When I opened up another branch of Wanda Harland, Joanna interviewed me all about it, so I figured with House of Boom about to launch, it was time for me to return the favour.
Yes! I got fed up with the lack of ethically-made options for fat people, and after years of sitting around saying “someone should do something about it”, well, I’ve done something about it. House of Boom clothes come in sizes 16-30, are made right here in Wellington (in Berhampore specifically) and everyone involved in their making is on good wages (apart from me) . The clothes are all cotton – and everything has pockets.
I probably need to put in a qualifier here – the garments themselves are ethically made. The fabrics though, that’s another story. I bought them at various fabric suppliers around Wellington, so I don’t know their origins. I hope as the label grows I can get further up the supply chain and get ethical fabrics too.
Bright colours! First and foremost, I’ve done clothes that I want to wear. There’s just four items – a t-shirt, a skirt and two dresses – but they all come in a range of textures and colours and patterns. The first season is called In The Beginning There Was Boom – but there’s no particular cohesion to it. I’m throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. It’s not high fashion – it’s practical basics in natural fibres. And I get to name clothes after women that inspire me. Yes I did name my skirt after myself, thanks Snoop!
I sure do. I use the word fat freely because to me it’s a neutral term like being tall or blonde. It’s lazy jerks who use it as shorthand for lazy or greedy. And I use plus-size for the SEO of it, but if we take stats from the US about how 68% of women are a size 14 or over, you have to wonder why ⅔ of people are othered. Except you don’t really have to wonder, because, as you know, patriarchy and bullshit standards of beauty. And now for the commentators to go “it’s about your health” and for me to tell them to read this article then delete their hate.
Without the village nature of Wellington and all the bloody excellent people contained within, I don’t think I’d be able to have launched Boom. People here seem really happy to work together to help others succeed. I got introduced to the amazing Iona who’s been my pattern-maker/production manager by Elisha from Nisa, which was vital because I have no garment knowledge at all. Black Dog Brewery & Matahiwi Estate are helping me out with the launch and I get to order Pomegranate catering for the event which allows me to support the businesses that I think are doing good too. And of course, some of the best babes in town have modeled for me.
I really really really wanted to open up a physical shop and have it be a glorious experience, unlike other stores that hide their plus size clothing at the back, but my dream-crushing accountant said no no no to that. Instead, I’m having a pop-up on December 15 & 16 to launch the clothes, because I really want people to be able to try them on, and after that, they’ll be available from the website.
Now it’s not just House of Boom label you’ll be stocking at your pop-up is it?
I’m so glad you asked that Martha! I’ll also be stocking a carefully curated range of second hand plus-size clothing, both in order to make sure that fast fashion gets a second life and also to be more affordable, because did you know that fat women get paid less than ‘regular’ women?
Also there’ll be prints from the lovely Ruby Alice Rose, as well as the jewellery from Throwing Feathers, Twigg and Fancy Lady Industries, as well as the amazing knickers from Fanny Adams. You don’t even have to be fat to buy beautiful things!
Come along okay? Cool.
House of Boom plus-size clothing pop-up sale
Santa Claus brings A Slightly Isolated Dog’s usual charm, wit and innuendo to BATS’ Random Stage for the telling of a tale about a Santa Claus who is rather tired of putting up with naughty people’s bullshit.
I shall not go too far into the plot of this sixty-minute show – to save you all from dreaded spoilers – but this Santa’s got a touch of the nihilistic about him, and he absolutely likes it. There is slightly more murder than you’d probably expect in this play, and it’s a very welcome change from our usual Christmas cheer.
A Slightly Isolated Dog’s Andrew Paterson, Suzie Berry, Jack Buchanan and Jonathan Price guide us through this tale, with musical interludes, significant amounts of mime, and all the compliments one could ever want.
Interactive theatre can be hit or miss – especially for those with anxiety issues like myself – but A Slightly Isolated Dog creates such a positive, fun environment (and I hate to say ‘safe’ because of the connotations, but that’s what I mean) for the audience that the anxiety of the whole thing just melts away. Tonight, my theatre-going companion got to play Santa for two memorable, sassy, parts, and I had the chance to be a reindeer – and it was very, very fun.
While the games of the show haven’t exactly changed since the company’s previous pieces – there are aspects of the show that bear significant resemblance to previous shows Don Juan and Jekyll and Hyde – everything runs like clockwork and is well-practised and enjoyable. Despite some of the bizarre offers that come out from the crowd, the performers take it all in their stride. The show is chaotic, yes – a particular argumentative interlude about monopoly hits rather close to home – but it still feels controlled, and strangely relatable.
If you like your Christmas gifts to have a little more spice than nice, check out Santa Claus. It’s sexy, fun, and will leave you (possibly) dreading your Christmas time to come.
(In a good way. Somehow.)
Santa Claus is on at BATS Theatre until the 15th of December 2018. Tickets are available from BATS’ website.]]>
Tom’s been walking again. Follow his latest tramping adventure from traversing the Hutt Valley to Kāpiti via the Akatarawa Road here.
Circa Theatre’s Christmas pantomime this year is Puss in Boots. It’s a tale as old as time, if that tale were set in the wilds of Te Aro and Karori and featured many dick jokes, jabs at Gareth Morgan and fantastical dance numbers.
It’s 2018. Or there abouts. Camilla Miller – a grieving widow woman – and her son Arthur Miller (yes, I know) have just discovered that they’re out of money. Their mill has run dry and the man of the house has run off to the forest to find himself. What are they to do? Well, Camilla insists that Arthur must find a wife – who comes in the form of Martha, the daughter of King Justin (yes, that Justin) who vehemently doesn’t want to get married. Many hi-jinks happen, there is a significant amount of capering, and the Puss (in Boots) turns up to save the day.
It is all very fun.
Obviously, it is a panto, so there are a lot of children about – and there even is a moment where the kids get to go up on stage and play around within one of the scenes – so you might want to give this one a miss if that’s not quite your style. However, I wasn’t at all bored and found a lot of fun within the show – especially within the raunchy jokes that the kids wouldn’t quite have gotten. There was a fantastic moment that felt fairly off the cuff involving a cucumber and two Pak ‘n’ Save reusable bags, but I’ll leave that up to your imagination.
The cast perform a variety of dance and song numbers across the entire show. There was, of course, the old panto favourite – Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl performed by our leading man in the process of wooing his inevitable love (Arthur, to Martha) – plus a handful of new and unique pieces. I particularly enjoyed a version of Anna Kendrick’s Cups (When I’m Gone) performed by the King and Martha, with some very tricky choreography and many cup-based skills.
Also, don’t get me started on the choreography! The whole show was choreographed excellently, with some very strong dancers and singers. Ben Emerson had incredible stage presence as Arthur, and Carrie Green delighted with her incredible voice as one of the trolls (the antagonists). Jonathan Morgan had an hilarious and very sassy take on the Puss, and The Dame (Gavin Rutherford) had an easy rapport with the audience and truly made the piece what it was.
It was very welcome to see such a strong cast overall, though.
Puss in Boots is fun for the whole family, and is absolutely worth seeing. It’s enjoyable for both the child and the child-at-heart.
(I’ll be completely honest, though, I didn’t expect quite so much Fortnite dancing in a pantomime, but times have obviously changed. It was certainly a unique take, that’s for sure!)
Puss in Boots is on now until the 23rd of December 2018 at Circa Theatre in Wellington. Tickets are available from Circa’s website.
Reviewed by our fantastic guest reviewer, Shannon Gillies (@dashrightin) on Twitter!
I saw four improv shows last night as part of the New Zealand Improv Festival. In the interests of brevity, here’s a joint review of all four.
Penny Ashton’s Austen Found is a perambulation into the world of one of Jane Austen’s lost musicals – in this case, the story of one Victoria Sandybottom, who is in desperate need of a husband. Pickings, however, are short – she is obliged to choose between Colonel Smidget (sp??) – who unfortunately had an illicit encounter with a woman in France and is thus outcast when his secret is revealed – and the village’s Vicar, who has an unfortunate tendency towards overt creepiness.
(She ended up with the Vicar.)
Jane Austen put to music is certainly rather entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed the song between Victoria (Ashton) and her best friend Deirdre (Lori Dungey) where the two women speculated about what it would be like to kiss their husbands once they got married – complete with a whole world’s worth of giggling.
If I’m truly honest, I did hope that the two women would end up together – considering the unfortunate pickings in the town and my tremulous shipping heart – but this is Austen, after all, and that did not come to pass.
In all, Austen Found was slickly improvised, with fabulous dick jokes, and some very well-executed songs. Lots and lots of fun.
Love Isthmus: Dystopia Edition
Christine Brooks’ Love Isthmus is a truly bizarre and apocalyptic hour of improv, styled heavily off the Love Island television show (or so I’m told).
“The water is getting higher, the isthmus is getting narrower. Success means true love and salvation. Elimination means death. The power is in your hands.” Eight people are dragged from the Ashes of civilization and given the chance to live in the Cloisters – a sliver of civilization untouched by devastation. However, only two people from that group can make it into the Cloisters – the two people who can honestly fall in love with each other – and convince the audience of such – in around about 45 minutes. Those who the audience vote out get murdered by looming guards, and the whole thing is a bit of a nightmare.
Love Isthmus was an incredibly unique premise for an improv show, but fell slightly flat because it didn’t push the envelope quite far enough. Though the setting was dystopian – the Cloisters’ Emperor watched on from the audience and the whole thing was very Hunger Games, it didn’t really lean into the darkness of some of the moments.
What really became exciting was when the show broke away from its episodic mold – Leo, the crowd favourite – broke free from the guards trying to kill him and stabbed the Emperor to death. We all rose up as one and started cheering for him – his character had grown from a few intro lines to someone who we could actually care about.
It would be interesting to see Love Isthmus with a few more of those moments of rebellion – though we, as the audience, are ‘privileged members of the Cloisters’ – what sort of characters and moments could make us want to fight for those on the outside?
The Greatest Show
Amanda Buckley and Wiremu Tuhiwai’s The Greatest Show pulls back the curtains on the Big Top and lets us into the final night of a travelling circus, mere hours before they go out and perform their final show as a company together. It’s a massive ensemble piece, with a lot of dancing, some fantastic singing, and all the glitter one could ever want.
Buckley and Tuhiwai led us through the show as the MC and the CM respectively, who were both trying to deal with the fact that their show (and their lives together) were about to be over. They kept everything at a good pace, lightened moments when they got too dark, and had fantastic energy together. (The surprise proposal between the characters at the end was very sweet as well!)
We had Susie – the bearded woman – sing her tale, as well as Vladimir (a giant Russian man), a fire-breather, a contortionist and a whole host of other esoteric characters. While it would have been nice to have a slight deviation from this mold of story telling – to see the ensemble do more pieces together would have been nice – the whole show felt very genuine and had a lovely heart at its core.
Playshop’s spooky Halloween-themed showcase was MC’ed by Sam Irwin – who gallivanted around the stage giving out lollies to the audience and the improvisers – and helmed by Playshop’s usual team – as well as a few special NZIF guests.
George Fenn also loomed behind the audience, dressed as Jigsaw (from the Saw films), and occasionally imposed penance upon the improvisers. Austin Harrison – in full regalia as a spooky skeleton – was made to spend all a lot of his scenes on the floor, while Jen O’Sullivan had to perform as Santa Claus (in October).
The evening culminated in Jigsaw dragging Jen off to Improv Hell for flouting one of his rules.
In all, a very good night indeed.]]>
I leaned over to my theatre-going companion just before the start of this show and pointed at one of the audience-made spaceships lying on the floor of BATS’ Random Stage. “That spaceship looks a lot like a dildo,” I remarked, presciently as always, and he agreed.
The audience, in an ode to predictability, chose it.
And thus, we all embarked on a fantastic space journey with the crew of the aptly-named SS Wang, who were determined to save the universe from the horrors of the patriarchy (and unwatered plants). Which, in the space of about 50 minutes, they absolutely managed to do.
Space Patrol 5 is the brainchild of Christchurch’s Court Jesters, and was spearheaded in Wellington this year by former cast members Matt Powell and Brendon Bennetts. It’s an entirely improvised show, and a spoof of well-known sci-fi shows and works.
From challenging the great and terrifying might of the Kardashian Empire to everyday examples of misogyny closer to home, the crew of the SS Wang (which was renamed the SS Pussy after defeating said empire), brought us an exciting and hilarious show with some lovely moments of sincerity.
I’d especially like to note the actor playing the botanist, Strawberry Fields, who took an utterly bizarre premise and managed to create enough scienceish technobabble – aloeverastoponous (sp???) plants, indeed – to fool even the greatest of sci-fi connoisseurs. I didn’t quite understand the intricacies of the Kardashian Empire’s evil plans – something involving the aloeverastoponous plants – but in the end, it hardly even mattered.
Space Patrol 5 was compelling sci-fi and very, very fun.
If you’re in Wellington, check out the New Zealand Improv Festival! It’s on from now until Saturday. Tickets from their website.
Imagine if you could download an app and tap a few onscreen buttons to create a Tap and Go public transport payment card that lived inside your phone.
Then imagine that you could add some dollars to this card with a couple more taps. Now you’re using it on buses, trains, in convenience stores, at vending machines; at restaurants; everywhere you’re likely to go in a day: no wallet required, just your phone. Transaction histories would show up in the app; you’d always know your balance, and you’d never be caught short.
Slick, and convenient; and it would remove small and annoying barriers in everyday city life several times per day. You might even use public transport a bit more!
Well, wonder no more: there is good news. Such nirvana exists. The bad news: it’s in Japan (and maybe elsewhere too… but not here). There, Japan Rail East has built out their Suica card (their equivalent of our Snapper) into an amazing and useful cash and small purchases enabler. If you happen to be going, download the Suica app to your Apple-Pay enabled iOS device and run through these (English) instructions. You’ll be able to use your new virtual card on buses and city trains almost everywhere in the entire country just by tapping your phone to the reader. It’s sufficiently entrenched now that at least in Tokyo you’ll have a decent chance of not needing to carry cash on you (and Japan is a notoriously cash-centric society).
It doesn’t seem like a big thing, but believe me, once you’ve experienced it you’ll never want to go back to the old-style ways.
Well, what about Wellington? Are we close to any of this?
Unfortunately: no. And the really sad thing is that we’re not moving forward, we’ve been going backwards.
For a brief and shining moment it really did look like we were on track to achieve this kind of public transport nirvana. Back in 2012, it was possible to have a Snapper card remotely provisioned and embedded in your Android phone (the “Touch2Pay” service), and use it for public transport and for small purchases at convenience stores, just like you can today with Suica in Japan. There was every possibility that this would continue to grow and expand to the extent that I would not be writing these words six years later.
But now: Touch2Pay is not offered any more; and if you can find a dairy with a Snapper card reader it will be for offering top-ups to the balance only, not purchases. Snapper’s RideBank card is nice, but it’s still not letting me get rid of a stupid piece of plastic (and is it slow at the card reader or what?).
And there’s no integrated ticketing: we still can’t use Snapper on the trains after ten years.
So what happened? Where did the future go?
I wish I knew.
Yes, yes, I know: we’re a small market; technologies change; business shit happens; people aren’t as excited about the technology as we’d all hoped; but really this feels like another failure of vision, not necessarily or wholly from Snapper – at least they tried – but across the wider transportation sector and regional and central government. Collectively these are the people with the ability to push this kind of connected-up venture through our introverted, small, overly self-important and personality-driven business sector.
The current bus timetabling and route mess? Same people. Different symptoms of the same problem. It’s all just so… inadequate.
Directed by Sara Brodie.
Written by Lori Leigh.
Uneasy Dreams and Other Things is a glorious, hilarious (in some places) piece of theatre, inspired by Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.
However, instead of turning into a giant bug overnight, our reluctant heroine, Samantha (Lydia Peckham), grows a penis. She spends the entirety of the play trying to deal with her new appendage, and actually grows to like it. (While the others around her do not.)
It’s a fascinating concept to explore in a piece of theatre, because the reactions of Samantha’s loved ones surely mimic the reactions of those in the audience. Samantha’s husband, Greg (Matthew Staijen-Leach) is repulsed – he cannot move past the change, despite loving his wife – Sam’s friend Reta (Johanna Cosgrove) is fascinated – and a little turned on – and her flatmate Fran (Arlo Gibson) is mostly just confused.
Ideologically, what are we? People or parts?
Uneasy Dreams does a damn good job at making us think about it.
It’s a powerful, feminist tale of misogyny, identity and relationships, spiced up by 80s pop ballads performed by local band STI (Liam Kelly, Peter Scriven, with support from Gibson) – their full name has something to do with insects (because of, you know, Metamorphosis), but I’ve forgotten it.
A favourite scene of mine was when Reta turns up at Sam’s, a tad plastered, and tries to get her to have sex with her. She’s drunk, yes, but she seems to think that because Sam’s got a penis now, she’ll happily cheat on her husband and hook up with her. It’s eye-opening, because Sam’s caught in this mid-ground – she’s Reta’s friend, she’s not really an object of sexual attraction to her, but she’s also got a penis (so Reta kinda sees her as one). It’s a very unique way to look at gender, and I’m glad it was discussed.
The whole performance feels very slick and thoroughly well-conceived. Leigh’s characters are well-rounded and very strong – and the cast played their parts beautifully. Excellent music and a strong design concept added to the mix.
While the discussion of sex vs identity may feel a little brute force to some, I absolutely urge you to go and see this play. It’ll make you consider your own identity in another light. This play feels very, very important, and I’m sure it’ll stem many incredible conversations to come.
Uneasy Dreams and Other Things is on at Circa Theatre in Wellington until the 27th of October, 2018. Tickets are available from Circa’s website.
Parekura and Ra re-unite on a night out in the town. Their past rekindles an old kind, odd romance for each other again. They enjoy the night and end up back at Parekura’s whare where her father, Chief, awaits the return of his only daughter not expecting to see her infamous friend as well. Chief concedes to Parekura’s demands of letting Ra stay on the condition that she begin to take her anti-depressants. After catch ups are had Chief and Ra come to form a mutual kind of concern for Parekura and she begins to ask for guidance from her mum.
Parekura’s state of mind begins to deteriorate during the day from various pressures and stress. As she tries to get back to a sense of good a familiar turbulence begins to arise between Ra and herself leaving Ra to figure out how things got so messed up, so quickly, again.
All Good explores healthier relationships within the mental well being of young women and families while destigmatising the effects of domestic abuse. It offers an insight into the life of a young Māori wahine as she fights against the darkness that tries to bring her down.
Written by Isaac Te Reina, directed by Whetu Silver, performed by Isaac Te Reina and Moana Johnson, produced by Taurima Vibes Ltd.