They entertain the masses night after night but if they got a night off what shows would these Auckland Arts Festival performers choose to be in or to watch, any time, any place?
I would have loved to have seen Beyonce's Coachella performance in 2018. I saw it on Netflix but it just doesn't compare to what the experience would have been live. I really wish I [could have been] there to experience the sound, the energy, the amazing costumes, lights and the energy of such a massive crowd. It would have been so spectacular, when you combine the music, the dance, the choreography and all the energy that goes into such an iconic show. It was a real marker in time to see someone as extraordinary as Beyonce and know all that she put into that show as an artist. I look at it and think, "Wow, she has set the bar so high." It was such a commitment. All that skill that really sat on the shoulders of one person, even if it is Beyonce, she pulls together all those people, such a massive cast. She is directing, creating, performing it blows my mind. To have been able to see such a legendary level of performance would have been a bucket-list moment, for sure.
Fasitua Amosa directs Silo Theatre's first production for 2020, Upu. Curated by award-winning poet Grace Taylor, the show features poetry by some of Oceania's finest writers. Q's Rangatira Theatre from March 5-15.
The night in the theatre I'd like to have attended was on February 11, 1926, when there was a riot on the fourth night of the first production of Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. In 1907 the first production of Synge's The Playboy of the Western World had provoked a riot. In 1926, 19 years later, W.B. Yeats came on stage and uttered these immortal words to the rioters: "You have disgraced yourselves again." I played Peter Flynn in a production of the play at the Abbey in 2003. Where there was no riot. In 1964, I first saw The Plough and the Stars in the Abbey when Peter Flynn was played by Eric Gorman, who had played it in the first production in 1926 - a link, for me, with what must have been an exciting night now more than 90 years ago. But another link is the fact that the 19-year-old Samuel Beckett was there that fateful night. He had also been at the show, in the front row of the balcony, on the opening night three days earlier. Yeats, O'Casey and Beckett in the Abbey that night - and a riot, too! Yes, I'd like to have been there.
Irish actor and Samuel Beckett expert Barry McGovern performs for the first time in New Zealand the one-man show Watt, a stage adaptation of Beckett's novel, at the ASB Waterfront Theatre from March 25-29.
I'm not sure there's any that I wish I'd been a part of in regard to being on stage but, damn, there's a few that I wish like anything that [I'd been] in the room for. So, my first fantasy: I host at The Fillmore in the 1960s. It's a venue in San Francisco that hosted some of the coolest-ever gigs and, with a capacity of only 1000, you know s*** would have got down and dirty. Earlier on in its history it had acts such as James Brown and Tina Turner but, come the mid-60s, it was just the go-to for now famously legendary acts.
Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, The Who, Cream, The Doors, Muddy Water, a famous show of Aretha Franklin's when Ray Charles happened to be there and they had a massive jam. I mean, come on! Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, B.B. King, The Grateful Dead - shall I go on? One that I would have had to have transferred to The Fillmore East in Manhattan was Jimi Hendrix for the live recording of Band of Gypsys, with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles. Amazing album. Imagine being there. It was on January 1, 1970; Hendrix was found dead in September of the same year.
In fantasy two, I briefly become a prison security guard at San Quentin Prison in 1969 to control the peace at Johnny Cash's performance - and after that, for fantasy three, I move to Manhattan, where I am an usher at Carnegie Hall in time for Bill Withers' incredible live recording in 1972. One can dream.
Hollie Smith, Hātea Kapa Haka and choirs from around Auckland open the 2020 Auckland Arts Festival with Tira, a community sing-along in Aotea Square. In 2006, Smith's rendition of Bathe in the River, by Don McGlashan and from Toa Fraser's film No. 2, entered the top 40 where it spent 37 weeks. This year, Smith will perform a new version of the waiata in te reo Māori. Tira is on March 11 at 6pm.
I love my musical theatre, back-up dancing for pop and hip-hop artists, as well as circus performances, so I definitely have a top show for each of these on my bucket list. The musical Hamilton is super-popular right now. It mixes hip-hop with musical theatre and it would be such an awesome experience to work on something that fuses those elements together. When it comes to artists, I would love to be back-up dancing for FKA Twigs as I think she does really creative and interesting stuff. She's one of those artists I would love to perform with, travel and do those big concerts with. When it comes to circus, I am so lucky to have worked so long with Strut & Fret. Limbo Unhinged is just next-level. It has so much attitude but if I had to pick another show I haven't been in; you can't go past Cirque du Soleil. Their productions are just so massive and being involved in that would be next-level.
Hilton Denis is one of the star performers in the circus-cabaret extravaganza Limbo Unhinged, on throughout the Auckland Arts Festival at the Spiegeltent in Aotea Square from March 12-29.
It's a funny feeling, a great feeling, really seeing a show you sort of wish you'd made. Because I reckon we're all kind of driven, in some sense, to try to make the kind of work we want to see. So, when you do see it, it's usually a completely energised thing, a kind of, "This is it, this is the stuff right here," sometimes followed by a, "F***ing bastards." But the reason you didn't make it is because the show is doing something you never could have done because it's completely of and by that artist or artists, in a world or language that's theirs and not yours. So, you couldn't do it, you just completely love it and it comes down to the feeling of simply being either a massive fan or a distant admirer.
Anyway, here's a list off the top of my head of shows I would have loved to be part of: Angels In America by Tony Kushner; The Future Show by Deborah Pearson; The Adventures of Wound Man & Shirley by Chris Goode; Barber Shop Chronicles by Inua Ellams; Blow Off by Julia Taudevin; Hate Radio by Milo Rau; Charlie Sonata by Douglas Maxwell; Crave by Sarah Kane; England by Tim Crouch; Torycore by Lucy Ellinson, Chris Thorpe, and Steve Lawson; The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart by David Greig; and Mogwai at the Barrowlands Ballroom, Glasgow. Phew.
Glasgow-based Kieran Hurley wrote Mouthpiece, a play about two different sides of Edinburgh that exist oblivious to the other – until two strangers meet. Mouthpiece is Q Theatre's Rangatira, March 19-28.
Looking at this year's Auckland Arts Festival programme, hanging out with Jack Gray and the Atamira Dance Crew for the Creative Wānanga would be cool; having a Colab with Shannon Novak for Extend My Arms would be awesome. But if my arm was really twisted -like reeeallly twisted - I'd have to say that I find Ōtairongo by Maree Sheehan really intriguing. Besides the obvious kaupapa Māori and technology link to my own work, I'd just love to see how portraits are portrayed through sound. During the last year, I have been investigating sound through 3D printing taonga puoro - however this results in instruments to create sound - and I find the idea of sounds as portraiture that represent people just really out there! While writing this, I'm listening to Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York album and I think about those songs that indicate certain milestones of my life - and I now find myself pondering… what would the portrait of my life soundtrack sound like?
Artist Kereama Taepa's exhibition Transmission is at Objectspace, in Ponsonby, from Thursday, March 12 – Sunday, May 5. He combines virtual reality, 3D printing and whakairo (carving) to explore how digital technology can influence mātauranga Māori (wisdom). Maree Sheehan's Ōtairongo is at Artspace Aotearoa from Friday, March 6 – Saturday, May 16.