Weta goes back to the future

BY REBECCA THOMSON
Last updated 05:00 28/10/2010
GENE
NEW ORDER: Gene Pool, showing at Bats Theatre, stars Francis Mountjoy.

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The Wellingtonian

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Wellingtonian Greg Broadmore jumped at the opportunity to create a cloning machine for a Bats theatre production.

Broadmore works as a designer and builder for Weta Workshop. Designing the machine that features as the main prop in the play Gene Pool was his first theatre project. The story tells about the impending results of a cloning experiment, after humanity is nearly wiped out.

"Cara Brockliss [the director] just emailed me right out of the blue and said she was a fan of District 9, which I helped create, and said she needed a bizarre machine for her play; would I make something?" said Broadmore.

He said the brief was open-ended and he spent weeks designing it. Broadmore drew 2-D sketches of the machine and then started making a 3-D model. Six Weta builders and designers helped out.

"It needed to be a machine that performers could be inside, climb over and around, and it needed to come alive. So it lights up and there are lots of dials, plugs and things," said Broadmore.

"I wanted to make it timeless, but built in the style of 1950s-British-industrial, boom era machines. I wanted it to be something that symbolised science fiction and that was the crystalline era of science fiction.

"Yes, there is a bit of Dr Who in it, because that's what I grew up with."

Weta Workshop business manager Danielle Prestige said it was good for the company to be able to help local groups.

The machine is made from wood and polystyrene, laminated with hardcoat.

"Hardcoat is a type of polyurethane that gives it a smooth finish," said Prestidge. "We had a very limited budget.

"When the play finishes the idea is hopefully that it'll tour. It would be good if they could continue to utilise the machine."

Broadmore said he was looking forward to seeing Gene Pool, which is part of the Stab festival of new works.

Gene Pool shows at Bats Theatre until November 6.

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- The Wellingtonian

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