College – Issue 31

THE QUADRANGLE Kip’s world of total theatre

Kip Chapman (11255) arrived at College in 1995 with enormous enthusiasm for drama, music and art. In 2016, very little has changed.

He arrived in Christchurch in July to direct a return season of Luke di Somma’s punk rock opera, That Bloody Woman, based on the life of Kate Sheppard. It seems an unlikely combination, but it is energetic, engaging theatre which brings the Christchurch-based campaign for women’s suffrage alive in a way that a history book cannot. For Chapman 2016 is a busy year. He married his husband, actor Todd Emerson. He then directed That Bloody Woman for the Auckland Theatre Company. He is preparing his acting role for the second season of the BBC’s Top of the Lake, directed by Jane Campion and he is associate director of the New Zealand’s biggest theatrical performance, the World of Wearable Arts show. Chapman has been a performer since childhood, singing in the Cathedral Choir, acting with the Court Theatre and involved in all aspects of drama during his time at College. He credits the arrival of David Chambers in 1998, the first Director of Drama and full-time drama teacher, with making him aware that drama could be a career for him. That year, his last at school, Chapman starred as Srulik, lead character in Ghetto, a musical set in the Vilna Ghetto. He was also instrumental in the committee that set up the first madcap Spring Festival, devised a visually and vocally impressive Condell’s House musical item for House music and directed Balloons, the winner of the House play competition.

Ghetto required the audience to run the gauntlet of soldiers, searchlights and Alsatians as they were processed before finally taking their seats. Balloons had digital input, video with actors interacting with the screen, actors shooting the audience with water pistols and his House music piece was a Radiohead anthem performed by candlelight. Chapman’s demand for innovative theatre was apparent early. Training at the Unitec’s School of Performance and Screen Arts in Auckland nurtured his innate talent. On graduation he wowed the country with a small, interactive show Arohaotearoa, co-written with fellow Old Boy, James Milne (11766) (Lawrence Arabia) which contained many Chapman hallmarks. With a backdrop based on slides he had sourced from second-hand shops, the show

featured scenes and songs based around Edmund Hillary, the Alexandra Blossom Festival and the Huka Falls. It was pure kiwiana, with a “ladies a plate” supper at the end. Although he has starred in a large number of stage and screen performances (including Equus, Big River, The Pride, Hope and Wire and Shortland Street), for Chapman, theatre is never about the acting alone. His work has always been notable for its total design package. One entertaining piece of performance art was the foundation of the Mt Albert Beautification Society, a gentle poke at suburbia, where he ran a letterbox of the year competition. Total design reached its fullest manifestation in the hugely popular APOLLO 13: Mission Control, a show inspired by a roadtrip to the


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