Archives for the month of: February, 2012

Director’s Note for “An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree”


Recently, in what seems like very quick succession, all of my immediate family have packed up their belongings, newly produced children, and fled Wellington, my home town. There were once upwards of 13 of us, now I’m the only one left. So, at times of significance, such as birthdays and Christmas, technology is called upon to tether a connection for a few short moments. Everybody knows this technology offers less than a satisfactory substitute for actual and close contact; everybody knows it’s a compromise.

This work directly addresses my personal experience, and how it relates to current socio- political environments. With the Arab Spring, and then the Occupy Movement spreading around the globe, people are questioning fundamentals of our societies, where we are headed, and questioning, too, a previous unfortunate willingness to agree. I believe that my personal experience is an epitomisation of the type of compromise that people have begun to rail against.

Before we started in-studio rehearsals, I asked each member of the cast and crew a number of questions, in a bid to understand their feelings about the themes of this work. We talked of physical contact, connectedness, anger, apathy and family.

We invite you, too, to partake in this on-going discussion by watching our performance and, perhaps, asking questions yourself.

Oliver Connew / February 2012


An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree

27 February – 2 March 2012, 6:30PM

BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

Tickets ($16/$14) available through


On 27 February a fresh, new dance work will be premiered at BATS Theatre as part of the 2012 New Zealand Fringe Festival. An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree investigates apathy and alienation, anger and agitation in the context of current sociopolitical environments and ponders why these feelings manifest themselves in today’s limply-bound communities.

Director and choreographer, Oliver Connew, a third-year classical major at the New Zealand School of Dance, is working with performance collaborators Fleur Cameron and Gareth Okan, who, too, both have been through the New Zealand School of Dance. Alongside composer, Marika Pratley, the group has been rehearsing deep in the dungeons of Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre since mid-January.

But in no way is the process secret or hidden. Regular postings to a Facebook page keep an interested public informed and engaged in the issues that this work addresses. Over time, questions that were asked of the cast and crew during the research process will be posed to our audience: Do you feel important? Do you live in an important time? Is your family close? Do you feel more connected than ever?

The contemporary themes in this show directly address the director’s personal experience and its relationship to the sociopolitical environment that he and his peers currently find themselves in. Beginning with the Arab Spring and spreading across the globe in the form of the Occupy Movement, people have begun to question fundamentals of our societies and where they are headed, as well as questioning a previous unfortunate willingness to agree.

An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree is being lovingly and passionately crafted by a supremely creative team of artists, as well as being co-produced by The Wanderer Productions and Salted:Singlet.

Join An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree on Facebook to stay updated! 


Contact Name:  Oliver Connew

Contact Phone: 027 238 2366



Co-producer: Naomi Lamb

Contact Phone: 021461583



Sponsors/Supporters: BATS Theatre, NZ Fringe Festival, Creative NZ, DANZ, Central Osteopathy, Dominion Post, Vapour Momenta Books

It is hard to get away from the fact that, in traditional theatre contexts, the audience has at least some sort of a role, if not a significant role, in paying for the work. They pay a fee to receive a product. Part of their risk is that they may not enjoy or positively gain from what they witness. I believe, whether recognised or not, that the practitioner thence accepts an obligation to honour the risk and the payment.

Theatre must, in my opinion, offer a reflection on life. A fact of life is that it is often, but certainly not always, boring, unimpressive, disturbing, undignified, and through and through, wholly unpleasant. I doubt many would pay to experience this! The theatre that is attended to in the greatest numbers is escapism. It is not honest, rather, it is sugar-coated. Appetising, but rots your teeth!

The only solution that I can see is to make ALL theatre free to attend. This would remove the obligation to respect the risk the audience has taken. Now, either theatre quality would decrease significantly through lack of funds or reliance on government and/or philanthropic funding would increase significantly. This poses the same problem; practitioners, ultimately, and again, whether recognised or not, remain answerable to their money source, degrading the integrity of artistic practice. My solution is, is to make Creative New Zealand a near-random lottery of massive proportions!

Who loses? Hardly anyone. Who gains? Almost everyone. Flawless logic.

In saying all of that, maybe risk is the best part of it. It certainly makes the practitioner’s job easier – greater chance of controversy. Excellent!