Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Australasia’s first solo performance festival

IMPORTANT NOTE – an earlier press release noted Jon Pheloung’s ONE MAN GUY: DIRTY AMERICAN DECADE as part of SOLO Festival 2015, instead of Freya Desmarais’ LIVE ORGY. Due to personal reasons, Pheloung had to pull out participating in the festival and Desmarais has been programmed to play in his slot. The attached press release is an amended version of the previous dated 14.8.2015.


The Dark Room hosts Australasia’s first solo performance festival with award-winning line-up

September in Manawatu will see four acclaimed artists of various backgrounds and vocations tour to Manawatu for SOLO Festival 2015, the first of its kind in Australasia, programming exclusively one-person works.

Beautiful spoken-word poetry that challenges the way you think, a musical comedy that takes the audience on a trip through the U.S.A., a night of burlesque that defies definition, and traditional storytelling that tugs at the heart strings - no matter your preference of live performance, The Dark Room’s Solo Festival you covered.

Theatre Beating presents REAL FAKE WHITE DIRT, written and performed by Jess Holly Bates, and directed by Geoff Pinfield. Opening the festival, REAL FAKE WHITE DIRT is fresh, funny, and unafraid of faux pas, scratching at the underlying cultural nerves of the most unsettled of settler races - the Pakeha. Laying bare the underlying anxieties of post-colonial multiculturalism, REAL FAKE WHITE DIRT is the cringe at your racist grandparents, the modification of nasal Pakeha vowels, the answer to the unasked questions of a modern white crisis, and the desperate lie about your heritage.

Fusing the lyrical power of spoken word poetry with the wry relief of theatrical staging under acclaimed director Geoff Pinfield, REAL FAKE WHITE DIRT is a celebration and a critique of the Pakeha condition in New Zealand, exposing the beautiful uncertainty of a people who stand and live in a complicated relationship to both the land and the first peoples. This tour-de-force from award-winning Bates played to packed houses in London and Edinburgh.

A Pakeha creative with a self-proclaimed will to make interdisciplinary, theatrical and innovative performance poetry, Bates is an energy powerhouse of local performance. In 2013, she performed for both Auckland Theatre Company and Silo Theatre, winning numerous awards as part of the Short + Sweet Theatre Festival (‘Best Actress’, plus two script-based awards for her original work Lucky C*ntry.) For Bates, poetry is able “to critique cultural and social norms in a way that is both accessible and entertaining.”

Playing after is LIVE ORGY, written and performed by comedian Freya Desmarais, who just recently presented her acclaimed hit Home at The Dark Room. Described by critics as ‘raw, exceptionally high energy, cutting edge comedy’, ex-Wellington ex-Sydney ex-girlfriend Freya Desmarais’ award-winning feminist tour de vulva through sex education, consent and rape culture was the absolute highlight of Auckland Fringe and had Wellington audiences screaming in delight last month. Are you ready Palmy?

Through the joys of rap music, gun play, talking about masturbation with Catherine Delahunty and a re-enactment of female ejaculation, Desmarais bugles a new era of sex-positive sex education. Did we mention there’s a giant vulva?

LIVE ORGY asks us to fap for freedom and liberate ourselves from any guilt or shame. It’s a show that should only be missed by the prudish, the unadventurous, and the faint-hearted. Winner of the Social Impact Special Award and deemed by Metro Magazine as the #1 Fringiest Moment in the Auckland Fringe, Freya Desmarais is “one of the loudest and most interesting voices in our comedy scene”, so make sure you get to hear it when she entertains for two nights only this September.

Award-winning, audience-favourite Wellington theatre company, ‘my accomplice’, present their refreshingly intimate first-person fable that took the country’s Fringe scene by storm. EVERYTHING IS SURROUNDED BY WATER is the brain-child of co-creative directors Uther Dean - the busiest man in Wellington theatre and creator of the successful audio drama podcast The Witching Hours - and Hannah Banks - one of the top ten performers of last year according to The Lumiere Reader. The long-time collaborators wrote it together with Banks directing Dean as the solo performer.

What was expected to be a leisurely run of a dozen or so performances for friends and family in the Fringe ballooned, solely through word of mouth, to forty-three performances over two and a half weeks to over two hundred people from all over Wellington. Told entirely in the first person, WATER tells the story of a series of mysterious happenings in a man’s life over the last few months of 2013, all of which seem to connect back to both the odd cephalopods, Cuttlefish, and the day when, at the age of seven, he sold his soul to his best-friend. For a chip.

“We wanted to make a show about our own dealings with mental illness,” said Dean, “but without making it preachy or maudlin. We realised pretty quickly that it meant it needed to be both true and magical. And what is more magic and more true than real life?”

Closing the festival is Manawatu performer Ian Harman as he unleashes alter-ego Lola in THE LOLA SHOW, which he describes as “a little bit cabaret, a little bit burlesque and a lot about relationships, love, and laughter.” Harman, who most recently appeared in the sell-out Hotel D’Amour at The Globe Theatre with The Boom Boom Room Burlesque, brings his background of magic, burlesque, costume design, and theatre into the performance.

“The show is about laughing about the ups and downs like you would sitting down with your best mates. A good night out of light entertainment where we can laugh at ourselves,” says Harman, who created Lola in 2007 and has lived with the evolving character ever since. He said people had commented that they would watch a whole show of Lola, thus THE LOLA SHOW was born. “I love being Lola on stage, I have freedom with Lola. With an abundance of both masculine and feminine qualities, Lola can go in any direction theatrically. It means I can get away with everything.”

Harman recently won two Globe Awards, Best Director/Choreographer for Abbey Theatre’s production of Hairspray, and Best Show for Abbey’s The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. His set and costume designs also frequent the professional stage at Centrepoint Theatre, most recently in Midsummer: A Play with Songs.

“Palmerston North is often missed on the festival circuit so there’s a lot of great New Zealand work that we don’t get the opportunity to see,” says festival producer Nathan Mudge, who was born and raised in Manawatu, and returned earlier this year to take over management of The Dark Room, Centrepoint’s fringe space. “Three of the four award-winning artist will be performing their critically-acclaimed shows in the region for the first time. It’s a fantastic way to introduce Manawatu to the wider arts community in New Zealand.”

Solo Festival is on for four nights only, September 9-12, with each production having just two performances each. Do not miss out on the inaugural festival that brings Manawatu to the forefront of one-person performance art in New Zealand. Not to be missed.



Tickets Full $20 / Concession $15 / Festival Pass (all 4 shows) $60
Venue The Dark Room, cnr. Church & Pitt St, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Bookings 06 354 5740 or

REAL FAKE WHITE DIRT (presented by Theatre Beating)
Dates Wednesday and Thursday, 9-10 September, 6pm
Writer/Performer Jess Holly Bates
Director Geoff Pinfield
Image by Salvador Brown

LIVE ORGY (presented by Freya Desmarais)
Writer/Performer Freya Desmarais
Director Brendon Green
Dates Wednesday and Thursday, 9-10 September, 8pm
Image by Rebecca Eng

EVERYTHING IS SURROUNDED BY WATER (presented by my accomplice)
Dates Friday and Saturday, 11-12 September, 6pm
Writer/Performer Uther Dean
Writer/Director Hannah Banks
Image by Uther Dean

THE LOLA SHOW (presented by The Boom Boom Room Burlesque)
Dates Friday and Saturday, 11-12 September, 8pm
Writer/Performer Ian Harman
Image by Toni Larsen

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Benjamin Ree's The Painter and The Thief

The Norwegian filmmaker had long been fascinated by art thieves who commit high-stakes crimes with a delicate touch when a chance Google search in 2015 uncovered a botched heist in Oslo. More>>

Howard Davis: Anna Coddington Beams

Anna Coddington's thin, wispy vocals fit her songs beautifully, providing a wonderful lilting quality that pervades her latest album, producing instant ear worms. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>

Howard Davis: Byrneing Down the House - Spike Lee's American Utopia

Lee does an admirable job capturing Byrne's stunning live performance of his latest album, but the real star of the show is the staging. More>>

Howard Davis: The Phoenix Foundation Friend Ship Tour Docks in Wellington

A sense of local pride was certainly running high at the Opera House on Saturday night, as the lads ran through a tasty little set drawn mostly from their latest album Friend Ship (splash out for Xmas on the shocking pink extra-thick vinyl edition). More>>

Howard Davis: Avantdale Bowling Club

Auckland rapper and MC Tom Scott brought his stunning jazz-infused Taite Music Prize-winning project Avantdale Bowling Club to the Opera House headlining Wellington's 2020 Jazz Festival. More>>

Howard Davis: Troy Kingi Rules The San Fran

The award-winning Northland musician performed songs from his new record The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, the fourth installment in his 10/10/10 series - ten albums in ten years in ten genres. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland