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This page will be updated regularly to include information about shows that past and present Bacchanals are involved in, as well as whatever upcoming projects we might be involved in together. Things that none of us are involved in but want to recommend simply because we like them might creep in also. Beware!

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THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE BACCHANALS IN 2015!!!!

Hi folks! As the last days of 2015 dwindle to their untimely end, here we are UPDATING THE WEBSITE (gasp! shock! horror!) to thank you all for your support in what has been a monster year for us.  First, there was our spectactular FIFTEENTH BIRTHDAY PRODUCTION of Shakespeare's Richard III in January, our first time in the new Dome in new-new-BATS Theatre!  A cast of 15 Bacchanals plus 5 children, led by artistic director David Lawrence as Dick the Shit, having such a great time that we were almost completely partied out by the end of the month and some of us had to have our appendixes out!  Then, in May/June, we were back in the Dome with a brand new (well, okay, bits of it had been kicking around for a while!) version of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, starring Salesi Le'ota in drag in the titular role (smirk/giggle!) and featuring jokes so great that ATC's production nicked some of them wholesale (you thought we wouldn't find out, bitches?).  And finally, the second biggest blockbuster of December after The Force Awakens was our FIRST EVER CHRISTMAS SHOW and out first time back on the newly-renovated/restored Propeller Stage at BATS since Other People's Wars in 2012.  A Christmas Karel Čapek featured David & Brianne building robots to counter their Christmas misanthropy, and a chorus of famous robots - did y'all see the Dalek roaming the streets of Wellington throughout December? have yer photo taken with it? how delightful that a machine of violence and hatred should bring festive joy to so many! ALSO IN DECEMBER, the brilliant Brianne Kerr won Supporting Actress of the Year at the 2015 Wellington Theatre Awards for her performance in Richard III!

It is honestly hard to imagine how we could have had a better year, unless our planned January/April/July 2016 tours of Once We Built A Tower and Romeo and Juliet had actually been funded and we could have visited numerous towns and places in numerous guises!  What happens next, you ask? a difficult question to answer, friends.  The reality is, 1. we can't survive financially doing co-op shows for no money at BATS; 2. touring a show like Once We Built A Tower costs us a minimum of $6500 a week because we can't work for free; 3. yes, we could just do smaller scale work with fewer people and therefore more economic prospects but then we'd hardly be The Bacchanals, would we?  WE HAVE SO MANY GREAT THINGS we want to do and want to show you, though, so don't let the "we're a bit over this" tone of this Upcoming Update bring you down.  The dinosaur play we've been teasing you with hints of for two years! that Paul Rothwell play about the enchanted axe! that Paul Rothwell play about the goblin! Troilus and Cressida! that play that happens inside a swimming pool! and did you just say, a musical biography of Kim Dotcom starring Michael Ness & Kirsty Bruce as Kim & Mona?!?  I would LOVE to see all of those things!  FOR NOW: keep on listening to The Mountain Goats' Beat The Champ, keep on downloading The Year of Reading Massively, three times through The Force Awakens is enough to give you all the clues you need about Rey's parentage, read yourself John Lahr's Tennessee Williams biography because it is great, and our television recommendations are obviously going to be Bojack Horseman and Jessica Jones.  And if you aren't enjoying the new series of The Muppets I just feel really, really sorry for you because it is a great time.  But as soon as you can hear a trailer being loaded in Hataitai or you suddenly smell the BATS house white, BE READY because it means The Bacchanals Will Be Back!

Update over! Everything below this line is out of date!

IT'S ALMOST DECEMBER 2015 AND OUR FIRST EVER CHRISTMAS SHOW IS ABOUT TO OPEN!!!

“Statistics tell us that over 1,001,001 New Zealanders want our theatres to put on more plays about, by and for robots,” says director David Lawrence, “but will Creative NZ listen??”  Of course not! all they care about are objectives and outcomes, like the robots they are destined to be replaced by.  So be thankful that your old pals The Bacchanals Are Back!TM and ready to punch common sense in the goolies (screw you Microsoft Word for that red underline!) by giving you what you really want for Christmas: a Christmas show featuring Christmas and robots, performed by a combination of humans and robots!  “The robots were meant to be a surprise,” laments Lawrence, “but they’re also the show’s main selling point so arghh!”

A Christmas Karel Čapek is the true story of how terrible consequences ensue when David and Brianne (played by the real life David and Brianne!) decide to overcome their shared misanthropy by building a robot to do all their human interaction and Christmas shopping for them.  Will robots take over the world and kill all the humans?  Will a human and a robot fall in unnatural love and civil union each other and a dog?  Will Santa Claus make a terrifying appearance dressed as the Norse God Odin?  You decide! (not really, there’s a script!)  “But I like it best when The Bacchanals are being political and righteous,” you groan.  “We hear you, but sometimes we just have to be silly and frivolous.  Pleeeeeease let us just have this one show!” they groan back.

A Christmas Karel Čapek is by far the cleverest name a Wellington play has had in 2015 because only about three and a half people understand the joke: Karel Čapek was the Czech playwright who, in 1920, appropriated the Czech word ‘robot’ (meaning slave) to describe mechanical men built by humans to do their bidding in his famous play RUR (Rossum’s Universal Robots).  We’re explaining this in the media release because otherwise everyone will ask us “WHAT DOES THE TITLE MEAN??” and we could be talking about so many more interesting things than that, like Creationism or the Illuminati (another red underline? you’re not fooling anyone, Bill Gates!).  A Christmas Karel Čapek is The Bacchanals’ first ever Christmas show! their third and final show for 2015! their 32nd show as a company!  Live music! Comedy! Satire! Cookery!        

A Christmas Karel Čapek stars stalwarts Kirsty Bruce, Brianne Kerr, Alex Greig, David Lawrence and Salesi Le’ota with a special guest appearance by Jean Sergent, design by the brilliant Harriet Denby, music composed by Ellie Stewart & Walter Plinge, and some other Bacchanals are involved like Aidan Weekes, Alice May Connolly, Charlotte Simmonds, Dasha Fedchuk, Hilary Penwarden, Michael Ness, Michael Trigg and Neenah Dekkers-Reihana but in ways we cannot possibly reveal to you until you see the show! 

When is it on? WEDNESDAY 2 – SATURDAY 19 DECEMBER! (the first Wednesday and Thursday are the cheap previews!)

What time?  7pm, meatbags!

How long is it?  90 minutes, possibly even less!

How do I book?  Go to www.bats.co.nz – simple as that!

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IT’S APRIL 2015 AND HERE WE ARE UPDATING THE WEBSITE AT LONG LAST!

First first first, our most belated and enduring thanks to all who saw our 15th birthday production of Richard III at BATS Theatre in January. We had a wonderful summer and a fantastic season – 92%! – and it was great to see so many of you out in force supporting us and enjoying the splendour of The Dome. Hard work making it feel like home given how new and shiny new-new-BATS is but we worked hard to break things and make the space feel like a swankier version of the Long Hall and wow were the bar happy to have us there (it was Crystal and Kiwa’s first time running the bar with The Bacchanals in the building and boy did we impress them!). Richard III was so much fun that Kirsty had to have her appendix out mid-season but we are all so mentally synchronised after so long together that Hilary was able to play Queen Elizabeth for the last four shows with little notice and no rehearsal.

A lot has happened since then! The Fringe Festival! You may have seen Joe and Carolyn and Mia and Michael Trigg in Thin; you may have caught David or Jonny or Jean or Aidan in Alice May’s show What We Talk About When We Talk About; Jean was in Timon of Athens; Aidan was in Wake Up Tomorrow; Aidan, Joe and Trigg were also in Don’t Ever Forget, and deservedly kicking arse at the Fringe awards was Jonny’s Loose: A Private History of Booze and Iggy Pop which was a terrific, terrific show. Hilary, Brianne and Alice May have just been in Uther’s Tiny Deaths and Hilary and David have also been working on Where There’s A Will, all under the roof of new-new-BATS. Ellie is in the US! Brianne has just left for the UK! Ania has just left for the UK, via the US! Hilary is about to leave for the UK! The Mountain Goats’ new album Beat The Champ is on repeat on all our iPods! But telling you what we’ve all been doing is not the purpose of this update! The purpose of this update is to tell you that we can confirm TWO NEW BACCHANALS PRODUCTIONS for 2015, with at least one more sneaking in somewhere when we work out how and where!

NUMBER ONE: LYSISTRATA PREVIEWS ON WEDNESDAY 20 MAY!

That’s right! We know a cash cow when we see one ready to be milked, and if history has proven anything it’s that Ancient Greek plays actually do us better box office than Shakespeare! But we’re being disingenuous, because we also really like doing them and who earns money doing theatre anyway?! (seriously, Richard III made $10k at the box office but that doesn’t go very far when there are 23 people in the co-op!) So, after The Frogs (2000), The Bacchae (2003) and The Clouds (2013), we are so happy to be bringing you a brand new version of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata – the last professional production of this play in Wellington was at Downstage in 1992 and lest you see a pattern, let me assure you that we aren’t in 2015 just going to rip off all the shows David enjoyed seeing in sixth form drama. Lysistrata is the timeless tale of the women of Athens banding together in the midst of the Peloponnesian War and coming up with the most audacious and perfect plan for ending international conflict forever: no more sex until men end all war!

Lysistrata will play at BATS in the Dome (or the Do-me if you prefer) and will star a slightly-depleted number of Bacchanals: Brianne Kerr! Kirsty Bruce! Ellie Stewart! Alice May Connolly! Jean Sergent! Salesi Le’ota! Alex Greig! Michael Ness! Walter Plinge! Returning to the fold after an extended absence due to having a baby is the mighty Jonny Potts! And making her Bacchanals debut is the fabulous Neenah Dekkers-Reihana, the one member of the Dekkers/Dekkers-Reihana/van Oyen family not to have been in the Richard III company. A brand new text by The Bacchanals themselves, with a song lyric or two by Paul Rothwell, some singing and dancing, and … well, let me put it this way: for a while scholars were in debate as to whether comic phalluses in ancient Greek Comedy were limp or erect; Lysistrata is the play that proves that they must have usually been limp because … well, just come and see the show. It’s a Greek comedy, so be warned!

Lysistrata! BATS Theatre! Previewing on Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 May at 8pm! Gala opening (i.e. free wine!!) on Friday 22 May at 8pm! Playing from thence until Saturday 6 June, 8pm every night except Sundays and Mondays! 85 minutes in duration (or maybe 90!), 2426 years in the making! Book now by visiting www.bats.co.nz or e-mailing book@bats.co.nz or phoning them on (04) 802-4175!

NUMBER TWO: OUR CHRISTMAS SHOW PREVIEWS ON WEDNESDAY 1 DECEMBER!

What the what?! Christmas is 8 months away but that gives you 8 months to get your heads around the long-awaited premiere of a show that has been in the Bacchanals pipeline for a long, long time and turning it into a Christmas show was the perfect solution to all its script problems. A Christmas Karel Capek is what you get if you cross Aristophanes with Charles Dickens with Isaac Asimov and make them perform a cookery show whose main dish is existential angst. Can’t tell you much more than that! but maybe when we’ve written the Guano blurb we’ll have more to say. The clue is in the title, and perhaps in that picture over there. A Christmas Karel Capek previews on Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 December (yep, after Richard III we Bacchanals believe more than ever in the necessity of a couple of decent previews before officially opening!) and then runs from Friday 3 December until Saturday 19 December. BATS Theatre, on the Propeller Stage! Start time to be confirmed, but it’ll probably be a 7pm one … You probably can’t book for it yet but we’ll let you know as soon as you can!

That’s it from us for now! But North Island, expect to have Once We Built A Tower trashing your towns just as soon as we can get a trailer and $30k. South Island, we will be back in you before long! (maybe early 2016?) Watch the skies for our signal!

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PEOPLE! WE’RE A MONTH OUT FROM OUR 15TH BIRTHDAY AND OUR 30TH SHOW! RICHARD III IS COMING TO GET YOU!

That’s right!  January 2015 is looming and that means Richard III is about to bust out of his car-park grave and bite you in the face! (or touch your heart, you choose!)  The Bacchanals are so, so, so excited to be celebrating our 15th birthday and our 30th show with Shakespeare’s brilliant history play about how a criminal can somehow dupe the whole country into voting for him despite the overwhelming evidence that he’s spying on everyone or how many times he gets caught lying!   And how happy are we to be launching the new year at new-new-BATS? the answer is very!  BATS Theatre has finally returned to its newly-refurbished home base at 1 Kent Terrace.  Much as we had a great time doing The Clouds, Gunplay and Once We Built A Tower at the temporary premises on Cuba & Dixon, we are so happy to be returning to the building that was home to Wealth and Hellbeing, Crave, The Bacchae, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hate Crimes, I.D., A Renaissance Man, No Taste Forever!, Slouching Toward Bethlehem and Other People's Wars - and for the first time ever, we'll be performing UPSTAIRS in THE DOME (that's right, new-new-BATS has not one but THREE performance spaces!). 

Depending on how you want to look at it, Richard III will be either the culmination of the past four years' hard work rebuilding The Bacchanals pretty much from scratch with a whole new ensemble and a more pronounced philosophy, OR it will be the beginning of another new exciting phase for us as we start out in a new building under new circumstances with strange and different plans for the coming years!  Which is nice, because that's where Richard III falls in the Shakespeare canon - either the last play Shakespeare wrote before the establishment of the Lord Chamberlain's Men so therefore the culmination of him establishing himself as a brilliant new playwright to pay attention to and establishing Richard Burbage as an actor who could lead a company, OR the play that launched the new company with Burbage and Shakespeare as its leading lights! 

What do we need to tell you about the story?  Nothing!  At the end of decades of war, one deformed man builds an empire with the help of his unfailingly loyal friends and overcomes his terrible posture and hideous appearance to become king of the world!  Sounds great, David - what about the story of the play? easy: at the end of decades of war, one deformed man builds an empire with the help of ... oh, I get it!  All your old favourites are back: Alex Greig makes his 26th Bacchanals appearance as the Duke of Clarence and Lord Hastings!  Salesi Le'ota makes his 13th appearance as the Duke of Buckingham!  Clocking up 11 appearances to date are Brianne Kerr as the Duchess of York and Kirsty Bruce as Queen Elizabeth!  Making her 10th Bacchanals appearance is Jean Sergent as Catesby!  On their 8th shows each are Hilary Penwarden as Tyrrel and the First Murderer and Joe Dekkers-Reihana as Lord Rivers and the Earl of Richmond!  He's been there since Othello in year one, but incredibly playing Lord Stanley will only be the 7th time Michael Ness has been onstage with us! Ellie Stewart as Queen Margaret is making her 6th (unless you count the portrait of her in All?s Well That Ends Well) appearance! All sitting on a respectable 5 each are Michael Trigg as Dorset & Brackenbury, Alice May Connolly as Lord Vaughan & the Second Murderer, and Aidan Weekes as King Edward IV, the Mayor of London, the Bishop of Ely, the Ghost of Henry VI and Sir William Brandon!  As Lord Grey and the Duke of Norfolk, Uther Dean?s tally is all over the place, having lit Other People's Wars, The Clouds and Once We Built A Tower, appearing in Gunplay but also covering for Jonny in The Clouds some nights!  Making her Bacchanals debut is Ania Upstill as Lady Anne!  Also making their Bacchanals debuts are Maddie Gillespie and Mia Van Oijers as the young princes, and Aidan Gillespie, Iris Polaschek and Olivia Moxey as the Clarence children.  Mia and Iris are the first second-generation Bacchanals - Mia is Joe's niece, and long-time Bacchanals viewers will have seen Iris' father Mark Cleary in 6 of our early shows, including a definitive Malvolio in our 2003 Twelfth Night.  And playing the title role of Dick the Shit is none other than Bacchanals artistic director David Lawrence himself!  (Don't worry, this won't be the heralding of some new Hurstian director-leading man combination - it's just that David hits an important birthday in 2015 and is therefore allowing himself one obnoxious vanity piece.) 

Richard III plays in the Dome at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, from Tuesday 13 January to Saturday 31 January at 7pm every night except Sundays & Mondays (and Wednesday 28 January).  $12 preview performances on 13 & 14 January, and then the full-price, full-season from the 15th!  Visit book@bats.co.nz to book tickets ? do it now! ? or phone (04) 8024175!  Hurry ? we promise you a winter of discontent made glorious summer ! 

 

 

NOVEMBER 2014: AN IMPORTANT UPDATE ABOUT BLUE STOCKINGS!

02/11/2014: Thanks so much to everyone who's come to see our production of Jessica Swale's fantastic play Blue Stockings at The Long Hall so far - we're having a fabulous season despite the crazy northwesterly wind wreaking havoc.  Just wanted to let you know that for THE PERFORMANCE ON SATURDAY 8 NOVEMBER we have CHANGED THE START-TIME so as not to compete with Wellington City Council's planned fireworks display.  So Saturday's show will start at SIX P.M. and not 7pm as previously advertised, and then you can all hang with us and watch the fireworks from Point Jerningham!  If you've already booked for the show that night we'll be sending you an e-mail to tell you this same news.  If you intend to try for a door sale that night, take into account that we're starting an hour earlier.  If you're not intending to see the show but were planning to come up to Point Jerningham to watch the fireworks (or let off your own) and just happened to stumble across this website, please be conscious that there'll be a show on in the hall until about 8.45pm and keep the noise down!  Hoping to see you all this week for the last six performances of Blue Stockings!

BREAKING NEWS ? ANNOUNCING THE 29TH AND 30TH BACCHANALS SHOWS!!! YES, PEOPLE ? TWO NEW THRILLING SHOWS WITH THE FIRST ONE OPENING VERY VERY SOON!

First off, a huge thank you to everyone who saw or supported the South Island tour of Once We Built A Tower ? what a glorious fortnight we had, what special shows they were and what lovely generous audiences we had.  I don?t think any Bacchanal will ever forget the reception we had from the hospitable-beyond-belief people in Kurow, birthplace of Social Security in New Zealand and central to the events of our play.  Don?t worry if you missed out ? we won?t be finished with Once We Built A Tower until everyone in the country has seen it.  Expect more performances of Once We Built A Tower in 2015 (and maybe a couple before the end of 2014 since we have a slight car-written-off-related deficit to deal to!), and South Island ? be assured You Will See Us Again.  Lock up your dogs!

BUT MORE IMMEDIATELY: We are absolutely beside ourselves with joy to be able to finally, finally tell you these cold hard facts, Bacchanals fans: The Bacchanals Will ReturnTM to a stage near you (if you live in Roseneath, very near you! watch the police raid Nicky Hager?s house during the interval if you like) on TUESDAY 28 OCTOBER at 7pm with the New Zealand premiere (!!) of Jessica Swale?s BLUE STOCKINGS.  David saw this fabulous play during its season at Shakespeare?s Globe last year and we all agreed that it would be the perfect follow-up to Once We Built A Tower in this post-election gloom. 

“A woman who expends her energy exercising the brain does so at the expense of her vital organs,” said Dr Henry Maudsley, world-renowned psychiatrist and advisor to the royal family in 1874.77, women in the rest of the British Empire were still fighting for the right to education despite matching their male peers grade for grade.  Blue Stockings tells the tale of four women studying science at Girton College, Cambridge in 1896, the year that headmistress Elizabeth Welsh convinced the University senate that women should be allowed to graduate with degrees.

We don’t really want to tell you much more about it other than to say, come and see it because it will be as great as waking up to discover September was a bad dream and Jacinda is our prime minister!  Blue Stockings stars your old pals Hilary Penwarden as Tess Moffat, Ellie Stewart as Celia Willbond, Alice May Connolly as Maeve Sullivan, Brianne Kerr as Carolyn Addison,  Aidan Weekes as Ralph Mayhew, Michael Trigg as Lloyd, Salesi Le’ota as Holmes, Jean Sergent as Elizabeth Welsh, Kirsty Bruce as Eleanor Blake, Walter Plinge as Mr Banks, Michael Ness as Dr Maudsley, and the swaggeringly handsome Joe Dekkers-Reihana as Will Bennett, and the show is directed by David Lawrence.  There will be bicycles! science! astronomy! philosophy! politics! French folk-dancing! heartbreak!

Let us give you all that information once again in a palatable form:

What is it? it’s the NZ premiere of Blue Stockings by Jessica Swale

Where is it?  The Long Hall, Point Jerningham – behind Roseneath School and St Barnabus’. 

When is it on?  11 shows only!  Tuesday 28 October – Saturday 8 November, 7pm every night except for Sunday.

How do I book for it?  Send us an email to tickets@thebacchanals.net telling us night you’d like to come and how many tickets you’d like and we’ll book you in.  The Long Hall has a very limited capacity so booking in advance is preferable.  All tickets are $15!  Also, we don’t have Eftpos or credit card facilities and there aren’t any nearby money machines, so PLEASE make sure you BRING CASH with you.  (We wouldn’t normally put it in angry capitals but some of you never made good on those All’s Well IOUs!)

Who took that gorgeous photo of Ellie?  That’d be the fabulous Douglas Chubb!

Lastly, didn’t you say something about the 29th AND 30th shows?!?  You betcha.  The second biggest event of January 2015 after Belle & Sebastian playing at Laneway will undoubtedly be The Bacchanals’ 15th birthday production of Shakespeare’s Richard III.  Do we really need to say any more than that?  Richard III!  It’s going to be amazing!!


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BREAKING NEWS - ONCE WE BUILT A TOWER IS TOURING: YES YES YES, THE BACCHANALS ARE COMING TO THE SOUTH ISLAND IN AUGUST, FRIENDS!!!

IMPORTANT TOUR UPDATES for those of you checking out this website frequently:

1. We are doing a SPECIAL FUNDRAISING PERFORMANCE of Once We Built A Tower at the Long Hall on MONDAY 18 AUGUST at 7pm! (what? Monday night? why? because Alex is in a show at Circa and it's his only night off and he's kinda important so we work to his timetable, not he to ours!)  That's right, 7pm and you can book by flicking a message to tickets@thebacchanals.net and we'll hit you right back to confirm! 

2. Monday 18 August is also the deadline for folk to contribute to our Boosted campaign - we're trying to crowdsource a bit of extra dosh so that Aidan doesn't have to sleep in the van (and so we can afford a van! or do you have a van you wanna give us? go on, give us a van, it'll be great!). This is the link: http://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/taking-dean-parker%27s-once-we-built-a-tower-to-the-south-island  Spread the word and tell your rich friends to give some of their money to us so we can give you a play for nothing!

AND HERE'S THE PROPER OFFICIAL STUFF ABOUT THE TOUR!!

Lock your whiskey cabinet and grab your guns, because your friends and ours The Bacchanals are bringing an all-new, all-improved, all-singing-all-milking production of Dean Parker’s Once We Built A Tower to the South Island!  We are SO EXCITED to be giving this play another outing, and SO EXCITED to be coming to some places that feature prominently in the story of how the 1935 Labour Government used the medical insurance scheme at the Waitaki Dam as their basis for creating a Welfare State that was once the envy of the world.  Brought to you with the wonderful support of Emerging Artists Trust Wellington, Interislander and Coffee Supreme (and hopefully several more sponsors who can't be confirmed at the time of this website update!), Once We Built A Tower will play a different town every night for a fortnight beginning Monday 25 August.  Here at Bacchanals HQ in Wellington we are stocking up on tinned beans and polypropylene, learning new songs and new lines, and you had better watch out, South Island, because this show is going to punch your heart in the face and then bear-hug you with love.  And it will be the hug of a bear stuck in a cage for years able to see the South Island from its prison and crying, “If I could only get sponsored ferry travel or afford a plane ticket to cross the Cook Strait, I’d be with you right now!  Watch how I eat your children!  Just watch!!”

This is the low-down, friends:

On MONDAY 25 AUGUST we will be in ASHBURTON at the Sinclair Centre, 74 Park Street!

On TUESDAY 26 AUGUST we will be in TIMARU (Brianne’s home town!) at the Caroline Bay Community Lounge!

On WEDNESDAY 27 AUGUST The Bacchanals will finally realise a lifelong ambition: we will be in TWIZEL (!!) at the Twizel Events Centre, 61 McKenzie Drive!

On THURSDAY 28 AUGUST we will be in TEKAPO at the Tekapo Community Hall, Aorangi Crescent!

On FRIDAY 29 AUGUST we will be in OMARAMA at the Omarama Community Centre!

On SATURDAY 30 AUGUST we will be in KUROW at the Kurow Memorial Hall – this will be a night to remember, people!

On Sunday 31 August we’ll be trying to find illegal downloads of Peter Capaldi’s first two episodes as the Doctor!

On MONDAY 1 SEPTEMBER we will be in OAMARU at the Oamaru Scottish Hall (Malcolm Murray, you are going to get the biggest hug in the world)!

On TUESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER we will be in DUNEDIN at the Otago Pioneer Women’s Memorial Association Hall, Moray Place!

On WEDNESDAY 3 SEPTEMBER we will be in GORE at the James Cumming Wing Lecture Theatre, corner of Ardwick Street and Civic Ave!

On THURSDAY 4 SEPTEMBER we will be in BALCLUTHA at the Balclutha Theatrical Society Hall, 4 George Street!

On FRIDAY 5 SEPTEMBER we will be in ROXBURGH at Miller’s Flat Hall, 1674 Teviot Road!

On SATURDAY 6 SEPTEMBER we will be in the Clyde/Alexandra area, at the Clyde Memorial Hall, corner of Fraser and Newcastle Streets!

All performances begin at 7pm!  We are very, very committed to this idea that theatre should be accessible to ALL and that you shouldn’t miss out on live performance just because you don’t live in a major city.  To that end, WE ARE NOT CHARGING ADMISSION.  (You can & probably should give us koha or a donation because god knows how we’re going to make up the balance of the $25,000 this tour is costing us.  And tell your rich friends that if they want to give money to a worthy cause, they should throw some pictures of the Queen our way!)  We want you to come on down, see a free play, have a cup of tea (or maybe a wine/beer/cider/absinthe) with us after and let us sing you songs and tell you tales of NZ local history!  This is the mightiest army of Bacchanals ever to take a show on the road (even though we’re leaving some formidable warriors at home): Alex Greig plays Gervan McMillan, Kirsty Bruce plays Ethel McMillan, Brianne Kerr plays Frances Nordmeyer, Michael Trigg plays Arnold Nordmeyer, Michael Joseph Ness plays Michael Joseph Savage, Jean Sergent plays the Medical Association, Joe Dekkers-Reihana plays Peter Fraser, Aidan Weekes plays Walter Nash, Hilary Penwarden plays the piano, Ellie Stewart plays the fiddle and David Lawrence plays the banjo, guitar, mandolin and clarinet.

Tell all your friends!  Tell your rich friends to give us money!  Tell your friends with spare rooms/spare beds in the South Island that they should let us stay with them! (we’re all house-trained; we’ll do your dishes and weed your gardens!)  Wanna loan us a van? trailer? petrol?  Do it!  Or send us an e-mail or something.  The Once We Built A Tower tour is going to be great!!

We are SO LOOKING FORWARD to seeing you all very soon!

 

 

 

And a huge thank you to all of our tour sponsors and funders thus far!

In other news FOUR (or maybe five!) Bacchanals projects for the end of 2014/start of 2015.  Most of you probably know by this stage that in JANUARY 2015 we will be at the Long Hall celebrating our FIFTEENTH BIRTHDAY with our THIRTIETH SHOW and that it is going to be the most surprising production of Richard III you'll ever be surprised by!  But there are plenty of other surprises in store, so don't let your guard down lest we jump out at you in the dark and ninja you to death with them!

FOLKS, ONCE WE BUILT A TOWER PLAYS SIX SHOWS ONLY FROM 11 MARCH 2014!

That’s right! our second show for 2014 and our 28th production (also our 14th birthday production – all these numbers are making my head explode!) will be playing at BATS from 11-15 March and you’d better come and see it.  We’re just going to cut and paste the media release below because it makes us laugh and it’s easier at this late hour than writing yet another huge blurb trying to convince you of what a good time the show will be.  Once We Built A Tower by Dean Parker is on at 7pm every night from Tuesday 11 March to Saturday 15 March AND AND AND we’re doing a SPECIAL MATINEE at 2pm on Saturday 15 March as well!  It’s going to be great fun and we’d love to see you all!  Okay, here’s the cut-and-pasted media release:

And while the wealthy and the privileged enjoyed their Festival of Arts with its splendour and budget and Dominion Post sponsorship and pro-apartheid dance shows, a group of poor unwashed actors on the fringes of the city came together to enact a tale of New Zealand political and social history.  As they sat in their dusty hall watching Chapman Tripp winner Joe Dekkers-Reihana eat cold baked beans from a can he had opened by stabbing with a knife, The Bacchanals wondered aloud, “What can we do this election year to make a difference?”  And lo, many drafts of a new play by Dean Parker were e-mailed to them, bearing the title ONCE WE BUILT A TOWER and telling the story of how, 40 years before the birth of even the oldest Bacchanals, the 1935 Labour Government took the medical scheme used by the workers who’d built the Waitaki Dam and made it the basis for creating the Welfare State.  “You mean Labour once used to be a serious proper political party?!” asked Charlotte, the youngest Bacchanal.  “I thought they were just a bunch of bland guys all named David whose only point of agreement is keeping Grant and Jacinda from winning an election?!” (for Charlotte, educated under NCEA, always ended sentences with an upward inflection.)  And some of the older Bacchanals laughed, especially Michael Joseph Ness who was named after Michael Joseph Savage, and said to Charlotte: “You may think John and Bill are hip and cool, what with their capitalism and their planking and their persecution of Kim Dotcom, but There Was A Time when no person who cared about the world they lived in could conscionably vote National.”

“There is something fundamentally wrong,” says a character in ONCE WE BUILT A TOWER, “in a land where wealth accumulates and men decay and no one raises a finger.”  It was to this end that The Bacchanals decided they wanted to tell the story of this time, because New Zealand in the late 1920s, where ONCE WE BUILT A TOWER begins, is not really all that different to New Zealand today: a country that should have enough natural resource and animal, vegetable and mineral wealth for all – and yet somehow some New Zealanders are incredibly rich while others are incredibly poor.  Some New Zealanders live in ridiculous comfort surrounded by wealth while others live in conditions that would make you think this were a third world country, not the youngest and luckiest nation in the world.  And yet it was only 70 years ago that other countries were seeing the radical reforms of the NZ Labour Government as a model the whole world should aspire to.  So what the hell, you might ask, has happened to this country since then?

Well, let us tell you by performing you a play!  I know, I know, it sounds dreary and wordy and political and like it’ll be sad grey proletariats doing angry confronting expressionist theatre but we promise it’ll be fun.  There are songs and laughs and we’ll make you a cup of tea and it’ll be like a big party in a church hall, except that it’ll be in a theatre and there won’t be a party.  You can see Bacchanals stalwarts Alex Greig as Dr Gervan McMillan, Kirsty Bruce as Ethel McMillan, Brianne Kerr as Frances Nordmeyer, Michael Ness as Michael Joseph Savage, Michael Trigg as Arnold Nordmeyer, plus Jean Sergent, Joe Dekkers-Reihana, Aidan Weekes, Hilary Penwarden, Charlotte Pleasants and Alice May Connolly in an assortment of roles and with music played by Ellie Stewart and Walter Plinge.  The Bacchanals’ director David Lawrence is very happy that Once We Built A Tower will be their third collaboration with Dean Parker (after their Muldoon-biopic Slouching Toward Bethlehem in 2011 and the adaptation of Nicky Hager’s Other People’s Wars in 2012), their 15th show at BATS Theatre, and their 28th production together, celebrating their 14th birthday! 

   

THE BACCHANALS WILL BE KICKING OFF 2014 WITH NOT ONE, BUT TWO – YES, TWO!! – INCREDIBLE NEW SHOWS!!!!

Well, what an absolutely brilliant 2013 The Bacchanals had – we don’t know what you think, but from our perspective it was the greatest year for the company since at least 2005 and probably our best year ever.  Three terrific shows we were so so so proud of and so so so glad that you all saw and supported and enjoyed – Shakespeare’s Coriolanus at the Long Hall in January, starring the mighty Alex Greig giving the performance of his life, was the perfect way to spend the summer; our new adaptation of Aristophanes’ The Clouds at BATS in April with its surprise Chorus was great fun; and we had a scarily good time again at BATS in August with 22 firearms & musical numbers in Paul Rothwell’s specially-written-for-us Gunplay/Happiness Is A Warm Gun/The Complete History of Firearms & High School Shootings.  We were thrilled at the 2013 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards to be awarded the Critics’ Wildcard award as an ensemble for Guts, Determination, Kiwi Ingenuity And Inspired Profligacy With Zero Budget; we were thrilled also to see the beautiful brilliant Joe Dekkers-Reihana win Most Promising Male Newcomer for his performance as Tullus Aufidius in Coriolanus.

To be honest, it’s going to be hard to scale such heights especially after so many months apart in the wind-down of 2013, but 2014 is an election year which always means a different focus for us and we’re so excited to announce our first two shows for the year.  Yes, you read it here first! unless you saw it on our Twitter feed, on our Facebook page, or you already knew about both these shows!

First up, we’re back at the Long Hall in January 2014 with a brand new production of one of the more obscure Shakespeare comedies, All’s Well That Ends Well!  We’re so happy to be making a return to the Long Hall after the fantastic time we had there doing Julius Caesar in 2011 and Coriolanus in 2013, and it’ll be fascinating to see how David’s recent participation in the International Actors’ Fellowship at Shakespeare’s Globe affects The Bacchanals do Shakespeare.  In All’s Well That Ends Well, the orphaned and low-born Helena turns out to be the only person in the world with the medical knowledge to cure the dying King.  As a reward for saving his life, the King grants Helena the power to marry whoever she desires, regardless of wealth and status.  But no one is prepared for the severity and ruthlessness of the seemingly-virtuous Bertram’s rejection of Helena as his royally-decreed wife …  All’s Well That Ends Well stars Hilary Penwarden as Helena, Joe Dekkers-Reihana as Bertram, Jean Sergent as the Countess of Rossillion, Salesi Le’ota as Parolles, Aidan Weekes as Lafew, Brianne Kerr as Widow Capilet, Charlotte Pleasants as Diana, Michael Ness and Alice May Connolly as the Brothers Dumaine, and your old friend Walter Plinge as the King of France.  We’ll be at the Long Hall from THURSDAY 23 JANUARY to SATURDAY 1 FEBRUARY playing at 7pm each night except Monday!  All tickets are $15; you can book by e-mailing us on tickets@thebacchanals.net and we’ll send you information on finding the Long Hall if you don’t already know where it is!

And then we’re back at BATS in March 2014 with a brand new Dean Parker (Slouching Toward Bethlehem, Other People’s Wars, Midnight in Moscow, The Tigers of Wrath) play for election year!  Remember that time NZ was highlighted by our commonwealth overloads as having “the most comprehensive and advanced welfare state in the world”?  No? (well, it was nearly a century ago.) Remember when we built a hydro-electric dam on the Waitaki River, and its medical scheme was so successful the 1935 Labour government used it as the model to introduce national welfare?  No? (well, that’s the story of this play!)  If you only see one Bacchanals multiple-character-people-in-oversized-suits-playing-musical-instruments-and-reenacting-local-history show this year, make it this one!  Once We Built A Tower will open at BATS Theatre (still on the corner of Cuba & Dixon Streets) on TUESDAY 11 MARCH – you can book now by e-mailing book@bats.co.nz or calling (04) 802-4175!  And if all goes well, we hope to continue performing Once We Built A Tower over the course of the year, because 2014 is an ELECTION YEAR and John & Bill want Three More Years so we’ll be doing what we can to spread the word of theatre-as-a-tool-for-social-reform! 

Don’t panic – there is plenty more to come from us this year.  Something old, something new, something with dinosaurs in it and a classic comedy re-gendered somewhere along the line!  Watch the clouds (the actual clouds, not those gorgeous women in Princess Leia bikinis!) for our bat-signal, grab your capes and utility belts (because we always need help rigging the banner!) and you’ll always find us in some abandoned warehouse punching the tights-wearing villains and then speeding off into the night in our SUVs.  Come and help us make this the best 2014 ever!

WARNING! everything below this sentence is old and out of date, but you might enjoy some of the pretty pictures and crazy rants!

THANKS EVERYONE FOR SUPPORTING THE BACCHANALS IN 2013!!!

 

Okay, there are still a few months of 2013 to go, but we’re taking a wee break while David does some stuff in some other countries for a bit and everyone recharges their batteries so we can take 2014 by the scruff of its scruffy neck and wrestle it to the ground. We’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for supporting us this year, certainly our favourite year of operation since the glory days of 2005 and possibly our favourite year ever! The current incarnation of The Bacchanals is fighting fit, full of anger and passion and determined to save the world, like some theatrical version of a not-wholly-effective Matt Smith regenerated into a wonderful, scary Peter Capaldi, except you won’t have to wait so long to see us in action.

 

We began 2013 with a new production of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus which played a sell-out season over January/February at the Long Hall in Roseneath and what a show it was. With a 1920s Americana setting inspired by the paintings of Grant Wood, Coriolanus featured Alex Greig giving the performance of his life thus far as Caius Martius and a huge expressionist chorus. It was a stunning summer, a fabulous venue and the show was the apotheosis of the stripped-down lights-on shabby community hall aesthetic we’ve been working towards since 2011’s Slouching Toward Bethlehem.

We were back in April with our first show in the new temporary BATS on the corner of Cuba and Dixon Streets and our official thirteenth birthday production, a new version of Aristophanes’ The Clouds. It starred Salesi Le’ota as Socrates, Julia Harrison as Pheidippides and David Lawrence as Strepsiades but with a surprise chorus of Clouds in Princess Leia bikinis (thanks reviewers for keeping the surprise a secret!), some audience plants, a giant dinosaur in the third act and a cameo by Alex as Zeus in the last few minutes.

 

Finally, August saw our third show for the year, the long-awaited premiere of Gunplay, or Happiness is a Warm Gun, or The Complete History of Firearms & High School Shootings, a project we’ve been talking about for a long time but had no real firm plans for until Paul Rothwell came up with a story idea mid-Clouds and promptly wrote us something to begin rehearsing. An ensemble of 16 Bacchanals with 22 guns played the US-town of Fairview at BATS and what a ridiculous, fun, disturbing time we had.

 

We’d love to sneak one more thing in before 2013 passes but the chances are slim, unless David can somehow bash something out for a Christmas show during his travels. We hope you’ve enjoyed your times with us this year as much as we’ve enjoyed performing for y’all. What’s happening in 2014, you ask? A CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT PLEASE. But otherwise: how would you feel if we took to the road at the start of 2014 with a new production of Pericles which came to your small town for a night? (you’d love it you say? then give us money so it can happen!) And you’d like a topical election play about how the National Party don’t have our best interests at heart and why even though the Labour Party have long-since lost their way, their fundamental core is still where we should be going as a country? Well, have we got just the thing for that: Dean Parker’s new play Once We Built A Tower is about the building of the Waitaki Dam and the election of 1935 but could really be about everything that’s going on in New Zealand right now. Also in the pipeline is a play about global warming and climate change, possibly performed by dinosaurs, and David’s new play Dead Baby! which isn’t about dead babies at all. Thanks for supporting us in 2013, people – make sure you drink milk, eat bananas, stroke a cat, hug a tree, plant a bomb, watch Treme, and have an earthquake kit ready. We can’t wait to see you again!

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OUR 2013 SEASON(S) IS/ARE ALREADY UNDERWAY!!!!


Wasn't it a brilliant summer, everyone?  It's as though Dionysus himself were overseeing the weather personally to ensure he is suitably worshipped in sun and high temperatures.  The Bacchanals seem to have spent just as much time at the beach and gorging on wine and food as they have putting on shows this summer, and you all know that we put a LOT of time into the two shows that've just been on.  Seriously, January was one of the most magical, wonderful months in the whole history of The Bacchanals.  Leaving aside the fabulous time we had doing Coriolanus, there was also the extended visit home of the wonderful James Stewart (who has been living in New York since 2007) and his beautiful husband Will and their Christchurch wedding at the start of the month.  We were also SO happy to have Eve Middleton here for a very brief visit from Bristol, and to welcome David's wee nephew Jackson Speirs into the world.  A little young to play Young Martius, but give him until he's walking/talking, and such roles as Young Macduff, Fleance, William Page and Arthur in King John await him! (just kidding, we'd never do boring old King John - what a rubbish play that one is!) There was also a brief visit home in March from the wonderful Josh and Mia Judkins who left us a long time ago for the US. And then we were back into it again with The Clouds which was written and rehearsed in record time, and it won't stop there — we have more stuff on the way!  

OUR THIRD SHOW FOR 2013 IS ON THE WAY, FOLKS!!!!

Yes, faithful viewers, the rumours are true true true!  Like a flesh-hungry zombie who just won’t die, The Bacchanals are back again to eat your brains with our third show for the year!  We’ve been hard at work secretly writing and rehearsing and trying to arrange group discounts to firing ranges, all so we can bring you a new piece of theatre in August.  Entitled GUNPLAY or HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN or THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF FIREARMS & HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, our 26th show will explore that most hallowed of American traditions: the mass shooting.

 Ever since John Billington became the colony’s first murderer in 1630, guns have played a vital role in America’s national and international identity, with the country seemingly pulling out the stops to ensure that each new gun massacre is bigger and better than the last.  “Here we go,” you sigh, “it’ll be David and his left wing hippie friends propagandizing their naive liberal agenda, and besides we all know that guns are stupid and that gun control is a no-brainer, so why are you making a show about it, especially when you know how the editor of Theatreview feels about American accents in NZ plays???”  You may be right to ask such questions, but we feel that the subject is a mine of fascinating historical information, amazing stories and far more complicated social issues than just “guns are stupid and gun control is a no-brainer”.  Set in the close-knit community of Freeview, Gunplay will be a hilarious, horrifying, heart-warming journey as the sole survivor of the slaughter of a cheerleading squad turns her tragedy into triumph! (yeah, and you said there’d be a hula-hoop battle in The Clouds, so we all know not to trust you guys anymore!)

Gunplay plays at BATS Theatre in their temporary premises on the corner of Cuba Street and Dixon Street for FIVE NIGHTS ONLY! from Tuesday 20 August to Saturday 24 August at 8pm.  Go on, book now at book@bats.co.nz – the sooner the season books out, the sooner we can pressure management into letting us schedule extra shows!  Gunplay stars your old friends Alex Greig as Jeff Fuller, Salesi Le’ota as the Narrator, Jean Sergent as Dawn Cooley, Jonny Potts as Chuck Larrimore, Julia Harrison as Georgette Drotz, Kirsty Bruce as Mallory Gilmore, Brianne Kerr as Kara Bowman, Hilary Penwarden as cheerleader Savannah Cooley, Joe Dekkers-Reihana as Cody Garcia and Walter Plinge as Beau Babbitt.  Also returning to the Bacchanals fold are Michael Ness as Sheriff Dale Campbell, Ellie Stewart as Skyler McClain and Michael Trigg as Noah Schwartz.  And making their onstage debuts with us are the wonderful Uther Dean as Melvin Campbell, the brilliant Alice May Connolly as three-time state rifle shooting champion Gracie-Luellen Peed and the we've-run-out-of-superlatives Aidan Michael Weekes as Connor McClain!  Gunplay has been specially created for The Bacchanals by Morgan Rothwell (rumour is he may appear in the spectacular opening dance sequence as a giant bear!) and will be directed ("directed!") by David Lawrence.

“When will people learn semi-automatic weapons are not for killing people?  They are for collecting and storing in the unlikely event that the government turns against us and civilians need to take control back for our own protection!”

Looking forward to seeing y’all in August!



THANKS EVERYONE FOR SEEING THE CLOUDS!!!
In April we presented our twenty-fifth (!) show, a brand new version of Aristophanes’ The Clouds © The BacchanalsThe Clouds, to celebrate our 13th birthday, and what a celebration it was! A new text, prepared from scratch by David with some song lyrics from Morgan and joke improvement by Jonny, featuring a beautiful Chorus decked out in Princess Leia bikinis (the realisation of a long-held theatrical dream dating back to 2004’s Romeo and Juliet), a gigantic dinosaur (another long-held theatrical dream realised!), and all sorts of other fabulous hilarious stuff. Alas, health and safety prohibited us from having Alex crash through the ceiling at the end as Zeus, but hey, his eleventh hour entrance was still applauded most nights by audiences long-since convinced that Alex was on the bench for this one. It was great for us to perform in the new temporary BATS space in the centre of town and what fantastic support we had from audiences – so full that we had to bung in an extra late night show at the end of the season! The Clouds starred the brilliant Salesi Le’otaas Socrates, stalwart Bacchanal Julia Harrison as Pheidippides and, in a pretty astonishing display of ego-driven directing, producing, composing, writing and playing the banjo, David Lawrence as Strepsiades. The Chorus were the wonderful Jean Sergent, Brianne Kerr, Hilary Penwarden, Joe Dekkers-Reihana, Ellie Stewart and Charlotte Pleasants, and Ellie also played Wrong in the agon, with Morgan Rothwell playing opposite her as Right. Planted in the audience were Jonny Potts as Statler and Kirsty Bruce as Waldorf, and in the final act Jean, Hilary and Joe played the creditors and Morgan played the dinosaur. And yeah, Alex Greig arrived at the very end as Zeus. We were lit by Uther Dean who also covered for Jonny one night, and on some nights the super William O’Neil covered for Joe as a Cloud, for Kirsty as Waldorf and for Jonny as Statler. Thank you SO MUCH everyone who came to support The Clouds – in some ways it was a classic Bacchanals show but on the other hand it seemed another step in this new politically-aggressive direction for the company where we actually talk about what’s going on rather than hide behind analogy. Expect more of this sort of stuff in the future, guys!

THANKS EVERYONE FOR SEEING CORIOLANUS!!!
In January we presented our twenty-fourth (!) show and our twelfth (!) Shakespeare, Coriolanus.  Never has David been so happy at being proved wrong about a play that he once proudly proclaimed to be his least favourite Shakespeare.  Give someone Coriolanus © The Bacchanalsfifteen years to mature and want different things from the world and bang, there's Caius Martius kicking down your door and demanding to be shown some blood-soaked respect!  It feels dangerous, nay hubristic even, to rave about how good Coriolanus was but I think all the long-term Bacchanals agree that a) it's been a long time since we've had that good a show, and b) we seem to be well on the way to narrowing in on what makes a great Bacchanals show, and to refining the new model for the company begun in 2011 with No Taste Forever!  Coriolanus felt in tone and style like the natural progression from Slouching Toward Bethlehem and Other People's Wars and hey, self-analysis aside, we just had such a fantastic month together that who really cares about dramatic strategy/theory?  We had such a lovely time at The Long Hall (thank you Jennifer and the other trustees for having us!) and were amazed by ten perfect days of sunshine and high temperatures - and also by huge, supportive audiences and some fantastic media attention (did you hear David and Jean on Upbeat on Concert FM? or Kim Hill talking to David about the show? good times!).  We shouldn't say such things out loud, but late at night after one show David proclaimed, "Guys, I think I want to try touring again next summer!" and Alex answered, "When you've got the right group of people, why the hell not?" which we take as an endorsement/agreement.  Jean was already pitching costume ideas on Twitter for her desired role a day later.  Tour what play, you ask?  Shhh, it's a secret!  But it involves incest, assassins, tournaments, a shipwreck, pirates, brothels and then a magical happy ending in a temple of virgins, if that tells you anything!  January/February 2014, folks! (oh, if you give us $40K that's be a help too!)  

So there you have it, faithful viewers – not one but TWO Bacchanals shows already in 2013! Who knows what else the year will have in store? Well, we hope very soon to be able to announce dates and a venue for a new show called GUNPLAY (or) Happiness is a Warm Gun (or) The Complete History of Firearms & High School Shootings, because we all know that video games killed all those kids and that armed guards in all American schools is the answer to everything!  We want to get this show up in August and can't really tell you too much about it except that there'll be lots of educational facts and figures, a robot (yes, a robot!), some scary songs and a maybe a chorus of dead cheerleaders!  Keep checking back here with us for more information as we have it!  Or follow us on BookFace, WordStamp or Tweeter for the latest updates!  Let's make this the best 1716 ever! (seriously, google Phantom Time.)

 

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That's right, folks, The Bacchanals are back celebrating our 12th birthday with our 23rd show! Our production of Dean Parker's adaptation of Nicky Hager's book Other People's Wars runs for a strictly-limited season (oh, the clichés!) from Tuesday 17 April to Saturday 28 April, 8pm, BATS Theatre, Wellington! Don't bother reading the rest of this — call (04) 802-4175 now, or hit this hyperlink right here: book@bats.co.nz. Go on!

As the back of the book says, the so-called 'War On Terror' (those are David's sarcastic quotation marks!) has been the longest foreign war in NZ history, and yet most New Zealanders know absolutely nothing about our role in it. Since 9/11 the NZ military have successfully duped both the government and the public as to the true nature of our involvement in America's illegal invasion of Afghanistan, hiding behind bogus claims of 'peacekeeping' and Other People's War © The Bacchanals 'humanitarian aid'. Yes, there was indeed some peacekeeping going on and humanitarian aid provided, but that was a footnote to our actual role supporting and aiding the US forces as they devastated a country they already knew Osama bin Laden wasn't in, and where all the terrorists they were dedicated to wiping out were US-financed in the first place.

Our smiling Prime Minster, John Key, claims that Hager's book is "a work of fiction" but coming from a man whose favourite author is John Grisham, I don't know that his grasp of fact versus fiction is that great. The fact is, John, throughout history the NZ military have answered whenever America has called, regardless of public opinion, morality or even the express commands of government.

Does that sound heavy-going and full-on? It won't be, promise! Yes, it'll be angry leftie propaganda from a bunch of hippie greenie actors led by their politically naive director who thinks we should all just get along, but it'll hopefully be lots of fun too! Other People's Wars stars Bacchanals regulars Alex Greig, Jonny Potts, Brianne Kerr, Kirsty Bruce, with Blair Everson, Diana Aurisch, Hilary Penwarden, Paul Waggott and Joe Dekkers-Reihana as Willie Apiata, and heralds the long-awaited return of Julia Harrison to The Bacchanals (last seen in front of the red banner playing one half of the title in 2004's Romeo and Juliet, 8 years and 12 Bacchanals shows ago!) with technical/frock/stage managerial support from William O'Neil, Uther Dean, Charlotte Simmonds and the much-loved Salesi Le'ota, and the thing is directed by David Lawrence (why won't he just die?). Expect to see Boxie, Red Banner, the Hedda Gabler Table, Those Same Old Chairs and all your old friends. If 2011 was the year of suits and ties, this year it's all gonna be about camouflage pants and switchable military hats! (yes indeed, if you've been following the blog you'll know Coriolanus is still holding firm as leading contender for this year's Shakespeare, now that we've confirmed the Ralph Fiennes film hasn't used up all our good ideas!) Other People's Wars opens on Tuesday. Don't miss it — you need to know the truth about this stuff, people!

 

What a great Year of the Cat 2011 was for The Bacchanals!

First and foremost, HUGE HUGE thanks to everyone who supported The Bacchanals in any way in 2011, be it as an audience member, performer, venue, reviewer, journalist, angry columnist in the Dominion Post ... we've had a fantastic Eleventh Birthday Year and Year of the Cat, and we couldn't have done it without you! Who would have thought that, after several years in the wilderness, The Bacchanals would suddenly return to form with THREE shows in one year, a feat last managed in 2005!? (which was in fact the last time we did more than ONE show in a year!)

January saw our official Eleventh Birthday Production kick off the theatrical year at BATS — the long-awaited premiere of Paul Rothwell's No Taste Forever!, an epic show featuring a huge cast of characters, a chorus of evil dancing vegetables, and a giant food fight at the end as the Humans battle the Food People in a bid to control the future of the planet. We had a luxurious ten days in the theatre before opening night to build, rig lights, paint walls, sew tablecloths, make costumes, decorate the space and rehearse — great times. To work on a show that involved so many people working so many long hours and knowing there'd still be 100 incomplete tasks come opening night was really inspiring and exciting, and we scored a Straight Royal Flush, which is when a company drinks in the theatre bar EVERY NIGHT without fail during a long season. No Taste Forever! starred stalwart Alex Greig with a beard as Dr Malcolm Sweet, saw the returns of Jonny Potts in a fat-suit playing the morbidly obese Galen Widders and Salesi Le'ota as Petrus Niekirk, and also featured Brianne Kerr as Malcolm's wife No Taste Forever © The Bacchanals Audrey, Michael Trigg as their crutch-laden-bodybuilding son Daryl, Annaliese Booth as his obsessive-compulsive friend Sonya Chow, Alisha Tyson as their allergy-prone American friend Jenna-Lynn, Helen Sims as the proverbial BATS dead baby, this time called Baby Emma, Jackson Coe as Cin-Cin the psychopathic waiter, Kirsty Bruce as over-skinny Fliss McSkimmings, Jean Sergent as her steak-eating lesbian scientist daughter Dr Nikita McSkimmings, Rose Guise as undercover animal rights activist Gretchen Fletcher, Jess Aaltonen playing a human chocolate bar as Ms Snickers, Andrew Goddard as Senor Corncob, Morgan Rothwell as Ms Lettuce, and Kimberley Stott and Julian Kris Sakarai as an assorted group of messengers, attendants and food items. No Taste Forever! also boasted the largest behind-the-scenes contingent on a Bacchanals show since The Bacchae back in 2003 — as well as producer Fiona McNamara and production manager Kate Middleton-Olliver, we had frocks by Josephine Hall, technical design by Walter Plinge, Alex made a bunch of exploders and droppers and ash machines and stuff, William O'Neil operated all the lighting and sound stuff, we had Jasmin Cummings as an ASM-intern collecting all the food for us each night (and hey, we had lots of food sponsorship as well!), and a BIG shout-out to the magnificent and much-missed Hannah Nielsen-Jones who took on the maddest stage management challenge in the world, and won! Thanks so much for a great summer, guys.

February saw Alex appearing alongside Allan Henry and Rachel More in The Hooligan and the Lady while David and Kirsty were in Love In The Time Of Vampires and mid-naughties Bacchanals Kate Fitzroy and Julia Harrison performed Kate's play Diamond Dogs, all at BATS during the Fringe. Allan and Rachel also got married in April (could we claim their romance blossomed during A Renaissance Man in 2008? that show certainly gave them ample hang-out time, even if it wasn't 'til their next show together that stuff happened!). Alex appeared at BATS again in April in Fuddy Meers, and just before Jonny jetted off to the UK for a bit with the lovely Anna, his play Skoolnite premiered in the Pit, starring himself. May saw the first round of James Nokise's Public Service Announcements, which started out as a play and then became a weekly late-night political satire with a revolving cast and a new script every second Friday for the second half of 2011, directed by Rachel and with a cast that included Alex as Bill English, Allan as Winston Peters, David ("the Al Pacino of late night political satire," claimed the playwright, even if John Smythe kept complaining that we weren't doing proper impersonations) as John Key, Salesi as Pita Sharples and Hilda Harawira, and Phil as the ghost of David Lange. The lovely Tony Hopkins even played Nelson Mandela a couple of times during the run. Rachel also directed Alex and Brianne in McKenzie Country at BATS in June. In fact, Alex didn't really leave BATS for the whole of the year, also appearing in The Engine Room with Erin Banks in October. Was it in June that Jonny's 48-Hour Film TeaJerker did really well and won lots of awards? I think it was! Alex somehow found time to star as the, erm, title character. Somewhere around then, David Goldthorpe produced the premiere of Gavin McGibbon's play Hamlet Dies At The End at BATS — Gavin is perhaps our favourite NZ playwright even though we've never staged any of his plays! In July David, Salesi and Hannah wrote and performed Half an Hour in Heaven Before the Devil Knows You're Dead in the Pit which was GREAT fun; you should've seen it! It had really funny jokes and a Mountain Goats song. In August Jackson left NZ to study method acting in New York where he's been hanging out with the much-missed James Stewart and in September Hannah and John returned to the US after a year with us in NZ. And in October David Goldthorpe's solo show about Chet Baker, Like Someone In Love, played its first Australian season at the Butterfly Club in Melbourne, an amazing venue The Bacchanals hope to play one day!

September saw the second Bacchanals show of 2011 with the premiere of Dean Parker's Slouching Toward Bethlehem, an epic expressionist 40-character bio-play of the salaciously-labelled "most evil prime minister ever" Sir Robert Muldoon. Starring Phil Grieve giving the performance of his life (thus far!) as Muldoon, Slouching Toward Bethlehem also featured Brianne as Thea Muldoon, Jean as Muldoon's grandmother Jerusha, Kirsty as Muldoon's mother Amie, daughter Barbara and as Lady Norma Holyoake, Alex as George Gair, Jonny as Brian Talboys and Brian Edwards, Salesi as Hugh Templeton, Andrew as Jack Marshall, William as Jim McLay, and joining The Bacchanals for the first time were Elle Wootton as Frank Gill and Slouching Toward Bethlehem © The Bacchanals Dasha Fedchuk as Colin McLachlan. The eleven of them also played dozens of other politicians, passers-by, mental hospital patients, protestors and everything else you need in an agit-prop piece of political theatre. Directed by David, Slouching Toward Bethlehem seemed like a proper return to all the values and ideals The Bacchanals have always held dear and seems like one of our best shows ever. Packed houses every night at BATS, continued controversy in the media throughout the run, actual people who factored in events the play is about in the audience each night ... we had a brilliant, brilliant time and thanks so much to everyone who made it happen! Wonderful to see the mighty Tina Helm in the audience on the penultimate night of the run, down from Auckland — and we should add that back at the start of the year it was equally wonderful to have Eve Middleton and Will Earl both back in NZ for a bit. And we've even had a couple of e-mails from John Porter this year!!! The Bacchanals off-shoot pub quiz team he started back in 2002 still play every Monday night, although David, Phil and Michael Ness are the only remnants of a Bacchanals-representation on that team. Two more points in the last week and they would have scored a ten-consecutive-weeks-in-first-place this winter!

Julias Caesar © The Bacchanals We had a fortnight off after Slouching Toward Bethlehem wrapped, and then began it all again with Julius Caesar, another back-to-absolute-basics Bacchanals show, this time touring church halls and community centres to tiny crowds like the good ol' days where we had absolutely nothing in terms of resource, reputation or popularity. For the most part Julius Caesar played to small audiences comprised of the general public, with little in the way of the in-crowd or people who'd heard of us — great fun! Paekakariki was nice, Makara was great, Lyall Bay was super, the Tararua Tramping Club a bit weird, Island Bay good fun, Newtown strange, Hataitai brilliant, The Long Hall in Roseneath fascinating, Khandallah good fun, election night in Brooklyn great, and performing in the Pit (the most relevant theatre space in Wellington — you all know it's true!) was bizarre beyond belief. This time Phil played Caesar, Brianne played Calphurnia, Alex played Brutus, Jonny played Mark Antony, Salesi played Casca, Andrew played Octavius, Elle played Portia, Kirsty played Decius Brutus, Jean played Metellus Cimber, Dasha played Lucius, William played Cinna, David played Cassius and we were joined also by Benjamin Haddock (who played Falstaff in David's Summer Shakespeare production of The Merry Wives of Windsor in 2010) as Trebonius. Much as we'd vaingloriously hoped to influence the election result, it was not to be and we're stuck with three more years of National, but at least we made a stand!

And then it was awards season! Ah, the amusement of awards. We realised our relationship with such things is very simple: they're stupid and irrelevant and mean nothing when we're being overlooked, but they're important and great when we're winning them! (same as reviews!) The Bacchanals cleaned up at the Chapman Kips (the People's Choice awards), with the cast of Slouching Toward Bethlehem winning the Best Ensemble Of The Year award, Phil and Jean winning the Best Dancing In A Play Of The Year award for Muldoon & Mickey Mouse in Slouching Toward Bethlehem, Jean winning the Best Actress Playing A Feisty Socialist 1930s Grandmother In A Play About Robert Muldoon Of The Year award for Slouching Toward Bethlehem, Hannah winning Best Stage Manager Of The Year for No Taste Forever! , Phil winning Best Actor Playing A Political Figure In An Election Year for Slouching Toward Bethlehem, and Alex winning the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award, which considering he'd been in about 11 shows at BATS in 10 months seemed fairly apt (if there'd been a runner-up it should have been William who managed the impressive feat of being in Skoolnite in the Pit while also operating Fuddy Meers in the theatre itself at the same time — he operated probably as many shows as Alex acted in this year). Salesi also won Best Pash Of The Year for Public Service Announcements. Two nights later it was the Chapman Tripps (the lawyers'/reviewers' choice awards) at the Opera House. Winning the award for most pointlessly-overlong Chapman Tripps ever and biggest rip-off in terms of ticket price to amount of food ratio was this year's Chapman Tripps themselves (well, not quite true — 1996's ceremony was longer but not by that much). Dean Parker won the award for Outstanding New NZ Play for Slouching Toward Bethlehem and Phil won an Outstanding Performance Accolade for Slouching Toward Bethlehem. Alex was nominated in the same category for The Engine Room and David was nominated for Director of the Year, but alas, no win for either of us this year. But very good to see our friends Tawata Productions clean up — for a company that's essentially a bunch of white kids and a Tongan, we have much more affinity with Tawata than we do Circa or Downstage. You show me a brown play that's about middle class people moaning in their living rooms about how unfulfilled their relationships are!

Things are happening in 2012, it's true! So many things! And we want to tell you about them here on this 'site because they will be important and great!

You Be The Angel I Be The Ghost © The Bacchanals You Be The Angel, I Be The Ghost

You Be The Angel I Be The Ghost is a new play by Paul Rothwell which premieres at BATS Theatre on February 8 at 8pm (click on book@bats.co.nz and book now, go on!). Best described as what might happen if Paul tried to write a Charlotte Simmonds play, You Be The Angel I Be The Ghost is a metatheatrical look at what's real, what isn't, whether plays are the work of writers or are in fact the dreams of their characters ... oh, it's all too weird to try and explain, but it has an angel with an assault rifle which is the next best thing to dancing vegetables or homicidal robots. It stars Elle Wootton, Alex Greig and Morgan Rothwell and is directed by David. Five nights only, so book now! Hurry!





The No Nonsense Parenting Show © The Bacchanals The No Nonsense Parenting Show

At last, the long-awaited solo show by Jonny Potts that promises to put a bullet in the head of self-appointed self-help experts. The No Nonsense Parenting Show will highlight hypocrisies in New Zealand culture, conservative/ baby boomer-focused biases in our media and the dog whistle tactics of 'politically incorrect' panderers like Nigel Latta, talkback radio hosts and newspaper columnists. It runs at the Fringe Bar (corner of Cuba and Vivian Streets) from Wednesday 29 February — Saturday 3 March at 8pm. You all know what a great actor Jonny is, but some of you may not have seen his stand-up yet and he's been kicking arse at it in 2011 so this is your chance to see it in a scripted theatrical format. Hurry hurry hurry!





Other People's Wars

Other People's Wars © The Bacchanals Nicky Hager's new book Other People's Wars: New Zealand in Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terror was published in September and has caused much controversy — our prime minister dismissed it as a work of fiction (which given his favourite author is John Grisham says a lot!). It looks at what's really been going on in the Middle East since 9/11 and what NZ doesn't know about the real level of our involvement in America's war — what the public was told our troops were doing ('peacekeeping', 'working with the UN') and what our troops have actually been doing ('shooting civilians' looks a little patronising in inverted commas, not to mention simplistic). It also exposes the internal politics that helped our navy and air force manipulate the government into ditching their plan to pour the bulk of defence resources into the army and just why senior military officials were so keen to have us join America's illegal invasion of Iraq (just look at David's angry language choices there! As you read this, men in balaclavas are about to smash in his front door!). Anyway, in April 2012, The Bacchanals will present Dean Parker's stage adaptation of Nicky Hager's book at BATS Theatre. Tuesday 17 April — Saturday 29 April, 2012, 8pmbook@bats.co.nz and keep checking back here for updated information on cast and other exciting stuff!

And much much more!

That's right — we're still in the process of finalising the rest of our 2012 activity, but there'll be plenty! Expect another touring Shakespeare — if you're a regular reader of our hugely exciting and interesting 'blog you'll have seen that the prospective Shakespeares for 2012 are playing off against each other and at the time of writing this, the semi-finalists are All's Well That Ends Well, Troilus and Cressida, Timon of Athens and Antony and Cleopatra, with four plays still to compete against each other. Will Pericles beat Cymbeline to a place in the semi-final? And will there be a victor in the highly-anticipated battle between Much Ado About Nothing and The Merchant of Venice, or will they tie as Timon of Athens did with Antony and Cleopatra? Anyway: the Shakespeares are currently in play-off and we expect to finalise a play in the next month or so.

Also: a non-Shakespeare church hall/community centre tour of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest which we can't say much about, except the boys will play girls and the girls boys! Phil as Lady Bracknell, Alex and Salesi as Cecily and Gwendolen, perhaps? It'll work, trust me! Good old Rossum's Universal Robots is back on the menu — expressionist epic with robots in it! We like the thought of Charlotte Simmonds' new play Making Out With Jon Toogood as an anti-Young and Hungry piece. Not quite sure what happened to the cookery show in which David prepares and cooks a curry each night in the Pit, but instead how about a new version of Aristophanes' The Clouds, the play that explains why universities are evil and a pointless waste of money? Expect this to be a low-key three-hander full of immediate satire and political comment. But seriously, other stuff is gonna happen in 2012 — if the Mayans were right then it's our last chance! Keep reading here, keep checking the 'blog, follow us on Twitter if that's your social media of choice, and we're even on BookWank or MyFace or whatever it's called. Put on your chucks (any colour'll do), feed your cats and hit the streets, and we'll be there fighting the good fight, or at least sitting aloofly in the corner with a whiskey explaining why the fight could never have been won in the first place.

Julius Caesar opens this week!

Julias Caesar © The Bacchanals That's right! After the full-on set/costume/prop extravaganza that was No Taste Forever! in January, and the Poor Theatre-agit prop piece of NZ history that was Slouching Toward Bethlehem in September, it's time for the third and final Bacchanals show of 2011, our eleventh birthday year! So no frills-Poor Theatre that it makes Slouching Toward Bethlehem look like a central city piece of prime real estate getting a $90,000 taxpayer bail-out, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar will hit spaces in and around Wellington THIS NOVEMBER with all the excitement and momentum of a thing you didn't realise was suddenly happening turning up down the road from your house!

It's election time in NZ in case you weren't aware, and we thought it'd be nice to remind the country's public that really, nothing much has changed in 2000 years. Julius Caesar is Shakespeare's classic tale of how a homeless man living in the central city predicts that a politician will be stabbed in the back by his closest friends, right after an important victory at an international sporting event and a massive earthquake! Timely and precognizant? Don't be silly — the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings, destined to repeat the same patterns throughout the history of humanity!

Rather than announce all the dates and venues when everything's confirmed, we thought we'd better get on with it and tell you stuff now since the first show is not far away (we'll update this as we go) but for now mark these dates, times and places:

On SATURDAY 12 NOVEMBER we'll be at St Peter's Hall, Paekakariki at 7pm!

On MONDAY 14 NOVEMBER we'll be at the Makara Community Hall at 7pm!

On WEDNESDAY 16 NOVEMBER we'll be at St Jude's, Lyall Bay (behind the church on Freyberg Street) at 7pm!

On FRIDAY 18 NOVEMBER we'll be rocking hard at the good ol' Tararua Tramping Clubrooms, Mount Victoria (on Moncrieff Street, just up from the Courtenay Place bottlestore) at 7pm!

On SATURDAY 19 NOVEMBER we'll be at Island Bay Community Centre at 7pm!

On MONDAY 21 NOVEMBER we'll be at the Newtown Community Centre at 7pm!

On TUESDAY 22 NOVEMBER we'll be at the Hataitai Bowling Club at 7pm!

On WEDNESDAY 23 NOVEMBER we'll be at the The Long Hall, Roseneath at 7pm!

On FRIDAY 25 NOVEMBER we'll be at the Khandallah Town Hall at 7pm!

On SATURDAY 26 NOVEMBER we'll be at the Vogelmorn Hall, Brooklyn at 7pm!

On MONDAY 28 NOVEMBER we'll be at the The Pit at BATS Theatre at 7pm!

Expect announcements soon about performances in Petone, and anywhere else we can think of! (and hey, want us to do a show in your living room? Send us an e-mail and we'll do it!)

All performances are FREE/KOHA — don't think of this as some arduous sitting down enduring a play crap; think of it as an evening in your living room in which some folk perform a wee play for you while you drink a beer/sip a tea/smoke a cigar. Put some money in a hat at the end so we can pay for the venue and give everyone change for the bus home. Let's put an end to this 'entitled artists' bullshit and rip-and-run instead. Julius Caesar'll be some folk in a room sharing a story. And if you want to wear your jandals or bring your dog, you rock that shit out and we be down with it.

Tell your friends! It'll be great. Julius Caesar, with Alex Greig as Brutus, Jonny Potts as Antony, Phil Grieve as Caesar, Salesi Le'ota as Casca, Brianne Kerr as Calphurnia, Elle Wootton as Portia, Jean Sergent as Metellus, Kirsty Bruce as Decius, Andrew Goddard as Octavius, Dasha Fedchuk as Lucius, William O'Neil as Cinna, Benjamin Haddock as Trebonius and Walter Plinge as Cassius. Turn up before 7pm and maybe bring a cushion with you, and we'll take you to Rome and back in two and a half hours with a cuppa in the middle. See you there!

Slouching Toward Bethlehem opens this week!!!

In the second production celebrating their eleventh birthday (eleven is the new ten!), The Bacchanals are proud to present the world premiere of an epic, expressionist biography of Robert Muldoon, Slouching Toward Bethlehem by acclaimed NZ playwright Dean Parker (author of numerous plays including The Man Lovelock Couldn't Beat, Baghdad, Baby! and The Hollow Men). What could be timelier during an election year in which we're doomed to see National in for another three years than a play that reminds us how responsible they are for all our twenty-first century problems? (Just joking, Chris — yes, the good folks at thebacchanals.net are all too aware that Labour's present leadership is just as bland and directionless!) He turned the NZ National Party into an outfit dominated by a single leader bent on imposing regulation that wouldn't have looked out of place in Eastern Europe under Stalin, but Robert Muldoon believed without a shadow of a doubt that if he needed to know what the average Kiwi felt, all he had to do was look into his own heart. Slouching Toward Bethlehem takes us from Muldoon's pro-Labour childhood in Auckland in the 1920s and '30s to beating hippies and protestors in the 1970s while climbing over the corpses of his National colleagues to seize power, through to his inevitable downfall in 1984.

We're thrilled to have the magnificent Phil Grieve (last seen with The Bacchanals in 2007's King Lear as Albany) playing Muldoon, and the wonderful Brianne Kerr (she played Alex's wife in No Taste Forever! as his wife Thea. The brilliant-beyond-words Alex Greig makes his EIGHTEENTH appearance with The Bacchanals as George Gair, the superb Salesi Le'ota makes his sixth as Huge Templeton and the jubilacious Jonny Potts has shed his fat-suit and donned a '70s haircut as Brian Talboys. Shellshocked survivors of No Taste Forever! going a second round include the dashing Andrew Goddard as Jack Marshall, the divine Kirsty Bruce as Amie Muldoon, the thrilling Jean Sergent as Jerusha Browne and the chilling William O'Neil as Jim McLay. And this show's newbies are the beautifuls Elle Wootton and Dasha Fedchuk playing Frank Gill and Colin McLachlan. And you know it wouldn't be a Bacchanals show unless it was directed by the still-not-quite-fully-bald David Lawrence and featured appearances by Boxie, Red Banner, Magic Sofa, The Hedda Gabler Table, The James Stewart Memorial Collection Of Random Lights, the Altar Of Dionysus and the Alex Greig Patented Ash Machine!

Hurry hurry hurry, folks. Slouching Toward Bethlehem plays NINE SHOWS ONLY at BATS Theatre from Wednesday 31 August until Saturday 10 September at SIX O'CLOCK — that's right, 6pm! Early! The show is ninety minutes long so you can be eating at Ka Pai (or Sweet Mother's Kitchen if that's your rag) by quarter to eight! Go on, book right this very minute by calling (04) 802-4175 or e-mailing book@bats.co.nz — click on that link there! And keep coming back here for updates on Julius Caesar, the second part of our attempt to sway the election result, which we'll begin rehearsing just as soon as Slouching Toward Bethlehem is underway!

Not one but THREE Bacchanals shows in 2011?! I don't believe it!!!

That's right lovely friends, followers and well-wishers — while it may be only six months since this website claimed that there was every chance No Taste Forever! could be the last Bacchanals show ever, the world changes with all the swiftness of a city-razing earthquake or tornado and instead of whimpering out after years of inactivity, The Bacchanals will go out in the style of an angry punk band reuniting for one last hurrah, trashing their hotel rooms and banging groupies like the rock gods they always knew they were. And if Sunday morning sees many of them dead in pools of their own vomit in service station toilets, then so be it!

So you missed No Taste Forever!, did you? It was good fun — not necessarily to everyone's taste, but that's Paul Rothwell for you. Apparently some bloggers felt the show was discriminating against the armies of maligned Fat Actors who apparently meet around Wellington complaining that there's a conspiracy to keep them all hidden and offstage but guess what: it's called acting!!!! Yes, Galen was not morbidly obese but instead played by Jonny Potts in a fat suit, but hey, you might have noticed that Baby Emma was played by an adult Helen Sims instead of a real four year old, straight old Jean Sergent was playing a lesbian, and not only is Rose Guise not gay, but she isn't a vegan either!!! It's called acting, meatbags! Seriously though folks, you missed a good time and a funny play and a massive food fight at the end and by the gods, what fun we had at BATS this January. Has David finally met his match in Fiona McNamara, the first producer to ever say, "There needs to be more mess at the end of this show!" Seeing Red Banner, Boxie, the Hedda Gabler girders, the head from The Bacchae, the Hate Crimes wheelchair and a paint scheme that encompassed patches of every other Bacchanals show — not to mention the crazy foyer display with eleven insane years worth of posters and photos was quite overwhelming and exciting. As was getting an e-mail from John Porter during the season. And in the audience on the final night, after five years' living in Berlin, the brilliant beautiful Julia Harrison exclaimed, "I'm at BATS, with David and Kate [Fitzroy], watching The Bacchanals — I'm home!" BUT THE BRILLIANT NEWS, BACCHANALS-LOVERS AND PLAYGOERS, IS THAT THERE WILL BE TWO NEW BACCHANALS SHOWS BEFORE 2011 ENDS!!!!



Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Dean Parker
The Bacchanals are proud to continue their eleventh birthday celebrations with the world premiere of Dean Parker's new play about Robert Muldooon, New Zealand's most evil Prime Minster ever, Slouching Toward Bethlehem (not Towards as some things have erroneously claimed. Toward is literal, Towards is figurative. The Slouching Toward Bethlehem rest of the world may not care about the destruction and demise of the English language, but damn you and your textspeak and your brevs, we will fight for its proliferation!). He turned the NZ National Party into an outfit dominated by a single leader bent on imposing regulation that wouldn't have looked out of place in Eastern Europe under Stalin but Robert Muldoon believed without a shadow of doubt that if he needed to know what the average kiwi felt, all he had to do was look into his own heart. With 12 actors playing 40 characters, Slouching Toward Bethlehem is an epic, expressionist piece taking us from Muldoon's left wing pro-Labour childhood in 1920s Auckland to beating hippies and protestors while climbing over the corpses of his National colleagues to seize power in the 1970s, through to his inevitable downfall in 1984. Slouching Toward Bethlehem plays at BATS Theatre from Wednesday 31 August until Saturday 10 September (that's right, the day before the tenth anniversary of Voldemort destroying the World Trade Center!) at 6pm. You can book by phoning (04) 802-4176 or by e-mailing book@bats.co.nz. Go on, book now so we look like people love our shows! It'll be great!

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
As if one show with a fiercely anti-right wing political bent wasn't enough in an election year, how about the same cast a mere month and a bit later reuniting to perform Julius Caesar, Shakespeare's classic tale of how a crazy homeless man predicts the murder of the country's leader on the eve of a major sporting event just after a giant earthquake? And as with 2006's Hamlet, we're going to do Julius Caesar as a FREE piece of theatre, touring community centres, church halls and living rooms in the run-up to November's election. Booking and venue information all to be confirmed anon. In and around Wellington, of course, but we may even head further afield if it's financially viable — W(h)anganui, we'll be coming back to you with our own blood in our mouths! Want Julius Caesar to come to your venue, your town or your living room? Want to host us as a fundraiser for your political party of choice? E-mail david@thebacchanals.net and we'll see what we can do!

Honestly, we're so excited about bringing you these two shows — one a brand new NZ play in our favourite traditional theatre space, the other an absolute back-to-basics 'classic' Bacchanals piece of Poor Theatre. As always, there'll be more news when we have it but expect to see some old and new faces, all your favourite recycled props and costumes and the same crazy ramshackle energy, intelligence and passion that's fuelled The Bacchanals since those first shows in 2000. Slouching Toward Bethlehem and Julius Caesar will feature largely the same cast. Not everyone is confirmed yet but you can expect to see the amazing Alex Greig, the superb Salesi Le'ota, the divine David Goldthorpe, the just-wonderful Jonny Potts (are you fed up with the alliterative thing? yep, let's can it!), Brianne Kerr, Andrew Goddard, Kirsty Bruce and something tells me that, after appearing as a manservant-kissing professor in Love in the Time of Vampires and as the current Prime Minster in Public Service Announcements, we can expect to see Walter Plinge embracing his destiny as an actor, just so he can share the stage with his brilliant friends. Tell everyone you know!!!

The Bacchanals return in 2011!!!

Yes, those horrifying rumours are true — The Bacchanals will be back in January 2011, celebrating their tenth birthday a mere eleven months late, with a shocking hilarious brilliant new play from Paul Rothwell, the award-winning author of Hate Crimes, Golden Boys, Deliver Us and Kissing Bone (okay, so he wrote The Blackening and Christmas Indoors too, but those got CNZ funding and weren't directed by David, so can you really count them?). Suggestions that The Bacchanals might one day finally stage No Taste Forever! have existed on this 'site since, oh, at least 2008, but we can finally confirm their truth! No Taste Forever! is a pretty impossible play to try and describe — try to imagine a sort of Hitchcock's Vertigo having a child with the original Invasion of the Bodysnatchers that resembled Ghost World, Brick, High School Musical, An American Werewolf In London and Fight Club all at the same time. With a chorus of evil dancing vegetables.

Nutritionist Malcolm Sweet is worried. His patients are dying one by one, being slowly eaten away by an insidious force that seeks to wipe out the human race. When a little girl is crushed beneath the wheels of his SUV, crying for her ice cream, Malcolm knows for certain that something terrifying has a hold over us all and he is determined to find out what it is and knows he must sacrifice even his own family if it means getting to the top of the food chain and unmasking the Big Cheese. No Taste Forever What he discovers will shock you to the pit of your stomach. No Taste Forever! stars the brilliant Alex Greig as Malcolm Sweet, Brianne Kerr as his wife Audrey, Michael Trigg as their son Daryl, Annaliese Booth as his friend Sonja Chow, Alisha Tyson as American exchange student Jenna-Lynn Tuckett, Jonny Potts as the morbidly obese Galen Widders, Kirsty Bruce as food festival co-ordinator Fliss McSkimming, Jean Sergent as her meat-eating daughter Dr Nikita McSkimming and Salesi Le'ota as former top chef Petrus Niekerk, with Jess Aaltonen as Ms Chocolate, Helen Sims as Baby Emma and Jackson Coe as CinCin the psychopathic waiter! And a yet-to-be-confirmed cast of evil dancing vegetables! The show is produced by the fabulous Fiona McNamara (red-haired and beautiful, like Eve Middleton before her!) and directed by David Lawrence. As with every Bacchanals show, plans to be organised and efficient and well-funded have gone awry but rather than let this thwart us, we're intending our tenth birthday show to be a spectacular celebration of a decade of theatrical madness. So expect to see all your old favourites like Boxie, Red Banner, Magic Sofa, the James Stewart Memorial Collection Of Random Lights, the patented Alex Greig Ash Machine, recycled sets from Hedda Gabler, 1 Henry VI and A Midsummer Night's Dream and we're finally going to use up the twenty-or-so pails of leftover paint that have accumulated in David's box-room since that mad plan to paint the back wall of BATS for Crave back in 2002. The plan is to clear out the ten years' worth of junk from David's spare room and turn it into the most amazing set installation ever.

The whole world changes for everyone in 2011, and there is every likeliness that No Taste Forever will be the last Bacchanals show for a long time ... maybe forever! You never know what could happen, but treat every show as though it's your last! But change is a good thing, folks. Perhaps we were foolish to think that theatre could change the world, or be a lasting, sustainable career, and it's time to do something else for a bit. Read a book, drink some coffee, have yourself a tikka masala, stroke a cat, contemplate donating money to the SPCA or Greenpeace. Stop neglecting your loved ones before it's too late to bring them back. Buy yourself a Sufjan Stevens ticket. Watch The Wire. Listen to the Mountain Goats. Write that novel, or at least that poem, and if you've always dreamed of visiting Owlcatraz, there's never going to be a better time. Yes, you could be a slave to your job and daydream of joining the rebellion while you oil a dirty robot, but ask yourself: what has your life amounted to? is there more you could be doing before either the comet wipes us out or the tides rise and drown everyone who doesn't live on a hill? We haven't got long left, people!

Yes, these are the questions we grapple with every day and sometimes it's just too much for one human being to deal with. So The Bacchanals' gift to you is this crazy play by Paul Rothwell, which may help alleviate your angst (but probably won't quell your eating disorder) and at the very least ought to provide you with some amusement and entertainment until we all fry. No Taste Forever! plays at BATS Theatre from Thursday 13 January until Saturday 29 January 2011, at 7.30pm every night except Sundays and Mondays. You can book by calling (04) 802-4176 or e-mailing book@bats.co.nz (yes, click on that link right there!). There'll also be a cheap preview on Wednesday 12 January. It'll be great fun! Come and see it!

The first exciting update of 2010 — that's right, it's our tenth birthday this year!!

Welcome to 2010, the last year of the decade! (it is NOT the first year of the decade, no matter what the newspapers claim. And I'm sorry, but 2000 was the last year of the 20th century, NOT the first year of the 21st!) Straddling, then, not just two decades but two centuries, The Bacchanals celebrate their tenth birthday this year! That's right &mdash The Frogs hails from a time in history when Jemaine and Bret weren't famous, Orlando and Oliver were only little kittens, there were only three Harry Potter novels, ten seasons of The Simpsons, The Beatles hadn't been re-mastered, everyone still owned a VHS player and no one had heard of David Tennant, Barack Obama, iPods, Sookie Stackhouse, 9/11, Skype or Facebook and there was no such bookstore category as 'Paranormal Romance'. How young and idealistic we were, putting on that shabby wee Greek comedy, in a text that took David about a weekend to cobble together because he was too scared to ask a proper playwright to do a new translation of the play, starring a few friends who felt too awkward to say no to him (Taika, Jemaine, Carey, Bret) and a bunch of people he'd met one evening in a bar in Newtown and talked too animatedly to (James, Eve, and so on!). Ah, how audiences flocked from near and far for The Frogs! And later that year, how absent they were as Othello played to an average of ten people a night for a month in the living room of an inner-city apartment ... and then there was Wealth and Hellbeing, that Goth play at the start of 2001 that hopefully showed audiences that regardless of how shabby and honest our productions might be, we were never going to do anything boring or predictable ... then there was the mighty Trilogy of The Jew of Malta, Titus Andronicus (back before the play was popular) and Volpone in the middle of 2001, the promenade Hamlet of 2002 followed by the first NZ production of a Sarah Kane play, Crave ... the tours of Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream (have you noticed that a commentary was added for this recently? go over there and check it out!) and Measure For Measure ... not to mention The Bacchae, the multi-award winning I.D., A Renaissance Man, the crazy touring Hamlet and the co-production with the Fortune of King Lear. To be honest, post-2005 it's all been a bit fragmented and random as the dream of a permanent, sustainable, long-term company slowly eroded and fell apart ... but wow. Ten years! Ten!!!
            After a long, long absence, The Bacchanals made a kind-of return in October 2009 in a collaborative production with the newly-formed Victoria University Shakespeare Club (or, to be more specific, the Shakespeare's Histories Are Great! club) of Wars of the Roses — Episode VI: Henry The Sixth, Part One (or just 1 Henry VI for easier reference). Henry VI, Part One It was directed by David Lawrence, starred stalwart Bacchanals Alex Greig (he's been in 15 of the 18 official Bacchanals shows, the crazy man!) as Richard, Duke of York, Salesi Le'ota as the Duke of Gloucester and the magnificent, lethal Allan Henry choreographed the fights and played Talbot. It also featured Walter Plinge as Mortimer, Falstaff and Joan of Arc's father, and had a spectacular cast of 20 other actors, many of them reprising their roles from the 2009 Victoria University of Wellington Summer Shakespeare production of Henry V (which had also been directed by David, and staged at the Studio 77 amphitheatre — that's right, the very same venue that The Frogs was performed at, ten years ago! Ten!!). What crazy fun 1 Henry VI with its kimonos, chucks and Star Wars-influenced staging was. You missed it? Never mind — we'll be doing Wars of the Roses — Episode VII: The First Part of the Contention Betwixt The Two Famous Houses Of York And Lancaster, With The Death Of The Good Duke Humphrey, And The Banishment And Death Of The Duke Of Suffolk, And The Tragical End Of The Proud Cardinal Of Winchester, With The Notable Rebellion Of Jack Cade, And The Duke of York's First Claim Unto The Crown (yeah, easier just calling it Henry The Sixth, Part Two!) at some point in 2010, and you don't need to have seen part one for it to make sense (besides, that title explains the entire plot, no?)! Someone said Allan plans to play Jack Cade as Boba Fett, but they surely can't be serious about that. (Mind you, that opening crawl of Star Wars text was pretty outrageously funny. Bet you didn't think they'd be that stupid! Think again!)

Sir John Falstaff and the Merry Wives of Windsor

Not really much to do with The Bacchanals, but remember that the disclaimers say David can put things about stuff he likes on this 'site and visitors will just have to live with the shameless self-promotion. That's right — the 27th Summer Shakespeare, brought to you by Victoria University of Wellington, is the wonderfully obscure Sir John Falstaff and the Merry Wives of Windsor, not seen in Wellington in years and years. Merry Wives of Windsor Merry Wives was almost a Bacchanals show back in 2004, but it didn't happen. Possibly the shallowest of Shakespeare's comedies, it features the famous Sir John Falstaff trying to make money by seducing wealthy housewives and scamming their jealous husbands. Many of the team from 2009's Henry V return — the show is directed by David Lawrence and stars Louise Burston (that's right, the Countess of Auvergne from 1 Henry VI herself!) as Mrs Page, Laura Feslier (yes indeed, she was the Duke of Burgundy in both Henry V and 1 Henry VI!) as Mrs Ford, Daniel Watterson as Ford (yes, he played King Henry in 1 Henry VI!), Ralph Upton as Page (the Duke of Somerset from 1 Henry VI — wait until part two when he dies a spectacular death!), Jess Aaltonen as Mrs Quickly (wasn't she Joan of Arc in 1 Henry VI? she was?! I loved her!!), James Barber as Justice Shallow (the guy on crutches who played the Bishop of Winchester in 1 Henry VI? is he walking properly yet? he is?! I don't believe it!), Eleanor Stewart as Simple (she was a whole bunch of messengers in 1 Henry VI. And the rumour goes she's a comic genius!), Kirsty Bruce as the Host of the Garter Inn (the one who was Warwick in 1 Henry VI? is she playing the Host as Moe from The Simpsons?), and Blair Everson as Fenton (the guy who played both the Bastard of Orleans and Suffolk in 1 Henry VI? and you say he also dies a spectacular death in part two? I can't wait!!). There are also a whole bunch of other brilliant people in it, but the purpose of this 'site is to promote The Bacchanals. Or at least, people with some sort of Bacchanalian tendencies, even if they haven't made the full commitment and been inked. You can catch Sir John Falstaff and the Merry Wives of Windsor at Gladstone Vineyard in the Wairarapa on 4, 5 and 6 of February at 5.30pm, and then in Wellington at the Studio 77 Amphitheatre — that's right, home of The Bacchanals' inaugural production of The Frogs ten years ago. Ten years!! — from Friday 12 February until Saturday 27 February at 7pm. You can book by visiting www.downstage.co.nz or calling (04) 801-6946.

It's time for the regular 18-monthly 'site update!!!

As we hurtle toward the inevitable end of the world (melting polar caps, rising ocean levels and less than 5 billion years until the sun expands — that's presuming we don't get hit by a fatal comet before any of those dreadful things happen) the years just seem to go faster and faster, and already we're in the middle of July 2009 and all manner of crazy things have happened while this website remains static and un-updated since December 2007 ... why the delay? you ask. O, we could make so many excuses ... server issues, everyone's personal lives in tumult, despair and depressing heartbreak, webmaster relocating back to the US, the despair at NZ falling to a National government ... what's happened in the last year and a half? King Lear
            The Bacchanals have only staged one official work since 2007's King Lear, but you'll have seen us and our affiliates in all sorts of things in and around town. The start of 2008 saw The Bacchanals present the premiere of Simon Vincent's debut as playwright. A Renaissance Man, a fantasy inspired by the life and works of Renaissance poet John Donne, played to packed houses at BATS through January. It starred Phil Peleton (the King & Ghost from 2006's Hamlet) as John Donne, with stalwarts Alex Greig as Henry Donne and Erin Banks as Anne More, and a host of newbies — Rachel More played Stella, Gavin Rutherford played the Earl of Essex and Allan Henry played Sir Philip Sidney and choreographed the play's numerous fight scenes. The show was directed by David Lawrence. It was wonderful to play to such appreciative audiences as the play swashed its buckle under the basking chillness of the brand new BATS air-conditioning.
            Hail to the Chief In February 2008 you might have been lucky enough to see Alex as Adrien Brody's stand-in and David Goldthorpe (King Lear) as a giant monster in Gavin McGibbon's Shipwrecked Beneath The Stars at BATS. And Sopranos fans Gavin, David G and David L were apoplectic with nerves and geekiness on the nights that Michael Imperioli happened to be in the audience at BATS shows. As the Fringe lurched on Oliver became critically ill after a chest wound turned into a lung infection but thanks to the wonderful folk at the after hours vet and Pet Vet he made a miraculous recovery, all for a mere $1800. In March Salesi Le'ota (I.D., Hamlet and King Lear) left NZ to do a London run of Vula while the Pleasant Whining co-op presented Phil Braithwaite's Hail to the Thief at BATS, directed by David and starring Alex as King David of Israel. This rather bizarre biblical epic also starred the super Jonny Potts (Marcellus from 2006's Hamlet) as Zadok, Amy Tarleton (Goneril from 2007's King Lear) as Bathsheba, Benjamin Fransham (Verwoerd from 2005's I.D.) as Uriah the Hittite and Tony Hopkins (Father Daniels in I.D.) as Nathan the Seer. It also featured Will Moffatt and Michael Trigg holding spears (recycled King Lear spears at that!) and kicking thieves, and was produced by the fabulous Fiona McNamara. Existential angst carried on well into April as David directed his first opera (!), Lyell Cresswell's Good Angel, Bad Angel, for NIMBY Opera. Based on a Robert Louis Stevenson short story about a murderer visited by a supernatural figure, it starred Francis Moore, Craig Beardsworth and Hadleigh Adams and played to audiences in Wellington, Palmerston North and Auckland. Meanwhile, in Dunedin the brilliant Malcolm Murray (Kent in King Lear and Tsafendas in I.D.) was playing Ben Hecht in Moonlight and Magnolias at the Fortune Theatre, and at BATS a bearded Alex was appearing in Eli Kent's Rubber Turkey. April was also the month the Mountain Goats cancelled their Wellington gig. And at BATS, there was the GREAT news that THANK GOD the wonderful Steph Walker would be the new programme manager. Yay Steph!!!
            Like Someone In Love: The Life and Death of Chet Baker Was it May 2008 by the time Like Someone In Love: The Life and Death of Chet Baker was up and running again? Do you know, I think it might have been the tail end of April. David Goldthorpe's solo show about Chet Baker, directed by the other David and musical-directed by Tim Solly, had its first incarnation as a Fringe show in 2007, and this time around was expanded and revised for its run at Blondini's in Wellington and then at the Fortune in Dunedin. Around the same time the lovely Phil Grieve (Albany in King Lear, various roles in the 2006 Hamlet, and wasn't he even in Othello back in 2000? you know what, I think he was!) was appearing at Centrepoint in Palmerston North in Gary Henderson's An Unseasonable Fall of Snow. And moments later, Simon made his directorial debut (is he not satisfied being merely a brilliant actor and brilliant writer?) with Gavin's long overdue Handyman at BATS. The very next night after that happened, Northward Ho!, an obscure 1605 play by John Webster and Thomas Dekker, opened at Studio 77 as part of Victoria University's Theatre programme, co-directed by Davids Lawrence and Carnegie. And exhausted as he may have been, David still had one duty to perform: Burnt Coffee, Charlotte Simmonds' new play, premiered at BATS to coincide with the launch of her fabulous book, The World's Fastest Flower. It starred the ever-fantastic Alex Greig as Jason, the lovely Antonia Bale as Katrina and saw the triumphant return to Wellington of the wonderful Natasya Yusoff (Puck in 2005's A Midsummer Night's Dream) playing Jordanian dwarf Raghed. Keen noticers of props-recycling might have spotted Boxie making his first appearance onstage since Deliver Us. In June 2008,Erin appeared in Love Song at Circa, while at Centrepoint Malcolm and Phil were in The Gods of Warm Beer, and at the Fortune Jacqui Nairn (Regan from King Lear) was playing Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire. And was that the lovely Erroll Shand (Deliver Us) playing Mitch? It was! Jacqui then came to Wellington to appear in Neil La Bute's Some Girls at Circa. Simon gave a triumphant performance as a man turning into a giant insect in Berkoff's adaptation of Kafka's Metamophosis at BATS, which also had Salesi in it. By this stage, David Goldthorpe must have been at the Fortune appearing in James and the Giant Peach.
            Jane Eyre October in Dunedin saw the Fortune stage the Polly Teale/Shared Experience version of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre as their contribution to the Otago International Arts Festival. It was directed by David Lawrence and starred Laura Hill (Shortland Street) in the title role, with a fantastic company consisting of Anna Henare, Amy Tarleton, Amy Straker, Sia Trokenheim, Matt Hudson, Nathan Rimell and the wonderful Malcolm Murray playing a horse. David was determined that it be passionate and visceral and not one of those boring period productions where Jane has a centre parting and everyone has Yorkshire accents, and it was a tremendously successful production. Malcolm, Matt and Amy S then headed up to the Court to join a scantily-clad Phil Greive in La Cage Aux Folles while Amy T and Sia stayed on at the Fortune to do Jack and the Beanstalk.
            November was a sad month ... not only did David Tennant hand in his notice, but New Zealand found itself with a National-led government. What a surprise to find that the promised post-election tax cuts were a lie! And does the new Arts minister actually care about the community? Turns out, like our former prime minister, that giving more money to the arts actually means million-dollar bail-outs of elitist arts organisations like the Ballet company and the NZSO. Bet you none of the $10 million of extra arts funding over the next three years actually makes it down to BATS-level practitioners — who actually need it — while already-heavily-subsidised and overpaid bureaucrats and administrators get to keep their heaters on this winter.
            Henry V At least Paul Rothwell won the Bruce Mason playwriting award in December, and Simon's beetle won a Chapman Tripp. And in Wellington David began his most insane undertaking yet — directing a cast of thousands in the Summer Shakespeare 2009 production of Henry V. Starring the magnificent Alex Greig in the title role, Henry V also featured David Goldthorpe as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Jonny Potts as Exeter, Allan Henry as the Constable and Jack O'Donnell as Nym, to name but a few affiliates. And Simon production-managed it. Henry V is Shakespeare's not-at-all timely or topical play about a newly elected monarch cementing his presidency — erm, reign, I mean — by finding a legal loophole allowing him to illegitimately invade another country and topple their lawful government, even though they had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks and the weapons of mass destruction were a myth. Henry V played in the Wairarapa and Wellington over February 2009. There were explosions, dogs, cars, spectacular fight scenes, a live baby in the final scene, a kick-arse band at the interval, and if you saw the preview season in the Wairarapa you'd have seen a horse!!! That's right, no Malcolm-being-method here, but a real live genuine horse!!! Onstage!!! Brilliant! Keen prop-spotters might have noticed 21 King Lear spears in the show, 2 Hamlet broadswords and several I.D. suitcases amongst the show's detritus. David G got in an Auckland run of Like Someone In Love in March, Hedda Gabler while in April David L directed a brand new production of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, re-contextualised to Wellington in the here and now and starring outgoing BATS business manager Clare Kerrison as Hedda, with Bacchanals Amy Tarleton and Salesi Le'ota appearing alongside Asalemo Tofete, Tupe Lualua and one-time Bacchanal Michael Ness (he was the Clown, the Duke and Lodovico in Othello, way back at the beginning!). Produced by the superlative Fiona McNamara and production/stage-managed by the brilliant Melanie Duncan, it featured the incredible lighting of Ulli Briese and an astonishing set by Penny Angrick, who David last worked with on Hitchcock Blonde at the Fortune in 2006. Hedda was really, really good. You should have seen it.
            Most recently, Alex, Amy and Allan appeared at the Fortune in Don Juan in Soho, Jonny appeared in the world premiere of Gary Taylor's reconstruction of the lost Shakespeare/Fletcher play, Cardenio, Simon played an assortment of animals in Year of the Rat at Circa and Charlotte has been nominated for a Montana Book Award for The World's Fastest Flower!!!
            Does that make us all look busy and successful? Let's hope so!

So what does the remainder of 2009 have in store?

As you may have gathered, The Bacchanals have been in a long recess. It was great to see Carey & Hilary in New Zealand for the first time in 7 years this summer, and wonderful to have Eve in the country for a bit as well. Mark became a father in March, and Kate Soper has even been sighted back in NZ, working at the Southern Cross. James is enjoying life in New York, Tina returned to NZ in 2008 and is now working in Auckland on a humanitarian project, Hadleigh finished drama school last year, Erin is paid big bucks by the Film Commission, Natasya is also in Auckland (Bucklame to you predictive texters!), no one's heard from John in years, and in Berlin, Julia finally fell to the in-crowd, leaving David as the only person in the world who isn't on Facebook. Malcolm is now farming in Oamaru, Phil P shifts to Bucklame anon, Phil G had a lengthy stint at the Court and is sorely missed on pub quiz teams, and Will is currently in the UK doing exciting digital stuff. The Bacchanals' bank account is empty (King Lear with its $90K budget pretty much cleaned us out) and last year we closed the PO Box since it was no longer a justifiable expense (especially so long as the Waikato Times' advertising department refuses to refund that $32 they've owed us since 2005!). We're scattered far and wide, while David, Orlando and Oliver are sad and alone once again in their wee house with all their books. And now that the lovely Mia works at Creative New Zealand, we can't even say scandalous things about that reputable government department on this 'site anymore. For 2008 and 2009, the most prominent Bacchanals activity has been from robots using our domain address to spam people about Viagra.
            But fear not! There is stuff in the pipeline! We still haven't forgotten about the mad Henry VI plan — the three parts of Henry VI and Richard III — with a cast of 25. How does 1 Henry VI on Tuesdays, 2 Henry VI on Wednesdays, 3 Henry VI on Thursdays, Richard III on Fridays and then the whole lot on Saturdays — as The Bacchanals' major contribution to the Compleat Works festival. But David is tired and depressed and broke, so maybe only 1 Henry VI will make it to the stage before the end of the year. There are some other shocking developments for 2010 which we can't announce yet ... but in the meantime, David is still really keen, in this age of computers and technology subsuming the world, to do a production of Karel Capek's 1920 play RUR (Rossum's Universal Robots) — honestly, have you ever seen a play with robots in it? And last year some of us attended a reading of a new Paul Rothwell play called (at this stage) No Taste Forever! which includes such standard Rothwellesque stage directions as "She tries to offload a fork full of rare meat romantically into Gretchen's mouth" and "A giant chicken enters the restaurant" and dialogue like "People are the ingredients in the dish of our lives. And at the moment, my plate is empty" or (this'll be the poster tagline), "Never trust a vegetarian!" Don't quite know either what's happened to Coven, a brilliant new play about — wait for it — vampires!! That's right — about as common as robots on these here stages ... just you wait! Keep checking back in here for updates as 2009 continues. Hic et ubique!!

BREAKING NEWS! BACCHANALS TO PERFORM PLAY!!

In light of craziness of recent months, the mad Wars of the Roses plan outlined above has been streamlined somewhat. That's right — in October 2009, The Bacchanals will return to the stage in a not necessarily new and improved format, but certainly a format of some sort, to present what we like to think of as Wars of the Roses — Episode V: King Henry the Sixth, Part One but which is more easily referred to as 1 Henry VI. It'll be a sequel of sorts to David's Summer Shakespeare production of Henry V. Sorry to disappoint those who were hoping to see all four plays in one go — it'll happen, just not this year. One at a time is better for everyone's brains! Expect to see a cast of about 25 with some old and new faces (rumour has it Walter Plinge will make a guest appearance as Yoda!), some old and new props, and all your favourites — Boxie, Magic Sofa, Recycled-Hedda-Gabler-Set and much much more! More details here very soon, but expect around 14-18 October, 7pm, in a venue near you! Bring on the goat!

More updates on 1 Henry VI!!!

That's right! After a hiatus of nearly two years, The Bacchanals will be back in October 2009 with a brand new production of Wars of the Roses - Episode VI: King Henry The Sixth, Part One —; or 1 Henry VI H6 Logo for those of you who can't be bothered writing out the full title every time! The logo might give you an idea of the sort of style we're going with ... David sees Shakespeare's first History cycle (the three parts of Henry VI and Richard III) as being the closest thing in the Shakespeare canon to the original Star Wars films, if Darth Vader had a hump and Chewbacca had a French accent. At the time of this update, we've barely rehearsed five scenes but laughed a huge amount, and it probably won't be until opening night that all TWENTY-FIVE actors are in the same place at once. The cast currently includes Alex Greig as Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, Jonny Potts as the Duke of Exeter, Salesi Le'ota as the Duke of Gloucester and Allan Henry as Talbot, with a special guest appearance by Walter Plinge as Edmund Mortimer! The whole cast are great, but for the purposes of getting this update up quickly, we've only mentioned those you may have seen in previous Bacchanals shows this time - Alison, Alice, Alisha, Anais, Blair, Dan, Eleanor, Emma, Hannah, Jackson, James, Jess, Kirsty, Laura, Lori, Louise, Melanie, Ralph, Simon and Tom will get full names, biographies and their names in bold next update! But thanks to the wonderful Mia and Josh we've suddenly entered a new realm of technological jiggery-pokery —; throughout the process we'll be attempting to document the rehearsal process via online blogs and photographs. Click on these links!


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The Bacchanals Home

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Crave | Twelfth Night | The Bacchae | Romeo and Juliet | A Midsummer Night's Dream | Hate Crimes
Measure for Measure | I.D. | Hamlet 2006 | King Lear | A Renaissance Man | 1 Henry VI | No Taste Forever!
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Gunplay | All's Well That Ends Well | Once We Built A Tower | Blue Stockings
Richard III | Lysistrata | A Christmas Karel Capek |


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