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12:15 Alexa Wilson: Dancing through the pandemic

It's been a very tough year for performance artists. But for now audiences can go along to shows in New Zealand and kiwi performers who have returned from overseas are capitalising on it while they can.

Dancer, choreographer and writer Alexa Wilson has been based in Berlin for the last 10 years, but she's back in Auckland now and is furiously organising dancers and choreographers on both sides of the Tasman.

She's the curator of Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa which runs from Monday to Friday next week at the Herald Theatre in Auckland. It was originally going to be in June, but as we've discovered this year, everything is subject to change.

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Photo: Courtney Rogers

12:30 James Hope: The past and present of the corner dairy 

The Kiwi dairy has been a cornerstone of New Zealand life since the 1930's - not just a source of food, and household essentials, but a newsagent, a post office and a centre of the community.

But are they still?   A new exhibition at the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui is diving into the world of the corner shop.  What's its future, squeezed between garish supermarkets and sneaky online shopping?

Assistant Curator of the Sarjeant Gallery James Hope has been wrestling with the legacy of the New Zealand dairy.

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Photo: Sarjeant Gallery

12:40 Sam Neill: Calling from quarrantine 

To say Sam Neill has had a busy year is putting it mildly.  He opened 2020 playing Phil O'Brien as guest star on Matinee Idle.  After that, he shot off to the UK as a rather better paid guest star on the blockbuster Jurassic World.

And then Covid happened.  You'd think that would be the end of Sam's year - but he became an online sensation in his enforced downtime. As well as short films with ropey continuity, and poetry readings in his own unique style, he also managed to pick up a gong - rather a classy one.  Sam Neill, Icon of the Arts Foundation.  Oh, and he topped the box-office at home two weeks in a row with the hit movie Rams.

Sam is currently locked down in Auckland and joins Simon Morris to talk about a surprisingly busy 2020.

Kiwi actor Sam Neill

Kiwi actor Sam Neill Photo: Sam Neill / Instagram

1:10 At The Movies

Simon Morris confesses he occasionally lets prejudices get the better of him when he goes to the movies - favourable ones in the case of movie gossip like Mank, less so when it comes to films about Santa - particularly ultra-violent ones like Fatman.

1:33 In Kahoots at the Christchurch Art Gallery 

A new exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery uses retro pop music, and futuristic Artifical Intelligence to create a bespoke experience for every visitor to the gallery.

In Kahoots is a multimedia, immersive collaboration between artist Judy Darragh and interactive video artist Sean Kerr. But what on earth is it all about? What does it all mean?   Judy and Sean describe it to Robert Kelly.

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Photo: Christchurch Art Gallery

1:50 Pay equity in the NZ film and television industries

The New Zealand screen industry - film, TV and now gaming - has exploded over the past 20 or so years.  Where you could once probably fit our film-makers into a decent-sized bus, these days they'd fill a stadium.

But it's still grossly unfairly rewarded.  Women are still paid far less than men, often for seemingly very similar work.  Hence the importance of organisations like WIFT - Women in Film And Television - who are about to host their biennial New Zealand Awards next week. Executive Director of WIFT, Patricia Watson lays out to Simon Morris where her battle lines are now drawn.

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Photo: SPADA

2:06 The Laugh Track - Simon Sweetman 

Music journalism used to be mostly celebrity gossip with your favourite popstars, before it went to college, learned a few adjectives and started taking itself very seriously. Suddenly it didn't matter so much if you could dance to it, or if the stars were cute.  Suddenly rock had to be important and significant.

It was a racket, of course, and it lasted longer than anyone expected.  And now it's pretty much dead, according to today's Laugh Track guest. Longtime music critic Simon Sweertman recently wrote a book of poetry, collectively titled The Death of Music Journalism. Simon picks his favourite comedy with Simon Morris.

Simon Sweetman's new poetry book The Death of Music Journalism.

Simon Sweetman's new poetry book The Death of Music Journalism. Photo: Supplied

2:25 Oil paintings to shine anew at the Turnbull Library

The Alexander Turnbull Library is turning its eye towards the oil paintings in its care.

The Library has a huge collection of oil paintings but because they don't deteriorate in care, and their value has historically been seen as part of the record rather than aesthetic, not much action has been taken to repair them.

That's all about to change. A fundraising campaign was launched earlier this week to get the money together to repair and clean the oil paintings in the collection. To let us in to what's in the vault, and talk about how the process works is Chief Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library Chris Szekely.

2:40 Zirk Van Den Berg: I Wish, I Wish 

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Photo: Cuba Press

Sometimes it feels like authors are in a race to see who can write the longest novel. In the age of Christmas market doorstoppers it can come as a relief to encounter a novella.

You don't see novellas in the new releases list much anymore, but one this year has burst onto the bookstore shelves and shows that if you can tell one story well, the readers will come. I Wish, I Wish by Zirk Van Den Berg is set in mortuary centred around a mortician who has slowly forgotten how to live.

The novella was written in English, originally published in Afrikaans and then republished in New Zealand in English by Cuba Press.

2:49 Daniel Beban: Daily Deaths 

For those of us listening to hourly bulletins throughout the year the statistics from the pandemic began to blur.

It's hard to put the numbers into perspective. Hundreds of thousands of deaths, thousands of new cases being reported every day in specific countries and states. That fatigue is difficult to fight but it's important to remember that all of the international covid situations are life or death on the ground.

To try and make sense of the numbers in a way people can comprehend Wellington composer and performer Daniel Beban has written a new work interpreting the numbers in music.

Daily Deaths translates the numbers in each country by pitch and volume, with different instruments representing individual countries. It was first performed three months ago. But it's been updated, and will be played on Saturday at the Futuna Chapel in Wellington.

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Photo: Daily Deaths - Dan Beban

3:06 Drama at 3 - Blonde Bombshell 

For our Classic Drama today we have dug out an award winner from days gone by. 

With the story of a teenage girl struggling with the claustrophobia of small town life in 1980's New Zealand. It's Blonde Bombshell by Fiona Samuel.