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This week Standing Room Only reaches into the paranormal, the fringey and the out of the ordinary.  Charlotte Nightingale writes and performs a play examining teenagers in the autism spectrum, while poet Freya Daly Sadgrove dazzles with her first poetry collection, drawn from her own raw experiences.   A minor Grimm tale is told entirely in light - no words at all - while a collection of 2D paintings turn into an immersive, virtual reality world.

All this plus the incoming Director of the Auckland Fringe Festival, New Zealand's first homegrown Military Tattoo, the continuing saga of the fate of the New Zealand Review of Books and Wellington Paranormal's Mike Minogue is our guest on the Laugh Track.


12:36 NZ Review of Books under fire

Kathryn Carmody

Kathryn Carmody Photo: supplied

The publishers of New Zealand Review of Books Pukapuka Aotearoa, Peppercorn Press, are looking at several options after the quarterly publication's latest CNZ grant application was turned down late last year.

Anger and disappointment greeted the news, a petition was circulated and a Givealittle page set up.

The Peppercorn Press board held a meeting on Friday to discuss some possible scenarios, and Lynn Freeman spoke with board member Kathryn Carmody.


12:46  Charlotte Nightingale - exploring the "spectrum"

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Photo: supplied

In many ways, the autism spectrum has never had such a high profile, particularly in recent TV series like Atypical:

But these shows have also drawn criticism for not casting actors on the spectrum and for making incorrect assumptions about the condition.

Disability advocate and General Manager of the Touch Compass Dance Company Charlotte Nightingale has written - and is acting in - a play about a teenager who's not only on the autism spectrum but also has ADHD.  

Much of it she's written from experience, having a son on the spectrum and having ADHD herself.

A cast of 15 performers with mixed abilities appear in The Incredible and Glorious World According to The Fitzroys, the story of a single mother, Millie, her son Liam and his sister Sam.

Daniel Nielson who has autism is playing Liam.

Lynn Freeman talked with Charlotte Nightingale, first asking if she agreed that autism is now better understood.

The Incredible and Glorious World According to The Fitzroys premieres at TAPAC in Auckland on the 28th of February.


1:10 At The Movies

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Photo: roadshow

Simon Morris looks back on the 2020 Oscars, and reviews the documentary For Sama, the comic-book romp Birds of Prey (pictured) and French festival favourite La Belle Epoque.


1:31  Rachel Marlow - painting a story with light

They say never get on the wrong side of the lighting designer when you're working in a live show.   They're the ones who can can make you look fantastic, or - not!

Rachel Marlow is one of this country's most in-demand lighting designers, and co-founder of design company Filament Eleven 11. She works on everything from straight theatre productions to outdoor music festivals.

Rachel's not long back from New York, where she worked her lighting magic on Tusiata Avia's Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, the first New Zealand production invited to perform at the popular off-Broadway Soho Theatre.  

Rachel Marlow's latest work is her own creation - an ambitious lighting and sound installation that draws from the Brothers Grimm cautionary tale The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle:

With no spoken narration in Rachel's installation, she tells Lynn Freeman that she wants people to be transported by light and sound.

Her installation Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle? opens on February 25th at the Auckland Town Hall's Concert Chamber as part of the Auckland Fringe Festival programme.


1:47  A 100% Kiwi Military Tattoo

New Zealand's Defence Force bands have long been a regular favourite with visitors to the much loved Edinburgh Tattoo.  But now for the first time, the country is hosting its own 100% Kiwi Military Tattoo.

Palmerston North's hosting the event in April.  And working out the complicated logistics of co-ordinating more than 600 performers - including bands, Highland dancers, an Air Force fly-over and even police dogs - is the show's director, Major Graham Hickman.

Graham tells Lynn Freeman that the inaugural New Zealand Military Tattoo is a celebration of the country's military history, to honour and thank servicemen and women, past and present.

The New Zealand Military Tattoo.  It's on at the Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North on the 4th of April.


2:06 The Laugh Track - actor Mike Minogue

Mike Minogue

Mike Minogue Photo: supplied

The TV series Wellington Paranormal has broken more than its fair share of rules.   It was a spinoff of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's hit movie What we do in the shadows, but it's become very much its own thing - going on to an even more successful second series, with a third about to go into production.

Part of its charm is the characters of the cops, and it's a credit to stars Mike Minogue and Karen O'Leary that they're not upstaged by the scene-stealing monsters.  Mike Minogue is today's Laugh Track guest.

His picks include Blackadder, Steve Hughes, The League of Gentlemen, Micky Flanagan and Seinfeld.


2:29  Poet Freya Daly Sadgrove - right and true and deadly

Freya Daly Sadgrove

Freya Daly Sadgrove Photo: Ebony Lamb Photography

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Photo: supplied

Wellington writer and performer Freya Daly Sadgrove has just published her first poetry collection, and is already hard at work turning it into a stage show.

The International Institute of Modern Letters graduate has called her collection Head Girl.

The poems in it make for uncomfortable reading, canvassing Freya's struggles with her mental health and disappointments in love.  But they've been welcomed by the critics - Hera Lindsay Bird says "She's just the best.  Trying to write a clever blurb for her feels like an insult to how right and true and deadly this collection is.  God, she's just so good."

Freya has negotiated her way through the dark times and hopes her poems will help others of her generation make sense of what they might be experiencing.

Lynn Freeman talks to Freya about her life and her often confronting poetry.

Head Girl by Freya Daly Sadgrove is published by Victoria University Press. Freya's appearing at both the Newtown Festival and at the writers event in the New Zealand Festival in Wellington.

Where to go for help:
Need to talk to someone? Free text or call 1737 for support from a trained counsellor.
Lifeline - 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (TAUTOKO)
Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757 or free text 4202


2:46  Unreal!   Turning 2D paintings into an immersive world

Ewan McDougall

Ewan McDougall Photo: supplied

Claire Hughes

Claire Hughes Photo: supplied

A digital art expert has turned 15 paintings by Dunedin artist Ewan Mcdougall into a virtual reality world where people can move through and interact with his colourful hybrid creatures.

He's collaborated with Dr Claire Hughes on the UNREAL! exhibition, that's about to go on tour starting in Wellington for the New Zealand Festival of the Arts.

Claire spent months coming up with a storyline and experimenting to find out how best to get Ewan's primitive style figures, from brightly coloured  human like characters to dogs, fish and boats all moving through the virtual landscape. 

Ewan and Claire believe they've created something unique for Aotearoa, and a concept that other artists might like to try.

The Unreal! tour starts this week.  The dates are Exhibitions Gallery, Wellington, 21 February;  Chambers Gallery, Christchurch, 24 March;  Gallery de Novo, Dunedin, 5 June;  and 5.12 Gallery, Auckland, 30 October.


3:06 Drama at 3 - Pure in Body Part One

Dean Parker

Dean Parker Photo: supplied

Part One of a play by Dean Parker.  


3.49 Picking up the reins of the Auckland Fringe 

Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho

Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho Photo: supplied

Taking on the role of Director of Auckland's Fringe Festival just a few weeks out from the opening, is madness.

But it didn't stop Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho from signing on late last year.

After all, his CV already includes being a producer, director, lecturer, actor, singer and suicide prevention and wellbeing advocate.  

Borni is heavily involved in Te Pou Theatre and the Hobson Street Theatre Company that works with Auckland's homeless while also running Atawhai, a two month-long mental health awareness festival.

But, as he tells Lynn Freeman, running the Auckland Fringe Festival brings its own combination of chaos and challenges, including how to stand out from a growing number of festivals in the City of Sails at this time of year:  

The Auckland Fringe Festival opens on the 25th of February.

Music played in this show

Artist: Bobby "Boris"Pickett
Song: The Monster Mash
Composer: Capizzi-Pickett
Album: Scary music
Label: Telarc
Played at: 12.30

Artist: Warren Zevon
Song: Werewolves of London
Composer:  Marinell-Wachtel-Zevon
Album: A quiet normal life
Label: Asylum
Played at: 1.06

Artist: Santigold
Song: Banshee
Composer: Berger-Dennis-Hill
Album: 99 Cents
Label: Atlantic
Played at:  1.45

Artist: Specials
Song: Ghost town
Composer: Dammers
Album: More Specials
Label: Twotone
Played at: 1.58

Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Song: Rhiannon
Composer: Nicks
Album: The very best of
Label: Reprise
Played at: 2.04

Artist: Johnny Cash
Song: Ghost riders in the sky
Composer: Jones
Album: The Collection
Label: CBS
Played at: 2.58

Artist: Roky Erickson
Song: I walked with a zombie
Composer: Erickson
Album: The Evil One
Label: Lightintheattic
Played at: 3.58