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12:15 New play pits French and America's first ladies against each other

An imagined verbal battle between the first ladies of America and France is the premise of a play that's about to have its New Zealand premiere.

Prize-winning Irish playwright Nancy Harris pits Sophia - an Eastern European model turned America's First Lady versus Hélène in Two Ladies.

She says resemblances to Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron are no coincidence.

Nancy can't be at the Auckland Theatre Company production, she's in lockdown in Ireland.

Two Ladies has its New Zealand premiere at the ASB Waterfront Theatre on the 9th of February. Then it's on the road to Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth and Hastings.

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Photo: Copyright Helen Maybanks 2019


12:30 Smart thinking keeps prison creative writing programme going

What started out as a creative writing programme for young prisoners at Auckland's Mt Eden Corrections Facility is now spreading around the country's prisons.

It's down to the hard work of the young writers behind Youth Arts New Zealand, a charity set up in 2017.

The volunteers designed a creative writing programme, Te Kāhui, for rangatahi in Mt Eden.

A Creative New Zealand grant means they are now able to expand the programme through distributing specially designed exercise booklets.

Lynn talks to two of the key players, Zak Devey (21) and poet Eric Soakai (23)  who started an on-site creative writing workshop a year ago, before having to think laterally once the pandemic struck.


12:45 Tropical Love Birds: A story of drama, comedy and domestic violence

It's a thirty year partnership in life and on stage that's produced a raft of memorable theatrical productions.

Now Niuean/Samoan actor and writer Vela Manusaute's latest play, Tropical Love Birds, directed by Anapela Polata'ivao, is preparing to premiere at the Auckland Arts Festival.

Tropical Love Birds is described as a high energy drama-comedy that ventures into the issue of domestic violence.

It's abut Sani and Sheena who have have been together for 15 years, and while he's left the league field for a job as a roadworks supervisor, Sheena's singing career is taking off.

At the same time Inspector Marina suspects Sani and his boys are up to no good and wants them behind bars.

The script was shortlisted for the 2018 Adam NZ Play Award and will premiere at the upcoming Auckland Arts Festival. 


1:10 At The Movies: The Kiwi telling Australian stories

Kiwi, Greer Simpkin, is a leading light in Australia's screen industry, producing acclaimed work for the big and small screens.

Greer's held senior roles at the ABC in Australia including Deputy Head of Fiction, but since 2015 she's been Head of Television with Bunya Productions, the company behind a raft of screen productions, often lead by Aboriginal cast and crew.

Bunya Production's latest project is the feature film High Ground. Set in Arnhem land in Northern Australia in the first half of last century.

It's the story of a young missionary raised Aboriginal man Gutjuk, who in a bid to save the last of his family teams up with an ex-soldier to track down  Baywara.  He's a warrior in hiding wanted by the colonial authorities and is also Gutjuk's uncle.



1:33 Miriama McDowell: A genuine all-rounder on stage and screen

The New Zealand film Coming Home in the Dark is having its World Premiere today at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

It's written by Eli Kent and James Ashcroft and James also directs this story of a teacher forced to confront a secret from his past when a pair of drifters take his family on the road-trip from hell.  

One of the film's stars is actor, director, writer and tutor, Miriama McDowell, who is also involved with two major new stage productions.

She's written The Cloud House for Auckland's Massive Theatre company that this year marks 30 years of creating new work with and for young people.

She's also directing a new play for Taki Rua called Sing to Me, by Alex Lodge.

TE WHARE KAPUA: THE CLOUD HOUSE premieres on the 16th of February at the Māngere Arts Centre while Sing to Me opens it season in Wellington at Te Whaea Theatre, Te Whaea: National Dance and Drama Centre on February 27th before heading to Auckland, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Dunedin. 

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Photo: Massive Company


1:50 Megan Huffadine's incredible still-life art

Still life paintings hold an enduring appeal for artists and art lovers and that includes Bannockburn artist painter, sculptor and tutor, Megan Huffadine.

Her new solo show at Eade Gallery in Clyde in Central Otago is called Nature Morte, created during the lockdown and combining her artistic skills and her other interests of furniture making and archaeology.

Megan talks about the history of still life paintings and her own take on them.


2:06 The Laugh Track - Janaye Henry

Comedian Janaye Henry loves metaphors, faux fur, Christmas, the sound of rain, drinking water straight after chewing airwaves gum and making friends backstage. Her CV also includes winning Best Newcomer in 2017 in the Wellington comedy award,  writing for the Spinoff website and posting Instagram videos.  Janaye's next gig is taking part in the upcoming Auckland Pride Gala, and performing her  No Homo show as part of the Pride Festival.

Janaye Henry started making waves in the Wellington comedy scene and then disappeared for a few years to do theatre tours and study te reo Māori before bursting back onto the scene in 2020 with her regular comedic  and content for The Spinoff.


2:40 Crime Writing Panel: Four Critics Four Continents

Four of the world's keenest crime readers came together for a live podcast recently, called Four Critics Four Continents, where they reflected on the best books in the genre for 2020.

With the permission of Australian Words and Nerds podcaster Dani Vee and her panellists, we're running an edited version on Standing room Only.

Dani's guests were: Steph Cha who writes for the LA Review of Books in America; Ayo Onatade who's a CWA Dagger judge, Sonya Van Der Westhuizen from TimesLive in South Africa, and our own Craig Sisterson who champions the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh crime writing awards.

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Photo: Supplied

Sonja Van der Westhuizen

Books discussed (in order)

The Mist- Ragnar Jónasson

Three Bodies - NR Brodie

The Lost and the Damned - Olivier Norek

Drive your plow over the bones of the dead - Olga Tokarczuk

The Fox - Sólveig Pálsdóttir


Books mentioned

The Less Dead - Denise Mina

Hinton Hollow Death Trip - Will Carver

Mexico Street - Simone Bucholz

Cold Malice - Quentin Bates 

The Aosawa Murders - Riku Onda

The Big Chill - Doug Johnstone

The Heights - Parker Bilal


Other great books

The Creak on the Stairs - Eva Björg Ægisdóttir

A deadly divide - Ausma Khan

The Honjin Murders - Seishi Yokomizo

Seven Doors - Agnes Ravatn

For the Dead - Lina Bengtsdotter


Craig Sisterson 

  • WINTER COUNTS by David Heska Wanbli Weiden*
  • CONSOLATION by Garry Disher (or PEACE for those in UK/US)*
  • THREE-FIFTHS by John Vercher*
  • DARKNESS FOR LIGHT by Emma Viskic*
  • BETRAYAL by Lilja Sigurdardottir 
  • THE LESS DEAD by Denise Mina
  • WE ARE ALL THE SAME IN THE DARK by Julia Heaberlin
  • THE LAW OF INNOCENCE by Michael Connelly
  • THE SURVIVORS by Jane Harper 
  • FIFTY FIFTY by Steve Cavanagh


Steph Cha


And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall

The Book of Lamps and Banners by Elizabeth Hand

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

The Searcher by Tana French

Hi-Five by Joe Ide

These Women by Ivy Pochoda

Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar

Santa Monica by Cassidy Lucas

Skin Deep by Sung J Woo

Afterland by Lauren Beukes

Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg

The Dark Corners of the Night by Meg Gardiner


Ayo Onatade

Blacktop Wasteland by S A Cosby

These Women by Ivy Pochoda

Like Flies From Afar by K Ferrari

The Lost and the Damned by Oliver Norek

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi 

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Law of Innocence by Michel Connelly

Dirty South by John Connolly.

The Less Dead by Denise Mina 

Rules For Perfect Murder is by Peter Swanson

Into the Fire by Gregg Hurwitz


3:06 Drama at 3 Melon Cauliflower by Tom McCrory    

By telling us his story, an ageing man, Prospero, gains our indulgence and is freed of his past grief over the death of his wife. (RNZ)

We are playing this today mark the passing of the amazing actor Peter Vere-Jones who died this week at the age of 82.

Peter was a versatile and conscientious professional actor who worked in television, on the big screen, as a commercial voiceover actor in both radio and TV and of course, in many, many productions for RNZ - everything from children's stories, to book readings and full length dramas.
While today's play was not Peter's most recent work for RNZ it does showcase his tremendous agility and power as an actor. Peter Vere-Jones … you will be sadly missed for your talent, your professionalism, your particular charm and your good humour and, of course, for that magnificent voice.

Peter Vere Jones MARTIN in Book Ends

Peter Vere Jones MARTIN in Book Ends Photo: RNZ/Supplied?