FALLOUT IS ON NOW!
Jennifer is the director and co-producer of Fallout–The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, which recounts the bombing of the Greenpeace ship Rainbor Warrior in Auckland Harbour on 10 July 1985, an act of terrorism that changed New Zealand forever. The show will be presented 20-30 May at The Basement; click here to book.
Last Tapes Theatre Company and The Large Group are co-producing the show. It stars Fasitua Amosa, Luanne Gordon, Toby Leach, and Kerry Warkia, with design by Paul McLaney, Sean Lynch, and Jeremy Fern.
NZ Herald: "Director Jennifer Ward-Lealand uses [pulsing soundscapes and evocative screen montages] to maintain sensory interest and to anchor the show historically ... Educational for some; a trip down one of memory's unexpected lanes for others. A hell of a tale"
Theatreview: "Director Jennifer Ward-Lealand takes the documentary vibe of the play and runs with it ... The actors delight in switching between characters, bringing small town New Zealanders to life in rich and amusing ways ... The fresh telling of the legend recalls a united New Zealand working together"
In this, the 30-year anniversary of the bombing, Fallout will bring this culturally significant event back into the spotlight to examine how it contributed to the establishment of New Zealand's unique position as a nuclear-free country. Click here for the preview article in the 16 May 2015 Weekend Herald. Click here for an interview with Jennifer, playwright Bronwyn Elsmore and the cast and creatives of Fallout talking about the development process for this new play.
The producers are asking for support via The Art Foundation's crowd-funding site, Boosted. Please click here to donate. Also supported by Greenpeace and PADET.
The video below is narrated by the captain of the Rainbow Warrior:
Original Rainbow Warrior crew, Susi Newborn, Gil Hanly, and Bunny McDiarmid, share their memories:
JENNIFER NARRATES FIND ME A MAORI BRIDE
Jennifer is the narrator of new tv series Find Me a Maori Bride. The dramedy, from the creators of Auckland Daze, is about Tama (Cohen Holloway) and George (Matariki Whatarau), a pair of metrosexual Maori men on a quest to find themselves an authentic Maori bride. Also starring Amanda Billing, Siobhan Marshall, and Te Kohe Tuhaka. See the show's Facebook page.
From the NZ Herald preview: "Must-see TV ... a hilariously earnest voice-over from Jennifer Ward-Lealand ... our new favourite show and it's a likely candidate for local comedy of the year"
Find Me a Maori Bride premiered Friday 22 May 2015 nd will continue showing Fridays at 8 p.m. on Maori TV. Click here to watch the first episode online.
JENNIFER TO HOST HIMALAYAN TRUST ART AUCTION
Jennifer will be the MC of the Himalayan Trust Art Auction, 5 June 2015, 5:30 p.m. at Gus Fisher Gallery.
Click here for information and the auction catalog. Works on view at the Gallery 3-5 June, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The auction is a fundraiser for Nepal. One hundred percent of all money raised will go to the Himalayan Trust to rebuild schools and hospitals in the Solukhumbe region devastated by recent earthquakes.
The following New Zealand artists have given their works for this auction:
Edith Amituanai, Gavin Chilcott, Vita Cochran, Elliot Collins, Octavia Cook, Bronwynne Cornish, Judy Darragh, Dilana, Sarah Hillary, Julian Hooper, Lonnie Hitchinson, Fiona Jack, Ian Jervis, Richard Killeen, Rosie Lascelles, Saskia Leek, Peter Madden, Simon Mark, Allan McDonald, Simon McIntyre, Sara McIntyre, Kim Meek, Simon Morris, Solomon Mortimer, Neil Perdington, Johanna Pegler, Lucien Rizos, Marie Shannon, Kate Small, Mickey Smith, Lorene Taurerewa, Imogen Taylor, Isobel Thom, Ruth Thomas-Edmond, Barbara Tuck, Adrienne Vaughan, Denys Watkins, Ruth Watson, Virginia Ware, Amber Wilson
MICHAEL DIRECTING STEP DAVE
Michael is directing the final 2 episodes (12 and 13) of the second season of Kiwi tv series Step Dave, beginning 14 April 2015. The TVNZ show stars Sia Trokenheim, Jono Kenyon, Rawiri Jobe, Tanya Nolan, Aidee Walker, William Wallace, Tainui Tukiwaho, Lisa Harrow, Maya Wyatt, Lily Powell, and George Beca. Click here for info.
MICHAEL'S EPISODE OF THE BROKENWOOD MYSTERIES AVAILABLE IN THE USA BEGINNING 18 MAY
Michael directed the third (of four) episodes, 'Playing the Lie', which aired in New Zealand on Prime in October 2014. The show premiered in the US on AcornTV beginning 4 May 2015; Michael's episode is available from 18 May. Click here for info/access.
The show stars Neill Rea and Fern Sutherland, with Pana Hema Taylor, Nic Sampson, Christina Ionda, Colin Moy, Andi Crown, and Miriama McDowell. It won the Bronze World Medal in the Television Drama category at the New York Festivals International Television and Film Awards. A second season was announced in December 2014 and began filming in May 2015.
The four two-hour mystery movies were released on dvd on 11 December 2014; a region 1 dvd set will be released 7 July.
MICHAEL DIRECTED TATAU
Michael directed episodes 6 and 7 of 8-episode fantasy drama series Tatau, produced by Touchpaper TV and South Pacific Pictures for BBC Three (UK) and BBC America (USA).
The series has finished its run in the UK, and is now being released in the US, on demand, one episode per week, through many cable companies and digital platforms. Click here to find out where you can watch it. Michael's episode 6 will be available beginning 23 May; episode 7 will be available beginning 30 May.
The show was written by Richard Zajdlic and stars Joe Layton and Theo Barklem-Biggs, with Barry Atsma, Shushila Takao, Cian Elyse White, Tai Berdinner-Blades, Temuera Morrison, Alex Tarrant, Rawiri Jobe, Kirk Torrance and Rangimoana Taylor. It was filmed September-December 2014, in The Cook Islands and New Zealand. Michael filmed his episodes in October/November 2014.
Click here for info.
Tagata Pasifika did a behind-the-scenes story on the filming of Tatau on The Cook Islands, including scenes of Michael directing; watch it below.
From the show's Facebook page:
"Kyle is unsettled when local people react to his tattoo: it clearly has a significance that he is entirely unaware of. It’s like he’s been marked out for something – but what?
"Later, while snorkelling in a lagoon, Kyle finds the body of a local girl, Aumea, tied up underwater – dead. Returning to the lagoon with the police, Kyle finds her corpse has disappeared. Budgie wonders if his best friend is going mad – he’s imagining things. But Kyle knows what he saw. And he’s also beginning to realise that he has a gift – or a curse: the murder he’s witnessed isn’t something that has happened, it’s something that will happen in the future.
"Kyle and Budgie find themselves sucked into a desperate race to prevent Aumea’s murder, as Kyle learns that his gifts don’t stop at prophecy… and the full meaning of his tattoo is revealed".
Michael was in London for 6 weeks from mid-February directing this immersive theatre show, running 4 April – 5 July 2015 at 69-89 Mile End Road, London, presented by Riverside Studio, Luke Johnson, Andy Harries, Generation of Z Ltd, and Jean Doumanian. Click here for info and tickets. Check out the latest news and photos on their Facebook page.
LondonTheatre1: "... This is not just a scare-fest ... but is a genuine theatrical performance where Director Michael Hurst moves his team of actors ... along with the audience around like puppets on a string. For me as an audience member it was an amazingly emotional show. A mixture of subliminal fear, genuine horror, pathos and some lovely bits of unexpected comedy had me gripped from the moment we entered"
Horror Cult Films: "... theatre at its most immersive ... actors who sell the hell out of every scene ... get yourself down to London's east end ... it's worth every penny".
The Hollywood News: "... an immersive piece of promenade theatre ... an emotive and evocative rollercoaster ... you’ll be dying to come back and do it all again".
The Upcoming: "... The actors revel in their characters. Audience participation is not encouraged; it is enforced ... Acting is of an exceptionally high standard"
LondonTheatre: " ... tremendously well-structured and well-executed show ... surprisingly realistic effects ... completely unique ... exploring new ways of how to entertain ... exhilarating and intense theatrical experience"
Digital Spy: "... it's undoubtedly the best of its kind out there ... The make-up artists have done an incredible job, the zombies are genuinely scary, the acting is excellent and it even has a decent story"
Gay Times: "... it is not a haunted house scare fest, it is a fully realized play ... Given the mammoth task of not only acting but also engaging and incorporating the audience into the story, the cast were phenomenal"
The Generation of Z is pioneering a new form of high-octane, interactive storytelling. Set amongst the chaos of a zombie apocalypse, GenZ throws the audience into their own live video game, where every "survivor" can directly influence the show's narrative and outcome. Will you cower against the walls, or rise up to be the hero?
Forget watching this from your seat - GenZ is multimedia theatre on steroids, where every choice is life or death. What would you do to survive?
LondonTheatre1 did an interview with Michael about creating immersive theatre; read it here.
MICHAEL ON THE PANEL AT EQUITY GREEN ROOM
Michael will be on the panel, with Fasitua Amosa, Nicole Whippy, Tandi Wright, and Felicity Jurd, speaking on 'Sex and Nudity on Stage and Screen: What is Right and How to Empower Yourself,' at Grey Lynn Community Centre on Sunday 31 May 2015 at 6 p.m. See Equity's Facebook.
MICHAEL AND JENNIFER PERFORMED IN NEPAL MEMORIES
Michael and Jennifer were members of the cast reading from the autobiographies of the 1953 Everest Expedition Team at a fundraiser for the Hillary Trust's Rebuild Appeal. Over $12,000 was raised at the event.
See the Nepal Memories Facebook page.
George Henare, Michael, Jennifer, Stephen Lovatt, Peter Elliott, Oliver Driver
MICHAEL TO DIRECT ASH VS. EVIL DEAD
Michael will direct episodes 6 and 7 of new Starz tv series Ash vs. Evil Dead in June 2015. It is being produced by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert and will star Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless, Mimi Rogers, Jill Marie Jones, Ray Santiago, and Dana DeLorenzo. Click here for info.
JENNIFER AND MICHAEL GUEST STAR IN TERRY TEO
Jennifer plays Barbara Bertinelli in the third episode of Terry Teo, a revival of the classic Kiwi TV show, filmed early November 2014. Michael plays Cornelius Jones in one episode, filmed mid-December. The show will air on TV2.
Click here for info.
MICHAEL NARRATES THE LION QUEEN
Michael narrated 6-episode documentary series The Lion Queen for Top Shelf Productions. It was shown on Animal Planet across Africa, in the Middle East, and in parts of Europe in February 2015. Click here for details; see their Facebook page.
The Lion Queen is the story of Andi Rive, a midwife from the city who has fallen in love with the fifty lions at Glen Garriff Lion Reserve. With her dedicated team of staff, family and volunteers, Andi and close friend Traci, Glen Garriff's CEO, are tasked with keeping the struggling reserve afloat, fending off creditors, lawyers and hunters.
Andi has made a commitment to manage and try to save Glen Garriff. It's a huge task – finding food for the lions, money to cover running costs, and learning how to run an 860 hectare reserve which has lions and other wildlife, a lodge, and staff.
Watch the trailer below: