Somes Island confirmed for 10-year theatre deal

Matiu/Somes Island productions get go-ahead

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 14:22 09/01/2014
The Tempest

Real or not: Erin Howell as Ariel in last year's production of The Tempest on Matiu-Somes Island.

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Wellington theatre-goers will spend the next 10 years being thrilled on a deserted island inhabited by all manner of creatures, real and imaginary.

Bard Productions has recently been granted a 10-year concession by the Department of Conservation to do an annual show on Matiu-Somes Island.

Company director and producer Paul Stephanus said the decade of shows was a great opportunity.

"It gives our team the chance to focus on local material in an in-depth way," he said.

"Productions on the island also provide the perfect junction between adventure tourism and the art of theatre."

Stephanus said the company also wanted to deal with real myths about New Zealand.

"With the influx of people from around the world coming to experience the landscape and superimposed myth of The Hobbit, we think something vital is being ignored - the actual myths and legends of this country.

"They are far superior [to] the inventions of J R R Tolkien.

"The Maori history, myths and legends that infuse the landscape are the real reason why people from around the world should be flocking to these shores."

Bard Productions hoped to work with local iwi, Maori theatre groups, local historians, theatre practitioners and story- tellers to bring the local history to life, Stephanus said.

"The only way theatre can survive is if it competes against all the modern diversions that exist today.

"Our brand of theatre has proved so popular because it gives people a real experience that you just can't get from a digital or televised medium."

The first show of the 10 will be a return season of the Shakespeare's The Tempest.

It is the tale of what happens when the King of Naples and his entourage are shipwrecked and washed ashore on a strange island inhabited by the magician Prospero and his daughter Miranda.

From the moment the audience steps on to the ferry at Queens Wharf, they will become part of the action, navigate turbulent seas to Prospero's island and enjoy the classic play in the massive labyrinthine of the island's animal quarantine station.

The production will once again include mystical creatures and grotesque monsters.

Some of the show's makeup artists and costume designers have worked extensively on The Hobbit and World of WearableArt.

Just like Prospero, the production's creators will be drawing on the elements for power, because this year's show will run completely on wind, solar and hydrogen energy.

The history of Somes Island will be woven into the show.

The play runs for six nights only, and last year sold out fast.

The season may be extended, depending on demand.

The Tempest, February 6 till 15, starts at Queens Wharf at 7.20pm; ferry departs at 7.30pm. Tickets $45 from Circa Theatre, includes cost of ferry.

To book, call 801 7992 or visit circa.co.nz.

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- The Wellingtonian

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