Touring award helps top original NZ Plays find a new audience

BATS Theatre in Wellington and Basement Theatre in Auckland have joined forces to create a new initiative called The Besties Tour. A handful of the best new works staged at these venues in the last year have been selected to take their productions beyond their cities, in what the venues hope will ultimately become a nationwide tour.
The two theatres are excited about this opportunity for the emerging artists in their communities. “Touring is an essential tool for independent companies who are looking to reach a wider audience and one day export their shows to arts festivals around the world” says Basement Theatre’s Artist Development Manager, Gabrielle Vincent.
Selected companies will receive a grant of up to $10,000 towards their touring costs, publicity support, and mentoring by companies with established touring experience. Justin Lewis, Founding Partner of Indian Ink (Auckland), and Richard Aindow, General Manager of Footnote Dance Company (Wellington), have been recruited as the mentors for this year’s award.
Elise Sterback, General Manager of Basement Theatre says, “We developed this initiative because we were consistently seeing some truly excellent work come up from Wellington to perform at our space, but every time these shows would struggle to pull an audience. We wanted to reduce the risk to artists and help them grow their touring skillset so that they could develop a viable commercial product.”
The first work to take part in the tour was The Better Best Possible Album Party That Anybody Has Ever Been Two which travelled to BATS Theatre in December of last year. An entertaining, tongue in cheek look at the highly contested pop music industry, a concert, a comedy gig and a play all rolled into one, Album Party is the brainchild of Auckland artists Kate McGill and Frith Horan, who are well-known for their character-driven comedy. The show received rave reviews in Wellington with one reviewer calling it ‘an hour of colour, fun and laughing that you won’t forget’ and played to enthusiastic audiences across its 5 night season.
Following Horan and McGill down to the Capital in April is a contemporary retake on a classic in Dido and Aeneas, by UnStuck Opera - a company intent on bringing opera to a broader, younger crowd. With a modern recomposition, one-hour run time, and a promenade experience that leads audiences all over the venue, the show is sure to be a hit in the Windy City.
In Auckland, Basement Theatre will host Jingles, a comedy musical mash-up of commercial nostalgia created by Dean Hewison of Conversations With My Penis fame. Winning several awards at the NZ Fringe Festival in 2015, the company has long been looking for an opportunity to bring the show to Auckland, which it sees as the heart of the local advertising world.
Heather O’Carroll, Programme Manager of BATS Theatre says “We’re so excited to be working with our friends at the Basement Theatre, in the true spirit of collaboration and a shared goal of providing more opportunities for our artists to upskill and gain valuable touring experience. The chosen shows are really representative of the fantastic quality that both theatres produce every year to entertain audiences”.
The Better Best Possible Album Party That Anybody Has Ever Been Two
(Alacrity Productions)
13-17 December 2016, 8.30pm
BATS Theatre
Dido and Aeneas
(Unstuck Opera)
30 March-13 April 2017
BATS Theatre
Jingles – The Musical
(Out of Bounds)
6-17 June 2017
Basement Theatre