The Playground NZ

A New Performance Festival in New York

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We're organising a new festival of New Zealand theatre and performance in one of New York City's most exciting venues.

We want to take ten great shows by local artists into the heart of New York City for a festival in March 2015.

We've been offered an amazing opportunity- to present by La Mama Experimental theatre on Manhattan's lower east side.

La Mama has a truly legendary reputation. Its has been at the heart of New York's experimental theatre for more than fifty years, and we're so excited to have the chance to present a slice of our own creativity over there.

The pieces in the festival cover a huge range, from dance to stand up comedy, physical theatre to installation, and together they are a real cross section of the work that's going on down here in New Zealand.

The shows are already made, and we're paying our own airfares. We're working together as a team to make this happen.

What we need support with is the cost of promoting this festival in New York, and to get our set and props freighted around the world.

Please support the New Zealand New Performance Festival in New York. Its an incredible opportunity for our artists and for the whole community.





Award-winning art-science performance with stunning visuals by director/designer Sam Trubridge. "When we sleep, we don't perform. But the moment we wake up, we enter the world again." Presented in Auckland Festival 2008.


Jazz and theatre come together on stage in the gripping story of a US music legend- the haunting, unforgettable music that made Chet Baker famous, and the visceral, self-destruction that made him infamous.. "Mercifully and darkly funny" (The Age Melbourne).


The acclaimed new theatre work by writer Eli Kent and Robin Kerr, from the award-winning PlayGround Collective. It is the eighth major work from the Collective since they formed in 2007, winning 9 Chapman Tripp awards since their inception.


Interactive performance in the style of a self-help seminar, which may involve time travel. "One of the country's most exciting, direct and original theatre companies." (NZ Herald)


The break-up lasts for six hours and is fully improvised. The audience may to come and go as they please.


A theatrical lecture based on one man's obsession. After a year living in New York, Arthur Meek revisits and refocuses his award winning 2008 mission from Helen Clark to Hilary Clinton, in time (he hopes) for the 2016 elections.


Two time Billy T nominee and  comedy guild's 2013 male comedian of the year  James Nokise brings hip-hop culture back to the USA via the Pacific and Aotearoa NZ. A one hour combination of stand-up, powerpoint, and satire.


Contemporary dance in stygian darkness.
Dance in negative light, movement on the edge of darkness where performance takes place at the perimeter of vision.


Endurance based performance installation by Marcus McShane that constructs a self-propelled artist studio. The work brings together sustainable ethics, madcap invention and endless production of art.


Pervasive theatre journeys through the streets of New York. This covert installation uses location-based mobile media to rethink notions of community, privacy and dialogue in relation to place.


  • Artist Spotlight #8: The Playground Collective


    The PlayGround Collective is a New Zealand theatre company dedicated to developing innovative and imaginative theatre based on good storytelling. Since forming in 2007, they have produced nine shows; won nine Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards, including “Most Original Production” for 'The Intricate Art of Actually Caring', and were highly commended in Metro Magazine’s Best of Auckland Theatre 2010. Auckland audience’s will be most familiar with their recent show 'Like There’s No Tomorrow' which was commissioned by Auckland Theatre Company and premiered to sell out crowds at the Basement Theatre last year.

    Their latest work, 'All Your Wants and Needs Fulfilled Forever', had a critically acclaimed season earlier this year at BATS. After making its international debut in the New Zealand New Performance Festival, it will have a return season at Q Theatre in Auckland in 2015.

    Director Robin Kerr says: “We’re so excited to show the world that New Zealand art is on the cutting edge. We’ll be presenting this show in the theatre mecca of the USA. The show is an ode to the digital natives who’ve grown up playing video games and watching movies promising us we’re going to be heroes, that we’ll get the girl, and beat the baddies. Now we’ve grown up to find that life isn’t really like that. When very real problems crop up how do we deal with them? It’s a lot easier to recede into a fantasy, pretend that life is ‘A-OKAY’ on facebook, then it is to deal with them offline. So this show pulls back the curtain in a mischievous sort of way and shows how the stories we tell ourselves don’t often match the mixed-up realities. This is a poignant and very very funny story about someone who’s going through life, with all its glitches.”

    The show stars Victoria Abbott, Simon Leary, and Joel Baxendale with an original score performed live by Gareth Hobbs, performance design is by Sam Trubridge and lighting design by Marcus McShane.

    View the trailer for All Your Wants and Needs Fulfilled Forever here

    Artist Spotlight #8: The Playground Collective
  • Artist Spotlight #7: Marcus McShane


    Our festival covers a range of performance - theatre, dance, live art and an installation in the form of an entirely self-powered art studio. "Nag" brings together sustainable ethics, madcap invention and endless production of art- watch this video to find out more!

    Nag spotlight video

    Artist Spotlight #7: Marcus McShane
  • Artist Spotlight #6: LudiCity


    LudiCity is a performing arts group that creates immersive experiences. We use innovative methods that foster a dialogue between participants and their urban surroundings. The name LudiCity is a combination of the Latin word Ludic, meaning playful; and City, which acts as the context and subject of our work.

    The product of a collaboration between a sound designer and a spatial designer, our projects provoke participants to perceive city spaces anew through performance. LudiCity's previous project Hidden City Maps was shown at the 2011 Performance Arcade, The Prague Quadrennial and featured at the Creative New Zealand 21st Century Arts Conference.

    Watch a slideshow from Hidden City Maps

    Artist Spotlight #6: LudiCity
  • Artist Spotlight #5: Geoff Pinfield


    Check out our Spotlight video on Geoff Pinfield here.

    In 2008, Helen Clark failed to take Richard Meros as her young lover. Catastrophe ensured.

    Batting aside offers from Annette King and Bill English, Richard Meros now eyes the greatest prize of them all. In a time of international economic and military strife, only one solution remains:
    'On The Conditions and Possibilities of Hillary Clinton Taking Me as Her Young Lover' - the new, nuclear-powerpoint presentation from our globalised neo-libertine.

    Help Richard Meros travel from Balclutha to the Big Apple, where his dream of political concupisence can finally be achieved at New York's famously oedipal 'La Mama' theatre. With the democratic primaries looming, America is on a knife's edge between the mad hatter's tea party and a bright, bright future. For the USA to avoid the same catastophe now engulfing New Zealand, drastic action must be taken: Mrs Clinton - he is that drastic action.

    'On The Conditions of Hillary Clinton Taking Me as Her Young Lover' follows the enormous success of Arthur Meek, Geoff Pinfield and Richard Meros' multi-award-winning 2008 monologue on the hopes and dreams of the freemarket generation. Described in The Listener as 'Absurd. Brilliant. Delightful', this script will be adapted for the contemporary world stage and launched like a tomahawk missile at the US political elite.

    Artist Spotlight #5: Geoff Pinfield
  • Artist Spotlight #4: Sam Trubridge


    View a trailer for the 2009 Auckland Festival season of Sleep/Wake here

    Spotlight on Sam Trubridge of The Playground (NZ Ltd). Sam is the artistic director of our festival and he had a chat to Ralph about the work he is bringing to New York and about the relationship between art and science

    Can you introduce yourself and the work you’re taking to New York?

    "I’m Sam Trubridge, I’m the director of Sleep/Wake, by The Playground NZ. It’s a production which combines various art forms with science. I’ve been collaborating on the project with a sleep scientist, Philippa Gander, to develop a performance which brings together theatrical modes of presentation with visual art and performance art styles."

    What’s the relationship between art and science in your work?

    "Science and art are both analytical and creative processes. They use both processes differently perhaps, but they both need to be analytical and creative.You cannot have successful scientist who is not creative in some way, who cannot look beyond the boxes that have been defined by previous scientists. The same goes for the arts. If you’re in a completely in a creative space all the time and not using your analytical skills to develop your work, it can end up being undefined and unclear it what its trying to do."

    What will the audience see when they come into the theatre?

    "The set for Sleep Wake is a very simple box at the beginning, with just a sleeper, asleep on stage - performing sleep. And she’s attached to polysomnography, which is a machine that measures sleep patterns. So you can see her sleeping brain projected onto the wall behind the set, expressed through five different lines which measure different parts of the sleeping anatomy. As the performance continues, we start to unfold that in a more theatrical way - the set itself starts to collapse or transform to reflect some of those things we’re talking about."

    This production has been presented in the Auckland Festival in 2009, and presented with a Designers’ Guild of New Zealand Gold Award, as well as several awards in its 2008 presentation as well.

    (I hope you can support Sleep/Wake and rest of the works travelling to New York). #nznewperf

    Artist Spotlight #4: Sam Trubridge
  • Artist Spotlight #3 David Goldthorpe


    Hi, I’m David Goldthorpe. I was born in the UK and grew up in New Zealand. I live in Wellington and divide my time between various arts projects from film and theatre to events and production management.

    I’ve just finished running the LUX festival, which was a total blast, but I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth back into my primary love which is playing trumpet, singing, shooting up heroin and screaming at the audience. I’m talking about my show Chet Baker: Like Someone in Love which I’m really excited to be taking to New York in Marchwith the NZ New Performance Festival.

    I’ve performed the show in more than 10 seasons all over New Zealand as well as in London, and last year we did a 24 venue tour of Australia which was great fun! The show has always gone down very well wherever we’ve performed it and taking it to New York is the ultimate test.

    I’m excited to work with some local NYC jazz musicians and also to take the show on the road once we’re there, heading down country in a low-fi, no-budget, back-of-the-van tour ending in New Orleans for the jazz festival. I can’t wait!

    Check out David's spotlight video for more

    Artist Spotlight #3 David Goldthorpe
  • Artist Spotlight #2 James Nokise


    Mum: a librarian from Wales, Dad: a Minister from Samoa, and growing up in a poor neighbourhood in NZ during a time when the country was discovering its multi-cultural identity, I guess something was in the mix..

    I've always liked making fun of powerful people, from my elders as a kid, to politicians, and anyone in between - making them look ridiculous is just good ol fun. It's got me into trouble a few times, both officially and physically - but luckily I'm fast too.

    The stories from SoSo Gangsta come from my teens, when I found myself a member of the Bloods - not the American gang, but a really really crap New Zealand version. And of that crap gang, I was the crappest gangsta - so crap I got kicked out.

    Funny thing - it didn't even occur to me to put the stories into a show till I was telling some mates in London after a gig. We were comparing stories growing up and I realised some things are just universal - and young men wanting to be "the man" and looking like a dick is one of them.

    I've been really lucky in my life to travel over the world with my job, party because a lot of guys I grew up with still haven't left the Hutt Valley. It's lead to a habit if getting into adventures and then bringing stories about them home. Still gets me into trouble - but I'm still pretty quick.

    Heading to New York, to perform to Americans the stories of young, dumb bros, who's only real idea of "gangsta" came from their films and music, especially when their knowledge of NZ is probably Rings, Chonchords, and Rugby - it's actually quite scary, but also very cool.

    And it should make for some great stories when I catch up with the boys at home.

    Watch our video profile of James and So-So Gangsta here.

    Artist Spotlight #2 James Nokise
  • Artist Spotlight #1: Binge Culture


    We almost called ourselves Cringe Culture Collective in 2008. It was a close thing. In the end we decided Binge would be better. We're happy with that choice, because we've always wanted to make shows that are bit messy, and that really go for it.

    Our mascot is a panda because an angry one turned up in our first show (the mangy one that lives at costume cave).

    Here's a list of some of the things we've done since 2008:

    a children's party at the end of the world
    a hot breakfast made by clowns in the park
    a doomed marketing launch for New Zealand
    a play that dissolves into live dream with masks
    a fully participatory outdoor whale stranding
    an unauthorized audio guide to a national museum

    We formed up at Victoria University of Wellington in the theatre programme, and our work has happened at BATS Theatre (including a STAB commission), Splore Festival, Auckland New Performance Festival, and in a lot of outdoor and found spaces. We've been part of New Zealand Fringe Festival five times, and travelled to Dunedin Fringe Festival and Auckland Fringe as well. We also present our exploratory Scratch Nights at Understudy at BATS - there's one this Wednesday. Our website is

    The two shows we want to take to New York are an interactive skills seminar with potential time travel (For Your Future Guidance) and an improvised, five-way, six-hour, blackly comedic emotional marathon- (Break Up [We Need to Talk]).

    We're really, stupidly excited to be heading to La Mama and sharing these works. It will be our first time presenting together outside of New Zealand, and we know we'll learn a lot and gain incredible experience. Hope you can support us.


    BINGE CULTURE Collective and Panda

    Artist Spotlight #1: Binge Culture