On Thursday 4 July, the award-winning Zanetti Productions bring their international show Basement Tapes to Stantonbury Theatre. We spoke to artist Stella Reid and producing house Zanetti Productions about the spine-tingling hit...
Where did the idea for Basement Tapes come from and how did it develop under Zanetti Productions?
SR: Quite simply, the idea came when I found a tape recorder while clearing up my Grandmother's house after she passed away. This strange, antiquated artefact (cassettes didn't last that long, did they?) became a gnawing question about familial mysteries, and the things we pass down after we have passed away. I took this fledgling idea and turned it into a play with designers Oliver Morse and Thomas Lambert, and director Jane Yonge.
Who is playing the girl and how did that come about?
SR: I devised the show with the director and designers, and in the course of that I realised that, despite the story being fictional, it is a deeply personal one and that I should bring it to life myself.
How does the mystery start to unravel? Is there one particular piece of info from grandmother that starts it all off?
SR: In the play, the girl describes the tape recorder's mechanics as "like the tap in Grandma's bathroom, the one you have to hold just right to get hot water." The tape recorder lets the girl listen to a recording her Grandmother has made, confessing something she has done in her life. This is where a mystery is seeded.
The show has enjoyed fantastic reviews around the world - are you pleased to be playing at Stantonbury as part of this UK tour?
LZ: We're absolutely stoked to be playing at Stantonbury Theatre! It's quite mind blowing for us to be on the other side of the world with this work we love so much, and finding audiences and respect for it here too is super exciting. Thanks for having us!
What other types of show have Zanetti produced? Is there a theme to them and are you planning to follow that theme or do something completely different?
LZ: Zanetti Productions focuses on work that amplifies othered voices, acts as a catalyst for social change and supports work which is innovative in form. We curate the productions we have in our stable around these drivers. Not so much goals for the performing arts as such, but for how we are in the world - and how we want to engage with others.
In fact, tell us more about Zanetti Productions, how you started and how it developed?
LZ: I started it just over 2 years ago, basing it in part off the work I saw Aurora Nova doing in Edinburgh. Producers, let alone producing houses, are few and far between in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and I saw an opportunity to really make a mark. Having curatorial clarity and a focus on taking the excellent work New Zealanders are doing to the world allows us to have an edge - people now support Zanetti Productions knowing that we are at the forefront of work coming out of our beautiful wee islands. It's exciting to be repping this work internationally - and for it be winning awards such as the Fringe First. A bloody coup mate!
So it is important for you to present work around the world?
LZ: It's super important for us! We are so, so far away from a bunch of the world, and getting to perform here allows us to contextualise our work in a different way. Most importantly though, it allows us to meet all the brilliant artists working here - it makes space for conversations which move us forward as people. And sometimes, when you're making work which sits a bit outside of the norm, being in places where there is more happening feels less lonely, like we're all one community of folk around the world with the same fights and worries and funny bones. It's really quite a beautiful thing.
Book tickets for Basement Tapes [here]