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Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 8. Monday, July 1, 1963

Extrav Solutions—Salient "Goes to the People"

page 8

Extrav Solutions—Salient "Goes to the People"

A Request for opinion on Extravaganza has revealed some solid and workable ideas. It seems that there is a wealth of show criticism, what remains to be seen is the general student response at canting time next year. If the ideas expressed below, although in many cases conflicting, do not provoke some activity, Extravaganza may well die.

This survey, rather obviously, is by no means comprehensive. It consists of interviews with some of those who were known to be thinking about Extravaganza.

Bawdy Show

"The scriptwriter and producer of the 1958 Extravaganza were appointed the previous September." said Bill Sheat, noted Extravaganza producer of the '50s.

Part of Extravaganza's success in those years was due to the activities of a steering committee. With the producer of the previous year on it, the committee was able to assure the show of the essential continuity gained from experienced support. This committee died when Sheat left the show.

To solve some of the difficulties being experienced by Extravaganza at present, Sheat suggested a meeting be called of all those interested in the show.

Their experience and support would assist next year's effort.

"A £25 prize was given for the script in 1950," he informed Salient. He also said an efficient advertising manager, which they lacked this year, was very necessary.

A bawdy, lavatory humour, political show was what the public expected, but it had to be well done.

His comment on the idea of holding a revue instead of an Extravaganza was: "Whoever thinks it is easier to produce a revue than an Extrav, is mistaken. I'm one of the few people in Wellington who have produced both and I know how difficult it is. Besides, it is necessary to have a tradition for these things. In Otago the clime is right. They have distinct Hostels and Dental, Medical and Phys.Ed. schools which can provide their own farces and male ballets."

Various factors led to this year's big loss. There was a heavy demand on the entertainment pocket from other shows. The messy opening night did not please the public, and Executive did not help by leaving it out in the cold. Sheat also mentioned the "ignorant rubbish" in Frances Lipson's editorial.

Clean Up, "or else"

"There are two basic problems confronting those in charge of Extravaganza 1964.

(1) How to break student apathy and/or antipathy to Extravaganza.

(2) How to channel the resources behind Extravaganza in the best possible manner."

"Old Hands" Bill Sheat and Terry Brown.

"Old Hands" Bill Sheat and Terry Brown.

Dealing with the first problem. Mac Hamilton said that Extravaganza 1963 had done quite a bit towards breaking student apathy.

He felt, therefore, that 1964 may find the student body in a mood for "something better or else."

"But there will still be many not interested in such a show."

Hamilton was questioned about the attitude of musicians, dancers and drama club members.

"As I have always contended, these people are interested but wary. Why should they be interested in a nebulous thing which till opening night has no distinct form? Why should they waste their talent on an unknown quantity when they have possibilities of a known quantity, such as Drama Club major productions?" Hamilton declared:
1.A script is essential as early as possible. I suggest February, or at latest March 1st.
2.A producer, a music director, a ballet mistress, a backstage manager must be found at the same time and their names published widely. There is more chance of getting recognised talent if production talent is well known, and more so if well respected.
3.A good script and a good production team will easily inspire confidence in cast and backstage crew.
4.A good show will do more to rouse student apathy than advertising, no matter how good it be

Student Apathy

"Apathy can and will be broken if the organisers do something early, instead of talking about what they have done in the past and what they'd like to do in the future."

"The second problem of how to channel the work of those interested can to a large degree be related to the first. Even if there is a nucleus of enthusiasts for an Extravaganza there is still no guarantee of a good show if the talent available is not utilised to the full.

"Actors are only as good as their producers make them, and the producer in turn is bound by the script.

Hamilton Wants Revue

As to script and type of show, I prefer a revue as distinct from a plotted mid-Victorian melodrama dealing with politics, personalities, etc. The 'live' theatre has just started over the last five years to make a remarkable comeback—largely due overseas, and possibly here, to the influence of TV versus Cinema. The pattern in this country has been success in the live comedy, the avant garde plays, the musical and the revue. The nearest for Extravaganza's purposes is a revue. Thus, I favour it on grounds of box office success and the fact that a script can be written well in advance with punch lines easily inserted at the late rehearsal stage. Again, a revue-type show is essentially one of quick change, of slickness rather than stolidity. Satire can be used to just as great an effect in a short scene as it can in a lengthy dialogue and some well defined and well-worn character."

Drama Club Aid

The Drama Club would be willing to help produce an Extravaganza if there was competent organising, said Josie Knight, President of the Drama Club.

Extravaganza is primarily to entertain, but It must say something, said Brian Wigney, a second year Arts student.

Brian would be prepared to write a script, which would be ready by the beginning of the academic year. He felt it should say at least a little of what part of the Varsity at least feels. It would be presented in a series of short revue type sketches. The plot line in this year's Extravaganza did not come off. Without Mum and Dad (the lead actors), it would have become a series of Revue type sketches, a trend he said he would follow.

Formerly a lot of the cast had been working hard on a patchy script. They should move away from the lavatory humour and unfinished Ideas, and include a good mixture of informed satire. To fill the show up with songs is to take the easy way out.

"A tremendous amount of energy and money is wasted because it lacks finish and is not going anywhere."

Jazz Club

"Jazz Club musicians would probably be willing to play for Extravaganza," was the feeling of a senior Jazz Club member.

"However, they would probably need to be paid," he commented. "Any competent player who devoted his time to Extrav, would probably be foregoing other paying engagements."


Blizard was concerned with Extravaganza being a failure both in the lack of Student co-operation and the financial loss.

"Wellington is too sophisticated for two and a half hours of indiscriminate ribald satire.

"The Students' Association Theatre should be used for future shows, as the Opera House is too expensive."

There should be more students in the show, it should draw on the pool of talent within the University, and it should not make a loss.

Printed by Truth (N.Z.) Limited. 23-27 Garrett Street. Wellington, for the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association