Archive for the ‘Films & shows’ Category

Today being International Women’s Day is an appropriate time to write about the amazing and inspiring film “Hidden Figures”.

This is the story of three African-American women who were vital to NASA’s space programme in the 1960’s.  Although their work was crucial, discrimination beause of their gender and race meant they had to fight every step of the way, as well as working damn hard.  Their true stories are beautifully portrayed, as is the excitement of the space race.  You can’t help wondering why it is that we’ve never heard of these women before!  I can only hope that this film will give more young women the confidence to aim high, and to study the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths).  I’m proud to have a daughter who has succeeded in this area.

In the U.S., today has been designated a Day Without Women, with many women planning to strike, although it’s not entirely clear just what their aims are.

If you’re looking for a way to mark International Women’s Day, you might enjoy hearing Mary Beard talking about Women in Power on the BBC.  She links the stories of ancient Greek women such as Clytemnaestra and Lysistrata with today’s female leaders.

“Today’s our special global day.
Remember those who’ve paved the way.”


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An afternoon of feminism was not to be missed.  ‘All About Women’ took place at the Sydney Opera House, and was live-streamed to various venues throughout Australia.  I was surpised that the Christchurch Art Gallery auditorium was only half full for this event.  It was good to hear several women acknowledge the first peoples of Australia, especially Tracey Spicer, who said that the land under the Opera House was and always will be aboriginal land.



The first speaker was actor Geena Davis, who spoke about ‘Women in Media’.  Geena played Thelma in ‘Thelma and Louise’, and said one response to that film was ‘now the women have guns the world is ruined’!.  She pointed out that she has enough money to be able to choose her roles, and she chooses ones that women will feel empowered by.  With humour, passion, and statistics, Geena illustrated that in family movies men have 2.5 to 3 times as many speaking roles as women.  We are teaching children from a young age that women are less important and less valuable than men.  While equality in the real world may be a long way off instant parity is possible onscreen.  For example, the prevalence of women forensic scientists in shows such as ‘Bones’ and ‘CSI’ means that numbers of women studying forensic science have skyrocketed.  It is vital that we all do all we can to encourage, vote for, and hire women.

The second session was questions and answers with Jessa Crispin, author of “Why I Am Not a Feminist”.  It seems that feminism is the only word we currently have for a person who believes all people are equal, but Jessa believes it has become too universal.  She liked it better when feminism was a dirty word, because if feminism is a danger we’re more likely to get change.  Young people are less inclined to recognise inequality, and slacktavism and compromise have crept in.  Lower class women have been removed from the agenda of feminism which is focussed on the middle class.   Self-empowerment encourages individualism, and we need to look beyond this.

The third session was a panel of ‘Nasty Women’.  The name stems from Trump’s statement that Hillary is a ‘nasty woman’, but super female powers have turned that negative name into a positive.  The three panellists and chairwoman had many gems of wisdom.

Van Badham said the way to change society is to join a trade union or community organisation.  We thought we’d won and we’ve stopped fighting because of a false sense of security.  If we’re not active in democracy we get Donald Trump.  There is power in solidarity – stand by others.  It’s important to ‘die on the right side’.  Take strength from the women who came before and those who will come afterwards – find strength in the feminist tradition.  Fighting against injustice gives your own life meaning.

Lindy West said solidarity is vital, the foundation of equality, activism, and freedom.  No need to start new organisations – join those that have been working for equality for years.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied talked of the need to constantly push uphill.  Having conversations in your circles will have an effect on the people around you and it will grow.  Her input was moving and passionate.  She urged us to decide what our own values are and live by those values.

If you’d like to hear more of All About Women, it’s available here.

“So good to hear these women talk
they’re ones who really walk the walk.”

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Top Dog Theatre has produced an open air Shakespeare at Mona Vale every summer for 13 years, and we’ve seen them all.   This year’s production is “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”, Shakespeare’s first play, which I’d never read.  I was glad I made the effort to download a synopsis beforehand.  Without that I might have had difficulty understanding just what was going on.  The cast did well, and the language was easily understood, but it was strange not to recognise famous lines as I usually can with Shakespeare.  The action was interspersed with familiar songs from the 1960s (which matched the costuming), and I wondered whether these had been added to make it all seem more familiar.

We went to a matinee performance and chose to sit in the shade, but it soon grew cold and windy.  During the interval a number of people moved to sunnier spots.

This is a rare opportunity to see one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known comedies, and definitely worthwhile.

“No folk we know like Desdemona
among these people of Verona.”

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This latest production of the Anthony Harper Summer Theatre is full of fun.  The young cast bring great energy as they portray a female Robin Hood and her circle of Merry Women in Burwood Forest.  Lots of literary allusions, parodies of well-known songs (I shot the Sheriff), and topical references.  It’s an excellent evening’s entertainment, and the setting amid the trees of Riccarton House is ideal.  Be sure to dress warmly – the weather was cool when we were there last night.

“This story with a female Robin
had songs that kept our heads a-bobbin’.”

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Perfect weather today for me to enjoy the World Buskers Festival.   Daytime shows start at 11.20am, in three different venues.  I was glad I’d chosen the North Quad at the Arts Centre, because they had plenty of chairs, and some shade.  At the other venues you have to sit on the ground or take your own chair.  First up was Wacky Chad.

He soared above the crowd on a pogo stick

He soared above the crowd on a pogo stick


then juggled while balancing on a tall unicycle

then juggled while balancing on a tall unicycle

Chad was followed by CircOz.  This trio also performs at night as FlameOz.  Their act would be more spectacular in the dark.

Dimitri juggling with fire

Dimitri juggling with fire


Gracie with fiery hoops, supported by Dave

Gracie with fiery hoops, supported by Dave

These shows are definitely worth seeing, and all for a voluntary donation.  Great entertainment for any age.  The festival finishes on Sunday.

“In daytime some great people busk
some even better after dusk.”

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‘Diverse Women is the current show at the Eastside Gallery in Linwood.  There are works from 18 women artists, ranging in age from 10 to over 70 years.  The exhibition is intended as a tribute to the many facets of women’s art: perfect, imperfect, and everything in between!  No photos allowed, but you approach the show through these lovely old glass library doors – a work of art in themselves.


I enjoyed many of the works.  Rae Tiernan had mosaiced shapes.  Tune Kriel, had birds at reasonable prices.  Linda James showed portraits, and Robyn Kilty has drawn real women.  Ilya Kriel‘s digital paintings added another dimension, as did the contrast photographs from Rita Thornley, a year 11 student.  Nicky Taylor’s mixed media worked well, but I found her acrylics less appealing.  There’s something for everyone in this exhibition, which finishes on Saturday 29 January.

The Gallery is just 1.5 km from home, so good walking distance.  On the way back I felt thirsty, wished I’d bought a drink bottle, and wondered whether I’d need to detour to buy an iceblock.  Serendipitously I found a little park in Worcester Street, between Stanmore Road and Fitzgerald Avenue, which has a drinking fountain.  It doesn’t seem to be listed on the CCC website.  Maybe it’s new?

“It’s good to see this show of art
where diverse women can take part.”

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This annual pop-up concert, organised by Izzy Miller Bell was scheduled for yesterday afternoon at Beverley Park.  A relaxed crowd enjoyed an opening Celtic number by Izzy.



Tess Stephen and Penny Black followed.  Unfortunately so did the rain!  We retreated to our car, and many others did too.  I don’t imagine the concert would have gone on for long after that.  This was true blues in summertime.

“It’s sad there was a sudden shower
which meant we stayed less than an hour.”

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