I had been dreading spending a week in Rotorua; I remembered it from my youth as being touristy tacky, run down and a little bit rough. Sure, my hometown Taupo is a tourist town too but it didn’t seem to try as hard as Rotorua to my eyes. Taupo is like “Have you seen the lake and the mountains? Enough said.” And Rotorua was more like “Geysers! Mudpools! Maori!”
But I really enjoyed the week in Rotorua (the flu and lack of cooking facilities aside). I wandered around thinking “Could I live here?”. My criteria: A pedestrian friendly place that has a mixture of shops and homes (in the CBD certainly, not sure about the rest), green public spaces (the lake front is great apart from the mad swans) a bar that sells my favourite beer (we found a nice Belgium bar – lovely peeps and Forbidden Fruit in the fridge). Extras that Rotorua has? Mineral pools and if you have a bore; free heating baby! For a Wellingtonian that is the stuff of fantasies – to be too hot in winter!!
In Rotorua I was also able to catch the shows in the festival – something that was near impossible in Manukau. Why? Pedestrian friendly Rotorua, car crazy Manukau.
I can’t remember a time when I watched a show without my writer’s eyes on. I’m constantly looking for how the writer has crafted the story (which is why I had difficulty with Cats, once I had let go of the hope of a story I could relax into the show and just let it wash over me.) and more importantly, what I can steal!
I don’t mean lifting dialogue/characters from someone else’s work; it is the tricks a writer has used to create tension, to move the audience. It is stealing the secret behind the magic that spellbinds an audience.
The stand out for me was I Don’t Wanna Play House by Tammy Anderson (who also performed it). From the little blurb in the programme I thought it would be my least favourite – sexual abuse? No thank you! But the strength of Tammy’s story and performance blew me away. It was so honest and so human and, at times, hilarious.
Here’s what I plan to add to my tool box:
Humour. The audience need to laugh even during the most harrowing of subjects; actually even more so. It helps to stop it tipping into angst – also the audience will find something to laugh about so you may as well try to control it!
Use of props. Are they needed? If they are, can you use them in more than one way, and more than one time? I will apply the “would I pack this prop and ship it around the country” test from now on.
Are each of your characters clearly defined? What sets them apart from the other characters that inhabit the story? Why is that character important?
Hopefully all this will help me to write Kiwiana Charlatan ( I had hoped to knock out the story while I was away, but I came down with baby brain!) – although vastly different from Tammy’s play ( Props! Other actors!) the fundamentals are the same.