Below is the speech I prepared celebrating the artists for Spring 2019 at Basement Theatre.
I come from a background of making work that responds to the margins chosen for me, from being classified as other, performing as other and being constantly reminded that everything I am, I do and make is other. When I look at the works in our Spring programme this year I see them as a celebration of other, a frontline fearlessness of other, a gripping of toes into the soil of other, an uprising of others, and a goddamn reclamation of ourselves.
This Spring we have Basement’s first-ever fully blown Vogue Ball thrown by Company in Residence and our favourite disruptive house of vogue witches, COVEN. This comes to us in association with a special, blossoming new flirtation between us and Tempo dance festival. As well as an evening of dance, drama and death drops with Coven, Tempo is dressed to impress with Karanga, a trans-tasman songline by Paea Leach and Vicky Forest Kapo, and a stupidly banging after-party featuring a line up of acts curated by Coven producer, Lucia Farron-Diamantis.
We welcome back Nga Rangatahi Toa with Manawa Ora this Spring, showcasing a creative ensemble of movement, music and stories devised by Auckland precious tamariki working alongside top local artists, Priya Sami, Laughton Kora and Mike and Marie Mizrahi. We welcome Suzanne Cowan’s sly and beautiful Manifesto of A Good Cripple. Directed by Dynamotion’s charismatic leader Lara Liew and designed by incredible performance artist, Sean Curham, Manifesto is a humorous look at the assumptions we carry in a collision of disability, dance and subversive dreamscapes.
We welcome back crowd favourite Prayas theatre company with their second offering of First World Problems, created by a desi-licious ensemble cast and curated by Sananda Chatterjee and we welcome another brand new crop of actors and future theatre makers from The Actor’s Program in Welcome To Thebes, a political reimagining of the world directed by Sara Brodie.
To begin with, however, from September 3rd we have a unique and special invitation to you from us and from Turongo collective with their work Ritu Alkemi – a ritual designed to awaken your inner cellular memory, mind and soul. This is a ceremony steeped in movement and incantation. It is alive, a shared experience, as if we are the subjects, and you are the provoker of cells. In a world where we see the threat of land and bodies being colonized and confiscated daily, such rituals are not only precious moments for us to stop, suspend, listen and transform together but to work collectively in order to shift the planes of power, astronomically and cell by cell.
I’ll fill you in on our studio programme in a second but first, I’d like to introduce you to our second Basement Visions artist for 2019 to talk about her work, Reclamation. Visions is our stake in the ground of the independent arts sector, signifying our commitment to backing artists and their visions, their well being and sustainability as they work to remake the world in front of us. We are so lucky to have Reclamation, brought to us in full force by the enigmatic arts collective, FAFSWAG and led by Ellyssia Willson Heti.
While our mainstage is lit up by multiple artistic fires clearing the way for the new to take hold, upstairs we have a varied selection of trouble makers, deep thinkers, poets and revellers.
Comedy best newcomer nominee Emma Newborn creates a homage to the often overlooked office administrators of the world in Coral, and Fred nominated Boy Mestizo comes back to us from the Filipino step-son of New Zealand comedy, James Roque. Phoebe Hurst is up to absolutely no good in Worm, and Fringe hit I Didn’t Invite You Here To Lecture Me give us a ruthless examination of lecturers and back-row slummers, made up of seven years of verbatim quotes from 7,000 pages of university notes, guaranteed to get you a degree in 55 minutes.
There is urgency in the air for Animal. Set on ‘James Cook Farm’ in the heart of rural Otago, this show is a modern adaptation of George Orwell’s 1945 novel ‘Animal Farm’, interwoven with verbatim stories from the everyday ritual of questioning power, meanwhile, Erin Flaherty and Rachel Longshaw Park take to the brain and its pathways to explore memory, identity, and sex in An Organ of Soft Tissue, a fresh and thought-provoking piece of new writing.
Finally we bring you an extra special performance from world-renowned Scottish poet, Harry Josephine Giles. Drone comes down under from a sellout, five-star run in Edinburgh at Summerhall in association with Pirate and Queen, the masterminds behind Lit Crawl, Wellington. Drone entangles live sound and spoken word like human and machine, environment and technology, noise and sense and yes, it involves an actual real-life Drone.
All our spring artists propose a point in their personal journey of coming to terms with their histories, their bodies, lives and artistic practice. Many propose an invitation to heal from the open wounds created through historic, patriarchal, colonial oppression and structural inequality. And others revel in the subverted land of playing by their own rules, tipping the art world upside down, ripping it up and creating their own future.
So that’s us! That’s SPRING! A chance for new seedlings to burst out of the soil! And always at Basement it starts with artists and making space for them to reshape the world live in front of us.