Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Bain’


February 17, 2016 |  by  |  Writing  |  Share


Click here to read an essay about the process of making TITLED


October 25, 2015 |  by  |  Direction & Collaboration, Performance, Theatre, TITLED  |  Share

TITLED image





Read Rosabel Tan’s impression of TITLED on The Pantograph Punch HERE.

Production Stills

Read Essay

Unveiling the politics at play using social maps governed by systems upon systems upon systems.

In an attempt to discover exactly what The Bottom Line is, Nisha Madhan (BPSA, BA Hons) presents a complicated, tricky performance situation rife with Rules and Regulations. Audiences are invited to negotiate the Terms and Conditions of their experience making them Stakeholders in the Business of Performance. Using Best Practice and Strategic Goals developed with Auckland University Managerial Staff member and Supervisor, Dr. Emma Willis (PhD), Innovative Spatial Collusion from Stephen Bain (BBSc, Dip. Act) alongside Assistant Mind Dynamics Collaborator Poppy Serano (Dip. CompGraphDes, BDes), Madhan will ensure that an environment of Quality, Leadership, Excellence and Success will be diligently avoided at all costs.

This piece comes out of a desire to treat the concept of an unspoken contract between audience and performer literally. This is a fundamental exchange between You, Me, Here, There and the Army of Administrators that run the world.

Let’s lay all our cards on the table.

Performance: Nisha Madhan / Poppy Serano
Design: Stephen Bain



Process: In Seven Steps

October 5, 2015 |  by  |  Writing  |  Share

For the last eight or nine weeks plus I have been carrying around several battered up versions of a script by Uther Dean called The Presentation Of Findings From My Scientific Survey Of The First 7500 Days Of My Life Done In The Interest Of Showing You How To Live Better Lives.  It has been the perfect unruly little companion to my mad obsession with theatre and it’s full of words.



Words scare me.  They can be little tyrants.  They only behave properly if you meet them on their terms and let them rule you instead of trying the wrestle them down.  Like a bear they will destroy the house of meaning you think you’re building and won’t do you any favours in return.  They are a two year old and today is their birthday.

Let them decide how they want to be said.  Load them up with too many suitcases and they will drag their feet and make you miss your flight.  Don’t get out of their way and they threaten to mean too much or too little depending on the weather. But if you back off them without any less love they will open up an infinite number of universes of an infinite number of possibilities for an infinite number of meanings.



I don’t want you to come.  I don’t want to open the show.  I don’t, because this is the stage when I love it the most.  Unfinished.  Unpolished.  Unrefined.  Imperfect.  Deformed like a baby with one foot bigger than the other.  A massive pile of tangled up electric wire.  Its brain isn’t fully formed yet.  It’s flawed and messy and a bit swampy.  Its nose is running and it hasn’t noticed. I haven’t figured it all out yet.  I love it like this.  I love it like this because it’s closest to how I see the world.  Uncertain.  Unknowing.  So much work still to do and running out of Time to do it.

I wish the show could stay in this awkward state of tension forever.  Almost done, but not quite.  As soon as it knows what it is it will behave like an arrogant business man.  Right now it’s gangly teenage monster.  It’s already late for school, but it still decided to stop in the middle of a busy town square and close their eyes to feel the sun on their skin.

Let’s never finish this thing.



Be Lost> Stay Lost.

Be Formless>Stay Formless.

Be Anti-Virtuosic>Stay Anti-Virtuosic.

Be Unpolished>Stay Unpolished.

Be Unfocused>Stay Unfocused.

Be An Awkward 3 Way Handshake> Stay An Awkward 3 Way Handshake

Be Catastrophic>Stay Catastrophic.

Be A Disaster>Stay A Disaster.



They love dancing.  They start doing it as soon as they walk in the room.  I shine a light and they chase it.  They try not to be too sexy.  They do hand solos, knee solos, foot solos, eye solos, they chase their shadows across the space.  One day I play a song, something by Talking Heads, I think, and I tell them they are not allowed to dance.  They skulk around the space full of a desire to  dance.  I tell them they can only dance if they dance as hard as possible and they all decide together when is the right moment.  They go from zero to ten to zero to ten to zero.  Each time they hit zero they are panting.    Waiting impatiently for the next opportunity to dance and being terrible at hiding this intention.  Skulking and panting but still full up with the joy and desire of the Young to dance.



I remember winning and losing.  I remember trap doors, slamming.  I remember the word Time. I remember water in her knees.  I remember dragging on a big black cloak.  I remember staying calm and being saved.  I remember not being able to sit on a chair.  I remember cute hot feet.  I remember putting a flower in her hand.  I remember working so hard to wrangle every cable and hold up every microphone.  I remember a theremin. I remember me and Ash just driving.  I remember things breaking apart.  I remember people stranded on islands.  I remember words on a wall.  I remember ducks and kittens in Space.  I remember the LED glasses. I remember a conga line.




We didn’t touch the words for a whole week.

We lost control.

We bled.

We made a big mess.

We felt cold and bored and frustrated.

We went too far.

We could have hurt someone.

We did some really stupid things.

We followed  fun in stead of logic.

We played games in stead of working.

We started at 10am in stead of 9am.

We kicked boxes and threw shit.

We turned off the lights at every opportunity.

We jumped over tables.

We took the piss out of Shakespeare.

We were always late.

We spent a lot of time lying down with our heads together staring at the ceiling

We watched this and this and this and this in stead of Doctor Who.

We put too many cocks in the slideshow.



We can’t stop you from coming.  The inevitability of your arrival looms like a swarm of birds sweeping in from the side, circling then lining up in perfectly formed rows.

In which case, we promise we will not ignore you.  We will look at you.  We will find our solace in you.  We will ask your permission before we do things.  We will talk to you.  We won’t hurt you.  We will sit next you, especially if you come by yourself.  We welcome you with our deformed, imperfect, mismatched, gangly, sun kissed monster arms to watch our catastrophe.


The Presentation Of My Findings From The First 7500 Days Of My LifeDone In The Interest Of Showing You How To Live Better Lives by Uther Dean BOOK HERE NOW!

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 7.48.58 pmImages by Uther Dean, Nisha Madhan, Forced Entertainment and Andi Crown.


The First 7500 Days Of My Life by Uther Dean

October 5, 2015 |  by  |  Direction & Collaboration, Upcoming  |  Share

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 7.48.58 pm

Young and Hungry 2015 present:

“The Presentation of Findings from My Scientific Survey of the First 7500 Days of My Life, Done in the Interest of Showing You How to Live Better Lives”

Written by Uther Dean, and Directed by Nisha Madhan.

Production Stills

Some people collect stamps, some people play sports, and some people undertake in-depth scientific surveys for each day of their entire lives. Let’s just say that Max Addison doesn’t collect stamps or play sports. The presentation of the findings from Max’s survey, findings that could indeed be literally considered their life’s work, will be a momentous occasion. To not attend such a momentous occasion could easily be construed as oafish or unthinking. Max is certain that you will wish to avoid this pitfall.

Starring: Saraid Cameron, Arlo Gibson, Anthony Crum, Ravi Gurunathan, Andrew Gunn, and Doug Grant.

8.30pm. Mon-Sat.

Direction Assistance / Ash Jones
Set / Christine Urquhart w/ Sarah Kirk, Shiloh Dobie, Lizzie Morris
Sound / Thomas Press
Lighting / Rachel Marlow w/ Jack Dryden & Liam McDonald-Lurch
Costume / Fraser Mildon w/ Tori Manley, Melissa Peacock & Francesca Wilson
AV / Stephen Bain


Festival of Uncertainty

May 8, 2014 |  by  |  Future Hotel, Production, Theatre  |  Share

Festival of Uncertainty

IQ2 – Arrive Alone, Leave Together

April 11, 2014 |  by  |  Writing  |  Share

This is something I wrote and presented at PAANZ 2013 in Auckland.  A summary of the artwork and my feeling about creating it.

IQ2 was created by Future Hotel, a collaboration between myself and Stephen Bain.

IQ2 or Intimate Questions 2 is an inter-active group questionnaire and public choreography using wireless headphones. Participants answer a series of questions with simple movements creating a sort of human pie chart of the personal, moral, and futuristic statistics of the group.

It’s a public and private personality test – private because the public don’t know what the performers are listening to and public because the performers are publicly answering private questions about their lives.

And this is what makes this piece super relevant to the contemporary lives of New Zealanders. It’s made up specifically of people’s immediate responses to questions from economics, politics and health, to social behaviour and of course our attitudes towards intimacy.

We’ve created a structured questionnaire which divide the group, into Yes, No , Maybe, I don’t know camps. The result is a physical chart which authentically represents the unique statistics, thoughts and feelings of that particular group, at that particular time, on that particular day.

As they build confidence we get them to act out some simple choreopraphy, then we pair them up,make them slow dance together and act out a mock wedding, all in a simple personality quiz’s day.

All the while the audience are watching this with a soundtrack of their very own; a narrative about people lost in an airport looking for someone or something accompanied by original music by Jeff Henderson. It’s timed perfectly to the soundtrack in the headphones but the public is unaware of the questions being asked.

Finally, to further unify the group and really test out their singing in the shower voices, the group sings together karaoke style, and have their photo taken as a record and memento of the experience.

Immediately we start to see some of the general statistics. For example we know that 99% of most groups consider themselves honest people and 1% have knowingly lied on an official tax document. Incidentally, we also know that 2% of this group started the performance as strangers but continued an intimate relationship afterwards…for 4 days.

We found that people were all too happy to follow our instructions and publicly answer our questions. And it’s simply because of the private nature of the headphones. They immediately put you in a secure space, in your own little world.

My favourite thing about IQ2 is this: it’s an experience where strangers arrive alone, but leave together, having felt that they were a part of something. They leave having met each other, in fact they leave having danced together. Often with theatre experiences, in fact in daily life itself, we arrive alone and leave alone and barely give a thought to the person sitting next to us, and how much can we even trust that person really…?

My second favourite thing is this:  It’s free.  There was one man who was clutching on to a plastic bag of bread, and when I asked if I could store his bag away for him so he could have his hands free he was very reluctant. It was obvious he was a bit of an outsider, and I found out later that he was in fact homeless…well, I assume this because when I asked him for his email address, he scrawled out a physical address which made no sense,  It didn’t exist.  But by the end of his experience he’d entrusted his sole possession to us and he had danced with a beautiful stranger and sung a song with a group of people and had smiled broadly when his was photo taken.  I love that.  I love that because this is a free and social experience, we made this man feel included.

At it’s simplest, IQ2 is an experience that allows you to learn a few things about the people around you. It leaves you richer in the knowledge that you are not alone. You aren’t the only one who thinks you are better looking than others, and you are not the only one who has told someone you loved them, then regretted it later.

When I think of why I made this piece I think of this passage from an essay by Tim Etchells on Risk and Investment:

“Thinking of investment we ask: when this performance finishes will it matter? Where will it matter? Will the performer carry this with them tomorrow? In their sleep? In their psyche? Does this action, this performance, contain these people (and me) in some strange and perhaps unspeakable Way?

I ask of each performance: will I carry this event with me tomorrow? Will it haunt me? Will it change you, will it change me, will it change things?”

I know that making this work changed me, and I hope you will allow it to change you too.


An Open Letter

March 7, 2014 |  by  |  Uncategorized  |  Share



January 6, 2014 |  by  |  Direction & Collaboration, LIES, Production, Uncategorized, Upcoming  |  Share

Finalist Most Original Production, Auckland Theatre Awards 2014

Theatrescenes Most Memorable Moments  (James Wenley) 2014

Lumiere Reader Best of Auckland Theatre (Sam Brooks) 2014


Production Stills

The Town Centre presents genre-defying, anarchic and party fueled hour in which 4 performers lie, cheat and run gleefully into the face of failure.  LIES is a deliberately unstable world of theatrical discord and pure play.

It breaks every rule of the theatre ….” – Theatreview

“anarchic mayhem with strong performers and a clear sense of a highly rigorous underlying process. This to me was a glimpse of what I associate with a fringe festival” – Chris Jannides, Head of Movement, Toi Whakaari

Performers: Ash Jones/Josh Rutter/Julia Croft/Lara Fischel-Chisholm
Direction/Design: Nisha Madhan/Stephen Bain


Duration 60 minutes


5-13 September at The Basement alongside What Have You Done To Me? and  The Review Project

Click Here to Book Tickets



In Wellington: 27 february – 2 March

At BATS Understudy as part of the 2014 NZ FRINGE FESTIVAL.

VIEW Lorde’s Letter of Support


Supported by Creative NZ

What Have You Done To Me?

Production Stills

Finalist Most Original Production, Auckland Theatre Awards 2014

Theatrescenes Most Memorable Moments  (James Wenley) 2014

Lumiere Reader Best of Auckland Theatre (Sam Brooks) 2014



A Modern Cabaret of Obsessions.
“charming, troubled, energetic, violent, seductive…hilariously entertaining.” – TheatreviewInspired by the stalkeresque work of French photographer, Sophie Calle, this absurdist cabaret of obsessions by Nisha Madhan and Stephen Bain hides nothing and invites everything.  Contains dancing, offensive language, gorillas and confetti.
8.30pm @ The Basment
Click HERE to book tickets.
2014 At BATS Theatre as part of the 2014 NZ Fringe Festival
2010 Fredrick Street Sound and Light Exploration Society
2010 Basement Theatre as part of the 2010 Auckland Fringe Festival


November 2, 2013 |  by  |  Direction & Collaboration, Future Hotel, Public Performances  |  Share

WINNER – Best in Outdoor (NZ Fringe Awards)

FUTURE HOTEL presents IQ2 (Intimate Questions 2)


Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Are you a dreamer or a schemer?

Are you more good looking than most people you know?

Are you looking for someone?

Have you been waiting for someone who will take you into the future?

Find your answers at IQ2, Future Hotel’s latest public and private personality test.

IQ2 is a group questionaire and public happening. Participants answer a series of questions with simple movements creating a human pie chart of the personal, moral, and futuristic statistics of the group.

We have 20 sets of wireless headphones. Put them on. Listen and respond. Meet strangers.

Take a breath.
Think of the future.

COLLABORATORS: Nisha Madhan, Stephen Bain & Jeff Henderson

-4 copy








IQ2 Fringe Programme artwork - NEW