Blog Archives

Plays and playmaking, Mark Houlahan

Performing Dramaturgy
Fiona Graham
Playmarket, $40.00,
ISBN 9780908607648

Floating Islanders: Pasifika Theatre in Aotearoa
Lisa Warrington and David O’Donnell
ISBN 9781988531076

Dawn Raids
Oscar Kightley
Playmarket, $18.00,
ISBN 97809080607631

“What is a dramaturg?” I overheard that question earlier this year while sitting in a theatre waiting for a show to begin. As it happened, this was a show which listed me in the programme as “dramaturg”, and the couple asking the question were reading my notes. So I quickly said to them, “script advisor”, and left them to get on with their pre-show reading. A few months later, I was reading Fiona Graham’s Performing Dramaturgy, which offers a much richer, contextualised series of answers to the question. It would be egregious to thrust her book into the hands of someone directly waiting for a performance to start, of course, but otherwise it can be safely recommended to a broad range of researchers, students and theatre practitioners. Graham herself prefers the alternative spelling “dramaturge”, because of its use to indicate “an expanded and interdisciplinary practice”, so I’ll use that form here.

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Posted in Art, Literature, Non-fiction, Pacific, Plays, Review

Connecting kindred tribes, David Eggleton

Black Marks on the White Page
Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti (eds)
Penguin Random House, $40.00,
ISBN 9780143770299

Billed as a guidebook to the contemporary literature of Oceania, Black Marks on the White Page is not quite that; it’s too eclectic, too much of a hotchpotch for a start, sweeping erratically back and forth across the Pacific to locate, we are told, “the best new and uncollected fiction” generated out of the rolling identity revolution of Pasifika peoples in the 21st century. You could make a very long list of “the best” that is not included. What this anthology is is a sampling: it contains 29 examples of “story-telling” by 25 writers, complemented or contextualised by images of nine artworks by nine artists.

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Posted in Art, Literature, Māori, Non-fiction, Pacific, Short stories

Development journalism, Alex Perrottet

Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific
David Robie
Little Island Press
ISBN 9781877484254

It’s easy to read a book written by a journalist, especially if it covers wars, environmental disasters, independence struggles, and what happens when you try to report on them.

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Posted in Media, Non-fiction, Pacific, Review

Pacific art on the world stage, Ian Lochhead

Art in Oceania: A New History  Peter Brunt and Nicholas Thomas (eds) Thames and Hudson, $130.00, ISBN 9780500239018 When New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) opened its landmark exhibition Arts of the South Seas in 1946, the war in

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Posted in Art, Non-fiction, Pacific, Review

Erratic humanity, Roger Blackley

Nerli: An Italian Painter in the South Pacific Michael Dunn Auckland University Press, $79.99, ISBN I869403355 According to the traditional mythology of New Zealand art, the annus mirabilis of 1890 heralds the arrival of professionalism and modernism in the figures

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Posted in Art, Non-fiction, Pacific, Review

A spirit intense and rare, Doug Munro

Robert Louis Stevenson: His Best Pacific Writings ed Roger Robinson Streamline, $34.95, ISBN 0958210624 Everyone knows about Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), described by a contemporary as “a spirit intense and rare” and immortalised by Samoans as Tusitala (the teller of

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Posted in Literature, Pacific, Review

Rediscovering the great white discoverer, Jock Phillips

The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas Anne Salmond Allen Lane, $59.95, ISBN 0713996617 I will not forget reading Anne Salmond’s Two Worlds. I was on holiday at Tolaga Bay. Between walks to Cook’s Cove

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Pacific, Review

Wish you were here, Jane Westaway

On Blue Ice – A Not Very Brave Journey to Antarctica Kim Griggs Random House, $26.95, ISBN 1869415760 Travels with my Mother Peter Calder Tandem, $29.95, ISBN 1877298093 The most memorable travel books don’t merely transport you to foreign parts,

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction, Pacific, Review

Art as survival, David Eggleton

Pacific Art Niu Sila: the Pacific Dimension of Contemporary New Zealand Arts  ed Sean Mallon and Pandora Fulimalo Pereira Te Papa Press,$49.95, ISBN 0909010838 Robert Louis Stevenson, writing about Samoan culture over a century ago, expressed it thus: No occasion

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Posted in Art, Non-fiction, Pacific, Review

Springing a trap for islands, Phil Barton

Captain Cook’s World: Maps of the Life and Voyages of James Cook RN  John Robson Random House, $59.95, ISBN 1869414098 The publisher’s blurb states that the book under review  “is an atlas, chronology and biography of the life and voyages”

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Posted in Art, Biography, History, Non-fiction, Pacific, Review
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