Circa Theatre has had an odd handful of years. The whole environment around the arts has shifted, and audiences with it. Circa’s greatest skill has always been knowing its audience and what they want, so these shifting soils did not disturb it, but simply threw it into an invigorating era of experimentation.
The theatre allowed younger companies into Circa Two, giving outfits like Trick of the Light (The Road That Wasn’t There) and Show Pony (Thomas Monckton’s The Pianist) the chance to prove that their electric, eclectic works can stand strong beside the latest and greatest well-made plays from across the seas.
Circa also pushed the boat out in the work they programmed for themselves, and while this led, as all experiments do, to both successes and failures, it has provoked an evolution in the work they offer. Nowhere is that more clear than in their programme for this year.
While some of the old favourites recur — Roger Hall’s Robin Hood: The Pantomime will see in next Christmas and Robert Lord’s The Travelling Squirrel arrives in September — the programme, which is available in full at circa.co.nz or in a physical form basically anywhere you’d find a flyer, is full of exciting, new and most wonderfully local work.
The year starts — it’s on right now actually — with Elisabeth Easther’s Adam Award-winning Seed, a warm hug of a play about several women’s struggles to conceive (or, in some cases, the struggle to conceive of conceiving). I know it’s 2015 and we shouldn’t have to be happy with majority female-led work (both on stage and behind the scenes) gracing one of our bigger stages, but a quick glance through other theatres’ programmes shows us this, unfortunately, is an occasion for celebration.
The young companies are back, too, with Trick of the Light not only filling the September school holidays in Circa Two with their beautiful Bookbinder, but also taking to the main stage in March with Beards! Beards! Beards! They’re keeping the subject matter of that show pretty close to their chests but say there is a clue or three in the title. I’m still stumped.
Also graduating to Circa One is The Pianist, the most fun I had last year in a theatre; and Wake Up Tomorrow, a work from wonderfully named local company Everybody Cool Lives Here, made with disabled youth from across the community.
Circa opened themselves up to the new, and you need only glance through this programme to see that we, the theatre-going public of Wellington, are the ones reaping the benefits. With a new–old BATS and this bold statement of a programme from Circa, it looks like 2015 is going to be a good time to be a fan of the stage in this city.