Five great gift ideas for the festive season
So I might be the marketing manager and my job is to promote everything that happens at Riverside but I do have some things I get particularly excited about and I really look forward to each year. These are five things I’d want for Christmas and why.
- A Sidekicks Membership.
Neatly priced at just $45 the benefits I get are great and would encourage me to go the theatre more rather than less. Saving up to $10 on ticket prices is a definite plus. The fact I can access more than 1 ticket at the discounted price on the same membership is also a massive bonus. If I see one show that saves me $10 per ticket and I take at least one other person with me I’m already happy – that’s $20 value of the outlay already back. Add in two free drinks and that’s around $34 of value so far. But for me it’s the fact I can be flexible with my purchases that really make me happy – I don’t plan well in advance so subscription isn’t for me. However, I still want a discount. I don’t like paying full price for anything – I’ll go back to a store four times waiting for jeans to be on sale – why pay full price if you don’t have to?! Films for as little as $9 using the membership is also a plus!
- A ticket to Terrain will do me nicely!
It’s true, I’m a fan of contemporary dance but I also like things that have their roots firmly planted in tradition. To give you an example, I’m listening to a recording of a contemporary Bulgarian choir singing traditional Jewish Songs as I’m writing this. I’ve also never seen Bangarra Dance Theatre live. I’ve seen snippets of them on YouTube and TV but there is something incredibly exciting about seeing a dancer dancing live that gets me in – the risks: of mistakes, of injury, of partner work, of something going wrong; but also the beauty of everything going right, all the elements coming together at once; without the benefit of stopping, resetting and shooting again for an editor to fix on a computer. I’m hoping Terrain will transport me to its setting of Lake Eyre, somewhere I haven’t been since the 80s, but a place that fascinates me and feels largely mysterious. I don’t always look for narrative in dance – sometimes abstract emotions surface and the performance affects me in unexpected ways. It’s terrifying but exciting to put myself in a situation that gives opportunity for artists to influence me like that. And to go on a journey with an auditorium of strangers that will present something completely different to everyone in the room. I saw an international dance piece once with two friends – one was just amazed by the physicality of it all, I read all sorts of references and influences into it, and the other friend got totally lost in the artistry. It gave us lots to talk about afterwards and I imagine Terrain will do the same.
- Tickets to Daffodils.
One of the things I like about the Riverside programming is the commitment to bringing shows and performers from New Zealand to our stages. Despite being our nearest neighbour we rarely hear much about NZ except ads for cheap flights occasionally on the TV. Last year I really enjoyed the New Zealand Dance Company with Rotunda and NZTrio and their concert East from Here, and so I’m anticipating another great experience from the Bullet Heart Club production, Daffodils. A cabaret mixed with indie pop/rock songs with a love story as the through line – yep, this sounds like my kind of show. Having watched an excerpt from the show, I think the simple but effective staging, use of 1960s style photography, and storyline are going to appeal. I’ll take six tickets please so I can bring friends!
- A Season Package.
If I was to do a Season Package (4 play minimum) and plan my year in advance I would choose the following (in addition to the shows I’ve already mentioned above):
Wuthering Heights – so far everything I’ve seen, read and hear about shake & stir theatre company is very impressive – even the technical staff rave about the company and how organised and professional they are. The work to date that has toured to Riverside has been very impressive, so I’m sure I’m on to a winner with their next production. Also, I read the book when I was on an student exchange in Canada over 20 years ago and the characters have stayed with me. A recent movie adaptation that I saw wasn’t great and I’m sure this stage production will do much better.
Swallow – a new play by Scottish playwright Stef Smith and the first production for our new resident company National Theatre of Parramatta, this is going to be edgy, challenging, beautiful and will resonate incredibly well with Parramatta life. I’ve read the script too and I’ve seen some of the past work by the director, Kate Champion (former Artistic Director of Force Majeure), and I can’t wait to see what she does with it!
The Literati – playwright Justin Fleming makes me laugh and I’m sure he’ll do it again with this new adaptation of Moliere’s Les Femmes Savantes. I don’t know the original play but from chatting to Justin it sounds like a real hoot, silly, but totally believable even in 2016.
The Wharf Revue 2016 will also keep me laughing – I’ve seen a lot of these and although I don’t always like/get every bit, generally I love it and enjoy a good chuckle at the pollies and popular culture. Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe, Phil Scott and Amanda Bishop are amazing multi-skilled performers and writers and musicians.
- If you really can’t decide what to get me, give me a Gift Voucher for whatever amount you’d like to spend and let me decide.
I’ll happily make use of a gift voucher on tickets for Season shows, music concerts, films (lots of those including the stage productions on screen) and a few other events along the way that will be added into the program throughout the year. Or failing that, I’d also be really happy with a donation made in my name to the education program to subsidise tickets for disadvantaged schools. I was lucky enough to grow up going to the theatre frequently – I actually grew up in a theatre for 7 years of my childhood – and I see the value of the arts, of live theatre, of being presented with stories and situations that I might not experience otherwise. A donation that allows others to benefit from the same things will make me very happy this Christmas.
So if you are going to buy me something theatrical (hint hint family and friends) those are my ideas. May you all have a great festive season and get exactly the theatre gifts you want!