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12:16  The return of the notorious Burgess Gang

The Burgess Gang

The Burgess Gang Photo: Sarah Wilson

An infamous gang of Nineteenth Century murderers are being brought back to life in a new play.  In 1866 the Burgess-Kelly Gang killed five men on the Maungatapu track, near Nelson. Their arrest, trial and execution provided a media sensation throughout the country.  

Now the play Maungatapu is about to premiere in Nelson, where the gang members were tried and hung.  The play explores the relationships between gang members Burgess, Kelly, Levy and Sullivan, from plotting the murders through to their last moment.

William Ray met director Giles Burton and playwright Justin Eade.  He was keen to find out what attracted Justin to the story:

Maungatapu premieres at the Suter Theatre as part of the Nelson Arts Festival and the Burgess gang also features on William's podcast series Black Sheep.

12.29   Nothing up their sleeves - the fascination with stage magic

Colin Cloud

Colin Cloud Photo: supplied

Nopera Whitley

Nopera Whitley Photo: supplied

You'd have thought television might have spelled the end of stage magic.  Can stage illusion withstand all those inquisitive cameras? Indeed it can!   TV has made stars of magicians like David Copperfield and David Blaine, and more recently Penn and Teller and the amazing street magician Dynamo have got popular shows using new versions of old-fashioned stage magic.

But there's really nothing like seeing magic unfold before your own eyes, on stage.  The Magicians stage show is about to take to the road, promising us we won't believe our eyes.  It starts its North Island tour in Wellington this week.

Lynn Freeman talks to the producer of the show - magician Nopera Whitley who also owns this country's biggest magic shop - and to Scottish mind-reader Colin Cloud from Scotland.  Colin was recently a smash hit on America's Got Talent when he got judge Mel B to stab Simon Cowell - with a fake knife!

2:48  From Wales to Pike River

Colin Smith

Colin Smith Photo: supplied

Lavinnia Ray

Lavinnia Ray Photo: supplied

An epic cantata written to mark the 50th anniversary of a mining disaster in Wales, is about to have its New Zealand premiere.  Sir Karl Jenkins wrote Cantata Memoria - For the Children of Aberfan.    That's where a dislodged mountain of mine waste engulfed a primary school, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

Three years ago Dave Dobbyn put on a big tribute concert for the Pike River families. But this is even more ambitious, involving more than 300 performers - orchestra, adult choir, youth choir and soloists - who're coming from around the country and from Australia to be in the Wellington concert over Labour Weekend.

Also in the programme is a performance another of Sir Karl's compositions -  "Benedictus" from The Armed Man, which is being dedicated to the victims and families of the Pike River mine disaster. Lynn Freeman speaks to the cello soloist,  20 year old Lavinnia Rae, and also to Colin Smith, the Chairperson of the Pike River Family Support Group Committee.


1:08 At The Movies

Blade Runner 2049, Final Portrait, Another Mother's Son

Are Yous OK? is the slightly confronting name of political artist Gina Matchitt's new exhibition.  But she says it's aimed at getting people to really think about the disparities between Māori and Pākeha.

Gina uses found objects and domestic materials to create her work, like a mattress with broken glass embedded into it - something comfortable, made truly uncomfortable. She tells Lynn Freeman Are Yous Ok? also includes te reo māori to make another point.

Gina Matchitt's exhibition Are Yous OK? opens this week at Toi Pōneke Gallery in Wellington.

1:45  Alex Taylor

Alex Taylor

Alex Taylor Photo: Priscilla Northe

Opera companies usually stick to the classics, Auckland's Unstuck Opera is trying to establish a contemporary opera scene here in New Zealand.  For their latest experimental production the company is bringing together a Schubert masterpiece and 1930s music from Berlin for a contemporary opera-cum-cabaret called The Winterreise Project.  The work premieres at Auckland's Basement Theatre on Tuesday.

Alex Taylor is the show's music director and writer.   He's also a multi-instrumentalist, composer, critic, lecturer, conductor, singer and impresario.  Lynn Freeman first asked Alex about Schubert's original Wintereisse cycle:

2:06 The Laugh Track - Cameron McLeod and Snap

Cameron McLeod

Cameron McLeod Photo: supplied


Snap Photo: supplied

The comedy scene in New Zealand is usually sold as an Auckland thing - based on TV and the Classic standup venue - with a side-order of Wellington - heavy on the Fringe! But there is comedy south of Cook Strait.  In fact it's just completed a short tour of the South Island.  It was called the Golden Fig Tour - part of the GoMedia Comedy Carnival, in association with Grandpa Figs.

Lynn Freeman asks today's Laugh Track guests to tell her more - Christchurch comedian Cameron McLeod, and comedian, MC and prime mover of the Christchurch comedy scene, Snap.

Their picks include John Clarke and Bryan Dawe, James Nokise, Molly Sokhom, and an Australian party animal called Cory!

2:25 Kate Grenville explores the gap between New Zealand and Australian writers

Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville Photo: supplied

Australia may be our nearest neighbour and traditional sporting rival, but while sports teams regularly cross the Tasman, that's less the case with our writers.  So why the literary gulf between our nations?   That's the subject of a panel being held at the Tauranga Arts Festival on the 21st and 22nd of October., and in the line up is award-winning Australian writer Kate Grenville. 

Kate's already got close ties with New Zealand.  She came here to research some of her forebears who've appeared in several of her books,  including The Secret River.  Lynn Freeman asked her if Kiwi writers have much of a profile in Australia these days:

2:38  Screen Gems:  favourite horror scenes

Kiwi filmmaker Florian Habicht's new documentary, Spookers.

Kiwi filmmaker Florian Habicht's new documentary, Spookers. Photo: Supplied

Do you like scary movies?   It seems a lot of people do.  The Stephen King film It is filling up cinemas around the world, American Horror Story is into its sixth season on television, while Florian Habicht's Spookers is touring the country too.  In her monthly dip into Screen Gems, Irene Gardiner looks at horror past and present, here and overseas.

2:49 My Heels Are Killing Me

Fur is controversial in the fashion industry and wearing it today is a statement of nothing more than excess. The controversy lies not only in the hands of the designers producing it, but also those who are buying garments made from fur. Dunedin-based Jane Avery is an unashamed advocate of fur, but says doing it sustainably and ethically is what matters most. Sonia Sly has more…


3:06 Drama at 3 - Part 4 of LifeAfter and Vilma Skulsky and the Tree of Fortune 

In LifeAfter,  FBI clerk Ross Barnes tried resisting  the demands of the website 'VoiceTree' which has all the voice-posts his wife made before she was killed in a car crash.  Until they threatened to erase the recordings. Now he spies on the FBI - and the voice of his dead wife is back in his earphones, as part of the conspiracy.

And later,  K.C.Kelly tells the story of an unfortunate relationship with a grateful woman - a very grateful woman -  in Vilma Skulsky and the Tree of Fortune  by Rhonda Bartle


Music played in this show

Artist: The Band
Song:  Life is a carnival
Composer:  Helm, Danko, Robertson
Album: Best of...
Label:  Capitol
Played at:  12.12

Artist:  Randy Newman
Song: Davy the fat boy
Composer:  Newman
Album:  The Randy Newman Songbook
Label:  Nonesuch
Played at: 12.44

Artist:   London Philharmonic Orchestra
Song: Benedictus
Composer:  Jenkins
Album:  The Armed Man
Label:  Virgin
Played at:  12.47

Artist:  Sparks
Song:  Pulling rabbits out of a hat
Composer:  Mael
Album:  Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat
Label: Oasis
Played at:  12.58

Artist:  Blue Orchids
Song:  Dumb magician
Composer:  N/A
Album:  Rip It Up And Start Again
Label:  V2
Played at:  1.07

Artist: Luscious Jackson
Song:  Sexy hypnotist
Composer:  Electric Honey
Album:  Cunniff
Label:  Capitol
Played at:  1.42

Artist:  Ian Bostridge
Song:  Der Leiermann
Composer:  Schubert
Album:  Winterreise D 911
Label:  EMI
Played at: 1.56

Artist:  Sugar

Song:  Fortune teller
Composer:  Mould
Album:  Copper Blue
Label:  Ryko
Played at: 1.58

Artist:  Silverchair
Song: I'm not a mind reader
Composer:  Hamilton-Johns
Album:  Young Modern
Label:  Virgin
Played at:  2.04

Artist:   Barenaked Ladies
Song: Vanshing
Composer: Hearn
Album:  Barenaked Ladies Are Me
Label:  Desperation
Played at:  2.58

Artist: American Music Club
Song:  Mantovani the mind reader
Composer:  Eitzel
Album:  Love songs for patriots
Label:  Cookingvinyl
Played at:  3.04

Artist:  Warren Zevon
Song:  For my next trick I'll need a volunteer
Composer:  Zevon
Album:  Life'll Kill Ya
Label:  Epic
Played at:  3.33

Artist:  Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Song:  Fortune teller
Composer: Neville
Album:  Raising Sand
Label:  Rounder
Played at:  3.58