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This week on Standing Room Only we embrace the ANZAC spirit by welcoming the new Australian director of the Auckland Art Gallery Kirsten Paisley and by chatting to Melbourne comedian Rhys Nicholson on The Laugh Track, ahead of his comedy festival return. Actor Theresa Healey returns to the stage to play the Queen in the play The Audience, producer Julia Parnell has had to make the call on what makes the musical cut for the six-part TV series Anthem's New Zealand's iconic hits, and 30 hand-stitched banners have been created around the country to mark the 125th anniversary of womens' suffrage.

Our musical theme is vampires, leading to a look at the new immersive theatre/film experience which is Second Unit's What Shall We Do in the Shadows? Then its a talk to Dunedin writer Maxine Alterio about her psychological thriller, set mainly in 1960s Naples, and with young talented playwright Matt Loveranes about his play Moodporn. We have more from Iran 1979 in BBC play Fall of the Shah narrated by Diana Rigg, Sonia Sly's podcast My Heels Are Killing Me and we finish off our time with world renowned glassblower Martin Janecký.

Join Lynn Freeman 12.30 to 4pm this Sunday.



12:30 An audience with Her Majesty: Theresa Healey

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Photo: Provided

Peter Morgan knows Queen Elizabeth the Second very well. The British film writer and playwright created the Netflix series The Crown and the film The Queen. Now New Zealand's about to see The Audience, the original stage version of what was developed to become The Crown.

Taking on the role of the reigning monarch for the Auckland Theatre production of The Audience is Theresea Healey. She has an extensive back catalogue of stage, film and TV appearances including Shortland Street, The Blue Rose,The Brokenwood Mysteries and Vermilion.

She says playing the Queen on stage isn't about impersonation - it goes much deeper.


12:45 New at the Auckland Art Gallery helm: Kirsten Paisley

Portrait of Kirsten Paisley at the National Gallery of Australia.

Photo: Rohan Thomson

Her first official day in her new job as Director of Auckland Art Gallery is May 1, and her focus already says Auckland Art Gallery is how to up  visitor numbers and income. Kirsten Paisley takes on the job after workplace harassment allegations saw previous appointee Gregory Burke withdraw from taking up the role.

"As Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Paisley saw audiences grow by 10% year on year, overseeing a collection of worth an estimated 6-billion Australia dollars.annual turnover of over AUD$54 million.

Kirsten has over two decades of leadership and management experience in Australian art museums and contemporary art spaces.

At the NGA she has led initiatives to establish a visitor experience team, create a dedicated children's gallery and implement a major new contemporary art commissioning programme. She supported significant inaugural commissions and exhibitions with artists such as New Zealanders Jess Johnson and Simon Ward, and Angelica Mesiti, whose NGA commission led to her selection as Australia's 2019 Venice Biennale representative.

In the major exhibitions programme, Ms Paisley secured Cartier: The Exhibition, which showcased more than 300 spectacular items, such as royal tiaras, necklaces, brooches and earrings, and was viewed by over 200,000 visitors. In addition, Ms Paisley led an international curatorial team to develop the major exhibition Contemporary Worlds chronicling the explosion of contemporary Indonesian art post the fall of the Suharto regime. This is due to open at NGA in June this year; the first of its scale in Australia.

Chris Brooks: "Kirsten has personally raised several million dollars towards the realisation of indigenous Australian and international contemporary art projects at the Gallery, such as the recently unveiled infinity room, The Spirits of the Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens, by Yayoi Kusama and the soon to be unveiled works by artists, Entang Wiharso, Eko Nugroho and Melati Suryodarmo. Perhaps of greatest significance, over 18 months of engagement Kirsten brokered and secured a major six-year $4 million indigenous arts partnership with Wesfarmers Arts, including an international tour of the shared collections through Asia announced in October 2018."

Paisley's senior roles include eight years as Director of the Shepparton Art Museum in regional Victoria.


1:10 At The Movies

Simon Morris considers the new Hellboy and talks to the director of a new kind of war movie, Where Hands Touch.


1:33 Classic Bliss - choosing our musical anthems with Julia Parnell

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Dave Dobbyn performed 'Welcome Home' at Aroha Nui in Christchurch on Wednesday night. It has been the perfect song at the perfect time, an iconic song if ever there was one. And even before the mosque attacks, 'Welcome Home' had a home in Prime's new six-part series Anthems: New Zealand's Iconic Hits.

Producer Julia Parnell had to make the hard calls on what songs to include and which to leave out in this tribute to our music.

She is uniquely qualified, having directed with her company Notable Pictures films on The Chills (released in May) and the Exponents, and she's currently working with the Dunedin band Six60 on a documentary about their meteoric rise. Julia's also co-producer of Loading Docs which sees a batch of three-minute long documentaries produced each year.


1:50 Stitching nationwide for Women's Suffrage

30 banners have been hand-stitched nationwide to celebrate 125 years of women's suffrage. We speak to Dunedin based community artist Janet de Wagt and two of the contributors around the country: Lise Strathdee who joined a workshop held at Clendon House in Rawene and Vel Fleming, whos3 a Heritage New Zealand Preventive Conservation volunteer based in Auckland.

Janet held workshops in heritage buildings, inviting families, community groups and local craftspeople to work on  banners referencing the history of the venues and the suffrage petition.

There are lots of personal touches, textiles and objects that people have added to the banners as you can see from the photo gallery.


2:06 The Laugh Track - Rhys Nicholson

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This week we welcome a favourite of many previous Laugh Track guests, Australian stand up Rhys Nicholson, who's in the ABC Melbourne studio and on his way back to the New Zealand Comedy Festival. His picks: Rose Matafeo, Maria Bamford, Norm McDonald and John Mulaney.


2:25 What We Do With Vampires: Second Unit

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Photo: Matt Grace


The film What We Do in the Shadows is the cinematic gift that keeps on giving. Not only has it spawned an American TV version, now screening on Neon and Sky Soho2 here, but it's also part of a new kind of paranormal theatre/cinema fusion experience that the creators hope will bring first-time theatregoers. Second Unit, set up by the New Zealand Festival, invites audience members to be cast and filmed as extras - if they want to be - in an imagined scene from the original movie.  

It will, they say, offer an insight into what it's like working on a chaotic film set, and what's expected of the all important if underrated extras.


2:40 Putting characters' in harm's way - writer Maxine Alterio

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In her psychological thriller The Gulf Between, set mainly in 1960s Naples, Dunedin writer Maxine Alterio puts young mother Julia and her two children right in harm's way. The family moves to Naples from the UK when her Italian husband is called back to his family. Once there his personality changes and Julia fears for the safety of her son and daughter. Maxine travelled to Naples in 2017 to research the city, with its Mafia infused history.

This is Maxine's third novel and published by Penguin.


2:49 Moodporn - the playwriting of Matt Loveranes

A chamber piece about two long lost friends and their long held secrets is how Matthew Loveranes describes his play MoodPorn. The script was selected for Playmarket's Asian Ink competition last year and now has its first production at BATS theatre in Wellington. See our spread of rehearsal images.

Loveranes is a young writer to watch. Shorlisted by Playmarket's Playwrights b4 25 competition, with its "intriguing, opaque title and language that beautifully balances poetry with finely observed realism".

Atlas (Ali Foa'i) and Jane (Heather O'Carroll) are long lost friends from uni. It's been years since they last saw each other and each are percolating some long-harboured secrets and passions. Seeing each other again seems to trigger an outflowing of emotion, some of it unwanted, and what comes out isn't always pretty.

"I wanted to write a tender, juicy steak of a play that had different and complex flavours the more you chewed on it," says Matthew. With a Master of Arts in Scriptwriting from the International Institute of Modern Letters, MoodPorn marks Loveranes' first script since graduation. "I went back to a tried and tested recipe: I wrote a chamber piece where secrets have been marinating between two flawed, interesting, vulnerable people. And I'm pretty satisfied with what I've made."


3:06 Drama at 3: Fall of the Shah

We have more from Iran 1979 in BBC play Fall of the Shah narrated by Diana Rigg.


3.30 My Heels Are Killing Me: A Share of Wardrobe

What does it mean to be agile in today’s marketplace and what challenges do international giants like H&M and Zara present for New Zealand fashion brands? New Zealand is part of a global society. That comes with better access to goods and services, but it also means local brands and businesses face greater competition.

International brands are more accessible than ever before. Exposure to the latest offerings through instagram and social media creates a frenzy for newness at the high and low end of the market.

Murray Bevan, founder of New Zealand’s foremost fashion PR agency Showroom 22 says our consumer patterns have become more diverse in recent years.

“People like to shop local, as well as aspire to buy global,” he says.  

Murray Bevan cut his teeth in the industry working for Karen Walker

Murray Bevan cut his teeth in the industry working for Karen Walker Photo: Katherine Lowe

And even at the luxury end the demand is high.

“[The General Manager of Louis Vuitton] on Auckland’s Queen Street has customers that come in every week demanding something new. [But] for other designers [here] that’s very difficult to do unless [they] drip feed product in,” he says.

The PR agency founder says when Topshop arrived on our shores, some in the industry were sent into panic mode, worried that it would threaten our local industry. Others saw it as an opportunity to take more risks and do something completely different.

Bevan believes there will always be room for a range of price-points, and he says the arrival of fast- fashion chains in New Zealand hasn’t damped our appetite for locally made and owned brands.  

“It’s just appetite, and it’s money - we call it a share of wardrobe. Wardrobe is becoming bigger in people’s share of what they dedicate their time and money to in their life,” he says.  

Listen to the full episode of My Heels Are Killing Me  – ‘A Share of Wardrobe’: part two of a panel discussion on the future of fashion, the different approaches to sustainability and the importance of collaboration.


3.45 Glassblowing figures:  Martin Janecký

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Touted as one of the world's great glass artists Martin Janecký creates lifelike human figures from blown glass, something that's taken the Czech hot glass sculptor many years to master.

He's recently been in New Zealand demonstrating his skills to our glass artists at the invitation of one of them, recent graduate Hayley Maria,

Martin started working at his father's factory when he was just 13. The Czech Republic is famous for its glass production, but Martin says he had to leave and work on his craft overseas because he didn't want to produce traditional styles of glass.