WRITING: ‘Lonely’

Sometimes I am lonely. Everyone is now and then, I suppose.
I used to think there was only one kind of lonely – the crippling sense of abandonment and loss, echoing around my skull.

But I have learned that there are different kinds of loneliness.

There is the one I knew so well, of course there is. But more importantly, there are new kinds of lonely I don’t recall ever experiencing.

Suddenly the term takes new shapes according to my day. My loneliness can be contented, melancholic, delirious, confused, nostalgic or cantankerous.

It is wonderful to have an array of emotions contained in one word. Awareness is key to comfort, and alone isn’t so lonely when you can be comfortable with yourself.

That’s not to say I don’t experience the sense of a missing piece, and yearn for a reassuring hug.

But it means that when I am lonely, it’s not the be-all and end-all.

I can see my days stretching out endlessly in front of me, leading me to the horizon line in never-ending hopscotch tiles.

I recognise that my emotions are fleeting, and it is a joy to be capable of experiencing them all in such vivid colours, knowing that they are not enhanced or manufactured, but they are reality. That there is no filter over my heart to edit the emotion I register.

Amazing, how one state of mind can trigger such revelations in one tiny person standing atop a tiny, pea-sized planet at the edge of a dairy-themed galaxy.

Amazing how I can feel so small, so insignificant, and yet so infinitely powerful.

Sometimes I am lonely. But I don’t mind.

After all, you need the blanket of night to truly appreciate the stars.


This piece was written in July 2013, and is an original work of my own. If you have any thoughts on this piece, feel free to comment below. For any other enquiries, please email me at contact@luxelis.com.

WRITING: ‘Moving In’

My past is messy. There’s no two ways about it. I used to worry about being boring – wishing for a more ‘interesting’ tomorrow.

Fuck, if only I could’ve seen what lay ahead.

Now I’ve been through it all and unpacked all the boxes, I can understand it. I’ve officially ‘moved in’, you might say. But something still feels a little off.

See just as I get comfy, thinking I’ve unpacked the lot, I find another box, sealed all those years ago. And I know I’m prepared to handle what the box contains, but sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming; when I remember just how many boxes I’ve been through in my short time here. Most peoples’ are labelled by year, maybe split into a few months. But my boxes are labelled sporadically – some containing several years, and some containing just a few weeks.

It makes me question my current state – how am I still here? Why am I still here? It seems to just be one thing after another, these past few years. Like I’ll never, ever catch a break.

And then there’s times like these, times when I feel the need to back-track and re-evaluate the past year or so. I mean after all, that’s the biggest box in the stack.

I’ve got no idea who I am, or even what I want – and I have absolutely no plans to figure it out. Knowing my luck, any plans I do make are just going to fuck up anyway, so why try to evade the surprise? It’s not pessimism, it’s realism. The rest of my life is just one big surprise, splintered into tiny pieces I stumble upon every day.

Where once I was terrified of my future, I now embrace it. Expectations are not for me anymore. I have no need to prepare, because whatever life throws at me, or whatever box I find, I can handle it and deal with it, all with a smile on my face. I can and I will handle it – with or without you, and that smile is going to be geniune. Why? Because I’m okay.

Shit, I never thought I’d be able to really, truthfully say that. I bet you didn’t either, but now I can. I’m okay.

And I love it.


This piece was written in April 2013, and is an original work of my own. If you have any thoughts on this piece, feel free to comment below. For any other enquiries, please email me at contact@luxelis.com.

New Fascinations: Colour/Lips

Continuing with my last New Fascinations post, I’m still focusing on makeup. Ironic given that I rarely wear it.. I know, I know. This time around, it’s colour products (highlighters, blush, bronzer, etc) and lip products – the things that’ve been launching the most lately. I’ve picked out the ones that stood out slightly more than the same-old face kits and high-coverage concealers, did some vague research and written some thoughts. Anyway, let’s get to it:


COLOUR


Lancôme,  Belle De Teint Mosaic Palette:
A summery limited edition, I am enamoured with this packaging. A giant diamondy compact is already all I want and need, but the inside is gorgeous too. Two contrasting colours of blush, and two of complimentary bronzer. The paler version is so-so, but just LOOK at that deeper one. Red blushes are my weakness.


YSL, Baby Doll Kiss & Blush Duo Stick:
 This launch feels very Korean-cosmetic-inspired. An extension from their existing Baby Doll Kiss & Blush liquid stains, this is a matte dual-colour balm that you can use on the lips and cheeks. It’s apparently very pigmented – I’d love to give it a go.


Benefit, Hoola Lite:
 Pale kids, rejoice. The cult bronzer is available in shades that won’t make you look like Jersey Shore! Definitely on my wish list – but I feel weird about buying it unless Benefit are planning to release a corresponding ‘deep’ shade too. Whitewashing isn’t cool.


BareMinerals,  Invisible Bronze Powder Bronzer: 
I saw Ruth Crilly swatching this in a recent video, and I’m mesmerized. It was smooth, gently pigmented and most importantly, not too warm. Get me to a Mecca so I can swatch it!


RMS Beauty,Magic Luminizer:
  The younger sister of a cult favourite, this is a champagne-toned, very natural cream highlighter. I think the original Living Luminizer will suit me better, but I’m glad they’ve released this for a wider range of tones.


BECCA,  Prismatic Amethyst Shimmering Skin Perfector:
NOBODY NEEDS A PURPLE POWDER HIGHLIGHTER. Please, stop the fuckery.


Lancôme,  My Parisian Pastels Limited Edition Shimmer Cubes
 Apparently you can use these things as a highlighter by swirling your brush across the cubes, or pick up a cube and apply it straight to your eyelid. Thing is, if they can be picked up and applied, it can’t be a very soft formula.. and the idea of dragging a sugar-cube of glitter across my eye makes me wince.


YSL,  Touche Éclat White Strobing Pen: 
Like the Touche Éclat, but instead of colour-corrective luminising goodness, it’s just white and ultra-super-glowy. I think this will either be god-awful, or absolutely stunning – no middle ground when it comes to Touche Éclat. If there is a problem, I suspect it’ll be in the blendability as this is where liquid/cream products tend to fall down. But if it’s good.. this will be a big seller.


LIPS

Revlon,  Ultra HD Gel Lip Colours: I’m not a big fan of matte lipsticks on the whole, so anything promising a moisturizing, comfortable texture and a decent pigment is something I’m keen on. I love the slimline packaging, too – much more elegant and precise than the usual. The shades I fancy the most are two pinky-plum ones: ‘Dawn’ and ‘Vineyard’.

Bobbi Brown, Art Stick Liquid Lip:  Bobbi have revamped their (excellent) Art Sticks to create a thick, demi-matte cream housed in a squeezy-tube, and these things are ace. ‘Azalea’ is the brightest and best new lipstick I’ve seen in a long time, and ‘Vintage Pink’ is one I would wear on the regular too. Selinah tells me these last for ages and don’t turn your lips into a desert, but Fleur de Force doesn’t agree – nonetheless, I need some for myself.

Antipodes, Moisture-Boost Natural Lipsticks: I quite enjoyed the previous incarnation of Antipodes’ lipsticks; it always impressed me how relatively opaque they were, given the all-natural ingredient list, and how well they wore. The whole line has had a face-lift, and new shades added – apparently the new formula is even more pigmented than before. I’m eyeing up ‘Queenstown Hot Chocolate’ and ‘Piha Beach’ Tangerine.

Benefit,  They’re Real! Double The Lip: These are supposed to be a combination of lipliner and lipstick – separate shades in the same cartridge, and shaped so the liner stays sharp. I can see how it should work, but what I don’t see is why you’d want one of these in such wildly opposing shades. Some match up and look quite nice, like ‘Lusty Rose’ (god, you can tell I’m on a Rose roll at the moment); but others such as ‘Pink Thrills’ just don’t match up for me.

L’Oreal Paris,  Infallible Matte Lip Colour: L’Oreal bringing in the weird and impractical packaging once again. These consist of a sponge tip applicator with a condensed pigment packed into the lid, so when you screw it on, it re-colours the applicator. There are obvious practicality issues here, but I also worry about the longevity of the sponge-tip applicator. Regardless, I want to try them. The reds and oranges look ridiculously pigmented, and ‘Virgin’ is a nice everyday colour.

Hourglass,  GIRL Lip Stylo: Everyone loves Hourglass: fact. No surprise then, that these new lip stylos have been such a hit. If I’m honest, I was a little disappointed – no innovative or particularly unique colours, and the formula seems a little less pigmented than I’d expect. However, I definitely have a bit of a hankering for two shades – ‘Activist’ and ‘Inventor’. Not too out there, but still interesting and flattering.

Kevyn Aucoin,  The Molten Lip Colour – Top Coat:  I’m pretty sure a lip colour ‘top coat’ is just a gloss, but I’m willing to put that aside for these gorgeous-looking things. They’re designed to be worn over lipsticks to add an extra dimension of holographic shine, and unlike most ‘holographic’ makeup, I am on board.

Lime Crime,  Diamond Crushers: These are a mega intense version of a lip top coat and are aptly named, because they do look like you have kissed diamond dust. I love the duochrome shift in most of them, and based on swatches, ‘Acid Fairy’ and ‘Trip’ look like the best. Having said that, I’m still not over the excessively dodgy antics of the company a few years ago, so I’ll pass.

So that’s it! There’s my thoughts on the newest things in makeup. Look out for the skincare edition coming up soon. In the meantime – is there anything I’ve mentioned that you’d love to or have tried?

New Fascinations: Eyes/Base

In the past year, I’ve noticed a steadily increasing stream of product releases. It seems every few weeks, multiple brands release new items into their arsenal and take the blogging world by storm – emails flood inboxes, flatlays are instagrammed, and YouTube hauls cut away to slick close-up demonstrations. Now more than ever we’re bombarded with overwhelming newness and hyperboles on the necessity of beauty products, but I’m easily bored when it comes to makeup. With such a steady stream of newness, my eyes start glazing over – for the most part, it all looks like the same contour palette. Despite this, over the past few months I have found myself with quite a wee list of interesting new products so I’ve done some poking around, swatching and investigating, and have a few thoughts on the latest items in the beauty world. This is a collection of things beyond highlighting drops and liquid lipsticks, that stand out and seem to offer us something different. Read on, and see if I’m as enthralled as people with affiliate links.


EYES


YSL, The Shock Mascara:
 This looks like YSL’s answer to Too Faced’s Better Than Sex (even the same colour cap). Very volumising, I hear it gives the oomph you want for lashes that seduce; and it comes in burgundy. Oh yes please, so long as it isn’t too sticky.


Nude By Nature, Eyeshadow Trio:
 Not the newest of the new, but I was so blown away by Nude By Nature’s relaunched single shadows, that I went in search of more. Their 3-pan palettes are well-curated and so, so tempting – the rose one is just begging to be mine.


Lancôme, Grandiose Liner:
 If you hadn’t heard, Lancôme have made a liquid eyeliner with a really weird handle on the brush. Word is the packaging innovation is just okay, but the formula is absolutely bomb. I’ve been looking for a smudge-free alternative to my Napoleon Perdis Matte Eye Ink, and I think this is it.


Rimmel London, Precise Eyeliner:
 Who doesn’t want royal-blue liner? It’s unusual that the more affordable brands take big colour risks in such products, and I’m glad – Rimmel are known for some excellent eyeliners, so I expect a solid product from them.


Maybelline, Eye Studio Master Drama Nude Eyeliner: 
This is a few months old now, but all my blogging friends are raving about the new (very long-named) Eye Studio liners from Maybelline. I was super impressed with their Colour Show liners a few years ago, and these are reported to be just as creamy and pigmented, with shimmer involved.


Benefit ,They’re Real! Duo Eyeshadow Blender:
 3 words. What the fuck?! The only good things I’ve heard about these were in a very-obviously sponsored video by Shaaanxo, and the rest has been (rightfully, it seems) negative. It’s 2017 – we’ve just begun to forget our unhygienic sponge-applicator sins of past, so please don’t bring them back.


L’Oreal Paris, Brow Artist Maker:
 This looks MAD. A kabuki-style, dense brush for your eyebrows? Attached to a plastic barrel of powdery stuff? I have Googled, and I can’t figure out how this could possibly work, but I am fascinated and desperately want to get my hands on one.


Stila, Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow:
 Another hugely popular recent launch, I was at first uninterested – I’m not keen on forking out $40 for a tiny tube of cream eyeshadow. But then the reviews started coming in, and I hear its incredible. Long-lasting, properly metallic and non-scratchy removal. Oh god. I DO need it.


Clarins, 4-Colour All-in-One Pen: 
Straight off the bat, this was never going to work. Clarins, what were you thinking? Making a pen with 4 thin cylinders of liner with no oxidation protection was always going to result in brittle, scratchy and dry liners that hurt people’s faces. I do love a good bit of stationery, but perhaps not when it comes to a product that’s going near my eye.


BASE

Estee Lauder, Perfectionist Serum Compact: I loved the original fluid Perfectionist foundation when I tried it, and I want a new compact solid cream foundation. This looks especially lovely, and has had good reviews.

Bobbi Brown, Retouching Wand: Yeah, these came out like 6 months ago.. but I still haven’t managed to swatch one. The idea, however, is right up my alley and Sophie reckons it’s good so of course, I want it too!

L’Oreal Paris, Fixing Mist: It’s not often I bother going all-out when doing makeup on myself, but when I do, it pisses me off when it starts transferring (though it’s usually due to a fault with my face). I refuse to drop lots on a setting spray and I hear great things about this, so I’d like to give it a shot.

Shiseido, IBUKI Smart Filtering Smoother: So I should’ve realised when I read the ingredients list that this wasn’t a thick, tub product. But I thought it was. Regardless I was excited, especially due to the SPF content. Then I searched actual, not-PR images and it’s a flat, squeeze tube thing. HALF the height of it is just the damn lid. Not excited anymore.

Urban Decay, Self-Adjusting Complexion Primer: The aforementioned Shaaanxo video introduced me to this – I watched her put it on her face and I actually saw a magic difference, so I thought I would very much like it. Now I’m torn, because I’ve also read a few bad reviews. I’ll need to get a sample.

NARS, Soft Matte Complete Concealer: Another big-scale launch in Beauty Land. Apparently this is no normal pot concealer; it really is soft! It won’t tug at your eyes! Velvety as fuck, and as always with NARS, very sleek packaging.

Kevyn Aucoin, The Loose Powder Brush: I love the shape of this thing, it looks like a broom you’d find on a spaceship. It’s goat hair, which I do love in a powder brush, and is a nice size – smaller than others I have, but still enough for my moon of a face.

By Terry, Hyaluronic Hydra Powder: To be honest, I haven’t looked up reviews for this. ‘Hyaluronic’ + ‘Powder’ are not words I normally pair, so my interest is piqued. The mini is $17 at Mecca and I have decided I’ll have it. Don’t talk me out of it.

BECCA, First Light Priming Filter: Yeah, fine concept.. let’s be real though, most consumers can’t be arsed getting on the colour-correcting train. It’s vital for makeup artists, but we have other tricks that don’t have a pants-shittingly expensive price tag.

What new beauty things have caught your eye recently?

Sunday Feels with Hello Tanya and Nicetouch

On Sunday, February 12th, a momentous occasion took place. Tanya, my holy grail Nail Queen and fabulous friend, joined temporary forces with Lucy, proven Masseuse Monarch and equally ace mate. Together they put on Sunday Feels – a luxurious event for you and your best buds. With cheese.

Image courtesy of Lucy & Tanya.

I conned one of my favourite people, Steph, into coming with me to the inaugural event and to cut to the chase, we had a brilliant time. Beginning with hugs and the offer of beautiful kimonos to wear, we were off to a perfect start. Then came selection of our nail shades & deigns over a cheese plate and cocktails – I think I asked about 3 times what the cheeses were because they were so darn delicious, but I still forget! Regardless, we ate it all with delicious Forage + Bloom Iced Tea cocktails that Lucy prepared. I’m not sure what variant of tea we had, but it was deep burgundy in colour, and tasted like forest flora in the mouth – delectable!

Following on from the brief catch-up over cheese, we went our separate ways to begin the pampering. Steph, being as indecisive as she is, went with Tanya first so she couldn’t overthink her nail choice and I went with Lucy as I was in desperate need of a massage – more than I knew.

Not the massage room I was in, but Lucy’s regular practise. Photo courtesy of Lucy.

The massage took place in Tanya’s gorgeous bedroom, set up with a salt lamp in the corner, a candle gently flickering and the massage table in the centre of the room. Lucy talked me briefly through how she was going to do the massage before she left me for a moment to get undressed and plonk myself on the table. Upon her return, she used a warm oil blend to massage my legs and feet – a miracle in itself, as I’ve never been relaxed enough for anyone to touch my feet before! Following on, she wiped away excess oil with a hot towel (which felt amazing), and began to work on my back and lower neck. I know I have a lot of tension in these places and I usually experience quite a lot of pain with any form of massage, but I felt nothing but bliss with Lucy. While I didn’t fall asleep (as I’m sure many do), I was in a magical trance-like state as my muscle tension melted away and afterwards, I genuinely felt like a newer me. I kid you not when I say this was the most amazing massage I’ve ever had – and I know Steph felt the same. As a bonus, the oils Lucy used with the scalp massage did wonders for my hair; I washed it that evening and it was ridiculously soft & silky.

Next up: Nails!

Tanya’s excellent set-up at her wonderful Mt Eden home – regular up top, and featuring Rodney the cat on the bottom. Photos courtesy of Tanya.

Naturally, Tanya knows me and my nails quite well by now. As such, she knew I’d need another treatment of the IBX nail treatment system to keep my nails in top-notch condition. And that it does – it had been approximately 2 months since my last appointment and yet my nails were mostly pretty darn strong, with a free edge for what feels like the first time ever – pretty amazing when only a few months ago I had acrylic-ruined tiny nubbins for nails. If you have the chance to get IBX, do it! It truly is a nail-saver.

Due to my new-found free-edge, I decided to embrace the relative length and incorporate a bit of a negative-space design, a look I’d wanted to try for ages, but never had the length for. Tanya suggested small negative-space triangles on one nail on each hand (we all know I’m secretly a filthy hipster), and I went for a warm glittery red on my right hand and a cool-toned grey on my left, with alternating feature nails. It’s a big claim to make, but I think this may be my favourite design I’ve had with Tanya yet – even over my fabulous tweed nails I had for my last birthday. Something about the colour combo and simple but interesting design really gets me – it’s been several days and I can’t stop admiring my hands!

My very rad nails by Tanya – check out the precision on those triangles! Photo courtesy of Tanya.

It’s pretty safe to say that Tanya and Lucy have a really, really good thing going here. Steph and I had a fantastic time; in fact, I think it’s safe to say I’ve converted her to these ladies (sorry, Feargus!). Both offer impeccable and friendly services that leave you feeling awesome, and I have no plans to see anyone else for massage or nails ever again. Lucy has the same ethic I love about Tanya – straight up yet caring, professionalism meets friendship. You won’t leave either of these ladies without a big grin on your face, and I can’t say enough nice things about the idea of getting to see both of them in the same day, in the same place. Genius, really.

Tanya and Lucy – Miracle Workers. Photo mine.

If you want to experience this magic, head on over to Lucy or Tanya‘s pages and make an enquiry. They do Sunday Feels events once a month at present, and after Steph and I were first, places are booking fast. Alternatively, you can check out their services separately – both have pretty majestic cats at their places, and will treat you like the Prince or Princess you are!

Sunday Feels is a monthly event, with overall prices TBC.
Please contact Lucy and Tanya to book your place.

Image courtesy of Tanya
Image courtesy of Lucy

Have you ever had a brilliant, out-of-this-world beauty experience? Did you get snacks while you had it?

*This post is not sponsored. I paid for these services with my own money in full. I’m just a rad person, talking about rad things.

November Favourites

November is over, thank cheese! Here’s stuff I enjoyed in between the hellscape of awfulness the month brought.

Goodness Chia Seed Oil
This month I’ve been trialling Goodness, a fab little skincare line made by the people behind Trilogy. I’ve enjoyed all the products, but especially this stuff – it smells comfortingly warm and foody, and plumps and strengthens my skin without being heavy or oily. I’ve been using it day and night – rare, for me!

Heart Lapel Pin
I’ll be honest – I only bought this because I felt weird about paying shipping for just one item from Present Indicative (it was a very funny mug). But I found this and not only was it a good price for a metal pin, I love the design and how good it looks on my favourite jacket.

The Caroline Hirons Routine
For most of the month I’ve really vamped up my skincare – more products, more consistency. This is inspired by the routine Caroline recommends. In all honesty I haven’t managed to stay completely on the wagon, but the biggest takeaway I’ve found from the stuff she recommends is the consistent use of washcloths. I don’t use a new one every day because I don’t do washing every day (though I dry them out hygienically in between uses), but I think my skin is clearer and cleaner due to the practise.

Friends
I’ve had a dreadful month, in case you couldn’t tell. In fact, I actually had someone remark to me at one point “Man, your life is really not fun right now”. The saving grace has been the presence of some amazing people I call my mates, who chat to me and cheer me up, go to lunch with me and talk me through the hard times. They’re people I can count on and who I am always there for, and I have so many of them to be grateful for. It’s soppy, but their friendship has been such a lifeboat – this month especially. Thanks to my gorgeous buddies Marshall, Shawna, Caitlin, Sophie, Kristina, Molloy, Sarah, Nicole, Hugo, Claris and Harata. You’re excellent, and I love you.

IBX Nail System
A few months ago I got acrylic extensions, and they fucked my nails up big time. My favourite nail technician (Hello Tanya Nails) was rightly furious with me and recommended the IBX Nail system, which helps restore the health of your nails. I’ve had 3 applications of it with Tanya, and my nails are stronger than they have EVER been. I normally have no free edge whatsoever, but now I can tap my nails on things without them bending at all (and without polish on them). I’m trying to help my anxious and OCD tendencies by looking after my nails and my hands, and having healthy and pretty nails is really really helpful.

Eat My Lunch
This month I signed up to the very cool Eat My Lunch subscription service. For $12-15 a day, you get a good-size, healthy and delicious lunch. No two days a week are the same and the main foods range from filled rolls to flavoursome pasta salads. They’re delivered to your work, and you eat well. The best part is that in addition to you getting a great lunch (which I would pay that much for anyway), another full lunch is supplied to a NZ child who wouldn’t otherwise get fed properly. Help kids, get fed. Win-win.

What have been your favourites in November?

Lucrece; An Example of Vital Theatre

Anyone who knows me well will know that I am an opinionated person. I don’t normally express my opinions publicly unless there’s a strong urge that pushes me to – usually something involving (what I think are) the best interests of important people or things. As such, this is a hard post to write.

The Rape of Lucrece is a narrative poem by William Shakespeare, based on the legend of Lucretia. In short, the plot is simple – a soldier tells his friend about how beautiful his wife is. Said friend goes to visit unannounced, and she welcomes him in because he’s her husband’s friend. The friend becomes enamoured with her and decides he’s going to ‘have’ her whether she agrees or not, and unsurprisingly, she doesn’t. He then flees, and she has to come to terms with her rape on her own. Upon her husband’s return home, she publicly announces the crime she’s victim to, and the name of her rapist. She then commits suicide.

Auckland Shakespeare Company have chosen a stage adaption of the poem for their first show, and as many other reviews will tell you, it’s an intense and stunning work. But I’m not here to review it, I’m here to discuss my response to it.

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There’s no two ways about it, I was uncomfortable in this show. The whole point of this story is in the title of the poem – a woman is raped. Most going into this show would know that, and with this in mind it is a painful thing to watch unfold. It’s almost drawn-out, in the best possible way. The work is so refined and elegant in presentation, but the emotions are raw and confronting; truly presenting all angles and inspiring you to really think and understand each character.

For me this was extremely hard to watch in some aspects, but in others it gave me a sense of representation. I saw multiple pieces of myself in the titular character, and her portrayal spoke for me in ways I’ve never known how to say. There was no missing piece; performers offering all they had to give and in so, shining lights on all different facets of the complicated subject matter.

Perhaps it’s largely relative to my personal tie to it, but I genuinely cannot recall encountering a more confronting (yet beautiful) piece of theatre in my life. Never before have I caught myself trembling with emotion in the middle of a show, with gasps caught in my chest and a strong urge to scream along as she is onstage.

The complexity of my reaction to this performance is hard to describe. I felt an all-too-familiar tug in my heart when Lucrece gave her piece on honour, and questioned whether the rape was her fault. It raced when she named her abuser, and it broke when she couldn’t stand to see her future. I felt fear at the uneasy recognition of humanity in Tarquinius – a reminder that abusers are humans too, and can come from the unlikeliest of places. I understood helplessness and pain in Collatine that I’d seen in others but never fully recognized before. This comes not just from the immense energy and work put in by the cast, but from the poetry actually being spoken and understood. From the text and all it’s intricacies being unpacked, analysed and processed, and then carefully rebuilt with a level of care very rarely seen.

As someone who has worked with the director in the past (the inimitable Rita Stone), I know how much work will have gone into ensuring that the work does justice to the poetry and to the subject matter. Rita knows her way around iambic pentameter like nobody else, and she knows how to tell a story onstage. The cast matched and sometimes exceeded any actor I’ve ever seen in their understanding of the language. The cadence of sentences was always beautiful and appropriate, and the power behind them never faltered. But significantly more important than the mastery of the text was the effort every actor (and Rita) had clearly put into their role.

Calum Gittins as Tarquinius sent chills down my spine and my heart rate through the ceiling as he exhibited a predator painting himself human; someone battling with and then justifying their morally wrong urges. His complete embodiment of every aspect of Tarquin’s arc in the story was exceptional, but more so was the fact that when he spoke, it was as if I was taken back years. The emotional rollercoaster Tarquin exhibited matched the one I’d seen someone ride before – turn for turn, loop for loop. It’s a massive role, and from where I stand Calum has done so, so well to make his character understood, but not excused. My innate fear of Tarquin came from the familiarity I had with his depiction of that character and I can’t imagine the mental weight the role must have had for him to have been so accurate.

Daniel Watterson as Collatine brought me to the edge of tears multiple times as he expressed his immense concern, love and loyalty to Lucrece. In Collatine I saw a spitting image of loved ones – utterly helpless to the horrible events playing out, but never wavering in their love and dedication. When he returned upon her request to find Lucrece clad in black, his concern and clear panic at her disposition had me torn in two – guilt for what I could see others must have felt, and empathy for Lucrece’s removed state of mind. But despite her reluctance to discuss the abuse, he loved her regardless. When she took her life to erase her pain, he didn’t move on – he grieved, and swallowed his loss to set things right. The grief Daniel gave through Collatine was the most realistic portrayal of grief I have seen on stage to date. It was a too-late wake up call for me, a reminder that if I had done as Lucrece did and I wanted to, I wouldn’t have saved anyone’s honour or made their lives easier. I would have caused unimaginable pain and scars on hearts of the ones I love most. I saw the heart rip out of Collatine’s chest as Lucrece died, and in that moment I felt so grateful that I had chosen to stay with my loved ones.

As so many have said already, Anthea Hill portrayed Lucrece perfectly. She portrayed a swift descent into depression that was so frighteningly real, I felt I was in a nightmare. The desperate fight she gave to keep herself afloat as Tarquin tried to drown her dignity, the confusing role of blame in the aftermath and the strong sense of self-failure felt more like a recollection than a portrayal – as if Anthea were enacting my memories rather than a script. I saw her bring all of Lucrece’s emotions to the surface without ever coming across as an unlucky heroine, but rather as a woman fighting to take back control after it was stolen from her. I felt an urge to stand with Lucrece as she took control for herself and ensured her abuser didn’t get away. I saw another person experiencing things I knew too well, and in every word she spoke, I stopped feeling alone. On that black box stage, Anthea gave a piece of her heart to every single person in the room and begged them to hold her hand as Lucrece navigated her way around the trauma, and I cannot express my gratitude that she did. Through the work Anthea has put in to her Lucrece, the audience can’t help but admire her. In the love and pride we were asked to feel for Lucrece, her suicide hit all the more harder. The self-control exhibited in her final moments and the swift but gentle goodbyes she gave were absolutely devastating, but once again were distressingly real. Composed and orderly, planned and finalised, yet full of emotion. In every way, this was a portrayal that meant more than the world to me. Thank you, Anthea.

Finally, the Maid and the Chorus were perfect supplements to the three heavy bodies of this play. The Maid gave an outside voice to the events occurring and was the moral reminder in the back of our minds, while the Chorus, expertly choreographed, lent themselves to the scenescape well. They played the demonic, evil side of the mind – first with Tarquinius and then accompanying the image of him in haunting Lucrece’s psyche. Neither Maid or the chorus interrupted the very raw and openly painful telling of the story (as some choruses can do), but they heightened the battles the characters had to face and kept the audience following the story without ever dropping the passion and truth the central performers carried. Sheena Irving put so much into the Maid – echoing the despair and helplessness of Collatine, but with a fire of morality that we only saw otherwise in Lucrece herself. She was an exceptionally passionate narrator, and one that the story was all the better for; almost an exhibit of post-trauma hindsight as she retold the story with a very personal level of love and grief that felt removed from the exact moment onstage, but never took away from it.

In this work, so many people have been given a voice in poetry not seen in this way before. The words being spoken are Elizabethan, but the story they tell is relevant as ever, as is a lot of Shakespeare. The difference here is that Lucrece never felt embellished or dramatic, it just felt poignant and raw. It left me feeling unwilling to clap, but because all of the pain I had just witnessed felt real. Rather than applause, it felt like it deserved a moment’s silence. The work that has evidently gone into this production is mammoth, and none of it has been in vain as Lucrece told a story that many, many people have lived before, but is rarely spoken about and is even more rarely displayed with such veracity and in such grace. Works that are this open and honest are vital to our progression as a society, and this has been seen in the outstanding feedback the show received. I’ve seen multiple posts exclaiming the level on which people were moved by this show, and the importance of displaying these subjects in such a revealing light. There were people who felt enlightened, who felt saddened and who felt shocked. I, for one, felt represented. In the exhibition of Lucrece’s experience I saw a perfect parallel to my own, and the response I saw in the audience and in the telling of the story reminded me that this was nothing to be brushed off, as it has been before. It gave me validity, and what’s more, it gave me pride. In seeing a character I admired so strongly, I recognised that I too had survived.

Everyone involved in this production did the story and their characters justice at every single point in the show; the energy and conviction they brought to the telling was vital, and they never let it drop. This is what made the show mean so much to me – I was never shown, even for a moment, that these experiences were anything less than real. It felt like Lucrece’s story was taken and presented seriously, not simply a plot line to be enacted. I could feel and see the energy that had gone into the show; the staging was elegant and simple in order to let the events speak for themselves, and I felt like Rita had made every effort to balance the themes, emotion and content in a way that respected the subject, but told the whole story. This was a piece of theatre that gave us reality in plain packaging, with only an tasteful bow for decoration. It was, and I hope will be, appreciated by many in years to come. The subject matter is horrific and painful, but it is real and needs to be shown – it is vital theatre, plain and simple.

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All photographs featured belong to Adam Baines for Auckland Shakespeare Company.

DISCLAIMER

I am happy to receive questions on mental health or abuse topics, but I will not give advice and I will exercise my right to refuse to answer should I feel I need to.

You are welcome to contact me on Twitter or email me at contact@luxelis.com.

If you or someone you know needs support, please do not hesitate to ask for help. I promise it will be worth it.

Here are some excellent support providers (New Zealand-based):
Lifeline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 354
Depression Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 111 757
Healthline (open 24/7) – 0800 611 116
Samaritans (open 24/7) – 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) – 0508 828 865
Youthline (open 24/7) – 0800 376 633.
Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 787 797.
For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation’s free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).

 

October Favourites

It’s time. Again. How time flies, and all that. Let’s go.

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T2 French Earl Grey Loose Tea
I like (intentionally) warm drinks. They’re great, especially tea – all kinds of it! Except Earl Grey, because it tastes like latex to me. I’ve tried lots of brands to no avail, but then I found T2’s twist. Why it’s French, I’ll never know because it tastes like black tea with a bunch of tropical fruit chucked in, and I love it so much.

Ethique Frizz Wrangler Solid Shampoo
Yep, mentioning that rad zero-waste company again. They sent me a sample of this shampoo with the cool limited edition shaving soap I bought my dad for Father’s Day, and when I ran out of my regular bar I tried it.. holy christmas, my hair has never been as soft and manageable as it is now. Works brilliantly with my conditioner bar, too (the Guardian, in case you were wondering).

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The Prettiest Darn Phone Case That Ever Was
I found it on Etsy at 3am on a Saturday, and bought it because it was only $25 including shipping (ish) and it’s cool. It arrived the following Tuesday and I am mega stoked. There’s heaps of different flower combinations and whatnot, too – have a look if you like.

LUSH Bath Bombs
I am trying to take more baths because they are good for reducing anxiety, making me read more books and forcing me to be away from technology for a bit (a godsend for self-employed idiots like me). I don’t like being able to see myself in the water, so I’ve been dropping way too much money on things that make the water smell and look nice. I’m finding LUSH ones give me the best result. Sploosh – fizz fizz fizz. Yay.

Davines Authentic Moisturising Balm
I still have no clue how to pronounce the brand, but this stuff is amazing. It’s supposed to be able to be used for body, face and hair but I’ve been using it as a body moisturiser. I’ve noticed that it can be hard to spread over the skin sometimes, which I suspect is due to the properties that lend it to multi-use. The scent is herby-lavender-rosey-ey and it’s really really enjoyable. It moisturises well without leaving a greasy film and/or reacting to my skin. There’s no way in hell I’m putting that much fragrance near my face, but I might try it on my hair sometime soon.

What have you been enjoying this month?

TREND: Nontouring

When the term ‘nontouring’ first popped up in titles on my YouTube feed, I was incredibly confused. What the hell did makeup have to do with people not going on tours? It turns out I was reading it wrong, and this is a term for the stupidest fucking development yet in beauty trends.

So what is it? Nontouring is a term for the absence of contour makeup on the face. So.. just not doing any contouring. Let’s be real here for just a wee second and recognise that there is absolutely no need to give a label to the absence of one ridiculous beauty trend, thereby creating another one. It’s not innovative, it’s not new.. it’s how most young women did their makeup before cakefaces became the norm. It’s simply erasing an oft-useless 10 minutes of application time, and resembling a nicer version of yourself as opposed to a gargoyle Kardashian.

Before I jump ahead I’ll make a point to explain that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with chucking loads of shit on your face – so long as it makes you happy, and you wash it all off properly at the end of the day (lest Caroline Hirons hunt you down). When I want to look particularly fancy/hide my double chin, I have been known to deepen a few shadows on my face, and add some attention to my cheekbones. Do what you like with your makeup, I couldn’t care less. But personally, I bloody hate contouring and all it’s spinoffs.

Contouring is a technique designed initially for stage, where you have people looking at you from 50m away while you’re under very strong lights. With these things going for you anyone would look like a potato.. so enter contouring. Strong shadows drawn and then blended onto the face under the cheekbones, around the hairline and jawline and anywhere else right next to the area you want to emphasise/make your face look like a face from far away. It works like a charm, and was soon picked up by drag artists wanting to really develop their dramatic characters (makes sense). But last I checked, the average teenager doesn’t want to look like a drag artist, no matter how fabulous the queen. So why are people doing it just to go to the dairy?

The answer is not necessarily the Kardashians, though I’m sure certain members of that brood have a large part to play. With makeup being an increasingly accessible and fast-rising hobby, it becomes more feasible to try and replicate things people admire – namely celebrities. The thing here is that on red carpets, the makeup artists working on these celebrities are going all out. They have to; like on stage, their client will be under a lot of lights with a lot of flash, and they need to stand out from everyone else, so they have to dial up the drama and make Kim look fucking flawless so she’s noticed. And people will notice – “omg Kim is my liiife”, “goals”, “smh why is she so hot”. Admiration, followed by replication.

Again, most people do not have these circumstances, and when someone tries to replicate the whole thing it inevitably looks ridiculous. So the ‘gurus’ we watch take the most noticeable elements from these looks (contour) and focus on those. The general idea most seem to take from the red carpets is that the heavier the contour, the sharper the cheekbones and the more flawless you look. It looks flawless because you aren’t even seeing your skin – it’s suffocated under 17 layers of product. I can’t help but think that if you need to ‘bake’ your face with half a tin of powder to stop your product moving, perhaps you’re wearing too much.

Contour is in no way a practical trend – to do it well, you have to blend until your arm falls off. Most people don’t, resulting in an effect Bobbi Brown says “looks like dirt”. So how can you have the drama of Kim K without having to try so hard? ‘Strobing‘, or ‘using highlighter to look permanently sweaty’. It’s highlighting the tops of the cheekbones so much that they’re basically all you see on the face. Lots of product, doesn’t have to be blended as much, and creates shadows in it’s absence. But you still have tons of shit on your face, and you look oilier than the bottom of a roasting pan. So the next phase is basically dialing it back – strobing without the strobe, thereby removing the shadowing/contour effect. Whoa, is that a.. normal human face? Apparently not, it’s called nontouring now.

What bothers me the most is that there’s always got to be some ridiculous trend. We can’t just say “you know what, I don’t want to look like a face-paint tiger”. It’s always something that’s supposed to ‘play up’ a part of your face, to hide something you hate; it has to have a seemingly-essential purpose. So many people wear makeup because they feel like they need to, but makeup isn’t for that. Makeup is to enhance the nice face you already have, not replace it.

Maybe my dislike of contour and it’s friends is because I’m lazy – I can’t be fucked to wear any makeup half the time, much less to blend giant stripes onto it. But up close, I guarantee Kim K looks like she’s wearing a rubber mask. For the average person, makeup is designed to enhance the naturally existing features, and it does it well if you use it right. If you want some definition to your face, do the bronzer-3 trick. Tap some sparkly stuff on your already-existing cheekbones to bring them out without startling someone. Embrace your face, don’t draw all over it – nobody has naturally white undereyes unless they’re dead. Makeup is awesome and I love it – one of my jobs is putting it on people’s faces – but for most it’s at it’s best when it’s working with your face, instead of trying to make something that isn’t there.

What do you think of contouring, strobing and ‘nontouring’?

I have no idea what I’m doing, and that’s totally okay.

Hallo nochmal, Mädchen und Jungen. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

My last drafted post was a few days ago, but before that it was my birthday, which is now just over four months ago. Not much of an ‘every day’ project so far, is it?

Well, I thought it was time to kick this back into gear. So what shall I type about this evening?

First, let me catch you up on what’s going on in my world. I’ve now left university for the remainder of the year, for reasons far too complex and boring to discuss here, and have been working at Farmers (department store of New Zealand, for those living somewhere better than here) for the past few months as a sales assistant to get by. I’m not going to lie – I actually love working in retail. There’s something I find so fulfilling about being constantly busy and getting to do so many different things in my day. I work with all kinds of people, do so many things and have so many interesting interactions every day; my strange little quirks when it comes to little details work well in retail, and I get to vaguely exercise my acting muscles with every customer. I know it’s the NZ Police tag line, but if you want better work stories, get a job in retail. It’s a lot of fun, and the satisfaction I get at the end of the day is incomparable to nearly anything else I’ve ever done.

Aside from this, I am moving out of home in a week (shock horror!) to live with my significant other (John), who makes me exquisitely happy and is highly useful when I need someone to fetch something for me. Our flatmates are so, so lovely, and we even have a temporary wonky-eyed cat named Ella. I feel very comfortable here, and now that I have a Real Job and some steady income, I’m feeling like a proper adult and whatnot. I get to plan meals, share a bathroom with people I’ve only known a little while, and pay rent, which sounds super dull, but for me is rather exciting (so far). I also really like the kettle here.

I’ve also been Stage Managing for a few different shows since I last wrote an entry here – Defensability by Ant Towler at the Musgrove Theatre on Auckland Uni’s campus, Motel by April Phillips at the Basement Theatre, and I’m currently working on Another Dead Fag by my dear and extremely talented playwright friend Sam Brooks, also at the Basement. They are all outstanding plays that I am so happy to have worked on – do look them up, they are all very entertaining and thought provoking pieces. All the cast and crew involved in each of these projects have been incredible, providing a wonderful learning experience for me.

Despite how busy I’ve been, in the past few days I’ve found myself needing to think about the future, and panicking a bit. I know where I want to be for the next few months, and what I want to do (work), but in the long term.. I have no idea. I intend to go back to uni, but I have no clue what I want to actually study – my old degree plan of a double-major in Drama and Film, Television and Media Studies is no longer appealing to me, and I don’t even know if I want to continue SMing, go back into acting, or leave the industry altogether.

For the past few months this has incredibly concerning, but I pacify my chronic over-thinking with the mantra that all of this is so not a big deal; people change majors all the time, I mean Auckland Uni advisers and fellow students have been telling me from the get-go that I can change my major quite easily, and that it’s common among students. Hobbies come and go, too – I used to be really into cross-stitching for a few months, and there was a time where I spent every waking minute drawing tiny (terrible) cartoons. But that’s not what’s been troubling me lately. See up until now, I’ve been categorising this theatre thing is a hobby, but actually, I don’t really think it is. For all the work it takes to be an SM/actor, the pay-off is amazing. I spend every minute I can in theatres and around people who love this world as much as I do, and even though I constantly wear myself out and end up severely sleep-deprived, there’s a mysterious exhilaration about it that sweeps me off my feet every time I’m standing backstage on opening night. I’m coming to realise that maybe it really is my ‘passion’, if you like*, and that’s wonderful and everything, but every now and again I get that nagging doubt – do I really want to live backstage forever? What if I get trapped in the world of the SM and can’t break back into the bubble of acting?

I was having a full on ‘what if’ episode like that a few hours ago, and it’s taken the final dress of Another Dead Fag and a nice drive home to reflect on all of it. I recalled that in April I did a staged play reading of Trojan Women, and how spectacular it felt to get onstage and be able to do the thing that drew me into this world in the first place. It came so naturally to me, despite having not been onstage for a good six months, and now I actually think about that, I think it’s something I should trust. Yeah, sometimes it scares me that I’m losing my chance to stay in the category of ‘actor’, only to be restricted to ‘techie’ (which is awesome in it’s own way), but that’s okay. I’m sure if I took on more acting and less SM work, I’d feel the exact opposite. But at the end of the day, when someone asks me if I prefer acting or stage management, my answer will be the same as it’s always been since I started doing both – I prefer both. Being a dual SM/actor means I generally get on better with crew and actors, as I know what it’s like to do both jobs, the perks and the challenges. I have to trust that I can be good enough to be able to do both, and work out what I want to do later.

I don’t have to plan out my entire life right now, career or otherwise. It seems so obvious to you, I’m sure, and it’s taken me a few months to worry about, but I suppose what will be, will be. I am coming to realise that my adjustment into the real world has only begun to become smoother as I’ve stopped fretting over the little details on the path that lies ahead. All I really need to know is a vague idea of what I sort-of think I might want to do next year, and what I’ll be up to for the next few months. Like so many people have told me, it’s best to just let everything run it’s course and go with the flow. I’m good at making the best of situations I find myself in (good or bad), so what’s there to worry about? Nothing. Which is awesome.

See you tomorrow, kids (and those actually older than me)!

*I really despise the term ‘passion’ – I just find it so plastic. The only exception to this is in terms of passionfruit, which is okay.