Award-winning creative collective The Candle Wasters unveiled the first of many "fierce, funny, feminist web series" in 2013. Claris Jacobs, Minnie Grace and sisters Elsie and Sally Bollinger had discovered a mutual love of Shakespeare at high school. After 190 webisodes and more than four million views on YouTube, they invited "token dude" Robbie Nicol to join in for their third series Bright Summer Night — the first to win funding from NZ On Air. The Hamlet-inspired Tragicomic (2018) centres on a lovesick teenager who vents her feelings through her comics. The comics can be viewed online as part of the story.
If we have a theme, it is ‘to be kind is a brave act’. Candle Waster Minnie Grace in an interview with website The Residents, 6 September 2017
Multimedia web series Tragicomic follows teenager Hannah Moore (Nova Moala-Knox) as she deals with her Dad’s mysterious disappearance, and the budding relationship between her Mum and her art teacher. Along the way Hannah finds solace in the comic she is making. The comics are part of the storytelling — some of them were released as part of the series, alongside the 10 web episodes. Based loosely on Shakespeare's Hamlet, Tragicomic was made by creative collective The Candle Wasters (Bright Summer Night). It was launched via Radio New Zealand's website and YouTube.
In the first episode of The Candles Wasters’ multimedia web series, Hannah Moore (Nova Moala-Knox) struggles to deal with the sudden departure of her dad, and her art teacher romancing her mum — who happens to be the school principal. It’s downhill from there. Helped by best friend Isla, Hannah finds solace in the comic book she is creating, which in real life can be read online at Radio New Zealand. The comic involves a brave knight who must overthrow a usurper, after the King vanishes. Featuring a dark sense of humour, the series deals with mental illness and loss.
The Candle Wasters won a global audience with three Shakespeare-inspired web series featuring modern-day Wellington youth. Then they created this original queer rom-com musical about the workers at a children's playground. The creative team (Sally and Elsie Bollinger, Minnie Grace, Claris Jacobs) continued the collaboration with Robbie Nicol that had begun on previous web series Bright Summer Night. Funded by NZ On Air’s Skip Ahead initiative, 10 episodes were shot in mid 2017, and then uploaded to YouTube. The team won SPADA’s New Filmmakers Award later that year.
For their fourth web series, creative collective The Candle Wasters shifted from using the plays of Shakespeare as inspiration, to an original story. Set in a children's indoor adventure playground, Happy Playland is a "queer rom-com musical" where employees cope with crushes, anxiety and life as digital natives. Neenah Dekkers-Reihana and Dani Yourukova (who both acted in Candle Wasters web series Bright Summer Night) play young lovers Billie and Zara. Billie is an agitated actress, while Cris is a social justice warrior. When the playground faces closure, the pair face upheaval.
Over two years, The Candle Wasters – a troupe of young Wellingtonians – attracted 4.5 million YouTube views to their modernised vlog reimaginings of Shakespeare’s plays (Much Ado About Nothing, Love's Labour Lost). In 2015 they won NZ On Air and Kickstarter funding to create a web drama series loosely inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream – set at a teen house party. Each of the 10 episodes focussed on a different character. Produced with Bevin Linkhorn, Bright Summer Night was uploaded in August 2016. It won Best Drama at the 2017 Hollyweb Festival in the United States.
This award-winning Candle Wasters web series mixes A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a teen house party. In the first two episodes, Puck (Meesha Rikk) hits the party in time to witness a showdown, while Lena (Kalisha Wasasala) worries about when to make a romantic move. Then Puck crashes a young activists’ meeting — inspired by the original play's comical Mechanicals — in the bedroom of Petra (Thomasin McKenzie from Leave No Trace). The third Shakespeare adaptation by The Candle Wasters added NZ On Air funding and "token dude" Robbie Nicol to the creative team.