Saturday, September 25, 2010

smarmy old liars

I've seen several plays in Wellington during the past 3 weeks, and I thought I'd take some time to talk about them, and about theater in this city as I've seen it so far.
Last week I saw "Shipwrecked!" by Donald Margulies at the Circa Theater, which is a bit like the Geffen Playhouse in LA. Kind of stuffy, old school, celebrity-filled programming for everyone. They are doing a more risque show (that I'll see next week) but the show that's packing the houses is "Shipwrecked!"
It actually played at the Geffen last year.
Overall, the acting and production aesthetic was very impressive- The narrator was stellar, vibrant, lithe, charming, and the two supporting actors who play multiple roles (and multiple instruments) were dynamic. Their speedy character shifts were beyond virtuosic. But I felt that we didn't have enough depth into any one relationship within the exciting life of our hero. No matter how playful and surprising all the little vignettes were, the pace of the show got exhausting.

Even an hour in, the writing got flat, and for me the singular, biased voice of our narrator was so seamless and convincing, without any dissension for so much of the play, that when his tale is thrown into doubt, we are blindsided as an audience.

So: great performances, cool design, sadly emotionally flat. AND it's creepy to watch men in their 60's make out with women in their late 20's. No way around it.

Oddly, the first Google entry for Shipwrecked the play is a review of the NY premier, which starred Donnetta Grays, one of my former FAVORITE UC Irvine grad actors. Tiny little world.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cheap As

This blog is not meant to be ENTIRELY a comparison between life in the States and life in New Zealand. However, my brain and hands are fried from tech/ build/ dress rehearsals, so now might be an appropriate as comparison time.

Somethings cost far less here, other things not.

On Par or More Expensive:
organizational storage items
athletic gear
the movies

Cheap As:
kitchen things

In case you haven't been near a Kiwi person, it's OK to add "as" to any descriptive term.
Such as Sweet As, Cheap As, Yummy As, Angry As, Tired As, Emo As . . .

You don't actually need to finish the simile, or to even compare one thing to another in any way. New Zealand is where the English language comes to get mangled by shepherds and hipsters.

It's creative as.

Monday, September 20, 2010

NOT a review of Inception

One of the things I love most about being in another country is being around people from another country than either my present country or my country of origin (If you hook up with such a person, its called a tri-fecta). The layers of possible political, cultural, emotional discourse are frequently breath-taking.

Last night, I finally saw Inception with Brian. We sat in the Wellington's version of The Arclight, a posh theater called The Embassy, where all of Peter Jackson's premieres take place. Swanky lobby bar, delicate Art Deco interior, massive, plush assigned seating. So, on a slow Sunday afternoon, we sat next to a middle-aged non-Caucasian man.
And I could not help but notice that he kept gauging our reactions to the film.
I thought it must be because we were noticeably American. I expect people can tell my brazen American-ness straight away. But as we filed out of the theater, he said "Woah, I'm not sure I got all of that." "Ha, me neither! A bit over-complicated, quite a few holes," I replied (may or may not reflect author's opinion). Brian, who had already seen it once, admitted that he had to look about on the internet to answer some of the questions he had about the plot. And so the three of us continued our conversation as they shut down the theater and kicked us onto the street, where we chatted in the cold wind.

Turns out, our companion was on a bit of a world tour, possibly starting in India, going through Japan, China, Malaysia, Thailand, New Zealand. He was headed to South America next. We didn't get his whole story (do we ever?) but he thought we were from New Zealand (We DO look New Zealous), and he wanted to talk about plot twists, science fiction, and translation. His English was pretty perfect, but some concepts that are tricky: dreams, subconscious, existentialism. Limbo. A Soul. Concepts whose very existence is intangible, therefore untranslatable.

Take a movie like Inception, or The Matrix, or Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind.
In a foreign language. I cannot imagine the mental hoops through which this poor man had to leap. Though, given the choice, I'd take Eternal Sunshine, enjoy the love story, and keep some grasp on plot and logic (may or may not reflect author's opinion).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wear shoes, people.

What is it with people in Wellington (mainly men), of all ages, not wearing shoes?
Just, around, on the sidewalk, on a run, coming from work, on their way to the gym.
It's honestly not a community of Hobbits, scampering along the gently rolling fern-dappled hills.
There are sidewalks, and concrete, and bricks and broken glass and vomit stains - it's a fucking city. Come The Fuck On!

And don't compromise by wearing those creepy ninja amphibian sock/ shoes with separated toes (I'm not just talking to Wellington here. You know who you are. And how your fashion blunders disgust me.)
You are not wearing a unitard. You are not one of the X-Men. You are not going to spontaneously climb that building. You work at Ogilvy and you walk 2 blocks for your latte. Be a man.

You want to be comfortable? Tough. Women walk in heels all day.
We don't live on tatami mats and within pine forests. REAL ninjas don't need to show everyone that they are ninjas.

Either back-flip off that telephone pole and earn your ugly shoes, or grow up.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And now, the weather report

It's the edge of spring here, the tail end of winter (I hope) and while the temperature has veered into hail, it hasn't risen above 18 degrees (Celcius. About 60 for you Farenheiters).
BUT today it was sunny and gorgeous, so I went on my first run beyond the city center, and now I need a camera. So, if anyone can think of a decent SLR for beginners, please share. Come on, all you avid blog followers. Help a girl out.
Because you have to see how amazing this city looks.
I was along a path where they filmed some of Hobbit land. The late afternoon sun was shimmering through the thick pine and eucalyptus trees and it wasn't too muddy along the trails, which rambled over windswept grassy meadows, past quaint playgrounds, through Victorian neighborhoods.
Wellington has these San Franciscan sudden stunning vistas, and the city is ringed by lush, hilly parks and dark, windswept bays.

Someone get me a camera.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Maybe we should live in a hotel

Brian got us an awesome apartment, sure, but the hotels here, even the average ones, are kitted out better than our place.
Like, you CANNOT get a hotel without a hob (stove), fridge, set of plates/ cups/ flatware for 4, cheese grater, can opener, french press. FRENCH PRESS?!?!

I mean, we have a kick ass apartment, right in the CBD (Central Business District), on the waterfront, across the street from the weekly farmers market, and the multiplex cinema, within 3 blocks of my work, Brian's work, all the major theaters, the national cultural museum, and a breadshop that smells like heaven. I'm not complaining.

Except "fully furnished" means I have to buy my own cutting board? And we have nothing to put our clothes in?

So, maybe we move into a hotel, like a couple of cantankerous bachelors in a Neil Simon play.

Or, I suck it up and buy a french press.

Or, I steal one from a hotel the next time we travel to Auckland for the weekend.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Shit gets done.

Made the massive to-do list my bitch this week.
That's right, been here one week.
Seen 2 shows, taken loads of dance classes, bought a can opener, joined the library, hooked up phone, got a job, drank some beer, explored the coffee shops-
Oh, that's right, I got a job.

I auditioned for this little children's show of Thumbelina, performed in local schools.
Among other things, I play a snooty, publicity-loving French Fairy Queen.
So, paid theater work right away, not a bad deal, huh?

One more accomplishment on the list: brag about new job.


Wellington is full of Excitement

The kind the causes alarms, and evacuations. LA, you got nothing.
Tonight, I saw a really cool show about truth, justice, and fear, called The December Brother, by this amazing collective, SEEyD, at one of the 5 or 6 (or more) theaters in my new neighborhood. (

But first: One can judge much about a culture by its safety announcements. We filed into our seats and the lights dimmed and we all saw a pretty stunning 5 minute movement piece about a young man driving a car (he turned into 3 bunraku puppet pieces) and crashing and it was pretty incredible stuff, and it turned out to be a safety announcement warning New Zealanders to sleep before they drive. I thought it was part of the show, since I knew the show was a movement piece about a crime (this is important). But then the lights came up, and then to REAL show started.
It was incredible. Probably worth its own blog entry.

And just at the end of the play, as the lights dimmed on the main character, a little blue light started to flash. Hmm, what's that light cue supposed to mean? a warning? a beacon? a siren? Wait, is that a siren? Is this another safety announcement?
And then the house lights came on, the ushers, now wearing safety vests, came into the theater, the actors turned to us and said "that's pretty much the end of the play. I think there's a fire."
And we were ushered out of the building, in the surreal coitus interruptus of this very disturbing play.
I hope the stage manager decides to do this every night. It was amazing, blurry, and dizzying. Like any good theater event should be.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Roller Derby

This blog might end up as a detailed list of why I love Brian. Deal with it.

The other night we went to the Wellington Roller Derby Bout ( Now, I've been to a few LA Derby Dolls bouts, and I think it's awesome. Badass, uncompromising women in tight clothes and crash pads shoving each other around at top speed? Inked, Drunk Hipsters jostling and cheering? What's not to love?

Wellington's a bit more tame, from the family friendly crowd (lots of school-kids in tutus) to the laid-back Emcees, it lacked the edge of the Derby Dolls ( And it was on a flat track, so it's all a little slower and more cautious.

Still, much like pizza and sex, even average Roller Derby is still Roller Derby.
Best irony of the night? It's called Richter City Roller Derby. Not by accident.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


4am Wellington Time: our apartment building wakes my jet-lagged ass up by pretending to be California. The epicenter of the earthquake was about 200 miles south of us (about 300 KM for you keeping score), and it was HUGE!!!! like, 7.1.
I'm just going to admit that I have only ever been in very mild earthquakes and so I find them fun and almost relaxing. Like a gentle roller-coaster. Like the lazy river ride in Wild Rivers.
So, one more reason I am incredibly lucky to live in well-developed nations where seismic retrofitting and disaster-preparedness education are big cultural mandates.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

First Friday

Wellington New Zealand is like the bay-side 2/3ds of San Fransicso- hilly, artsy, windy, high-tech, full of sushi/ coffee/ malaysian/ middle eastern/ burger places (food is going to have to be its own entry). Brian was quick to point out that it's the land of women in dark tights and boots. Home to 180,000 people, a stunning waterfront dotted with skateparks, sailboats, museums, and cyclists. We have the best apartment ever. I have too many blessings to count them all.