Dominion Road Stories: The Arts Festival Takes it to the Streets
The Arts Festival is heading for the suburbs for Dominion Road Stories, a lively programme of music, theatre and story-telling presented by the ATC’s community programme, ATC Participate.
Highlights include the comic murder mystery Bowled Over, presented by Marvellous, the Auckland Theatre Company’s performance group for senior citizens. One of its stars is Joyce Irving.
Joyce was born in England in 1921 (yes, that makes her 92 this year), and arrived in New Zealand in 1949. She’s been acting in amateur productions since her youth (with a break to raise her seven children) but didn’t get an agent until she was in her mid-80s. Her professional career includes four appearances in Shortland St — playing four different characters — numerous television ads and a starring role in the short film Dotty, about an elderly woman trying to send a text message.
On her own Dominion Rd story/ Some of my first New Zealand performances were there. In the early days of television here, Bell Radio-Television had their experimental studios on  Dominion Rd and I performed a monologue in front of the cameras so they could test their gear. I spoke about a Women’s Institute conference I’d attended at the Albert Hall in London.
On her movie premiere adventure/ The directors, Mick Andrews and Brett O’Gorman, submitted Dotty to various film festivals and it was accepted by Sydney and Montreal. The world premiere was in Montreal, and I couldn’t afford to go. I tried various ways [including selling homemade mustards, pickles and jams] but nothing happened. Then Brett put up a call on the Give a Little website and the money absolutely flowed in! And so my daughter and I went to Montreal. The highlight for me was being stopped by a man who said, ‘I haven’t cried in years, but that film brought tears to my eyes.’”
On being part of a unique acting troupe/ A friend told me there was an advertisement looking for performers over 65. She thought I might be interested — I surely was. About 38 people came along that first night, some amateur actors, some with no performance experience at all. We started working on theatre skills and gradually we got to the stage where we had something presentable to an audience: a performance of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, directed by Michael Hurst [the production won Metro’s “best new cast” award for 2011].
That cast evolved into Marvellous. We’ve become very warm with each other. We meet in each other’s houses at Christmas, New Year and so on. Not so much for me, because I’m very gregarious, but there are a lot of members for whom the social aspect of the group is very important. Probably half of us really rely on Marvellous in that way; most of us live alone. It is such a good name, because it has helped us to feel just marvellous.
On her marvellous life/ I wouldn’t live anywhere else than Auckland. I’ve been in this house, on my own, for 21 years and all that time I’ve been booked into Selwyn Village retirement home. Every five years or so they call me to ask if I’m ready. And I always say, “No, thank you.”
Dominion Road Stories: more highlights
Walk, Talk, Eat
Explore the alleyways and restaurants around the Balmoral shopping precinct in this headset-guided tour — part-reality, part-performance —devised by the Oryza Foundation for Asian Performing Arts and director/improvisation whizz Yuri Kinugawa. The one-hour walk culminates in a shared meal.
A family picnic with a difference, this free event at Potters Park features performances from more than 100 dancers from dance schools across the city and a performance from Don McGlashan and band.
The Bus Stop Monologues
Directed by actress Laurel Devinie (On the Upside Down of the World), locals’ real-life stories are brought to life at bus stops along the strip:
“There were no pedestrian crossings there then and all the shopkeepers kept an eye out as my daughter crossed Dominion Rd. That little village in the middle of the big city had more heart and caring than any other place I’ve lived in the world.”
“I was part of the Springbok Tour protest march that came down Dominion Rd that was stopped by the police. I saw a really nice girl then and I came back the following day hoping she’d be around, but no luck.”
“My Irish grandmother drove her horse and gig the length of Dominion Rd to the bottom of Queen St, where she boarded a barge taking her to Kopu.”
Dominion Road Stories: March 16-17, Potters Park and other locations along Dominion Rd. Free and ticketed events. autdominionroadstories.co.nz