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This Sunday 12.30pm-4pm on your arts and culture radio show with pictures RNZ National’s Standing Room Only Lynn Freeman is in Venice with Auckland sculptor Virginia King, so Simon Morris is in the presenter chair. Simon’s surprised to find a Samoan-based dance show by Tupua Tigafua inspired by the works of Shel Silverstein, a favourite of his, which leads to our musical theme this week. On At the Movies an interview with Kenneth Brannagh, and we discuss the growth in quality and number of subtitles with one of the world’s leading experts.

Mark Amery talks to Urban Art’s Andrew Hagen about why so little of the half a billion dollars worth of art owned by  New Zealand ratepayers is on public display, and what he’s doing about it, and we have visiting Irish comedian Eleanor Tiernan on The Laugh Track. Simon talks to Alfio Leotta about the book he’s written on notorious Hollywood maverick writer-director John Milius, while Mark has poet Courtney Sina Meredith and editor Janet McAllister in to talk about their beautiful book of essays Life on Volcanoes. In the final episode of podcast My Heels Are Killing Me, Sonia Sly finds out why Kiwi men can’t get enough of Jockey underwear and the story behind the famous Y-Front, and our Drama at 3 is the riotous New Zealand comedy Wheelers’ Luck. For more and lots of interviews on demand visit the Standing Room Only webpage.  



12:30 Floating NZ sculpture in Venice - Virginia King

This weekend saw New Zealand's official contribution to the Venice Biennale open, Dane Mitchell's installation Post Hoc, but Dane isn't the only New Zealand artist exhibiting in Venice.

Also opening this weekend is a suite of works by senior Auckland sculptor Virginia King in a group show at the Venice Biennale organised by the European Cultural Centre. Virginia had just ten months to create work, sort out the logistics of getting them to Venice and raise the tens of thousands of dollars that would take, but she did it all.

The exhibition is called Personal Structures which is exactly what she's been creating for the past 30 years; finely detailed metal sculptures with a strong environmental message.

Lynn Freeman visited Virginia at the Palazzo Bembo where her seven works are on show. Lynn started by asking Virginia about her long time environmental concerns in relation to Venice.

Lynn's trip to Venice was made possible by Creative New Zealand.


12:45 Shel Silverstein and Tupua Tigafua

For the past five years the Kia Mau Festival in Wellington has been encouraging exciting works, engaging with Maori, Pasifika and indigenous companies from across the Pacific. But Standing Room Only's Simon Morris wasn't expecting the upcoming festival (1-15 June) would feature a Samoan contemporary dance theatre inspired by the works of Shel Silverstein.

Award winning choreographer Tupua Tigafua has Shel We? at Wellington's Hannah Playhouse next month. Shel Silverstein meanwhile is famous for many things - stoner hits like Johnny Cash's 'Boy named Sue' and the notorious 'I got stoned and I missed it', award-winning cartoons in Playboy, children's books and popular children's songs like 'The Unicorn'.

Shel We? is billed as "an enchanting, playfully intriguing, and visually stunning dance show" and Tupua has danced and created with everyone from Footnote to the New Zealand Dance Company, and now brings his own company together. 


1:10 At The Movies

Simon Morris is puzzled that the only audiences being catered for currently seem to be comic-book fans and the older generation. This week sees three staples for the latter audience - Shakespeare, the Downton Abbey period and World War Two. Also an interview with Sir Kenneth Brannagh.


1:33 The Growth of Subtitles

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Photo: Provided

One of the unexpected benefits of the explosion of entertainment available on streaming services like Netflix is that many people have lost a fear of subtitles.

Successful TV shows are now coming from all over the world - Sweden, Spain, France, China, Japan - there's even a New Zealand series in Te Reo Maori, Deadlands. And that means a lot of translation work on screen.

Jorge Diaz-Cintas is a Professor in Translation Studies at the University College of London and one of the world's leading experts on audio-visual translation. Jorge was in New Zealand this week to speak about the linguistic and technical challenges of subtitling and dubbing.


1:50 Urban Art - bringing art out of the archives

New Zealand ratepayers own half a billion dollars worth of art, say local public art organisation Urban Art, but incredibly only about seven per cent of that work is on public display.

Urban Art are out to change that - for almost a year and half now they've been putting reproductions of publicly owned art into lit electronic display advertising spaces in high profile locations in Wellington, and elsewhere in New Zealand.

And Urban Art's plans don't stop there: they want to present this digitised collection on television and the web, develop a young artists programme and display NZ art in, of all places Finland.

Talking to Mark Amery is Urban Art's creative director Andrew Hagen

Urban Art's exhibition programme has been far-reaching - 17 exhibition in all - documented well on their website.

New Zealand is the only country in the world to present its cultural heritage in this manner on a permanent basis Andrew says. In Wellington, three new screens have been erected on Lambton Quay, bringing the total to six, situated between Johnston and Panama Streets . 

The artwork is shown for a total of six hours every day, interspersed with advertising. Urban Art also appears in Auckland, Hamilton and the greater Wellington region as “filler” on oOH! Medias advertising screens. 

Urban Art is currently self funded, with airtime donated by oOH! Media and galleries who have contributed include The New Zealand Portrait Gallery, The Christchurch Art Gallery,  Archives New Zealand, Auckland Art Gallery, Waikato Museum and Te Papa Tongarewa.

Listeners can visit the Urban Art website at


2:06 The Laugh Track - Eleanor Tiernan

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Photo: Provided

Eleanor Tiernan is one of the undoubted stars of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, and this year we've been besieged by Laugh Track guests all picking clips by the Irish comedian. Her picks for us are Ed Bryne, Garry Shandling, Maria Bamford and Aaron Chen.



Hollywood maverick John Milius was a good example of the old warning: "keep your politics out of the movies".

A self-proclaimed right-wing anarchist Milius seems to be the direct link between Dirty Harry and Conan the Barbarian, Nixon and Schwarzeneggar, right up to the present incumbent of the White House. 

Milius did after all write the famous lines you'll find in this clip from Apocalypse Now.

Victoria University academic Alfio Leotta has written a book on the great Hollywood maverick writer-director John Milius, which has been recently published by Lexington Books.


2:40 Life On Volcanoes - editor Janet McAllister and writer Courtney Sina Meredith

Its Mother's Day, and a mother is the inspiration behind a new book of essays just out this week. In an era of endless blogs, tweets and posts, what room is there for the personal published essay? Going by the number of books coming into Standing Room Only: plenty - but none are arguably as personal yet political as the five brave, diverse and creative essays contained in the slender elegant hardback Life on Volcanoes, just published by Auckland's Beatnik Publishing, For Standing Room Only Courtney Sina Meredith reads an extract from her essay and is joined by editor Janet McAllister with RNZ's Mark Amery. 

There are five writers included - Tze Ming Mok, Tui Gordon, Tulia Thompson and Courtney - each writing on usually pretty private matters: for example, trauma, being poor, the FOMO of being a parent. But when McAllister approached these writers she admired she gave them an open brief. Her impetus was also personal - her late mother Heather McAllister. The support of mothers pop up a lot, including for Courtenay who writes bravely of slowly going public with family and the world about suffering from the painful endometriosis. Its a common condition where endometrial tissue, which should only be found in the uterus (womb), also grows outside the uterus. It affects up to 1 in 10 women and teenage girls.

Of note also is the book's design by Beatnik Pubishing's Sally Greer. It's not your usual standard cheaply produced glossy paperback - watercolour bleeds onto every page, each essay having its own abstract watercolour pattern. It's available in good bookshops and from Beatnik online.


2:49  Rise of the Y-Front

Long johns, undies, boxers, briefs, gruds, budgie smugglers, drawers, shorts, underpants, jocks...Men’s underwear has seen a transformation over the years and one iconic brand that Kiwi men have loved through the generations, is Jockey. The brand launched in the U.S. in 1935, and five years later, it landed on our shores.

Jockey Y Fronts are a long time Kiwi favourite

Jockey Y Fronts are a long time Kiwi favourite Photo: Jockey NZ

In this final episode of RNZ podcast My Heels Are Killing Me, Sonia Sly finds out why Kiwi men can’t get enough of Jockey underwear and the story behind the famous Y-Front.

“New Zealand was one of the first places in the world that was allowed the Jockey license,” says Te Papa Curator, Stephanie Gibson.

Lane Walker Rudkin in Christchurch - the manufacturer of sportswear brand Canterbury was one of the first four manufacturers outside the U.S to receive a license to make the famous Jockey Y-fronts. Offering maximum comfort and support, the product quickly gained popularity. Listen to the full podcast and read the full story here.


3:06 Drama at 3 - Wheelers' Luck

Our drama today is Wheelers’ Luck a rural redevelopment comedy featuring the multiple voices of Nigel Collins and Toby Leach  as the many different characters who populate the story.


Artist: Dr Hook

Song: Sylvia’s Mother

Composer: Shel Silverstein, Arne Garvang and Ray Sawyer

Album: Sylvia’s Mother

Label: Embassy

Played at: 12.32pm


Artist: Johnny Cash

Song: A Boy named Sue

Composer: Shel Silverstein

Album: Johnny Cash At San Quentin

Label: CBS

Played at: 12.48pm


Artist: Emmylou Harris

Song: Queen of the Silver Dollar

Composer: Shel Silverstein,

Album: Pieces of the Sky

Label: Reprise Records

Played at: 12.55pm


Artist: The Irish Rovers

Song: The Unicorn

Composer: Shel Silverstein,

Album: The Unicorn

Label: Decca

Played at: 1.05pm


Artist: Bobby Bare

Song: Marie Lavaux

Composer: Shel Silverstein,

Album: 16 Biggest Hits

Label: RCA Nashville

Played at: 1.45pm


Artist: Bill and Boyd

Song: Put Another Log on the Fire

Composer: Shel Silverstein,

Album: Bill and Boyd

Label: Stetson Records

Played at: 2.05pm


Artist: Dr Hook

Song: Rings of Grass

Composer: Shel Silverstein

Album: The (B) Rest of Dr Hook

Label: Capitol Records

Played at: 2.40pm


Artist: Marianne Faithful

Song: The Ballad of Lucy Jordan

Composer: Shel Silverstein

Album: Broken English

Label: Island Records

Played at: 2.55pm


Artist: Dr Hook

Song: Roland the Roadie and Gertrude the Groupie

Composer: Shel Silverstein

Album: The Best of Dr Hook

Label: CBS