A former Shortland Street star is posing as a talk show host to exploit her life story.
Nisha Madhan – known for playing Indian nurse Shanti on the Kiwi drama – is performing quirky and satirical theatre piece Show Ponies this month.
The item is being presented with actor and choreographer Alexa Wilson as part of the inaugural New Performance Festival happening at the Aotea Centre from February 17 to 25.
"We're playing with the talk show idea and exploiting our own dramatic life stories to hit ratings," Ms Madhan, from Newton, says.
"It doesn't matter if they're true or not it's just that that's what people want to hear."
The show is an attempt by the duo to debunk myths about what it means to be a celebrity in New Zealand.
Hours are long, work is not guaranteed and it's hard to make a buck, they say.
Both admit they are also fed up with a consumer culture that values ratings over ideas and want to explore what it really means to perform in front of an audience.
"A thing that has come up in my career is the presumption that if you don't compromise and make your work consumable, then you're suffering and marginalising yourself," Ms Wilson says.
"It's about not watering down your ideas."
The Freemans Bay resident works across different theatrical mediums and came up with the idea for Show Ponies six months ago.
The show focuses on making the audience think and is more of an improvised conversation between the actors than a scripted play.
It is a perfect choice for the New Performance Festival, curator Stephen Bain says.
He describes the festival as "a snapshot of new movements in performance from around the country and a sampler box of overseas treats".
Often many multi-disciplinary shows are interactive and performed on the street or small community halls.
A piece in this style sometimes falls into the programme of another festival.
But this is the first time in New Zealand that several acts are being presented in one place at one festival dedicated to the genre.
"By default all the most interesting and innovative shows are happening independently in little pockets," Mr Bain says.
He believes the country's commercially driven culture means it is hard for bigger theatre companies to invest in works – such as Show Ponies – that take risks.
The New Performance Festival is sponsored by The Edge with performances in and around the Aotea Centre.
The week-long programme includes international acts, national acts, and edgy new performances from Auckland artists.
Go to www.theedge.co.nz/npfhome.aspx for more information.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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