World of WearableArt 2010 (28th September - 3rd October 2010)

Time flies and now it’s nearly the end of September – only 3 more months till Christmas! It’s also the time of year where arts, crafts and fashion enthusiasts from around NZ (and abroad) gather in Wellington City for a night of theatre, performances and wearable art during the annual 2-week World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards Show that is currently held at TSB Arena from 23 September to 3 October 2010 – also means another year volunteering at WOW for me :)

Like the past 2 years, I’ve applied to be a programme seller again and this time requested for the role of the downstairs foyer roaming programme seller as I had such a great time in the role last year. “Of course – you’re my best programme seller!” said Sioned, the Merchandising Co-ordinator whom I’ve worked with over the years. It’s true that I am likely to be her top seller as I’m constantly calling out ‘Programmes! Programmes!’ as I walked about in the crowd, attracting their attention (I’m tooting my own horn hehe…) and had to be quick at maths (the fastest I sort out change, the more programmes I can sell). I love it, mingling with the excited crowd and at times, got closed in and circled with people waving $20 notes at me which can be daunting for some but I like the attention haha! I’ve never attended the volunteer meeting in the past as I’ve always been away on holiday during the first week of the show (and I’m SO in need of a holiday right now – I need a break just to relax and refresh myself) so attended the meeting this year, even though I knew what my work entailed. Us volunteers gathered on the eve of the show opening at TSB Arena where we got briefed on the venue, our duties and given our volunteer packs which consisted a WOW water, the 2010 WOW badge, cast and crew top (more like a dress this time), and volunteer pass (as well as a programme which would be given to us on our first shift). There were lots of new volunteers this time round, none whom I knew beforehand. In exchange of working 6 shifts, approximately 2 hours each day before the show, I got to see the show for free and join in the after-show cast party on the final night. This year’s theme is ‘The Orient Express’ – hmm, what should I dress up as?

If you thought we had many pre-show performers last year, well, there’s even more this year! The performers each portrayed their own interesting characters and would interact with the crowd in character: Fabian the Pirate (Rhys Latton) would often be found offering ladies his service to carry their bags up the stairs; mischievous circus performers Rodrigo Osis and Pascal Ackermann would run around chasing one another, both topless, showing off different drawn-on tattoos on their body each night – these two misfits would come so close to me, pretending to steal my money when I’m not paying attention only to get slapped in the hand (haha, I saw you!); Anna Sheffield, whom I’ve seen in many local musicals and the past few WOWs played the character of Firefly, a cute lady/fairy that comes around checking to make sure the venue is free of fire hazards, tooting her horn or singing as she played her ukulele; Siren Deluxe was probably the most fascinating performer, all dressed up in a Dalmatian suit, French-kissing people as they stop to take photos with her and just full of charm, strutting with her cane; clown mimes would come and go, some stopping to copy my movements which was such a laugh – dancer Matt Gibbons was a mime clown and he picked me up a few times, causing me to squeal “Programmes!” one pitch too high up as he lifted me off the ground! :P I love being in the midst of the commotion, feeling the happy vibes from the people walking in, all excited about the show and of course, being in company of the brilliant pre-show performers – they are so much fun :)

“I’ve been watching you and you’re doing such a great job selling the programmes,” complimented Chief Executive Gabrielle Hervey on day 3 of my shift. Aw, thanks! I do my best and have successfully sold all 150 programmes on every shift I’ve been on. Some of the other programme sellers had started copying my selling technique too! Photos taken while volunteering here.

I went to see the show on Saturday after my shift and as usual, it was an impaired vision seat where I spent the next 2 hours sitting at the edge of my seat, crooning my neck so I can get a better view of the stage. Comedian Te Radar opened the show dressed up in a full grass suit, entering the stage with his accompanying fully suited flower gf, where they did a little comedy skit to brief the audience on turning off phones, photography (none allowed), toilets (the show has no interval) and exits. The show went on showcasing all the entries submitted this year (quite a few from overseas) by its sections, starting with the Air New Zealand South Pacific Section. As expected, the show never fails to give the audience a feeling of magic and fantasy – some of the highlights included a large pop-up book that was descended onto the stage and opened to reveal a castle in the ‘The Magic of Books’ Children’s Section, and the amazing Illumination Illusion Section that is always so well-choreographed and I still wonder today how do they coordinate the changes in colours on a design (computer programmed??)…

My favourite entries for the ‘The Magic of Books’ Children’s Section were ‘A Bid for Freedom’ by Kate Hellyar, where a dragon comes to life from the pages of the story book and ‘Spellbound’ by Ann Skelly, where a larger than life witch spring out from the pages of her bound book. The ‘Synchronized Grannies’ by Cassandra, Coral & Paul Bowe in the Illumination Illusion Section was brilliant - synchronized swimmers in old black and white musical movies re-imagined as mature, fuller figured, fabulous ladies where they swim in and out of darkness, as if they were swimming in a pool. Very clever! The Open Section is one where there were no thematic boundaries and designers were free to create anything they want. I wonder how the models get into some of the costumes, such as Horridus by Lynn Christiansen, that was made of copper, silver and gold plating, spiky and you can hear the metal plates go ‘clank, clank’ as the model moved with much restriction on stage. I thought ‘Breathing’ by Ru Xiang & Tang Wenjie was a clever depiction of China’s industrialisation, while ‘Non-Identical Twins’ by Margarete Palz was very shiny and futuristic. Oh, but you should keep and eye out for ‘Russian By’ by Kayla Christensen & Renee Louie – larger than life size Russian doll that opens up to reveal more dolls! The winner of the Supreme Award was ‘Loops’ by Yogesh Chaudhary & Manas Barve from India, a self-sufficient form of independence without any interference from foreign substances such as thread or glue, a very delicate-looking piece of fabric with lots of intricate cut-out designs.

Grace performed on stage this year in the Avant Garde Section, as the Hungarian bearded lady, lip syncing to a Hungarian song, shimmying and dancing with the clowns in the circus-themed section (I can still picture her shimmying to the words of the song – very saucy hehe…). Oh and the cute little dogs dressed up like baby elephants that walked out with the clowns, wagging their tails as they trotted and posed for the audience. Adorable! My favourite entry for this category has got to be ‘The Ring Mistress’ by Ruchelle Dynae Rudeen, a gown where the bottom half is opened to reveal a stuffed monkey and tiger in their cages. The Bizarre Bra Section is back this year and had Taane Mete in drag, dancing and lip syncing as Carmen Miranda in a comedy skit which got the audience laughing. I like ‘Time Waits For Nobody’ by Jeanine Oxenius & Jayne Broome best, using Salvador Dali's superb depiction of the irony of life and makes fun of inevitable aging of our bodies, with a melted clock on a protruding right breast that is propped with a walking stick as it was too ‘heavy’ from cosmetic enlargement.

The show continued on and at some point, Rodrigo Osis and Pascal Ackermann were on stage where Pascal performed his famous Fire Web act where he does his aerial moves as Rodrigo spins a lighted rope around Pascal’s body. The two finished their act climbing the Chinese poles that were set up on each side of the main aisle of the arena with Pascal closest to where I was sitting – they made it look so easy but I bet you they are not! Acrobats ZimboyZ also showed-off their fantastic acrobat skills on stage, with the grand finale of a human tower with no safety harness attached to them in event someone slipped! All in all a great show but perhaps I’ve been to the WOW show every year so didn’t felt that it had more WOW factor than the previous show – the show were all so amazing :)

Brought Mum to Victoria Street Market on Sunday morning and boy has it been ages since I last came here! Bustling with farmers and shoppers, the market is a great place to buy fresh produce for cheap (though it doesn’t usually last as long as the produce I buy from the supermarket somehow…) and make sure you do a walk around the market before making your purchase – the stalls may be selling the same items but the prices vary. Also remember to bring along cash for your purchases as EFTPOS is not accepted. Photos taken at the market:

Mum at Victoria St market buying fresh produce

A busy day at the market

Mum standing at the pedestrian path on Ghuznee St

A quick stop in my office to pick up my belongings and Mum wanted her photo taken by my desk:

Mum at my office desk

Empty office floor on a Sunday

Mum has been raving about her visits with Auntie Daphne to Mount Cook Café on Wallace St, how the Korean family who owns the shop makes delicious pastries and cakes. I’ve driven past the café for years but never bothered to check it out so we decided to have lunch there today. A cosy corner shop, the café has 3 areas for dine-in patrons to choose from: the café area, the lounge or the backyard. We went for the backyard since it was a sunny day and had coffees and our meals out in the sun. Food and service are good and affordable (to cater for the university students studying nearby) – will need to bring Jono here another time for brunch.
Final day volunteering at WOW! It’s been rather tiring working a full day in the office and then volunteering (even though volunteering is more fun and didn’t feel like work at all). Not sure if I want to be roaming programme seller again next year – I would still like to be part of WOW but much prefer to be on stage like Grace than working behind the scenes. We’ll see how it goes. In the mean time, better get dressed up and ready for the after-show party tonight!

I went to The Costume Company on Saturday and got the lovely ladies at the costume shop to kit out a costume for me for the party. We settled for a 1920s flapper costume which included a beaded long dress, white faux fur stole, black heels, bob wig, headband with a feather, a cigarette holder and accessories to match, costing me $80 all up. The Costume Company is the place I go to if I want to impress at a costume party and they did a fantastic job again! I received so many compliments from other WOW crew tonight :)

The party this year was held at Foxglove where the whole upstairs area was booked out. The ‘Orient Express’ (this is a name of a long-passenger train) theme is so broad with the train's history of routes passing cities like Istanbul and Paris over the years since late 19th century thus party-goers where dressed in all sorts – cheongsams, 1920s flappers, men in suits, a train (yes, someone came wearing a cardboard train!) etc. I like how the WOW crowd are so creative and most people came dressed up in costume, making the party all the more fun. Around 9pm, several of the WOW crew and cast showcased a series of dance performances including swing dancing by Amy and Vanessa, Grace performing her bearded lady burlesque dance as well as Taane Mete dancing as a drag diva accompanied by two other background male dancers. Both Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal closed off the show on a high with traditional Maori dancing flitting between male and female moves - they are such brilliant dancers and so versatile in movement and portrayal of characters regardless of gender. A wonderful show that got us all screaming in delight and cheering for the performers!

My evening was spent mostly with Grace and Dan, and Grace introduced me to several other people she had worked with at WOW which was really nice. I’ve made more friends :) Sadly I couldn’t stay long as it was a Sunday night (damn, have to work tomorrow!) so left the party around 11pm for home. Photos taken at the party here.

What a WOW of a week it has been – looking forward to WOW 2011!


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