Archive for the ‘Films & shows’ Category

The National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art’s production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” was different!  Apparently the casting was gender neutral, which meant all students could audition for all roles.  Many of the main roles (Caesar, Brutus, Cassius) were played by women.  Calpurnia and Portia were played by men, as was Mark Anthony.  All this meant that familiar words needed to be changed – she for he, woman for man, etc, and at first I found this confusing.

The students did very well, but some of the voices were not clear, and this was sometimes exacerbated by speaking too quickly and/or having a drum beat in the background.  The clearest speaker was the woman who played Cassius, so congratulations to her.  Mark Anthony was fine, but he missed one line of the funeral speech (‘The good is oft interred with their bones”) – a pity as this is surely one speech most people know.  The crowd scenes were very well done, and gave scope for many students to be involved.

Julius Caesar curtain call

The play was at the YMCA’s Papa Hou Theatre, which was previously the site for the Spectrum Street Art Festival.  Vestiges of the festival were still obvious, and I suspect mobility access might be a problem.  There’s a lift at the other end of the building, but a YMCA escort would be needed to get people from there to the theatre.

We had drinks beforehand at DUO which is also part of the YMCA complex.

DUO bar

I enjoy any Shakespeare production, and was glad to support these students.  The show continues until Friday.

“Shakespeare writes great rhyming verse
and mine is surely not much worse.”


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Hakui showcases the wonderful women of Kai Tahu.  There are taoka and interactive elements, together with photos, stories, and whakapapa of fifty amazing women who are all part of our local heritage.  We were privileged to be among the crowd at the opening night, where the speeches (all by men!) were followed with waiata and kapa haka.

It was hard to take in the exhibition with so many people there, but I will definitely return for a closer look.  Last evening was an opportunity to re-connect with some people I haven’t seen for a while.  A further visit will allow me to absorb more of the stories of these wahine.  Interesting that this exhibition coincides with a long overdue apology to the people of Parihaka.

Kai Tahu women claim their place
seen here with dignity and grace.”



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The new Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities at the Arts Centre is well worth a visit.  Its is renowned for having the best teaching collection of classical vases in the Southern Hemisphere, and the red and black Greek vases, all at least 2,000 years old, are certainly amazing.  This grave monument, dated about 320BC may have held the ashes of a deceased male:

The current exhibition is titled “We Could Be Heroes: The Gods and Heroes of the Ancient Greeks and Romans’, and I was pleasantly surprised to find there were many images of Goddesses among them, Amazons, Medusa, Athena, Hygieia, even the transgender Kaineus.  There are two beautiful Syrian mosaics in the floor including this dog:

I was interested that one funeral urn had a modern plug in it, and was told it was there to minimise upward movement in case of an earthquake.  There were nice touches of humour in the explanatory notes, e.g. an image of Nike/Victoria on a coin minted by a Roman Emperor to celebrate victory in a battle which was not in fact fought until the following year.

The curators have carefully included the fact that these ancient heroes still resonate today.  The exhibition includes a couple of Asterix books (one in Latin), and a costume from “Xena Warrior Princess” on loan from Te Papa:

The exhibition is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 3pm, and is free, although donations are welcomed.  It’s a good size, not overwhelming as some large museums can be.  Apparently what’s on display now is only one quarter of the collection, and the exhibition will be changed twice a year.

“This set of Roman art and Greek
is in our hemisphere unique.”

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At  a concert last week I was surprised when the person introducing the artist used ‘um’ a number of times.  In this role you expect someone to be a confident public speaker.  If they don’t know what they’re going to say they could have it written on a piece of paper and read it.  That would be better than using ‘um’.

This morning I listened to a podcast of an interview with Jeremy Corbyn, and was disappointed to hear him also using ‘um’.   He appeared to not be fully prepared for the interview, which in his position is inexcusable.  I’d rather see Labour in Government in the U.K. than the Tories, but after hearing this I see how unlikely that is.

For people in public life training in public speaking is vital.  In the 1990s I benefitted greatly from being a member of Tecorian Speakers.

I learned a lot, and also had fun.  I still remember an Avon Tecorians A.G.M. as the most enjoyable I’ve every been to (we played charades).  Tecorian clubs still meet in Hornby, Rangiora, and Darfield, but sadly the inner city clubs have disappeared.  One reason I was attracted to Tecorians was the fact that they were entirely New Zealand based.  Similar training can be found at Toastmasters, but they are an international group based in the U.S.

The only time ‘um’ has been acceptable was in this 1964 recording by Major Lance.  Do you remember that?

“There’s no excuse for the Um word
if your message is to be heard.”


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On Friday I went to a lunchtime concert by Janice Gray and The Boys which was part of the International Jazz and Blues Festival.  I’ve enjoyed Janice’s music over many years, especially when she was the resident at Tusker’s pre-earthquakes.  She’s definitely a senior (over 80?) but she’s an absolute professional and her concert was sheer pleasure.

Janice Gray and The Boys

On Saturday I went to ‘Yulia sings Edith Piaf’.  Yulia has an amazing voice, but I was disappointed that she sang only three Piaf numbers.  The rest were her own compositions.  While she is a dramatic singer I would have liked to hear more of the familiar Piaf songs that I love.

Both these concerts were at The Piano, just a short walk from home.  This venue is so convenient for me.  I hope to see more shows there.

“I can walk to The Piano
to see and hear a special show.”



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A friend recommended this film as being funny and full of clever one-liners.  I found it excellent, more serious than I expected, but there were some very clever lines.  With a wonderful woman hero (Gemma Arterton) and Bill Nighy – what’s not to like?

Perhaps I found it serious because the air raid scenes reminded me strongly of my mother-in-law, who endured the London blitz while her husband was serving overseas.  Night after night she went down into the shelter carrying a small baby whose father never saw her until she was three years old.

The theme of the propaganda film within the film reminded me of a poem I learned years ago (maybe at Primary School?), ‘Dunkirk 1940’.  I’ve no idea who the poet was.  Do you know?

“The little ships, the little ships, rushed out across the sea
to save the luckless armies from death and slavery
from Tyne and Thames and Tamar, the Severn and the Clyde
the little ships, the little ships, went out in all their pride
and home they brought their warriors, weary and ragged and worn
back to the hills and the shires, and the towns where they were born
three hundred thousand warriors, from hell to home they came
in the little ships, the little ships, of everlasting fame.”

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This morning’s ‘Press’ has a review of the latest version of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’.  I haven’t seen this, but have seen several other versions over the years, and love the songs.  Reviewer Charlie Gates complained that every central character is male except for the narrator.  Perhaps he’s unaware that the show was originally written for a schoolboy choir in London?  I still have a copy of the first recording of the complete work, and fondly remember our local vicar introducing “Any Dream will Do” to a church service in the 1970s.

Charlie’s review states that Tim Rices’s lyrics are smart and playful and says: “It’s rare that rhyming couplets make you chuckle, but his do.”  I’m proud to report that people often say my couplets make them laugh.

“Tim  Rice is not the only one
whose rhymes bring giggles cos they’re fun.”




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