6 weeks in wellington working the NZ international festival of the arts seems like a long time and it was in that it's a reasonbly long stint away from the family, but workwise, it just flew by.
As always my festivals seem to start with that bloody tent (mentioned in previous posts). A weird sense of deja vu usually descends but this time was different in that they procured the services of eclectic french candian circus troupe 'Les 7 Doigts de la Main' who custom fit an acrobatic comedy show within the tight confines of said tent. The show was a hit and the performers, one in particular was a standout. The luscious Mimi who by festivals end was flirting with anyone who glanced at her sideways and paid her a compliment especially my mad pommy flatmate Simon, with whom i had the pleasure of sharing time with in a choice apartment downtown.
Simon is one of those irrepressible guys who never lets an opportunity to have a good time get in the way of work. Dude knows his shit though and it was always a blast rolling into a joint and knocking shit up or tearing it down in record time just so's we could chill back at the flat.
First show we worked on was a french opera replete with hiphop dancers in skimpy costumes and an exquisite set which included a rising corporate desk, huge maps of the world and a cockpit of charles lindberghs plane which ever so slowly arced it's way across the stage to the accompaniment of some rather atrocious german opera singing. Perhaps it wasn't atrocious and maybe i just don't have cultured ear but it wasn't dubstep eh ? We did manage to drag a couple of the dancers out for a barbie at a mates place but the languge barrier got in the way especially when you're slurring words like a drunken dero from too much beer...haha
That was followed up at the same venue in a long night of turning the theatre around to accomodate it by Shen wei dance company. Normally i'm not a fan of contemporary dance. All that flailing of arms and running round in coloured condoms just seems a bit too high art for my tastes. However with this troupe, there was a piece they did which was kinda fresh. It involved distended headed people, not unlike mayan trepanning, caked in white and wearing thick woolen garb of red and black perfoming intricate slow motion moves in solo and tandem against a nice bit of chinese inspired backdrop and on a pristine white floor. Naturally the floor was a bitch to lay as was the second one laid over and needing to be stripped at interval then restretched in preset for the subsequent show. I had a show call on this gig which involved making a plumb bob hanging from a batten by some invisible fishing line being swung ever so gently back and forth across the stage. Fucked if i know what that was about but it looked way cool
Blackwatch, a show about the legendary regiment as reported to a writer and a misplaced sense of loyalty to your country via the armed forces, focused on a stint in iraq for some dimwitted scottish wideboys expecting a bit of ol skool fightin but instead they got rather fucked up. It was staged in the events centre, ( same place as WOW)so of course it needed to be converted from a sports venue into a theatre meaning lots of hanging drapes and general fluffing around. The show was full on high energy stuff, lots of running around and shouting, some dancing, a bit of singing, lots of swearing in heavy scottish brogue and of course topped off by a bagpipe solo. Have i ever told y'all how much i love the bagpipes as an instrument...no ? thats cos i dont and never will. All in all though it was primo, solid, macho swaggering stuff indeed, complimented by my mate Gerhard, the austrian rigger who was venue manager. Outside of work and during a night off we even managed to have a decent drink and smoke up at his place til sun up. Which is how good friends should drink and smoke, like there is no tomorrow.
Giselle pronounced 'jizzle' by the elderly yet precocious texan narrator, Bill with whom i befriended via a shared appreciation of ganja and who for the course of half the show sat on a 4 meter power pole was next up on my hitlist. Staged in a converted shed on the waterfront it also played host to Blackbird, an ozzy play about a scottish paedophile reconciling with his victim in later life and directed by Cate Blanchett, yes, the cate blanchett. It sounded like heavy shit, but not as heavy as the steel decks and seating we had to install in that shitty venue and i mean quite literally shitty. Im talkin guano everywhere up in the rafters. Of course it was my job to black the place out and make it look pretty for the punters, but fuck me if all those little nicks you get on your hands didnt take forever to heal. Thanx to my amazingly robust polynesian genes i came through unscathed. Unfortunately blackbird mistimed with other work so i never got to see it. Was a bit bummed but hey, you cant see everything.
Jizzle, a satisfyingly weird blend of irish humour, line dancing and loosely based on the ballet of the same name however i did see. Over and over via a monitor backstage as i was on standby should the rope dance in the second half not fire due to miscoiling them in their preset state. It was my job to climb the truss after every show to coil them and i was pleased to say only once during the entire season did one of the 7 not fire and that was on the last night which by then i couldn't give 2 shits about as i was next door back in the events center watching the final dress of Honour Bound.
watch vid here
That was a show which given my rigging background i was jizzing for and didn't want to miss. Set in an 8 meter square steel cage and criss crossed by flying lines the show concerned itself with David Hicks, the supposed ozzy alqaeda terrorist detainee held in camp xray gitmo cuba for years without trial. Finton, seriously who would name their kid finton, the head and only rigger nailed that shows ass. As physical a performance by the talent as i've ever seen, it was complimented by some clever and inventive flying tricks and projections on the cage. Hopefully Finton will make himself available for the next wearable arts show as another mate and rigging dynamo, Nick of the sky has run off to join the circus. Cirque du soleil to be exact and good luck to him. Dude is seriously talented, confident, competent and good looking...bastard heh.
As with most festivals there is just so much going on in the periphery and all over that it creates a buzz in the town which for us as production technicians is quite energizing but ultimately short lived as at the end, whatever relationships we formed with foreign people and players we have to discard probably never to re establish again. Thats the nature of the beast. Another thing as previously mentioned is, you cant work and see everything, so what you get here is basically a condensed work history which i hope conveys some of the magic and merriment we get from doing our jobs well.
Therefore I'd like to acknowledge the management who put their faith in me and the people i work with, the stars and workers who make my life better for having known them and i only hope it's reciprocated.
peace and blessings to all involved. Catch y'all asses next time
and if you're wondering what the dirtbox is. It's the words we took the 08 spelt as DB to represent on the ugly ass crew t shirts we were * ahem* privileged to be given.