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Issue 22, 2017

Issue 22

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News

  • Mike Joy Receives Critic and Conscience Award

  • Fees Rise 2% Despite Student Opposition

  • Vanuatu Volcano Displaces Thousands

  • Vice-Chancellor Responds to Thursdays in Black Report

  • Public Hearings Regarding Family Violence in Samoa

  • The Great Kererū Count

  • Transdev Undercutting Unionised Rail Workers

  • Features

  • ALI

    Dabbling in Magic: Independent Radio in New Zealand

    – SPONSORED – Radio has played a big part in nurturing New Zealand’s cultural identity; it is part of our history — politically, socially, and musically. Alternative and independent radio stations in particular have acted like little greenhouses of New Zealand talent. They have been built with a sense of excitement, and are entrenched within […]

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  • jasmin

    Can I say that…?

    – SPONSORED – “The flower-garnering, glowing men and maids of Polynesia (are) half child and half god…” — J. W. Collier (1853-1932), New Zealand-Australian Wesleyan Missionary to Samoa   I was in a taxi on my way to Willis Street a few months ago, when I first realised that I didn’t know what the word […]

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  • riot-girl

    Retracing Riot Grrrl

    – SPONSORED –   CW: Sexual violence   I’ve spent a fairly large chunk of my youth steeping myself in the music and culture of Riot Grrrl, which represented a vital beacon for me in a world of commercialised boredom. So when the suggestion came to write about it, I of course jumped. I then […]

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  • opinioninterview

    Get Adrenaline or Die Tryin’: The Truth About Anaphylaxis

    – SPONSORED – Anaphylaxis is like one of those remorseless slowpokes holding up foot traffic along Lambton Quay; no matter how hard you try to avoid them, they will always strike at the most inconvenient of times. One such occasion that anaphylaxis decided to pay me a visit began like any other. It was a […]

    by

  • ALI

    Dabbling in Magic: Independent Radio in New Zealand

    – SPONSORED – Radio has played a big part in nurturing New Zealand’s cultural identity; it is part of our history — politically, socially, and musically. Alternative and independent radio stations in particular have acted like little greenhouses of New Zealand talent. They have been built with a sense of excitement, and are entrenched within […]

    by

  • jasmin

    Can I say that…?

    – SPONSORED – “The flower-garnering, glowing men and maids of Polynesia (are) half child and half god…” — J. W. Collier (1853-1932), New Zealand-Australian Wesleyan Missionary to Samoa   I was in a taxi on my way to Willis Street a few months ago, when I first realised that I didn’t know what the word […]

    by

  • riot-girl

    Retracing Riot Grrrl

    – SPONSORED –   CW: Sexual violence   I’ve spent a fairly large chunk of my youth steeping myself in the music and culture of Riot Grrrl, which represented a vital beacon for me in a world of commercialised boredom. So when the suggestion came to write about it, I of course jumped. I then […]

    by

  • opinioninterview

    Get Adrenaline or Die Tryin’: The Truth About Anaphylaxis

    – SPONSORED – Anaphylaxis is like one of those remorseless slowpokes holding up foot traffic along Lambton Quay; no matter how hard you try to avoid them, they will always strike at the most inconvenient of times. One such occasion that anaphylaxis decided to pay me a visit began like any other. It was a […]

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • Out of Site: Curation as Democracy in the Summer of Art

    The day was already hot. In the garden behind Auckland Art Gallery the pōhutukawa trees had taken a turn for the worse. Their red needles and spotted leaves were slipping together on the ground as I stepped off the path and took a shortcut to the back entrance of the building. The grass had been trodden into dust. It was Wednesday, my first day, because I missed the first two: excuses about moving house, needing to tidy things off at work, the guilt of quitting my steady job at Treasury just before Christmas. To do what? A curating course? To become a writer? Art?

    *

    For a month, commencing the last week of January 2017 in steamy Auckland and ending in Wellington during The-Worst-Summer-Ever, the Adam Art Gallery held its inaugural Summer Intensive: Researching, Writing, Curating. 15 newly minted students gave over their best days of summer to those three pursuits.

    Despite the sunshine and pōhutukawa, the four-week course was no walk in the park, no summer fling with art. The course reader, at some 200 pages, resembled an honours level reading pack, and we began each day with discussions, either alone as a class or with visiting curators and academics, on topics as widely varied as the artist as activist, the decolonisation of institutions, and the ever optimistic selfie. In the afternoons, our tireless leader Christina Barton, Director of the Adam, took us to visit art in situ on harbour islands, in suburban living rooms, and on the walls of converted bank vaults.

    For two weeks in Auckland (we met seven hours a day, five days a week — an intensive, indeed) we walked, sweated, and bonded as a team, stretching our capacities for critical thought and pursuing the craft of a good sentence.

    It wasn’t until the third week when we were in Wellington, and had sourced several extra layers of clothing, that the final learning objective and real subject of this essay took place: curating. Now in the seat of power, both of the New Zealand Government and more importantly the Adam Art Gallery, we were able to take our learnings from our regional (Auckland) tour and apply them to our ultimate task, our pièce de (curatorial) résistance. Which, with a drum roll please, was the real-life real-time curation of the Kirk Gallery for the Adam Art Gallery’s first exhibition of 2017 — Out of Site: Works from the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection.

    Sixty artworks that had been removed for seismic activity reasons from their homes in the Pipitea Campus, were out of site, and ready to be curated. As we were limited to the three and a half walls of the Kirk Gallery, we were sensibly divided into three groups of five and given half a day to formulate a pitch as to how the space should be curated.

    The art works were all of the sort that could be hung on a wall. That is to say: the law and commerce schools at the Pipitea Campus favoured painting and photography over sculpture or video. The gallery staff had propped the works up around the perimeter of the space to give us an idea of what we were working with, though they were layered atop one another, creating the kind of tableau you might find if you were helping a barrister move offices circa 1997. In every direction there were green and red hills, gold skies, blue harbours, and rolling amber wheat fields. Intermittently a face or a body, sometimes recognisable, often not, popped out from behind a landscape. At one point my group threw their hands in the air and said: “let’s just leave the art works where they are and call it: Pipitea A Work in Progress.” It did have a good ring to it.

    And this is where my somewhat tenuous “curation as democracy” metaphor really takes flight. Following our internal group discussions, it was time to present our ideas, our policies if you will, of how to best use the resources available. Unlike a true democracy, however, there was no vote from the populace. Rather, we had a Panel of Experts, the Adam’s Director, Curator, and Collection Manager, who ultimately decided that all parties should be represented in the exhibition. No one should be left out of site. Like a good MMP coalition, each group was given the opportunity to bring their policies to fruition on separate walls in the Kirk Gallery.

    The art works my group chose were Gavin Hurley’s Charles Heaphy VC (2009), Richard Killeen’s Dead Woman (1969), and Janice Gill’s Not an atom of difference (1981). Together, we named this selection Two Dead Men, One Dead Woman. Our pitch was certainly political in nature: the paintings demonstrate the differences in the way men and women, historically, have been represented and immortalised. Charles Heaphy is there — clear, flat, and easy for everyone to see and remember. Gill’s painting depicts a monument to physicist Ernest Rutherford, front and centre, while in the background a woman is hanging washing, domestic and unnamed (the title of the work is certainly an ironic suggestion). Killeen’s piece says it all: a dead woman is surrounded by ignoring onlookers.

    Throughout the four-week intensive we returned time and again to the discussion of the role of artists and curators as political commentators and activists. Our final selection for Out of Site was a timely reminder that gender discrepancies continue to exist in our society, and while we may often feel we are taking two steps forward, unfortunately we continue to take steps back. In this climate of political fragility,  I suggest that it is to artists, not politicians, that we should turn to hear brave discussions and creative solutions for many social issues. When the pōhutukawa blooms this year, I will be walking under it, forward forward, a richer person, not because of any job, but because of art and all the conversations it has sparked.

     

    Keep an eye on adamartgallery.org.nz and victoria.ac.nz/cceshortcourses for similar short courses and learning opportunities.

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  • Keeping Up with the Kardashians: A Celebration

    Last Sunday, E! channel’s flagship show Keeping Up with the Kardashians celebrated its tenth anniversary. Even if you hate them — and I love them, except Khloe, whom I loathe  — you cannot avoid the Kardashians, and they show absolutely no sign of disappearing soon, relentlessly thriving like some kind of very tan plague. Below are some of my favourite moments from the show over the last ten years.


    5. Kanye learns what the “Magic Stick” is

    In Season 12 the Kardashian family go to Cuba! Everyone drives around in convertibles smoking cigars, while mother Kris Jenner grows isolated in Calabasas because no one can Facetime her. In an adorable scene, Kim, partner Kanye West, and daughter North, are taking a stroll while North clasps onto a leaf and a stick. “Is that like a magic stick?” Kanye asks North sweetly; “Babe, don’t say that. Do you know what that is?” says Kim under her breath. When Kanye doesn’t know, she pulls him in and whispers: “A dick.” For reference, “Magic Stick” is a song by 50 Cent and Lil’ Kim about how powerful their respective genitals are.

     

    4. Kim loses an earring

    After Kim’s second husband, the giant cardboard cutout of a douchebag that is Kris Humphries, throws her forcefully into the ocean, Kim discovers she has lost a diamond earring. Kris laughs and begrudgingly jumps in to pretend to search for the earring while Kim cries about how it was worth $75,000. Observing the chaos from the boardwalk, sister Kourtney’s monotone response of “Kim, there’s people that are dying“ is almost as iconic as America’s Next Top Model contestant Natasha’s “I just want to tell you that some people have war in their country.”

     

    3. Kris’ birthday music video

    For matriarch Kris Jenner’s 60th birthday in 2015, her children all got together to recreate a video she made in the ’80s for her 30th called “I Love My Friends”. In the classic clip, a young Kris sings about how much she loves things like her friends, family, Valentino, and church, over a montage of said friends and also hotel and boutique employees shouting, “She loves you!” A total banger, the video also includes photos of Kris and Robert Kardashian Sr. with O.J. and Nicole Brown Simpson, before O.J. murdered his wife in 1994.

     

    2. Kim’s Playboy shoot

    In the show’s first season back in 2007, Kim is chosen to do a spread in Playboy magazine, with her mother attending for moral support. While Kim does a pose that makes my knees hurt to look at, wearing only some costume pearls draped over her body, Kris coos from behind a camera, “You’re doing amazing, sweetie.” Recently, while doing last-minute gardening at 2.00am before a flat inspection the next day, my flatmate quoted this to me and it motivated me to keep going, even though my landlord was ultimately not impressed at all.

     

    1. Todd Kraines

    Scott Disick is Kourtney’s on/off partner, father to their three children, and also a chronically depressed alcoholic whose main source of income is doing club appearances, after relapsing several years ago following the sudden death of his parents. Over the seasons, Scott made a series of prank calls to Kris Jenner, pretending to be her nephew, Todd, whom she had not seen in years. Each call would begin with a high pitched semi-screech of, “Are you there, Auntie Kris? It’s me, Tooodddd Kraaaaines,” followed by Kris trying to make small talk. The long-running joke culminated in a reveal to an unsuspecting Kris, and an awkward dinner with the real Todd Kraines.

     

    Special mention:

    The Kardashian-Jenner family used to go on huge lavish vacations together that would always feature a homemade music video. My personal favourite is “Hypnotize” by Notorious B.I.G. Please look it up.

     

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  • GIG GUIDE

    Wednesday: Habits (Melbourne) w/ Waterfalls, George Turner, Aw B — Come to Caroline for some jiggly wiggly club bangers among other things, and catch Habits’ maiden voyage to our fine land! Starts at 8.00pm, tickets are $10 presale through Just the Ticket or $15 on the door.

    Thursday: Tuatara Open Late: Night of the Witch — City Gallery has put on some bitchin’ late nights this year, and this one is set to be the most bitchin’ of them all (60% guarantee). You get to eat sweet dumpling treats, drink Tuatara’s intoxicating elixir, wander the witchy Occulture exhibit, hear a talk about Rosaleen Norton’s work, and hear Wellington’s spookiest ladies (and one gentleman) HEX and Mermaidens play free shows. This will be wild and magical and you’d be a bit of an egg to miss it, really.

    Friday Option #1: Shonen Knife (Japan) with special guests HEX — Shonen Knife are a whirlwind of pop-punk glee that will whip you up in its delightful pep. They do a great cover of the Carpenters’ “Top of the World”, which is a song I once sobbed the entirety of to myself on my shower floor, so I am excited to hear that. It is at Meow, from 9.00pm, and it is a somewhat steep $42+BF from UTR, but blow the budget this week for these sweet cherubs.

    Friday Option #2: Eclipse — This is an enchanting sounding showcase from music students at Massey, where they will be setting up a contrasting two-stage battle of sounds between one band representing the sun, and one the moon, as they unify in a cataclysmic sonic eclipse. Free entry, 9.00pm at Moon.

    Saturday: The Trendees with Strange Stains and the Bent Folk — Load up for a night of strange and unrelenting noise and debauchery at Caroline from 9.00pm. $10 cover.

    Friday/Saturday: Radioactive.FM Takeover at the Matterhorn — If none of my delicately hand-picked suggestions tickle your discerning fancy, then there’s always Radioactive’s Matterhorn takeover! The Matterhorn is closing so send it off by shaking your limbs and maybe even bottom to funky jams from the cream of the crop at Radioactive, including Coda, Redbird, the Jewel School, TV Disko, and Groovin’ Pete. It’s free, and it starts at 8.00pm both nights.

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  • Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash

    Developer: Tamsoft

    Publisher: Marvelous

    Platform: PS4

    Review copy supplied by publisher

     

    CW: Misogyny

     

    “Anime is trash, and so am I.”Garnt “Gigguk” Maneetapho, anime critic

    Video games can make people feel a full range of emotions. Whether it’s the pure joy of exploring a massive world, the relief after a particularly difficult boss battle, or the sadness following a dramatic story moment, games wield tremendous power to bring these feelings out of us, just as much as (if not more than) more traditional artforms.

    But never in my life have I felt downright embarrassed to play a game. This game broke that duck, but not before it broke me.

    Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is little more than softcore porn masquerading as a video game, embodying the worst aspects of otaku culture by indulging in voyeurism and the sexual exploitation of its characters. Everything about this game is designed to appeal to the notion that watching girls get humiliated is not only okay, but a turn-on, with any actual gameplay only being a veneer to trick you into accepting that.

    The Senran Kagura series is ostensibly about a group of female ninjas-in-training and their adventures battling demons and each other, but it’s just a way to shove jiggly anime boobs and booty in your face. This instalment has our heroines competing in a water gun tournament, complete with all the obvious jokes about girls getting wet. The story quickly establishes that the characters were not there by choice, instantly killing any chance it had of me being invested in it.

    Actual gameplay is that of a mediocre third-person shooter, with none of the weapons feeling even remotely satisfying to use; the water gun aspect clearly holds it back. Special abilities are integrated with trading card mechanics, with card packs available as rewards for completing missions or multiplayer matches, but all they do is turn your efforts into a mess of particle effects that, barring framerate drops, do fuck all. The single-player missions are repetitive, the AI is braindead, and I barely got to play any multiplayer matches because I was playing a pre-release copy!

    But that doesn’t compare to this bullshit: When you take down an enemy, or are taken down yourself, the camera lingers on each character’s body, absorbing their humiliation in the creepiest way possible. If you approach a fallen enemy and press Square, you activate a Squirmy Finish, where you shoot from first-person at the character’s breasts and/or buttocks to remove their bikinis. I was honestly sickened when I did this for the first time, but it gets worse. The game has a “locker room” feature, where not only can you dress the characters up in various costumes, but squirt them with water and grope them.

    Maybe you’d think I’m okay with all of this because I’m a nerdy straight guy, but I’m not okay with any of it. I kind of knew what I was getting into, but I had absolutely no idea that it was this bad. It doesn’t matter that it’s fictional, or that the art style is anime-esque, because humiliating a person for sexual gratification is only okay if it is safe, sane, and consensual — there is no hint of consent to be found anywhere here.

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  • Iceland — Dominic “Tourettes” Hoey

    I really want to go to Iceland. I couldn’t say why — I’m not a tramper and I find New Zealand repetitive. But Iceland in my mind is snow-covered sheet rock, blue silt hot pools, quietness, openness.

    I saw this movie with my brother called Rams. It’s set on an Icelandic sheep farm. Imagine an Otago sheep farm in the 1970s, and you would have the same movie set, down to the floral wallpaper, the fridge brand, the mugs, the jerseys.

    It’s us, a million miles separated. We must be cousins.

    Poet and author Dominic “Tourettes” Hoey has written a novel titled Iceland — an ambitious scope. I’ll save myself the time and let him explain it to you: “It [is] a story of trying to turn your passion into an escape plan, a story about drugs and sex and the drudgery of unemployment, a story about what happens when one day you wake up and you find yourself living in a memory, a story about the past and an empty future, a love story about the place I grew up in.”

    I think it’s a very familiar story. It’s something almost all New Zealanders feel, their whole lives or just for a fleeting, confusing second. They realise they have to escape off the island and go as far away as possible, or else… the “or else” is unknown… we just have to get far enough away that we lose all context, and we can figure out what we are when it’s just us. Personally, I went to Canada.

    Hoey and his Australian singer-songwriter friend “Skyscraper” Stanley Woodhouse (why the nicknames? I don’t know, let’s just embrace it) will be on tour in New Zealand in November, including in Wellington at Meow on November 11 as part of LitCrawl.

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  • Womb

    Womb started out as the solo project of Wellington musician Charlotte Forrester, but has evolved into a collaborative project with bandmembers Haz Forrester and Georgette Brown. A few weeks ago Womb released “Feeling Like Helium” — the first single from their upcoming album Like Splitting the Head from the Body. It’s a steady guitar-centric piece, part slow-core, part art-rock, with a sombre string section creeping in, and chopped up vocal samples littered hazily throughout.

    Recording for the new album began in February and will be released early next year. Charlotte explains: “We recorded the base of the new album at the Wine Cellar, that was all live, which we thought we had to do because we needed to get that live feeling in there. So that was the drums and Haz and my guitars. Then we came back to Wellington and did vocals, strings, and synths at home. The live recording was important but coming back and doing home recording was also really important to us because that’s been the way we’ve done it in the past with recordings like the first EP.”

    Charlotte talked about how they translate the songs to the live three-piece band, saying “all the recordings will be really different from how they are played live, that’s quite important to us. I don’t care if it doesn’t sound the same live, and it just can’t because there are so many more instruments that we’ve done in the recordings, we’d have to have a really full band to be able to do that. I like that an album and a live recording are really different experiences, and I like that they can be different as well.”

    Bringing the other band members into the recording process has influenced the kind of instrumentation that’s going on in the new songs as well. “I did the strings, it’s a mix of cello and violin. Haz did all the synths you’ll hear on the album. In “Feeling like Helium” he also did all the chopped up vocals. He does some DJing and he has his own project, so that’s quite his own style, which was put in there which is really cool.”

    In terms of what to expect from the new album sound-wise: “There will be lots of different influences going in there. It will be quite different from the first EP. That EP was when I was still a solo project and I was coming out of more sort of folk inspiration. So this is definitely a departure from that and it will probably be quite a lot heavier. Having the full band will totally change the vibe of it. We’ve just got the mixes back, it’s almost got an ’80s vibe to it which is pretty fun.”

    “The guitar influences that I will always return to are like Seth Frightening from NZ, also i.e. crazy, she just put her album out this year and that was pretty influential. I like to listen to a really wide range of music and that often channels in, drawing from genres that I wouldn’t necessarily want to make that style of music. People like Frank Ocean are really inspiring.”

    Check out Womb at w–o–m–b.bandcamp.com to hear the latest single and look out for a national tour around the album release. Also head over to mimicryjournal.bandcamp.com to hear another track released last week as part of the Mimicry Volume 3 Mixtape.

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  • Podcast: Avocado on Toast

    This week Salient spoke to Hazel Osbourne, a journalism student at Massey University and the host and producer of Avocado on Toast, a podcast which shares the experiences of young people living in Wellington. So far, episodes have covered a diverse range of topics including student debt, flatting, disabilities, and mental illness.

     

    First of all, can you give me a summary of the podcast, and why you decided to make it?

    At Massey we’re given the opportunity to do a communications internship paper. It’s a completely student- led initiative — you have to find where you’re gonna be, what you’re gonna be doing, and why you’re doing it. I knew I wanted to do broadcasting, I knew I had a passion for podcasting — long form audio has always been where I get news and entertainment, because I have a serious eye condition, so listening is a lot easier for me than reading.

    The podcast came to fruition through me approaching Wellington Access Radio — I wanted to start out working somewhere smaller, somewhere that would give me creative licence, somewhere that fostered diversity. It gave me a lot of confidence as a student, that I would be able to accomplish more things I wouldn’t normally be able to at a larger network. At Wellington Access, they gave me the option to do whatever I wanted, which was terrifying!

    On the first day I basically walked into the studio and was like, “teach me!” I set up an Instagram and a blog, and got everything rolling, but what I didn’t really have prepared was my content. I had ideas of what I was going to put in every episode, but as I got more comfortable, as I had more wriggle room, I thought, I’m just going to go for it — I’m gonna do student issues, things that interest me, and things that interest my peers.

     

    Do you think the mainstream media adequately covers issues facing millennials?

    I think that the millennial thing is such a hot button topic that it’s impossible not to see millennial topics in all mainstream media. I think what’s happening is we see things like The Spinoff, The Wireless, student media like Salient or Massive that do a good job, but people aren’t engaging with it as much as they should be. A lot of young people are influenced by their social media newsfeeds, that’s where they get their news; we’re influenced by the people we see liking and posting. I think it’s not about under-representation, it’s about having a clear angle and direction with the content. You can produce it, but you need the engagement, otherwise the story won’t be seen. And it won’t make an impact.

     

    Is that why you like the medium of podcasting, because it gives you time to develop those angles?

    Oh for sure. I think with podcasting, already your audience is ready to sit down and listen to something; it’s not taken lightly. I think that podcasters are really lucky to have audiences that are patient. Patient to wait on ideas, especially good ones. When you hit on a good topic and they get in touch with you, saying that it resonated with them and they’re really glad that you made it, having that reaction to something you’ve made — there are no words for that.

     

    Lots of the issues on the podcast — mental illness, disability, student debt — are really confronting. I’ll be honest, some of the stories that people were so kind enough to share really made me mad that they had been treated that way. Is that your intention for the podcast, a call to arms to make things better?

    For sure — I understand when people are diplomatic and say they don’t want to ruffle feathers, but what is journalism for? We’re here to ruffle feathers, we’re here to make people think, we’re here to make people consider other voices and the agency that other people have in their own stories. And that’s what hopefully my podcast does — it gives people a platform to be themselves, tell their stories, and know that their story is valid.

     

    Can you give us a hint about what is going to be featured in upcoming episodes?

    I’ve got a few ideas at the moment — I’m really interested in sustainability, specifically with sanitary products. So that’s going to be in association with the Wā Collective, who provide subsidised mooncups, it’s a project spearheaded by a few friends of mine. I also want to do one on clickbait, and trigger warnings.

     

    Finally, what podcasts do you listen to, and what ones have you been inspired by?

    I knew you were going to ask me this question, I have so many! This American Life — I would refer to that as the gateway podcast, the gateway drug to being addicted to binge listening to podcasts. The way that storytelling is taken into consideration on This American Life just blows me away. There’s something about Ira Glass; the way he tells stories, it’s magic. Heavyweight, Caucus, and Black Hands are amazing. One that I do remember closing my curtains, lying in bed, and listening to for hours is Serial, which is a classic. I also love Reveal, which is an investigative reporting podcast.

     

    Avocado on Toast is available for download from iTunes and all major podcast distributors.

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  • Interview with Satisfied Customers

    Satisfied Customers is a new play from Ben Wilson, directed by Keegan Bragg, opening at BATS Theatre on Thursday, October 3. The play follows a group of high school friends who are then given the opportunity for fame and success in the music business — but will the dysfunctional group keep their friendships and their band together in time for it? I sat down with Ben, Keegan, and lead actor Adeline Shaddick, to talk about their process.

    *

    Why do you think students will be interested in seeing the show?

    Adeline Shaddick: Students will love it just because it’s about a high school band, and also the idea of school friends falling apart but staying together, loving each other but also hating each other. Any students, not just high school, will love it. There’s also good friend banter throughout it. Band banter.

    Keegan Bragg: The thing that bothers me the most about shows like this is that they’re not ruckus enough. They don’t play to that young thing where you want to have dumb fun enough, they’re a little too restrained, and I think that’s our goal anyway with this show, to really assault the senses with how this band plays with each other.

    A: Shit yeah, it really stirs the pot.

     

    Talk us through your character, Adeline. Who is she?

    A: Amelia / Amy, I don’t think she likes “Amelia” at all. She’s in this band with her friends from high school. I like to say she’s a bit of a noob, to be honest that’s my connection with her, in we’re not very clear with what we want and then when we are, we freak out.

    Ben Wilson: That certainly sounds like Amy; I don’t know about you.

    A: Yeah, cool. She’s in this band, she’s been in this band for a couple years, they’re about 20/21. It’s her dad who comes up with this idea to make them famous, and she gets hooked onto it. Her dad is an advertising man who’s into his products and creating things, life insurance is his thing, and he’s quite intense. Her mum’s not in the picture. Kenneth is played by Matt Staijen-Leach. Me and Matt have a couple of scenes together so it’s really cool to work with him again.

     

    All of you have gone through university. Ben, you did a Master of Arts in Creative Writing with IIML, Keegan has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, and Adeline has a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and Theatre. How did VUW and IIML help you in this process?

    B: IIML has helped me so much, especially Ken Duncum being so supportive; he’s done so much for me.

    A: I’ve learnt just as much in both my areas; I have more love for theatre but marketing is more practical, giving me knowledge as to how to have my own business. I did a 300-level arts marketing paper where I was like, “whoa, this would be so much fun to do marketing for theatre!” The lecturer was so passionate. I like boring logistical stuff like making Excel budget lists, writing rehearsal requirements, lists, and marketing at university has helped me with the producing role too.

     

    Keegan, you and Adeline did THEA 304 last year and you’re assistant directing this year’s Long Cloud show Black Knight Dreaming. Do you think these experiences have helped you in your first show as a director?

    K: Definitely. I think the good thing about doing shows outside of university as well as doing the [theatre] papers in university is that you get a lot of experience about different ways of working, and so even though it’s your first show and you’re learning a lot and you’re testing out things that don’t necessarily work all the time, you’ve got this real wealth of knowledge and reasoning behind why things work and don’t work, so you don’t feel like a blind person stumbling around in a room, you can see the reasons why things work or don’t work, so it’s immensely helpful.

     

    What was the first show you guys worked on?

    B: Call Me Bukowski (CMB). I saw Keegan in The Adding Machine [Long Cloud, directed by Stella Reid] and thought he was really amazing, and I just wanted him to be my friend. Liam became our friend at the same time. CMB was the first show where we met and worked on something together.

     

    So you worked on CMB, and then Fred Is Cold [directed by Neenah Dekkers-Reihana], and then Super Clean which Liam directed. Did you have a similar process with Satisfied Customers as you had with Super Clean, devising first and then writing a script?

    K: We had a first draft, and then with that draft we had a devising process where we explored the characters and stuff like that, hot-seating and other exercises to get out the meat of the characters. This was after we’d cast.

    B: Yeah, so [the cast] helped change the second draft really. So we saw them work, and then we wrote accordingly. We saw what they were really good at and made it fit that a bit more.

    K: And we could see that from a writer’s eye and a director’s eye.

    B: Yeah, and we just sat up all night together and reworked it, after we did two days’ worth of stuff with the actors.

    K: And that’s when you feel like it’s a great collaborative thing, when you work on it and then bring other people in and it improves it exponentially.

     

    And that’s the real value of working with a living playwright, isn’t it?

    A: It’s been so good having Ben in the room. The majority of the rehearsals he’s been there, if not all, and we [the actors] are just able to communicate with him if we have any questions. Even just with a line, we’re like “can we just make this line this way?” and he’s like “yeah,” or “nah, we’ve got this for a reason,” and then we say “oh, that makes more sense as well.” And we’re able to talk about our characters journeys and stuff, it’s been really really helpful.

    K: And what I think is awesome is that the director and the writer can help the actors out in very different ways. So Ben is the authority on the script, the thing we’re actually doing, because he wrote the thing, and so for Adeline’s character, the hero’s journey is the template. He has a very thorough understanding of that, and my job is to translate it in a way that’s easy to play as an actor, and not all this theory. But I mean, that’s the joy of collaboration. To go back to our influences, that’s what you learn at VUW, that’s what you learn at Long Cloud, that’s what you learn everywhere is that collaboration is a good thing. And I think we’ve got that.

     

    So Ben, Keegan, and Liam Kelly — you guys are a trio company?

    B: Yeah, so we started the company with Fred Is Cold but that wasn’t a company show because we wanted Neenah [Dekkers-Reihana] to direct, very much, so we thought making it a company show would be a bit redundant. So our first company show was Super Clean [which was in Fringe (My FAV) 2017, which Liam directed].

     

    What’s your company called?

    B: Rumpus Room.

     

    How was it working on a project without Liam, without your third company member?

    B: Liam was there for the start, as it was a baby,. It’s amazing because we like different things in a lot of ways, we all have different tastes, so when we all sit down with just an idea, we’re able to put all these little bits of taste into one thing, and that’s what’s great about it being me, Keegan, and Liam when there is no script, we can just do this.

    K: Because there is sort of a Goldilocks Zone between having different tastes and having the same taste. Having the same taste means you have the same coherent vision and work towards something, and then the different tastes means you don’t have a narrow vision, or a vision that’s never challenged or improved by the other people in the group and I think we have that. And that goes to the versatility as well. Ben can write a show, and act in a show, and Liam can do the same thing, and Liam and Ben can both play different instruments, and I can act and direct, and that’s what’s great about the company.

    B: So Liam was involved in the beginning but he has his Masters [of Fine Arts] and he really wanted to put his time into that because it means a lot to him, so we just made a plan where we would all work together at the start, and then he would do his Masters, and we’d talk to him every now and again about the script as new drafts came and he would give us his feedback and it’s been great.

    A: He came in for workshops early on, to explore bits and pieces.

    K: Again, what’s good about that is the versatility. SO you have a show like Super Clean which is very Fringe, it’s all about audience interaction, and then you’ve got a show like this which is really more like Ben’s baby as a more traditional play, and then Liam’s Masters project is a 12-hour durational play where you write a song every hour. So that’s the idea of the company — basically, diversity.

     

    Did it feel a bit odd though, not having your third company member in the room with you?

    B: I’ve never felt like I’ve never had him really, because he was always open to us.

    K: I mean, that’s kind of the beast of collaboration. We know Liam incredibly well, and we know Addie and Matt [actor] well, and then we had people we cast who we don’t know well at all, so that’s just part of the beast, navigating the different layers of knowing each other.

     

    I think that’s a real testament to your company that is doesn’t have to be the three of you all the time, because, as nice as that is, sometimes in theatre that’s just not logistically possible.

    K: And the theatre companies we look up to work on a similar basis. That’s just the nature of the beast of theatre in Wellington.

     

    In terms of the future of the company, are you going to do another Fringe show? Are you going to add more permanent members to the company?

    B: I think we want people we regularly work with, for sure. And in terms of wanting to do Fringe, yes, we would like to, but it’s just always spirit of the moment. It’s based on people’s availability because Liam’s still studying, and we’re working, and all that sort of stuff, so it’s just figuring all that out. It’s really hard to plan long term.

    K: What’s kind of gorgeous about it, even though there’s all these availabilities and people you want to bring in or not bring in, if you have a good show idea and you can get people involved in that show idea and you can realise it then that’s what we go towards. It’s not about who’s available in this month. When the show is good then it usually gets people over the line and gets people to over-commit and stress themselves the hell out.

    B: I think we would only ever plan to a show if we had an idea. We’re not going to think “Oh, Fringe is coming up, we should think of something for that.” We’re not especially interested in that.

    K: Every show is different, every show is unique, and I hope that we have the right team and the right process behind Satisfied Customers because it’s a really good idea, I think.

     

    So jobs are a real thing and, as students, we have to support ourselves — theatre always tends to suck up a lot of our time. So do you guys have jobs or aim for jobs that are flexible enough for you to do theatre?

    K: The way I think about it, you just have to make time. You have to go as hard as you can, especially with something like theatre. The opportunity is just not going to present itself for you. 

    A: No, you have to drive yourself. But it is always so hard, and you just have to find time. And if that means finding a job that’s casual and you work rarely, then that’s what you’ve got to do, if you want to do it.

    K: And that’s why I’m really happy with the cast we have because not everyone has that mindset. I think we’ve got a bunch of good eggs in our carton, everyone has that mindset of “whatever it takes” — we’ve just got to find time to do it properly.

     

    Favourite colour?

    B: Purple. I really like the colour purple.

    K: Red and black — Crusaders colours.

    A: Orange! Like a mandarin orange.

    K: Oh, fucking of course mandarin orange! [Laughs]

    A: I love mandarins! Oh wait… [she then pulls out a mandarin peel from her pocket].

     

    Favourite food from the Hunter Lounge?

    A: Curly fries!

    B: Oh yeah, the curly fries are great.

    K: Pilsner.

    by

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    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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