Archive for the ‘Films & shows’ Category

A great musical evening was provided by Showbiz’s concert of Cole Porter and Andrew Lloyd Webber hits, titled “Broadway Hitmen”.  No photos allowed during the show, but I snapped the 30 piece orchestra as they took their seats.

I preferred the Webber songs, especially as so many of them are familiar, but lots of the Porter ones were too.  To save trees and money I tend not to buy programmes, but thought afterwards it would have been useful to know the names of all the items, and of the singers.  Many of the songs were enhanced by actions and dancing, and having the soloists exit immediately, rather than take individual bows, worked well.  The first half of the programme was from Cole Porter.  I enjoyed “Brush up your Shakespeare”, which I don’t remember hearing before, but the drawn out end of this number marred it in my opinion.  “Let’s do it (Let’s fall in love)” was well executed by two soloists.  The woman in particular had a delightful manner.  The final song in this half was “Anything Goes”, and I just loved the tap dancing, seen so rarely these days.

The Webber programme included a moving rendition of “Pie Jesu” sung by a woman and a choirboy.  There was an orchestral number I couldn’t put a name to, accompanied by strobe lighting which was too much.  I hope they may have toned this down before another performance.  For me, the evening’s outstanding performance came from Nic Kyle singing “Gethsemane” from “Jesus Christ Superstar”.  The finale was “Superstar”.

It’s a pity there are only four performances of this show (13-15 July).  I think many people will be sorry to have missed out on a musical treat.

“With music popular and great
this was a special concert date.”


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This exhibition of Death in ancient times is absolutely not to be missed.  We are incredibly lucky to have the wonderful Teece Museum at the Arts Centre.  “Beyond the Grave” has many fascinating exhibits, all clearly explained, and is accompanied by activities which younger people (and some not so young) will enjoy.

This Apulian krater dates from 33-320 BCE and is designed to be a grave marker or hold the ashes of a male:


An Apulian askos (funerary vase, late 3rd – early 2nd century BCE) shows three mourning women raising their hands in grief.  Below them is the head of Medusa, accompanied by the relief figures of two tritons (Greek messengers of the sea).

Canosan Askos

This Roman statue is dated to the 1st or 2nd century CE.  Cybele, an earth mother Goddess, represented the connection between life and death.  She was both the producer of life from whose womb all life came and was sustained, and the destination for all living things to return to in death.  Here she has her hand raised in a gesture of grief over the death of her lover Attis.


There are scripts of tragic plays, on loan from the University of Canterbury Library Rare Books collection.  “The Trojan Women by Euripides written about 415 BCE includes the lament of Hekabe on the death of her grandson: “But now I am not to be buried by you, but you, the younger one, a wretched corpse, are buried by me, on whom old age has come with loss of home and children.  Ah me, those kisses numberless, the nurture that I gave to you, those sleepless nights – they all are lost!”


From the 2nd century BCE masks and busts commemorating the dead were displayed in Roman homes or in front of a family tomb.  A more recent example is this bust of Helen Connon (1860-1903) the second woman arts graduate in the British Empire, and the first to gain a degree with honours (from Canterbury College, later University of Canterbury).

Bust of Helen Connon

At the end of the exhibition people are invited to make their own Act of Remembrance, by writing a message and placing it on a krater.  The cards provided to do this are in the shape of either a coin (the fee for the ferryman Charon for safe passage across the river Styx), or a wreath (myrtle wreaths of gold foil were buried with the dead and real myrtle wreaths were offered at the burial site).

Krater for personal Acts of Remembrance

There is much to see, all beautifully set out, yet not so much as to be overwhelming.  We spent an hour, which is enough for me in any museum.  It continually amazes me that we have such a wonderful collection of ancient artifacts here in Christchurch.

“Objects of death from ancient days
compare with modern diff’rent ways.”




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Meeting a friend for lunch in Worcester Boulevard gave me an ideal opportunity to take a guided tour of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu at 11am.  We were a group of four, with Donna, a volunteer, to guide us.  First we viewed John Stezaker’s “Lost World”.  This artist makes collages in the old-fashioned way, cutting and pasting.  He works mainly with vintage film stills and old postcards.  Some of these I found disturbing as people’s faces were replaced with landscapes.  I was more attracted by his gender-blending portraits where two images are cleverly melded into one:

Another current exhibition is “Closer” where ten of the Gallery’s best-loved paintings are given new explanations.  These include the intriguing “In the Wizard’s Garden” by George Dunlop Leslie.

These daily free tours are a great way to learn about what’s currently on show, and I intend to go again.

“These guides do not receive a salary
they do it cos they love the gallery.”


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Too wet today for a beach walk, so we visited COCA instead.  They currently have an exhibition called “Fieldwork” by Peter Robinson which consists of sculptural objects made from wood, metal, magnets, etc.  Some are attractive:

Others are difficult to comprehend, or indeed to find. Apparently there are 65 objects in the upstairs gallery, some up high, some tiny pieces on the floor.  We didn’t count how many we’d seen.  A staff member told us she checks several times a day to ensure they’re all there and intact.

We did find all 14 objects on the ground floor, including some inside the toilet area.  The idea is that the pieces give a new perspective of the gallery spaces, and they reflect images of nature.

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COCA has a coffee bar on the ground floor, where I enjoyed a hot chocolate for only four dollars.  My companion had an iced coffee and was surprised that it was served with a plastic straw.  Hopefully these are being phased out.

Altogether this was a good way to spend a wet Sunday morning.

“There’s objects scattered all around
but most of them we think we found.”

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Welcome Wicked

What an enjoyable evening we had at “Wicked”!  The story is a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz”, and I was glad I’d read a synopsis beforehand.  If I hadn’t I may have found it difficult to follow the story.

Photos are forbidden during the performance, but I was able to capture the map of Oz which filled the stage beforehand.  (I also captured a friend who sat two rows in front of us – hi Fi!)

The performance was wickedly wonderful.  Great costumes, great dancing, singing, and music.  The two women who played the lead roles were excellent, as were all the other Showbiz performers.  Sometimes the volume made it hard to decipher all the words of a song, but that’s a minor quibble.  None of the songs were familiar to me and I found myself wishing to hear the familiar tunes for “The Wizard of Oz”, which would have fitted in so well.  Maybe I’ll look for them on YouTube.

The season is only two weeks, finishing 21 April, so if you haven’t already booked you need to be quick.

“This show is wonderful because
it’s all set in the land of Oz.”

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The Chinese Lantern Festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.  The lanterns will be lit tonight and tomorrow from 6pm, and are along the river between the Worcester Street Bridge and the Bridge of Remembrance.  Even unlit in the daytime they make a colourful display well worth seeing.  I was pleased that in this Year of the Dog a Border Collie featured in one of the displays.

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“This year is the Year of the Dog
you may see flamingoes and frog.”

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Feminism Failure?

“All About Women” was a livestream broadcast from the Sydney Opera House, shown free at the Christchurch Art Gallery Auditorium yesterday afternoon.

The first session was “Grabbing Back: Women in the age of Trump” and the panel included Fran Liebowitz, the only one of the day’s speakers I had heard of before.  One comment I noted (not sure from whom) was that “Republicans only care about life from conception to birth.  After that, you’re on your own.”

The second session about the #me too movement featured movement founder Tarana Burke and Australian journalist Tracey Spicer.

The third session was “Suffragettes to Social Media: Waves of Feminism” with a panel of four women each speaking about a particular wave.   Historian Barbara Caine spoke of the first wave, and how at early suffrage meetings only pretty women were allowed to sit at the front of the hall.  The suffragettes, who took dramatic action and made the campaign more urgent, were a group of only a few hundred, while the suffragists numbered thousands.

Anne Summers spoke of the second wave (1960s and 1970s), and how many of its progressive reforms were reversed in Australia by John Howard’s Government.

The third wave (1990s) was represented by Rebecca Walker who spoke of how many young women were disconnected from feminism.  They didn’t want to identify as feminist and felt the label was divisive.  Third wave feminists were different from the first and second wave in that they focussed on similarities and equality for all, not just gender equality.  Intersectionality, which acknowledges that all oppressions are connected, is needed to keep feminism relevant.

Nakkiah Lui spoke for the Millenial fourth wave.   An aboriginal woman, she talked of decolonisation and how silence empowers the oppressor.  A feminist future is a possibility if change includes everyone.

The panel agreed that rich men have to get used to the fact that not everything is for them.  A question about the importance of art in bringing about change brought the response that art has as much impact as political work, and cannot be reversed.

I enjoyed all the presentations and found the experience similar to a Feminist Studies lecture, but was surprised and disappointed at the tiny size of the Christchurch audience.  The Sydney Opera House was sold out for at least one of the live sessions, but there were only a dozen people in the large Christchurch theatre.  I wonder whether the sponsors will bother doing anything similar next year, and hope there were more at the livestream broadcast at Auckland War Memorial Museum.

“I thought that more would have been there
perhaps they opted for fresh air.”

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