Kiwis take on the 2015 London International Mime Festival

The London International Mime Festival is the longest established annual theatre season of its kind which showcases innovative visual theatre from Britain and around the world.  The 2015 season will span 24 days and feature 18 companies.  64 performances of productions, almost all London or UK premieres, will be presented across multiple venues around London.

This upcoming season is particularly significant if you hail from New Zealand, like yours truly, as among the international ensemble of performers are two very talented New Zealanders: Trygve Wakenshaw and Thomas Monckton.

Trygve Wakenshaw - Kraken                                    Thomas Monckton - The Pianist 2

These two Kiwi performers have received highly acclaimed training from France so are extremely skilled in their craft – Wakenshaw was trained by master clown Philippe Gaulier and Monckton is a Jacques Lecoq physical theatre school alumni.

KrakenWakenshaw will be staging the London premiere of his award-winning show KRAKEN at the Soho Theatre.  A blissfully funny hour of physical stream-of-consciousness, this delirious follow-up to smash hit SQUIDBOY has been receiving rave reviews, from critics and audiences alike.

More details can be found here and if you want to get a taste of what to expect, check this video out.  I had the pleasure of catching KRAKEN at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and it was quite extraordinary – very entertaining, wonderfully whimsical, thoroughly unpredictable and just something a little bit different!

Thomas Monckton - The PianistMeanwhile at the Southbank Centre, a grand piano is set to take centre stage for The Pianist which is a co-production between Monckton and Finland’s international contemporary circus group Circo Aereo.  This show was a hit at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, enjoying a sold-out season.  Described as a  “spectacular concert catastrophe”, The Pianist mixes highly skilled physical comedy with a refined contemporary circus-theatre attitude.

Further details can be found here and for a sneak preview of the show, check out this video.

 

Mime London

To find out more about the London International Mime Festival, go to mimelondon.com.

Thank you to Arthur Leone PR for the information!

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NZ at Edinburgh 2014

I can’t believe August is fast approaching and soon I’ll be off to Edinburgh again for the largest arts festival in the world!  This year’s Fringe is particularly exciting for me because of the amount of New Zealand productions that will be making an appearance.

NZ at Edinburgh 3Thanks to the support from Creative New Zealand, over 200 artists will be presenting their work throughout the various Edinburgh festivals: the Edinburgh International Festival, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh Art Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival and of course, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

This is the first time such a large group of NZ performers have been invited to participate and with an audience of four million each year, this is such a fantastic opportunity for NZ to showcase the country’s exceptional pool of talent and immense creativity in performing arts.

NZ at Edinburgh 1Included in the season are internationally acclaimed director Lemi Ponifasio and his company MAU; Auckland Theatre Company, the city’s flagship professional theatre company; composer Gareth Farr; Pasifika theatre group Kila Kokonut Krew; pianist Michael Houstoun; Te Matatini’s national kapa haka champions; dance company Black Grace; author Witi Ihimaera and many more.

I feel very fortunate to have been allocated to review a number of shows in the season.

NZ at Edinburgh 4While I am looking forward to them all, I am really excited for Royale Productions’ The Generation of Z.  I attended the first version of the show – then called Apocalypse Z – back in Auckland and was blown away by the experience.  It completely eradicates any concept of a Fourth Wall and takes interactive theatre to a whole new level.  If you like your theatre on the unconventional side and you enjoy a good scare, I cannot recommend this enough! (Here’s my review.)

So if you are heading to Edinburgh in August, do check something out from the NZ at Edinburgh 2014 season.  From dance and theatre to visual arts and kapa haka (Māori performing arts), there is something for every performing arts taste bud.

And while you’re at it, do also drop by The Backyard at the Roxy bar exclusively at Roxy Assembly to try the best of NZ’s craft beer and cider, organic soft drinks, award-winning wine and delicious coffee.  Intended to recreate the ambiance of a relaxed NZ villa garden in the middle of summer, the bar will be decked out with bean bags, deck chairs and designer street art, all provided by NZ designers.

For more information on the NZ at Edinburgh 2014 season, check out nzatedinburgh.com.  To check out the shows on offer, click here.

NZ_at_Edinburgh_logoYou can follow all my theatre and comedy reviews throughout the Edinburgh Festival Fringe here – if you go there now you can check out my reviews from last year!

This post is also featured on Keeping Up With NZ.

Happy New Year…and all that jazz!

Happy 2014 everyone!

I can’t believe it’s the new year – last year just about disappeared on me.  With so much happening in 2013, not least of all moving to the other side of the world, 2013 has for the most part been an eventful year for me.

I’m not one for making new year resolutions but I do intend to dust off this website and breathe some life back in to it.  I’ve seen the odd show here and there in the past six months but apart from during the Edinburgh Fringe, reviewing has had to take a bit of a backseat, unfortunately.  I’m much more settled now though so am ready and really keen to get back on the writing bandwagon.

My hope and ultimate goal is to use this humble website to get my name and brand out to the performing arts scene over here, just as I did back in NZ.

That said, the more traffic the better and so I am pleased to announce that aside from reviewing shows here in the UK and Ireland, the site will also be featuring reviews from Australia, specifically the Melbourne comedy circuit.  A friend and fellow comedy geek (who will be writing under the pseudonym ‘The Laughing Kiwi’) is going to be contributing these reviews.  So new and exciting times ahead, hopefully!

Additionally I have finally gotten round to getting Whimsical Banana on social media!  I will add the links here soon but in the meantime some of you may get an invite on Facebook or a follow on Twitter so please Like the page and Follow back!

Well that’s all the new news for now from me… Here’s to 2014 and as always thank you to those who read and follow this blog – your support is very much appreciated!

Long Overdue Update!

For those who are wondering, yes, this website is still very much alive and well!  I have just had to take a wee hiatus…

Many of you should already be aware by now that I have left New Zealand and am currently based in the UK tentatively for the next 2 years.  Most of you should also already know – especially if you are reading this! – that I had been working as a freelance reviewer. 

I had been reviewing in Auckland since January last year and while I was enjoying it immensely I felt it was time to move on.  I never like feeling complacent and felt that I had come to a point where I needed to challenge myself by taking my writing to the “next level”.

And where better to do this than at the home of all things performing arts??

It has been a manic past month, not only settling down in a new country, but more significantly being in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the biggest performing arts festival in the world!  This has been a long-time dream of mine and so it has all been very exciting. 

I am also incredibly stoked to have been given the opportunity to write for Broadway Baby, one of the largest reviewing publications at the Fringe.  It has been such a stressful and challenging last few weeks but more importantly it was also an extremely rewarding and fruitful experience – hopefully it’ll be a good foot in the door, fingers crossed!

Before I go, I just want to take this opportunity to thank the following people back home who have supported me as a freelance writer and have helped put my work on the NZ reviewing “map” – I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for each and everyone of you! 

In no particular order: Patricia Wilar-Chung & Holly Roberts (FOUR / TV3), Olivia Young (formerly at EntertainMe), Ingrid Grenar (Keeping Up With NZ), Alex Ellis & Josie Campbell (The EDGE), Q Theatre Team, Elephant Publicity Team, Tim Blake (Silo Theatre), Sharu Delilkan (fellow freelancer!), Lee Martin & the Gag Reflex Team, and last but most certainly not the least the NZ International Comedy Festival Team!  THANK YOU TO YOU ALL X 

I intend on still writing reviews for any shows I see here so please don’t forget about this website!  Thanks heaps to those who are already subscribed and/or to those who have been faithfully checking in, it means the world to me. 

PS – I have compiled all the links to my Edinburgh Fringe reviews and you can check them all out HERE. (link also on the right under “Whimsical Banana 101”.)

NZICF 2013: Dr Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown & His Singing Tiger – Comedy For Kids

Dr Brown & His Singing Tiger

Dr Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown and his Singing Tiger is a madcap physical comedy tailored especially for kids but can quite easily be enjoyed by adults too.  This almost-hour long show is narrated by a ukulele-playing dancing tiger who takes us in to the silly and absurd world of Dr Brown.

After making his appearance on stage in the most comical way possible, it quickly becomes apparent that the goggle-wearing Dr Brown does not speak and so it is up to the Singing Tiger (played wonderfully by Stuart Bowden) to steer Dr Brown – and the audience – in the right direction.  The task at hand?  Get Dr Brown from breakfast to bedtime.

This highly interactive and action-packed show is full of funny gags, silly antics and good old slapstick.  It has everything kids enjoy and love to laugh at like flying spoons, funny faces and eating “poo”.  Phil Burgers, the man behind Dr Brown easily forges a connection with the kids; he knows exactly what buttons to push to spark a positive reaction and response from them.

Dr Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown and his Singing Tiger is a fun adventure and delightful treat for the whole family.  This comedic duo are accomplished entertainers so parents don’t be surprised if you find yourself laughing along too but more importantly, be prepared to let your kids partake in the fun! (Someone’s got to help Dr Brown put on his boots.)

The Whimsical Banana rates Dr Brown and his Singing Tiger: 4/5 bananas!

Dr Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown and his Singing Tiger is at the Herald Theatre at 9:30am and 11:30am  until Sunday May 5th.  Click here for tickets.

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving…

A few things I am thankful for…

(in no particular order)

1.  L.A. Noire 😀

Come on, who here is surprised? 😉 I am thankful for L.A. Noire because it significantly peaked my interest in games and also helped improve my gaming skillz (yes skills with a ‘z’ :P); specifically it helped me get over my at-the-time phobia of shooting games.  Turns out I’m not too shabby with a gun 🙂  My driving on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired *shame*

L.A. Noire also led me to be a part of a whole community of like-minded fans via Twitter and Tumblr (shout out to Kelly and Allyson – so thankful to have e-met you guys! :)), and also introduced me to Sean McGowan, the amazing, super talented actor behind Stefan Bekowsky, who also happens to be one of the nicest, sweetest, most down-to-earth people in the business today.  Sean, you are AWESOME, thank you for, well, being you! 🙂

So big thank you to Rockstar Games and Team Bondi!

2. Naughty Dog and Nolan North

The Uncharted series is the perfect game in every way, in my eyes 🙂  It has given me hours and hours of much needed escapism, which I have really craved this year, so thank you to the Dogs!!

Nolan – you brought life to Nathan Drake, possibly one of the most liked video game characters of this generation.  Thank you for giving me a virtual crush, HAHA!

I think I will leave it at that since I think I nattered on long enough about Uncharted in my previous blog post…

3. Jason Mraz

I have been a fan of his from the start (before the world took notice!), but I have grown sooo in love with this man ever since I saw him live last week.  I have been listening to his songs non-stop ever since – his songs are truly a work of art; he is an amazing lyricist with such a beautiful and unique style to his sound and his performance.  His improvisational method of performing means he sings a different rendition of the same song each time which is great!  He is even more fantastic live – heartfelt and effortless performance from start to finish…truly magical.  And man, can he rock that guitar!!  It is an experience I will NEVER forget and I can only hope that I get the opportunity to watch him perform again in the future.

To top it off he is just such a wonderful human being – I swear he is the nicest and most genuine person in the music industry (very similar to Sean ;)).  His humility, generosity and selflessness is truly inspirational.  I just love that even though he is this successful singer/songwriter (two time Grammy winner, no less!! :D), he doesn’t let the fame define him; he just wants to make music and share it to the world, he wants to enjoy life and make his mark in this world in his own special way.  I like that he sees his fans as his friends and that he sees the world as one big family.

The fact that he is also incredibly cute and charming is just the cherry on a very yummy cake 😉  He is quite a comedian too which I discovered at his concert.  WOW, he’s like the perfect package *swoon*

But yeah, I’ve been a bit down this week and listening to Jason’s songs have really cheered me up and lifted my spirits.  He also said something during his concert that really moved me and has motivated me to see things from a different perspective.  So muchos gracias, Jason – YOU ARE LOVED 😀

4. Patricia 🙂

I have known Patricia for quite a number of years now.  We’ve had our ups and downs as all good friendships do but we have certainly come a long way and I feel our friendship right now is at it’s best 😀  Patricia, you have been a source of strength and comfort to me this year when I needed it most and I cannot thank you enough for your words of advice, encouragement and support.  I will probably never be able to repay you but I can only hope that I can return the favor one day 😉  I love you, babe – I’m glad to have you (back) in my life xo

On the subject of friendships, I want to take the opportunity to extend some quick shout outs to the following awesome people:

Michelle – I’m thankful for the friendship we developed this year…until you abandoned me, that is! (how rude)  Have an absolute blast in NYC, can’t wait to catch up with you when you’re back 🙂

Jimbo – It’s been really great geeking out *ahem* chatting with you on Facebook these past few months; shame we didn’t get to do this more when you were actually here but oh well…better late than never, as they say!!  Thanks again for being an excellent Uncharted co-op buddy hehe 😀

Louise – We have been on quite a journey together, haven’t we?!  I am so thankful that our lives crossed paths all those years ago, I guess we have Harry to thank for that aye 😉  I’m so chuffed that we have still managed to keep in touch after all this time and that although we have moved on from the VTM days, we have new geeky things to talk about!!  I’m grateful to have you as a friend, in many ways you are like the big sister I never had 🙂

Lavy – The long lost friend from the good ol’ high school days!!  I’m so stoked and thankful that we are in contact again after quite a hiatus – I hope to see you again in the near future as it’s been far too long!!  Love you, babe 😉

Shane – My Irish cutiepie 😉  Like Louise, we have come quite a ways too.  Even though we both at some point have disappeared on the other, I am glad we have found each other again 🙂  I always enjoy our conversations and I’ve always felt we have a special connection – I’m thankful to Harry for bringing us together and to Facebook for helping us always come back 😉

**UPDATE!! November 26th @ 933AM:

2 more quick shout outs to a couple more people I forgot to mention, whoops!!

Chelsea – I’m glad and grateful we’ve had the opportunity to grow closer this year 🙂  Who knew we had such similar dramas and perspectives on things? 😉

Lewis – My fellow Survivor freak – I never thought I would find one and I’m thankful I have!!  I’ve really enjoyed our e-conversations and I think an actual hang out is in order at some point!! 🙂

PHEW that’s a lot of thank you’s aye!!  I actually have a lot of things I am NOT thankful for too but probably better to leave that for another post, or maybe it’s just best to keep to myself 😛  I will say this though: I am NOT thankful to be in New Zealand on Thanksgiving because I don’t get to have turkey 😦  No gobble, gobble for the Whimsical Banana, sigh…

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

***

Thank you, Mr Jobs, for these words of inspiration.  You never met me, you know nothing about me and our paths probably would have never crossed, but today, in your death, your words have given me strength and the motivation to keep fighting.  I always believe that things happen for a reason and I know I was meant to read those words from you.

It’s amazing how someone that essentially means nothing to me and that I do not know nor he of I but yet can say something that pierces right through to my soul.

People that know me well enough know that I am one of the very rare weird-out-of-touch-not-really-moving-with-the-times people that is not completely Apple-obsessed.  Sure, I have an iPhone and an iPod but both I didn’t buy for myself personally; one was sort of “inherited” and the other was a gift.  I do think the Mac Air is SEXY AS HELL but I’ll probably never be able to afford it, and I want an iPad just to say that I have one!!  I do think Apple products look sleek and are pretty awesome but don’t see them as superior as many do so I can happily live without them.

Having said that though, you cannot deny that Apple products have been revolutionary in that it has changed many lives through changing the face of technology, specifically how we communicate with one another and engage with different forms of mass and social media.  Reading about his journey, you can’t help but be completely in awe of Steve Jobs’ life story.

When I found out today that Steve Jobs had passed away I was hit with an immense sadness.  It was a very strange almost surreal reaction, I thought.  I wasn’t expecting it at all.  In recent years I have become very sensitive to issues surrounding death.  I have lost a dear friend and some family in the last few years which has been hard to swallow.  And even people who I don’t know – the “Hollywood stars” – surprisingly affect me somewhat.  I may not shed a tear for them because I don’t know them personally but it is still sad nonetheless and more importantly, a wake up call that life really is too damn short.

The world lost a great man today.  Death is always a sad thing but even moreso when it came far too soon and to someone that has contributed so much and had so much more to give.

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs.  Your legacy will live forever.

Hello WWW, I am back.

After many, MANY attempts at blogging, or rather, maintaining a blog, hopefully this one will stand the test of time!!

In all my previous blogs I had it like an “online diary” of sorts – the problem with that was, unfortunately, I don’t have much of a life so I never really had much interesting things to tell and so eventually the blog died a natural death.

This time, I plan on doing things a little bit differently.  Instead of treating this blog as a narcissistic platform where I talk endlessly about myself and my daily escapades (which as has been established is few and far in between), I intend to use this blog as a means to talk about the things that I like, love, enjoy doing – essentially things that I have some form of interest in or am passionate about.

On the flipside, from time to time, I’m sure I’ll also be in the mood to whinge and rant about things that I don’t like, that get on my nerves, or that makes me want to scream bloody murder!!

I will try to keep this updated as regularly as possible but let’s face it – that’s probably an empty promise.  Let’s just take it one post at a time shall we 🙂

If you like what I have to say – I’d like to think I’m mildly interesting – please do subscribe to this blog.  And if not, please do leave a comment as it will be good to know that I am not just talking to myself 😛