Article Title:Pride Q&A: Gala coordinator Lexie Matheson
Author or Credit:Lexie Matheson with
Published on:17th January 2014 - 11:58 am
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Story ID:14462
Text:Lexie Matheson has plenty in store! Lexie Matheson has taken on the challenging and exciting task of coordinating the Auckland Pride Gala. She gives us an insider’s take on putting such a packed event together, plus a few scoops on what we can expect from the night. How much work goes into putting the Pride Gala together? It largely falls into three areas: first there’s coming up with a theme or concept that seems appropriate for the times and for the community. This involves quite a lot of consultation with key figures and co-ordinating the theme with the available artists. We’re committed to showcasing the festival in the Gala so the artists we have available should all be producing work that audience members can then see in full during Auckland Pride if they wish. The theme, then, will be determined in some part by the available material. Add to this line-up artists who have productions in and around the festival with appropriate content and this is the resource we draw from. The second area of operation involves co-ordinating the artists, selecting from the works available and putting together a programme for the evening that will be entertaining and have a unity about it that the audience will enjoy as well as it being a showcase of works. This includes putting together a team of appropriately skilled techies and backstage workers who can achieve a high degree of professional expertise and pulling all these threads together with an MC of quality. Fortunately we’ve people in our community who tick all these boxes at the highest level. The Pride Gala's stunning venue, The Rangatira at Q Theatre The third – and most complex part of the process – is the day of the Gala itself. We get one crack at putting it all together with a day of rehearsal starting at 8am and going as long as we need. Each artist or group will have a set amount of time and the day will be scheduled literally to the minute to ensure we get the best outcomes in the available time. Q Theatre staff are incredibly helpful and the pre-Gala production meeting with our team and there team will ensure there are no unscheduled surprises on the day. What made you want to take it on? Mika will be the Gala's icon I was the backup person and fell into the role (willingly) when the original director became unavailable. When it comes to the theatre my arm is easily twisted and, in this case, I think I twisted it myself. I loved the 2013 Gala and I’ve never worked the Q so there were incentives too good to say no to. The queer communities are diverse in every way and especially so in our unique artistry. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to give something back and the bonus for me was being able to work with people I’ve admired for a long time. With most of the works being rehearsed in other venues by other directors my job is largely a logistical one but I do get to play creatively a bit and that’s something I’d never say no too. While obviously you have a powerful history in event management, what are the challenges of organising something like the Pride Gala? The greatest challenge is getting the Gala on with one day’s rehearsal. So much of the advance work is done in planning, in meetings and electronically that nothing is left to chance but chance still has a way of rearing its head and biting you in the bum when you least expect it. I’m loving experiencing what we saw from the whole festival last year: the level of goodwill amongst the communities. Everyone I’ve dealt with has been great and I’ve heard ‘sweet as’ so often I think I’ve put on weight! The challenges largely relate to managing time and organisation. On the day the team will kick into place, everyone will have a job and know what that job is. The artists will be cared for and each group will have a minder designated to them whose sole brief is to make life easy. If I get the planning and the team right, the rest should be fun – and if we’re having fun behind the scenes it makes it easier for the artists to ensure the audience has fun too. It’s a celebration, after all. How much of yourself will you be able to stamp on it? I’m happy if I’m invisible. The audience comes first, the artists second and, if we all do our jobs well, then that’s all the stamp I need. It’s trite to say it’s not about me but ultimately my job is no more important than anyone else’s, it’s just different. I’ve had the joy of conceptualising the show, planning the narrative of the evening, selecting the artists and managing the rehearsal day. That should be enough for any red-blooded girl. All credit to Auckland Pride in what will be a show of two halves. This Dust Palace performance set jaws dropping at the 2013 Pride Gala What can people expect? How will it be different than 2013? The overall structure will be similar – it a showcase of vignettes from other shows so it rather has to be – but the tone and style will be different as will most of the works. We’ve not revisiting any of the 2013 content so the overall emotional impact will be different too, but we are reprising a couple of popular artists from 2013 who have exciting new material. We’re theming around the idea of ‘the wicked game’ which takes us into a new and vivid area and the works, in the main, reflect the theme. And we have a few shocks and surprises … In Flagrante will be back What performers have you got lined up? We’re thrilled to have In Flagrante back by popular demand with all new material. They were a hit in 2013 with the horses and the marching girls and this year they have equally stunning material. ‘Dust Palace’ is a fantastic group of innovative circus performers and many in our communities will remember their 2013 show ‘Same, Same, but Different’. I’m thrilled that they’ll be involved. Mika joins us again because every show needs an icon and Mika is certainly that. Sam Brooks ‘Queen’ will be showcased as will Bruce Brown’s ‘The Legacy Project’ which has to be one of the most anticipated new works for a long time. Charlotte Yates, GALS and Edwina Thorne give us (separately) real quality music and live theatre is well represented by selections from ‘Songs for Guy’ and ‘Teen Faggots Come to Life’. It’ll be a naughty night – and of course, I’m not giving it all away. And … any message to the community as we get closer to Pride 2014? The Parade will be at night this year We’re very aware that 2013 is a hard act to follow but, in my view, this year’s festival will exceed expectations yet again. There are a few changes the biggest being that the Pride Parade, slightly later this year than last, will be followed almost immediately by the PROUD Party at Victoria Park, a short walk down the hill. Personally, I think that this will work a treat – and the party is going to be incredible. Almost all last year’s shows sold out so audiences would be wise to book early. The Gala will help that process by offering a window into the content of the festival. I’m excited by the Big Gay Out too because that’s a family event and kids are playing an increasing role in gay lives. I’m thrilled with the sponsorship we’ve achieved and the important relationships we have with our community partners and with ATEED. Most importantly, it’s great fun and all inclusive. I can’t wait! Lexie Matheson is also a member of the Auckland Pride Festival Trust. Auckland Pride Gala Friday Feb 7 2014, 8pm Q Theatre Buy tickets here Lexie Matheson with - 17th January 2014    
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