuits with him. I think it took years before Craig and Jack were allowed to play. Trivial Pursuits is our initiation ritual.
So yes. We like G. Despite his disappointing lack of a Welsh accent. Welcome to the family. You’re stuck with us now.
I asked a coworker what I should say in this toast. He said I should tell embarrassing stories about Charlotte. But I know that any story I have on her will be countered by one of my own. So I shall refrain.
Then he suggested advice. Because I’m so old and wise and all.
So, Charlotte, here is some advice from your old, married sister.
1. It won’t feel any different tomorrow but people will ask you if it does and will look disappointed when you say “nah, not really”. So lie.
2. Marriage is about compromise. They are not lying about that one. It’s really really annoying.
3. People will ask when you’re going to start having babies or buying a house. Give it 5 and a half years and … yep, they’ll still be asking.
4. The first time a complete stranger calls you, completely seriously, as MRS Thompson Darling? you will feel a little faint. Old and young at the same time. It’s creepy and took me about 4 years to get used to.
5. The first time you are talking to a stranger and call G your husband? That’s one of the moments you’ll remember.
6. I liked a bit with number 1. It does feel different. Not tomorrow or next week or next month, but soon, eventually, when you realise that yea, this probably will stick. And that’s the best feeling. But that’s not marriage, that’s not a piece of paper, not a dress or a suit, not rings or a cake. That’s you two. And that’s the best.
I am two performances through our six performance season of Oleanna. I still have not performed with my co-star.
It’s a little ridiculous. By which I mean, of course, that it is COMPLETELY ridiculous.
We are a cast of two. Two people on the stage. One person is missing? and half the goddamn cast is gone.
On Monday CoStar flew to Australia for work. Of course he managed to get there just fine. The Ash Cloud only wanted to fuck my shit up, obviously. He was due back at midnight Tuesday. We organised to have a run through on Wednesday night, the night before we opened, so that we could erase the shambles that was last Sunday’s rehearsal from our minds.
Mid-afternoon Wednesday we heard he would not be back for that night’s rehearsal. The ash cloud was cancelling flights left right and centre. Our esteemed director took up the mantle, and a script, and read the lines for me.
CoStar thought he would be back mid-morning Thursday. So I arranged to take half the afternoon off work, to meet up at the performance site, to run the play before that evening’s opening night.
I think you can see where this is going. Mid-morning Thursday we heard he would NOT be back for that evening’s performance.
Still, we met in the afternoon, and it was decided that we couldn’t just cancel. The director, thankfully a very skilled actor in his own right, would do as he had done and read the lines. We would have to offer refunds or rainchecks to another night. But it was the best we could do.
The performance ran without a hitch. Despite the moment when I skipped half a page of script. Oops. But most importantly, noone asked for their money back, or to attend on another night. The director is really just that good. It didn’t matter that he had a small paperback in his hand 90% of the time.
Last night was the second performance. Again, CoStar was a no-show.
I’m being uncharitable. I’m sure he would have been there if he could. But the ash cloud …
I woke this morning to news that he is in the country. He is IN THE COUNTRY. He has only missed 1/3 of the performances.
Now I’m just hanging out to hear what time we are meeting for a run through before tonight …
This week’s 365 will be one day short. Not because I forgot a day! But because it was my darling Sister’s wedding day and I took … about 3000 photos. Then today, I had about 17 minutes free.
Next week. Next week will have an extra day.
My play opens in 6 days. SIX DAYS.
We only have 3 rehearsals left. I feel a little faint when I think about that.
There is so much pressure. SO much pressure. When there are only two of you on the stage? so much pressure.
But I think it’s going well. I get moments when even I, always my harshest critic, think I’m pretty okay at this acting business.
Then I read, in the latest Troupe newsletter, this:
Sarah-Rose brings a complexity to Carol that I haven’t seen her achieve before. We see naivety and lack of confidence mixed with girlishness, flirtation, and the suggestion of a dangerous side.
SO MUCH PRESSURE.
I have been trying to write this entry for a week.
Every time it becomes all too much. I have too much to explain. I have kept so much from you. This is the resolution to TWO YEARS of waiting and hoping but mainly two years of trying not to hope.
I will start at the beginning.
My Mother grew up with an Irish grandmother. She was the Rose for whom I am named.
My Mother, wise in so many ways, did not get the Irish passport to which she was entitled until years later, 2009, years after her children were (mostly) grown. This small little slip precluded my darling sisters and I from getting Irish passports.
Since the mid 1990s my family have been involved in the local Irish Society. I consider the members to be my extended family. I feel connected to my heritage through the club.
In 2007 before we left the country they presented me with two charms – a shamrock and a St Christopher medallion – for luck and safe travels. Thinking about that still makes me a little soft-eyed. They are lovely people. They are a second family.
Ireland is a wonderful place.
In a spectactularly Irish move, they allow people to petition to become naturalised Irish citizens through “Irish by Association”. You make your case that you are Irish enough to be a citizen and, if they like you enough (I’m guessing – I don’t know the criteria) then you can become a naturalised citizen.
My darling Mother started this process for all three daughters early in 2009.
Copies of birth certificates and marriage certificates, letters explaining why we wanted to become Irish citizens, explaining the bonds we felt to our Irish heritage, three Irish citizens approved each of our applications. So many papers, each in triplicate – one for each daughter – sent away to Tipperary.
In June 2009 we heard that our applications had been received and placed in the queue. The average processing time was 24 months.
24 torturous months.
I knew it was only the slightest chance that we would be approved. It was our last ditch effort. We lived in the mindset that we would be New Zealand citizens and New Zealand citizens only for the rest of our lives.
24 months is a long time to come to terms with something.
Craig and I made other plans. To stay in New Zealand, perhaps, to move to Australia, perhaps, to move to Canada, perhaps. Always including the little phrase “but maybe, just maybe, if the Irish thing comes through we can …”
Last Friday my Mother was acting squirrelly. Insisting more than usual that she should pick me up from the station.
Of course, I was oblivious, and spoiled all her plans. Instead she broke the news thus:
I was floored. I had spent so long preparing myself for the letter saying that I had been declined that the approval caught me off guard. It took the better part of a week for my to wrap my head around the idea. The implications. Changing the plans I had worked SO hard to be okay with.
Ireland is part of the EEA. Citizens of countries in the EEA have the right to live and work in the UK as they please*.
Becoming an Irish citizen means a formalisation of the ties to my heritage but it also means that Craig and I can move back to London if we so choose.
Did you catch that? I know this is long and detailed and, admittedly, rather boring, so let me say it again:
Craig and I can move back to London
Now we just have to decide if we want to (and I’m pretty sure we do). But there are so many things to take into consideration.
Our jobs, family, money, the olympics (yes, seriously). The fear I have that I will no longer be in love with the city.
At the moment we are testing out the idea that we will move to London sometime early next year. We will begin living like paupers and saving every spare cent. Turning this pebble idea around and around in our minds to see if we like it**.
But mainly, lastly, most importantly, I am proud to be an (almost) Irish citizen.
* I’m pretty certain. Only so long as you’re not a drain on the state.
** I think we do.